Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Being Dad.

So there are moments, every day or rather, they can come on any day, where your mind snaps a picture and you remember that moment and it shapes you.

Our best friends lived right across the street from us in Jersey City, New Jersey.  They had a daughter and we did not have any kids.  We had always thought we would have kids, but we knew we needed to adopt and we really didn't know all that meant so we just kept on not having kids.

One night, I was sitting in our bedroom that looked out onto the street which our friends lived on and I noticed them parking their car.  It was summer but it was late and getting dark and I have this clear picture of my friend, a dad, climbing out of the driver's side and opening the back door and unhooking his sleeping daughter from her car seat, her flopping into his arms and then tucking in.  He wrapped her blanket around her and my mind took a picture.  That was what I wanted.  All of it.  This quite moment where no other labels stick to you, only 'Dad'.

Later, we got our daughter, and she was perfect (is), and here's the thing, people who wonder if you can really love a child who came from somewhere else, or rather someone else, as much as biological child, well, they forget the father. You see, no father has ever carried a baby inside his belly. In fact, when he contributed to that baby, his mind was most likely elsewhere. His bonding begins when they meet face to face.  No child, who was raised by two parents thought, 'You know, my mom just sorta loves me more...I guess it was those nine pre-birth months that really tipped the scale.'  No one questions the fathers ability to bond and love and protect a baby he didn't carry. And so it was with my daughter.  But another secret they don't tell you, is that it doesn't happen that first second. You think maybe it should but in that moment you are still meeting a stranger and nothing is stranger than a new born. This is also complicated when adopting as there is one string in the back of your heart that you hold back, you have to. You protect it because the truth is it could all fall apart at any moment.  And if you gave yourself  over, completely and totally gave over every string, you would never recover.

The first time I saw her she was in an incubator getting warmed up.  The delivery had happend very fast and we had just missed it. So we pressed our faces to the nursery glass looking for our baby. While we thought she would be easy to spot, she was not.  We came looking for our black daughter but there were only white ones.  So she came out pink, we didn't know?! But we saw her name and she turned her head and we, all three of us, felt it. (okay, I'm projecting what the 15 min old baby felt, but it's our story and I'm telling it, so you get what you get.) ...she turned her head and we, all three of us, felt it.  But the 'IT' was the surprise, I did not feel that she was my daughter, what a felt was a deep longing, 'Oh...I hope that is her.  I want it to be her. Please, please, let her be mine.'  She was (is).

Raising a new born is like someone giving you a hot water bottle that cries and poops. You don't sleep a lot but you also get to snuggle a lot and rock it a lot and she never wipes off your kisses (three year olds do). And while I felt like a dad at the time, I must not have been.

Once, when she was older, we were driving across the country moving from New Jersey to Utah.  We picked the scenic route as we would never do this drive again, and meandered down the east coast through the Great Smokey Mountains, then through Atlanta on our way to Savannah and through Jacksonville. Drove for days through Texas, where the sky touches the distant ground on every side of you then whipped up to the foothills of Colorado before coming to our new home.  And every night, and my wife would let me cause she knew the story, we would pull into a new hotel, turn off the headlights and I would get out of the drivers side and open the back door and there she slept. Only when I unsnapped her buckle and she tucked her nose into my neck and breathed out into a deeper sleep did every label drip off me, and I was only 'Dad'
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...