I tell the story almost every day of walking Jackson for the first time in a stroller. Stephie and I stopped at the end of the driveway, looked at each other, and said, “Now we are one of them.” Nothing is more true, even though I had no clue what was ahead.
Being a father is loud and non stop and then just exhausted and beautiful. It is holding hands and letting go. It is making sure everything is clean and safe then getting all messed up. It is chalk on the sidewalk and water balloons bursting. It is clean plates and endless chicken tenders. It is discovering everything for the first time and creating habits that bend. It is those brief moments of zen when everyone is buckled in the car as you walk around to the drivers seat. It is Woody Guthrie and The Music Man and Twist & Shout. It is birthdays taking forever to come than over way too fast. It is having this all this time alone as a family, then watching it all go public. It is seeing Santa Claus and Obama. It is Maplewood and New York City and Boulder and Nashville and Pittsburgh . It is watching Stephie become the most patient, most loving, most beautiful mom ever. It is missing your boys every moment you are apart and many moments you are together. It is planting seeds. The Louis Armstrong seed. The swimming seed. The football seed. The Titanic Seed. The art seed. The seeds of wonder. The seeds of possibilities. The seeds of confidence. The seeds of fear. The seeds of trust. The seeds of maybe and the seeds of promises kept. The seeds of being there and the seeds of distance.
When Jackson was born someone told me the process of having children is the process of letting go. I know that is true. I know that part of my job is helping that along. Just for this time – right now – I want to hold my boys so tight. I want them to jump in my arms. I want them to swim over to me. I want to feel all that love. I want my full time job to be protecting them. I want to laugh so hard we cannot breathe (they have both gotten used to playing cleanup hitter telling everyone, “Daddy is a joker” to explain all the things that don’t make sense). I want to hold them so tight when they are hurt, kiss the part that got scraped…..I want to lick their tears. I want to take pictures just to prove that moment existed. I want to study their beauty.
Before I had children I never imagined I would ever be a father, and now I know this is what I was born to do.
I found a tape of my father and I traveling across the country - actually driving into Boulder in a hail storm many years ago. Just the two of us. The conversation is mostly just describing what he was seeing out the window. It was not over reaching or terribly profound - it was just us being together - which listening to now is alot. The only way I can reconcile my father being gone and not here with my boys is the thought that he is everywhere inside of us. In Asher’s eyes. In Jackson’s & Asher’s embracing of everyone we meet. In the joy we all share.
No one teaches you how to be a good father - just like no one teaches you how to be a good husband. It is listening to the words and listening to the silence. It is holding back tears and letting them flow. It is being strong and knowing your limitations.
So fellow fathers - maybe we can do something we never really do. That is think for a moment how lucky we are. Hope we really are doing the very best we can. How we can hold that one breath when we are all together and never let go.