Thursday, June 16, 2011

Just like Daddy!

I was born on the last day of spring in 1982.  I came four days early, at 3:36am.  My parents had already picked out a girl name, Rachel Rose (Rose after my paternal grandmother), though they weren't sure what/who they were expecting.  Due to my early arrival, I was born on Father's Day and I'm pretty sure my dad started going gray that very day.  He'll tell you I was the best present ever.  When I was born, my parents lived in a one bedroom apartment by the hospital my mom worked at, so the dining room was transformed into my bedroom.  My dad spent hours putting together my crib, tightening every nut and bolt, and positioning it just right along the wall.  While most children with a parent at home typically grow up with their mom, my parents' work schedule allowed my dad to be home with me and my brothers.  He picked us up from school, took us to the park, and allowed us to have cheeseburger Happy Meals as needed.  During the humid St. Louis summers, we would go to the library and Blockbuster a few times a week and stock up on entertainment when it was too hot to be outside.  He did not miss a single father-daughter event, even through high school.  I didn't realize it until I was in my mid-twenties, but I am very VERY lucky to have such a loyal and kind person in my life.   Some of my best qualities come from him - aside from my hairy arms (ha), there's my interest in politics, my experimentation of cooking all kinds of foods, and my love of books.  Presently, he's become an adoring grandpa (both to Mowgli and Cameron!). 

Now that I'm a parent, I have often wondered what my parents were like before I came along.  While I'll probably never know the answer to that, I've been observing my husband's transformation from an "I" to a "We".

When Brian and I got married, I thought I knew pretty much everything about him - his likes, dislikes, pet peeves, etc.  He loves pizza, the outdoors, and conserving energy.  He hates clutter, having too many plans, and the bureaucracy of daily life (i.e. all those "time-suck" types of tasks).  He was out walking Mowgli last August when I took the pregnancy test.  When he arrived home, I had been sitting on my couch fretting about the best way to tell him we were expecting.  As he unhooked Mo from his harness, he said to me "I never get to take time off and just stay in St. Louis.  Everytime I take vacation, we're traveling.  I hope one day I'll be able to take time off and just stay in town."  To which I replied "How does next April sound to you?"  He looked up at me, blinked, and said "You're PREGNANT?"  When I said yes, he had this incredulous look on his face and I couldn't quite tell if he was excited or totally freaked out.  He insisted I take another test just to make sure the results weren't a fluke. And then, the freak out began.  His mind was racing from moving into the right school district to starting a 529 college saving plan to converting our spare bedroom into a nursery.  All these thoughts and Cam was only a clump of cells (an adorable, lovable clump, but a clump nonetheless). 

Throughout my pregnancy, he shifted between feelings of excitement and fear; anxiety and acceptance; uncertainty and understanding.  He insisted on playing classical music for Cam every night before bed and I'd balance his phone on my belly while it projected all kinds of lullabies.  With pride, he assembled the rocking chair and the crib in Cameron's room and installed the carseat bases in our vehicles.  Upon Cameron's arrival, Brian debuted our new video camera and narrated daily shots of our new baby.  He had been frightened to hold a newborn, but once the O.R. nurse had convinced him to cut the umbilical cord, I'm pretty sure he knew he was all in. 

These days, he doesn't rush home to get to the gym before dinner or to watch the big game (unless it's hockey!).  When he walks Mowgli, he takes Cam along in the stroller.  Somehow, in al the busy-ness of the day, he finds time in his evening to read Cam bedtime stories and rock him to sleep.  I can't imagine how hard it is for him to leave us every morning for work (though I'm headed back to my job on 6/22!), so I make sure to send him pictures of our activities throughout the day.  I already knew that I'd married a very kind man, but seeing the way he is with our son opens a new perspective in our relationship.  He is infinitely patient, compassionate, loving and humbled in his new role.  I can't wait to see how their (and our) relationship will grow. 

Happy Father's Day to all the dads in your life!

"It's not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can't tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself."  ~Joyce Maynard

"The guys who fear becoming fathers don't understand that fathering is not something perfect men do, but something that perfects the man.  The end product of child raising is not the child but the parent."  ~Frank Pittman

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