It’s been one year, one month, and one week (give or take few days) since I put on my Nostradamus hat to predict what my impending fatherhood would bring.
Now, a little older, a little wiser, a little less-rested, I’m excited to look the other direction in time.
In the final weeks before our sweet, amazing little man graced the world with his presence, my mind was looking ahead and asking the hard-hitting questions about what might change. You know, things like how we would coordinate fitness routines (easy – stop exercising entirely, redirecting a strong-willed 20+lb child is all the cardio you need), whether or not we would continue traveling (did it – kicked out of a bar in Utah, day-long boat rides in Wisconsin, survived puppies in Ohio, a 3-day metal fest in Chicago, 99% humidity in North Carolina, and two different concerts in San Francisco), and if we would find a way to go to the movie theater (we’ve each been once).
While I’m proud of the fact that we – initially – rose to the occasion of maintaining a lifestyle we had worked so long and hard to create, I’m more proud of how a year in, we’ve realized and embraced the ways life has changed that are impossible to predict until you become a parent.
Days That Last Weeks and Years That Last Days
I never knew the meaning of true, selfless, unconditional love until the moment I saw my son placed on my wife’s chest for the first time. Looking at this 7.5 pound helpless ball of dough, I felt things that are impossible to truly put into words. The overwhelming sense of responsibility, thrown in a blender with fear, pride, excitement, joy, and pureed to a pulp. The profound connection with another person who I had just met. The renewed sense of love, awe and admiration for my warrior wife who had just completed the natural birth she intended.
And that was just the first five minutes.
Since that day, I’ve gotten to watch that crying heap transform into a smiling, clapping, laughing, standing, crying, screaming, strong-willed, independent, self-feeding child who is hellbent on figuring out exactly how it all works.
Time is a funny thing. When Einstein famously posited his thought experiment describing the relativity of time, he could have saved a lot of time by talking to any parent. Never in my life has an hour taken longer than sitting on the floor of my son’s bedroom, reading The Little Blue Truck for the 7th time in a row at 6:30 in the morning.
When I look at pictures of my son in his first few weeks of life, I find myself simultaneously wondering how it’s already been a year and how it’s only been a year. Life without his smiles feels like a distant memory, even though not that long ago he was comfortably tucked inside his mama’s tummy.
In that time, I have been peed on, puked on, prevented my son from eating his own poop, prevented my son from eating cat litter, watched my son eat cat litter, prevented (and caused) tear-filled falls, woken up multiple times throughout the night to a shrieking baby, slept soundly through shrieking baby sounds (thanks to my selfless and unstoppable wife), and cut open more avocados and bananas than my previous 30-ish years combined. Seriously – this kid loves avocados and bananas.
I have learned how quickly the human body and mind adapt to a new normal.
Spoiler alert: it’s much faster than the feline mind and body adapt, based on a sample size of two.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of us don’t have memories much earlier than 2 or 3. We come pre-programmed with a built-in grace period for our parents to figure out how to weave a modicum of order from pure chaos.
I just hope that when his memory finally does kick in, we’re able to give our son half as many joyful memories as he’s given us.