26 December 2011

Witnessing Fatherhood

Yesterday, I had one of those moments -- one where all the world around you seems to slow down for a bit just for you in order that you may pause, see something, and let your soul soak it all in.

I've always known that James was going to be an amazing father. Having come from a place where most of the young adult men I knew either sought to delay indefinitely or entirely avoid fatherhood, it was a refreshing change to fall in love with someone who could hardly wait to embrace it, even with all the responsibility and "inconvenience" it entails. As I've written here before, I wasn't always so keen on embracing motherhood, but James made wanting it easy. I knew he wasn't going to be one of those dads who only begrudgingly "babysits" (as opposed to parents) sometimes.

Ewan BW071
James & Ewan

It was amazing to watch him and his fatherhood at work when we were in the hospital with Ewan. We were both in over our heads with our firstborn (like I'm sure any parents of a medically fragile child feel much of the time), not only adjusting to life with a child outside the womb, but learning on the fly to make critical life-and-death decisions on his behalf in an area where neither of us had any experience. I never knew what questions to ask, or how even to begin to approach decision-making with the litany of choices we were presented daily. He asked detailed, meaningful questions that gave us the information we needed. He asked the things I would have been embarrassed to posit. He made sure those discussions went somewhere.

He never, ever -- even in those final moments -- gave up on his son.

Practicing for Austen

A little over a year later, I watch him in wonder still. Our anticipation at the arrival of Austen is filled with giddiness rather than wariness. He became positively silly and giddy after installing the car seat and trying on the baby carrier, pretending to kiss her little head. He's as excited -- if not more -- than I've seen any father be at the arrival of a child. He's long desired daughters and I can hardly wait to experience my heart melting into a puddle over and over at the sight of him caring for and loving her. I can't wait for him to be able to hold her.

Christmas 2011

Yesterday, we got a bit of a taste of one of those normal moments. We enjoyed Christmas dinner with one of James' co-workers and his extended family. The gathering was boisterous and loud and fun, the presents practically burying some of the kids in the room. One of the younger children, an 18-month-old, got a Sesame Street play drum set. After it was set up, it was with delight that we all watched him confidently wield the plastic orange drum sticks and bang away at the drums and the little cymbal. He invited us all the bang along with him.

malachi bangs the drums

James joined right in. And I got a picture of what it would be like to have one of these normal types of parenting moments. It was amazing to observe him in a crisis, but it was equally amazing and delightful to witness a moment where he was playing along, helping a toddler bang his new drum set.

Normal, delightful, (messy, exhausting, whatever) parenthood -- I can't wait for this -- to live it, observe it, and soak in every perfectly prosaic and extraordinary moment.