I have been a father to this little guy for eleven days (assuming the photo posted..which i think it did, this blasted technology frustrates me so). Before we begin, take a moment to really take in all his cuteness (unless the blasted photo didn’t publish).
Don’t stop…there’s more cuteness to be experienced…keep looking.
Hey…you’re not done…back to the picture.
OK, fine, let’s move on.
All the anxiety, the fears, the anticipation. all the dreams, the wants, the plans. Eleven days ago they burst forth like a run away train, with a wail that brought forth a flood of tears from both my wife and I. And if we’re being honest (which what’s the point of the blog if we stop being honest), I have yet to stop that flood. My son is here. My son is now. He is the greatest joy I have ever known and as tends to be the case, I have also experienced the greatest fears, the deepest levels of uncertainty, I have ever experienced. Joy rains down upon my soul and yet sometimes, I find myself feeling at times a flood of fears and worries (and it’s only been eleven days).
I cannot control everything. I cannot control his breathing, his temperature, I can’t control his life. I can only move alongside him. I can hold him, rock him, sing to him but he is not me and I am not him. And in just the few eleven days I have come face to face with fears and insecurities, the likes of which I have never knew could come out of my heart. But that is what it means to be a new dad. It means to live and walk in joy and fear. To see a great responsibility that has been given to you and to neither shy away from it nor be overwhelmed by it. Fatherhood, for my brief eleven day experience, is the greatest story I have yet to live…and I can’t wait to write new chapters.
As I reflect on my experiences, my feelings and emotions, my late night wandering thoughts (that believe it or not don’t always take me to dark sad places) I want to share three lessons I’ve learned. I am at heart a theologian and so of course, I have looked upon my son as a new way of understanding God and how to live as a participant of this crazy movement of Jesus.
First off, embrace the insecure feelings if you feel them. During night 5 (I didn’t wait long to feel like a failure you see), he was crying and I couldn’t figure out how to soothe him. Erin came in and three minutes later he was fine. She is much better at that stuff than me. And as I was holding him that night, the wretched beast of inadequacy began to chew on my soul. And I told God how I felt. And he responded by reminding me that “His power is perfected in my weakness.” I heard him tell me, “Relax, take a breathe, I’m in control. You’re ok.” If we have insecurities we need to embrace them for two reasons: 1) it further reminds us to rely on God and not ourselves and 2) in those moments, we find the strength to cut ourselves some slack. Isaac is a newborn, and I am a newborn dad. I am not perfect, but this whole process is a learning experience. I’ve always been harder on myself than others, but through grace, I can work on cutting myself some slack.
Secondly, take a breathe in the midst of frustrations. I don’t know how other parents feel but when Isaac starts to and really when the cry builds up into a high pitched screech, time stands still. It literally freezes and all I can see and hear and feel is frustration. Your heart breaks because your son is unhappy, hurting, uncomfortable, hungry…etc. And to add to it, you don’t know how to help and so frustration builds. When this happens, you stop, you take a break. You calm down. You step back (mentally…don’t leave your screaming child alone) and breathe. Just as in life, the frustrations, the anxieties can become so overwhelming, so can a crying baby. It is easy to drown in their sorrows and screams. But instead of being overwhelmed…take a breathe. Climb up out of the ocean of frustration and get oxygen above the chaos. And then dive back in, centered and focused…and you’ll be fine (and sometimes it takes multiple breathes…and that’s ok too).
Lastly, we are made to be communal beings. Erin and I are syncing in a way we never knew before. Every day I find new reasons to love her. To watch her hold Isaac, to watch her be his mother is a mystical and holy event for me. She is completely different (in a good way). But sometimes, she struggles and I’m there to share with her my experiences watching how great she is. Other times, I am a wreck and she is right there to pick me up. At nights we lie in bed and talk and laugh, we should be sleeping but instead we simply look into each others eyes and hold hands. And we rely on our friends, we rely on the community around us. We made the decision not to read baby books because everyone has their own ideas and every baby is different. We decided we would learn as we go. And because we believe our family is deeper than blood we have found a nourishing source of support. We are not alone because we have each other. We are not alone because God has surrounded us with loving people who are helping to raise Isaac as if he is one of their own. He will grow up knowing what it is like to be selflessly loved by others and through this he will grow up to be a man who selflessly loves others in return. His is a Kingdom Baby after all.
Fatherhood has been everything I hoped it would be and then some. It’s been eleven great days (even with the emotional roller coaster that is Kyle) and I am so glad to be a part of this journey with him. May Erin and I never take these days and the ones to follow for granted. For our Little Ru, is a great blessing and I am so proud to be his dad.