When we first met one year ago today you were gasping for breath and trying to warm your body in a freezing hospital room. You were wide eyed with fear and amazement at this strange new world that had just opened up to you.
So was I.
As a matter of fact I was so wide eyed that I nearly had the first fainting spell of my 31 years of life. Luckily there were plenty of nurses present to advise me to sit down. So this is how our first year began. Both of us were scared to death, but only one of us had to sit down for a breather.
To a man without children parenting always seemed to be about what a parent had to give to their child. Parents give their time including free time, personal time, break time, and all other measures of time. Parents give away their sleep. They give away their personal life, wants, needs, and even their money. Parents give food, clothing, and toys. Parents even have to change diapers.
Now that I am your Dad I can confidently say that what you have given me in the first year of your life far exceeds anything and everything that I could ever give to you.
First of all you have given me joy. I was overwhelmed with joy when you were born. You gave me the joy of your first smile. You gave me the joy of the first time you rolled over and when you started crawling. You gave me the joy of watching you pull up on the furniture and eventually walk. You gave me the pure joy of watching you smile or laugh on a daily basis. There is nothing like the joy that is found in a proud parent’s heart.
You have also given me love. First you gave me a new type of love in my heart. Having a child has taught me the human hearts true capacity for love. There is no other love like the one a parent feels for their child.
You have also given me your unconditional love. When you reach out for me or when you smile at me I feel that love. When you clutch at me or play with me I feel that love. You love me no matter what. You showed up and just started loving both me and your Mom. That is an amazing gift.
Finally you gave me the hope of a future spent with a loving family. I got married at a fairly late age for people in the rural south. I spent most of my youth chasing selfish misguided ambitions. I wasted many of my years alone. When you were added to my treasure chest that already included your mother my hope for a family was realized. The realization of that hope in turn gives birth to a bigger hope for all the joy, love, and dreams of a lifetime spent together.
Thank you Braden for changing my life forever. Thank you for your love. Thank you for your infectious spirit. Thank you for the fun we have together. If this year is any indication I am in for a lifetime of happiness that I could have never imagined one year ago.
Happy First Birthday!