"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it."
-Clarence Budington Kelland
Fear doesn't begin to describe the feelings I was experiencing as our midwife rubbed a small amount of jelly on Rachels lower stomach. Being a person already prone to unchoreographed racing thoughts, I felt as though my head was about to burst like a red supergiant star. Four of my five senses shut down, and all of my energy funneled to my ears.
She pressed the doppler ultrasound against her skin and I stood there grasping Rachels hand with my own trembling sweaty hand, mouth agape with anticipation.
*Thump thump thump thump thump thump*
-My little baby’s heart.
It sounded like a scuba diver rapidly knocking on the other side of aquarium glass, a rippling thud muddled by water. The emotional shift was instant and pure. Rachel and I smiled at each other nearly ripping our lips at the corners. “That’s our baby. That’s a human being inside of you. It’s half you, half me.”
All my life I wanted to be a father. My dad always told me it was his one dream in life to be a great father, and that really stuck with me. (By the way Dad, you accomplished that dream with flying colors. Now sit back, relax and get ready for a grandbaby.)
Now that I’m on my way to becoming a father, this little thing called “reality” is setting in. I have dedicated an incredible amount of thought to the responsibilities that are coming my way. My child will develop their view of the world by learning from me. It’s as if I am crafting the lenses that will be placed in their frame. My actions will be on display, coded in their brain as memories they retain for the rest of their life.
Life can be expressed like a highlight reel. Our memories can be recalled and replayed in our minds. We can relive emotions as if we’re experiencing the memory once again. How amazing would it be to be able to direct, produce, and act in the film your child will have for life?
Doing the Work
My endeavors to get my hands dirty with my own mental work have now evolved into something greater; a purpose not just focusing on the self, but a focus on the self in order to provide an example for my child. A living, breathing example to draw wisdom from. My inner work is now more important than ever. I want to be the strongest and most reliable set of shoulders for my child and, of course, for Rachel.
I think the statement “becoming a parent is the most important thing you will ever do” is remarkably underrated. It is THE thing. I’m not even actually a dad yet, but my self-worth has skyrocketed knowing that a little life will be looking to me to show them the way. To teach them to communicate. To teach them to navigate rough seas, and embrace calm waters. To be a fully competent individual who is at home with their own thoughts.
I want to teach my child that they won’t always be happy, and that constant happiness is not the key to a fulfilling life. Rather, the key is to be adaptable to every single emotion they will be feeling on a daily basis. Emotions are but a cloud, floating across the sky. Every individual person is their own sky, and there will always be clouds. But they are not the clouds themselves and they are not permanent.
For a deeper analysis on the subject of happiness, click here.
I came across a crucial concept that led me to an immensely deep understanding of myself and my thoughts.
It made such an impact that I wrote an article about it - you can check it out here.
For a long time I made the mistake of sailing my ship recklessly. I was that guy in the speedboat cutting past peaceful fishing boats. I disrupted the peace causing them to brace and hold on, as I continued to cruise without looking back. I’m now much more aware of the waves I am making. There are other boats in the water, and my waves affect their course.
Just like the quote at the beginning of this article, I will not be telling my child how to live, I will be witnessed living my life. Every little ripple on the surface of the water will be detected by my baby’s boat. Keeping a steady, reliable course will teach them how to navigate. Following in my wake when the seas get rough will teach them how to adapt, until it is time to let them follow their own course.
A Little Empathy
As of today, Rachel is nearing the 16-week mark. She has experienced first trimester pain at an awfully high level, a level which I’ll never be able to fully comprehend. She’s been a warrior through it all, dealing with the ebbs and flows that seem to shift at the flip of a switch. I have learned what it truly means to be empathetic, to be a caregiver, and to place another’s needs in front of my own.
It’s important for soon-to-be fathers to understand that we do not understand. My responsibility is to continue to monitor my partner’s pulse. It is up to me to be a stable shoulder, an empathetic source of peace with monstrous ears of compassion. It is up to me to make that choice every single morning to be here, to be in it, and to be the best man I can possibly be.
I have been given the ultimate gift. I have been given the opportunity to raise a child with the woman I love. I have been given the opportunity to cultivate a human being that makes a positive impact in the world. This gift is something to cherish and observe with wonder.