Before you came along my favorite male companion was a dog.
Before you came along my favorite late night snack was beer.
Before you came along I didn't watch cartoons.
Before you came along I hadn't played with hot wheels in decades.
Before you came along I didn't ever sit in the floor.
Before you came along I didn't read aloud.
Before you came along I didn't change diapers or give baths.
Before you came along I always slept through the night.
Before you came along I had never been to a pumpkin patch.
Before you came along our house was generally quiet.
Before you came along I had never folded tiny clothes.
Before you came along I had never fed another person.
Before you came along I had a pool table.
Now I am in the floor every night in the area where a pool table once stood playing with cars and putting together puzzles. I read. I watch cartoons. I eat cereal. Our house is loud all the time and toys are scattered across the floor. I am now educated on many things about raising a baby and I am almost always tired.
For people without kids that last paragraph probably reads like a Stephen King novel. For those of you with children it sounds all too familiar. I guess that is one of the biggest changes brought on by parenthood, the change in perception.
In two years with Braden I have learned that my perception of what my life with children would be like was about as accurate as the once strongly held belief that the Earth was flat. I had this misconstrued idea that Braden's life would fit nicely inside the molds that had been formed by my experiences and Arica's experiences.
Well parenting has taught me that the exact opposite is true. As parents our lives will be lived inside of the boundaries formed by Braden's experiences. It has already started to happen. You can see that by reading the list above. I am eating Honey Combs. I have learned the names of every character on Cars from Mater to Snot Rod. I am reading Dr. Seuss and singing along with Mickey Mouse. I am living in Braden's world.
I wrote a post not long ago that got some attention over at Reddit titled You Haven't Lived. A couple commenters thought it was a bit insensitive for me to insinuate that people without children haven't lived a full life. Of course that was not my intention. I am certainly not conceited enough to think that I know what is the fullest way for other people to live their lives. Everyone has their own journey.
I should have said "I haven't lived" because that is the absolute truth. I had been to France, Italy, Hungary, Germany, Costa Rica, Malaysia, and Thailand. I had been to Fenway, Wrigley Field, and the old Yankee Stadium. I followed the Hogs to three bowl games, an SEC championship game, and both the SEC and SWC basketball tournaments. I had been to the beach on four continents. I partied for the better part of a decade. I had even conned the most beautiful girl in the world into marrying me. Anyone that has been around a while can plainly see that was my greatest achievement.
Yet, despite all that, I hadn't truly lived until Braden was born. I know Arica feels the same way. So, Braden, thanks for letting us live in your little world. It is an honor to be your parents.
Happy 2nd Birthday Braden! We love you!