Monday, September 18, 2006

I'm a Dad

I'm a Dad. I like to think I'm a good dad, but I'm not sure. Many people have been telling me I will make a great dad for quite a long time, but I'm not sure. I doubt I can know if I met any kind of standards for years to come.

I can say, I do say, "I love being a dad." Really, I do. (But I do not have any shirts yet.) I cannot imagine living life otherwise now that I have a child. It is as if life before Katie, which was fine and good, was just a precursor to what I'm doing now. This is what I was meant to do. Here are a couple minor examples:

Jay came over Saturday night and we watched a Tennesee lose to Floriday. During the first half of the game I changed a diaper. It took me just a few seconds, and like every time I've changed Katie's diapers it just felt natural. Jay's comment was something along the line of, "That was amazing. It took me two years to feel that comfortable changing Conner's diapers." Now, I'm sure he doesn't remember life way back then all that clearly, but it was a very nice thing to say.

Tonight Kristi said to me, "You love to feed Kaitlyn. It's so obvious to see when you're doing it." My mom has said similar things a couple of times. The truth is, I don't see it. I don't know I'm showing any special love to her. I just know, grok even, how to do it. I know how much to wake her, keep her alert, feed her, and even get her to burp when other people seem to be missing parts of the process.

I'm not sure how, but I know what I need to do. What I can do. What I should do.

Now, let me tell you another story about Jay. Kristi came out and the three of us were talking about having a child in the NICU. Jay & Jen's second son Ryan (now 5 years old and doing fine) was admitted into a NICU after first spending a couple days at home. As Jay told the story he didn't show a great deal of emotion, his voice didn't change inflection and his body seemed relaxed. But his left hand reached up and wiped away a tear that came to his eye as he talked about the struggle his son experienced a long time ago. It seems to me that this simple gesture, almost hidden, is one of those things that might by itself qualify Jay as a good dad.

And to all those Dads in my life who had a child in trouble, please accept my apology. I know so little about how to offer support now, and I knew much less then. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Gifts and Sacrifices

I am in the airport, on the way to work. Kristi and Katie are doing great, here's a picture we took a couple days ago. Aren't we lovely together?Daddy & Katie
I bought Kristi a "Mommy Gift" from Aaron Basha. She says it's extravagant (though she still took it) and I said she deserves even more than the extravagant gift. Don't you think my bride deserves everything for working so hard to give birth to something so precious?

Finally, I am starting to get mad about something. It bothers me when people say it's a "sacrifice" to have and raise a child. Maybe other people had some big sacrifice, but I honestly do not see that this is the case or even understand. I didn't understand this before, but now that I have a daughter it really gets under my skin. I realize this may be a small thing, but I don't like it.

It's like saying I made a sacrifice by not playing football in college. I could have been in the NFL making millions, but instead I have weekends off. Or I made a sacrifice by not becoming a beach bum, because now I have to work. Or I made a sacrifice by marrying my bride, because I'm not having sex with a model on the Mediterranean coast.

But Katie is not a sacrifice.

You can say she is a consequence of my love for Kristi, and our desire for a child, and a particular mating ritual (hubba hubba), and a small dose of a pill, and a bit of luck or blessing, Kristi became pregnant. As a consequence of the pregnancy we now have a lovely new addition to our family. But Katie is not a sacrifice.

You can say she is a new responsibility because I choose to raise her well and with love. But Katie is not a sacrifice.

You can say she is a gift, a beautiful and extravagant gift we do not deserve. A wonderful gift because my family--immediate and extended--are pleased and proud and blessed to have her grace our lives. But Katie is not a sacrifice.

I'm sure I could go on, but the plane's about to go and I have to sign off. Talk to you later.