Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Beautiful Boy

There's this thing you do where you press your fists to each side of your face the entire time you're eating.  I would say it was the most adorable thing ever, but then, there are so many from which to choose.

Your mother and I love every single thing about you.  The way both your arms jolt out to the side when it seems like something startles you.  Your grumpy old man face.  How you frequently extend one fist into the air above your head.  (We say it's your power-to-the-people pose.  Sometimes I call you "my little activist" and chant "Ber-nie! Ber-nie!")

You were due on the twenty-sixth of November.  Iron Bowl Saturday.  You arrived nine days early.  I guess you couldn't wait to meet us.  Either that, or you didn't want to enter the world amidst the domestic assault which surely would have been occurring once daddy insisted on watching the game on his phone in the delivery room while your mother was exploring the sundry delights of labor.

Often we had debated whether you would be a Luke or a Harper.  We would wait until your arrival to find out, all the while buying lots of neutral-colored clothes -- greens, grays, and whites.

You turned out to be a Luke.  A seven-pound, fifteen-ounce, twenty-inch-long bundle of perfect.  Your birthday fell one day before your beautiful aunt's, your daddy's sister.  (And no, I didn't proclaim, "Luke, I am your father!" as you exited the womb.  Though I may have uttered it a few times since.)

It was hard not to feel unprepared to be a Dad.  I had never even changed a diaper.  On my very first, I was assisting your mother, or more accurately, observing the proper technique.  Part way through, the moisture from the baby wipe she was using squirted into my face, onto my glasses and forehead.  

Or so I thought.  

Turns out it wasn't the baby wipe.  Maybe that was your little way of indoctrinating me into Dad-dom.

You have a single patch of white hair near your forehead, contrasting with all your brown.  Same as your grandpa and great-grandmother.  I think about all your great-grandparents and wish they were here to enjoy you.

They say you have my mouth and chin.  I think your mother might get a tad tired of hearing how much you look like me.  But let me tell you something about your mother, Luke: Your mother is amazing.

She gets up at least twice every single night to feed you, and at least as often just to console you.  She has done so much research, asking, and reading to try and ensure she is producing all that you need.

She probably hasn't had six hours of sleep in a night since you were born.  I am sure she is more tired than she has been in her whole life.  But when she looks at you, it is unfailingly obvious she is completely in love with you.  I know you won't remember these first months, but in case you ever read this, I wanted you to know that.

I hope you get her persistence.  Her loyalty.  Her love for travel.  Her freakishly healthy teeth.

I hope that as you grow up, she and I set a good example for you, not only as parents but as a married couple.  I hope that we gross you out by kissing in front of you, with tongue!  (Don't worry, you'll learn all about that one day.  It's one of the best things about life.)

I hope so much for you.  Much, much more than I ever had.  I suppose that is every parent's wish.

Yet while I cannot wait to see what you become, what your passions and personality will be, I try and cling to all these fleeting moments right now.  Moments I know I will soon miss.  Like how easily you fall asleep on my chest.  The precious coos and noises you make.  How you smile when I come home from work and start talking to you.

My beautiful boy, when you smile it's as if all the troubles of this world and problems of adulthood are as far away as a thing could ever be.

Oftentimes when you are asleep, I will go and check to make sure you are still breathing.  I am sure it seems a silly thing.  But in that moment, to see you peacefully asleep, everything is right in my world.

We have been wrestling with the decision to put you into daycare.  You, so completely reliant on your mother and me.  It's as if my heart has leapt outside of my body, and letting it/you out of my sight -- with a complete stranger, no less -- terrifies me like no thing ever has.  I know it terrifies your mother, as well.

I would give anything if one of us could quit our job.  But no matter how we crunch the numbers, we can't seem to make it work.  It's impossible not to feel like a bad parent.

This will all get easier, right?  (And all the parents of the world laughed and laughed.)

It is the opinion of some, and even I may have thought at times, that having a child is an entirely selfish act.  I have no idea if that is true.  What I do know is since you came along I have been on a crash course in unselfishness.

Of course I knew parents made many, many sacrifices.  Heaven knows my parents did.  The thing I didn't realize was that most of the time, you don't even think of it as a sacrifice.  Maybe there's no time for such thoughts.  You simply do whatever you have to for this precious creature who depends on you in every way.

All my decisions are made in the context of how they will affect you.  I want to be healthier so that I can be around longer for you.  I want to be a better person so that I might be a decent example for you.

You have brought so much change, so much new to our lives.  Many are simple things, such as the feeling I have when I carry you into a restaurant or any public place, or knowing I am the person family and friends will hand you back to when you start to cry.

Even my apps have changed.  WebMD Baby, Lyfeline Milestones, and The Wonder Weeks have claimed their place alongside Subway Surfers, Word Streak, and GolfStar.   

Having the opportunity to see the world anew through your big, beautiful eyes has reminded me of the wonder that has always been there.  I try to imagine all the new things you must be continually discovering.  Realizing the hope and possibilities that lie before you has renewed my own hope.

You have given me a new perspective on a lot of things.

Driving, for example, has become one of the single scariest experiences of human existence.  Bringing you home from the hospital, I was constantly on edge.  What if that car doesn't stop at that stop sign?  Why are these lanes so narrow?  What if that truck crosses over the median, breaks through the concrete barrier, and comes into my lane?  And why must everyone drive the speed limit???  I think ten miles per hour under is plenty fast, ya bunch of crazies!

I have a whole new appreciation and admiration for anyone who has ever raised a child.  No one tells you how hard it is going to be.  Or maybe they do, but there is no way to grasp it until you are the one doing it.

And single parents?  I stand amazed.  I cannot begin to comprehend how you do it.  You are real-life superheroes.

Sweet Lucas, you have even given me a new perspective on God.  Knowing how much I love you, I think, gives me a new appreciation of how much He must love His children.

Sometimes I am certain I learn more from you than you ever will from me.

If e'er I wondered if miracles still occur, I can now answer without doubt or hesitation: They absolutely do.  You are our perfect miracle.  It is an honor to be your dad, and the most enormous responsibility of my life.  

God help me not to mess it up.

"Before you go to sleep / Say a little prayer / Every day in every way / It's getting better and better / Beautiful boy..."