Thank you Bub for being there for me. This past year has been tremendously eventful and altering. I love you so very much. You have become my sun in which I revolve. You make every day bright and optimistic. I look forward to a lifetime more of sunny days thanks to your warmth. My son’s first year of life is just a couple days away. That means I have been a father for approximately 21 months. Never in my life would I have envisioned ending up where I am today. I could write about how my life has changed. I could write the differences in my day to day after my son’s arrival. How elated and stricken with an instantaneous overabundance of unfiltered love and pride the day he was born. Then how two days later when we arrived home I cried because I felt so lost and confused as my son lay crying in his swing; and how I overcame that. This could be about all the small things that fill me with joy every day being in his presence. How my heart swells with pride with each accomplishment he achieves on a daily basis. His mental development is staggering and amazes me every step of the way. I could write how my heart is capable of expanding infinitely to accommodate all these things to fit. But I won’t. I’ll instead write about how having my son changed me as a person. He’s opened my eyes to many worlds and circles I was never aware even existed.
Before he was born, I’ll admit this with some hesitancy, I was not fond of children. In my life I have never really interacted with them or held them or really have ever been in the vicinity of them. For the sake of keeping honesty forefront, they kind of annoyed me. So why would someone who did not care for kids want kids? My wife’s ovaries were panging fiercely, sending messages she could not ignore. Despite my tussle, I could envision myself as father; but this is delving into another story of its own.
What my son has taught me through experiences is that children are completely awesome, unique beings. When I see a child laughing or smiling, I smile back. Before I would turn away because it felt awkward to look them in eye for reasons I can’t quite explain. Knowing the impact a simple gesture has on child’s psyche changes how I interact with them. I see it every day with my son. A smile brightens their lives, even if they don’t know you. A friendly wave enriches their view of the world. I realize now these tiny little people are forming opinions of their world, not just living in it. Who am I to taint their fragile psyche by ignoring their curiosity rather than thriving in it?
My view and opinion of children have changed. They are little people with concerns, needs and real emotion to each decision we make for them. A long time ago I adopted a one-size-fits-all opinion to children. This simply is not true. Children are as unique as snowflakes with personalities to match. What works with my son may not work on his friend at day care. When I see a young child playing and giggling and enjoying life I’m overtaking with a smile and acceptance.
With the realization of how mentally fragile children and infants really are, my level of empathy has grown to levels I thought myself incapable of. Understanding the emotional need of my son has transferred over to many other areas. Most significantly to parents with special needs children or parents I see struggling for one reason or another or simply a child have a tough time of it. You could say I have bias empathy. But that empathy has never been tapped in me before.
Love is instantaneous. Cliché? Perhaps. Fact? Absolutely. I was one that had to work on love. There was no love at first sight in my life. Yes, this includes my wife. That’s another story as well. But the second I saw my sons head emerge from its 9 month hibernation; I knew love can be instantaneous. Didn’t I say I was not going to write about being filled with love upon his birth? I did, and I lied. How could I not mention it? It’s one of the greater experiences of becoming a father.
With my sons arrival I felt the urge to learn all I could about the decisions that needed to be made regarding his upbringing. Instead of just going with the flow of what society and western medicine want to you to believe, I researched each decision with vigor. It’s that need for further clarification that had ultimately led me ultimately to where I currently stand; which is an advocate for a variety of issues that I never knew existed!
- Breastfeeding. Who knew it was a “controversial” act in public? Never would I have imagined I’d be advocating for the most natural of ways to feed a child. Why would that even need advocacy? Breastfeeding has been an integral part of our son’s upbringing. He has been exclusively breast fed up to 6 months and still nurses at 1 year.
- Natural, safe and intervention free birth. This is a big one. The birthing realm mystified me from the beginning. My wife was pretty knowledgeable, but not me. Now I know more than ever! This happens to be another advocacy dear to us. In fact, we just attended our first Improving Birth rally just this year. I could not have had more fun there. The things you can learn and teach others are astonishing!
- Child Advocate. We have learned that children have no say so in a number of areas. Whether it is spanking or bullying from adults; I have come to understand how kids are being raised by being systematically beat down by parents (psychologically) in an unintentional manner (sometimes intentional). Through learning gentle methods that exclude physical and mental harm; we try to understand better how to handle disciplining children and teaching natural consequences
These are just a few of the ways my path has changed. Nights once spent seeking out records and reading comics have morphed into seeking information and reading various “parenting” books about gentle parenting and AP parenting. I have even began dabbling with a blog about the whole experience of raising my son and things we now advocate for. Wait a minute? Where else would this have posted? So my life has changed drastically in the past year. It’s been fulfilling in ways I can’t put into words. Where I once stood as being inconsequential I now know where my path lies. I am still learning how to get there and I will allow my son to be my guide.