May 3rd, 2016, at 7:08 and 7:09 P.M. That was the exact moment in time my boys entered the world, and there is no gift I can give them that could compare to the gift they gave me. You see, one more week marks six months since we entered each other’s lives, for, what I can only pray will soon become permanent. Six months of fatherhood; Six months of memories, many of which have been some of my best; Six months of feeling terrified by the question of whether or not I’m going to be enough for them and be able to give them the lives they deserve.
The childhood they deserve.
The love, discipline, and instruction they will take into manhood.
A lot of weeks have felt more like a trudge against waves of exhaustion, than a triumphant victory march toward the winners circle. But, a trudge I have thoroughly enjoyed, and, after six long months that have gone by way too fast, I have never felt more at peace with where we have arrived together. As a family.
Me and my boys, their new grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles, and, of course, friends. So, today, I would like to write them the birthday message they can’t yet understand:
My beautiful boys,
It’s hard to imagine a time before you and the thought of living without you brings almost crippling fear and anxiety that I struggle to find words to describe. We have been on a roller-coaster ride of emotional turbulence for some time together. I hate that you can’t share your feelings with me, or talk about the dreams that wake you up in tears, from time-to-time. I wish there was something more I could do to comfort you. The thought of you feeling any sense of abandonment or hurt, is the hardest part of being your dad. But, even the hardest part of being your dad would be a million times better than the easiest part of losing you. I can’t wait until those fears have been alleviated through the process of adoption, and all I’m left with are my wishes and intentions for your future.
Those wishes are, simply put, that you grow up to be honorable men, who always put each other’s needs ahead of your own. That you always have each other to lean on, even after I’m gone. That you remain the one true constant for each other that you have been since the moment of your shared birth.
You are two now; I don’t want you to have to grow up a second faster than you are, because the adults in your life aren’t sheltering you from the storm, into which you were born. Watching you run through the grass and throw sticks, just to see how far they go, is what I want for you, right now. Eventually, you will carry responsibilities, and it will be my job to prepare you for that. But, for now, your job is to run and play, laugh and get dirty, splash in puddles wearing rubber galoshes… Or, your best dress shoes. Because whatever you can destroy through the process of being two, is only material and can be replaced. There is nothing you can spill, rip, smash or stain that could ever make me love you less, and nothing that can be bought that could ever make me love you more. You are perfectly imperfect and that’s all you need to be.
I am so proud of you and amazed at how much you’ve both grown in such a short time. It’s exciting watching you try out new words, and I will try my best to make sure the words you learn from me are ALL okay for you to use. I hope you never learn the definition of a double-standard from watching me. Thank you both for your grace with me, and your patience as I learn how to do this whole parenting thing as a single man. There are so many great things I received from my mother, your grandmother, that I will likely fall short on providing for you. But, I spent the first six years of my life without a dad, and I hope I can, at least to some extent, make up for it by being a dad and a positive male role-model for you. And, I promise to make sure you never have a boo-boo unkissed, a tear unwiped, or a need unmet.
Your laughter is the first thing I wake up to and your diapers, the first smell. Thank you for bringing both into my quiet, clean house, and for making it your home.
I love you to the moon and back!
Always and forever,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOYS!