There are moments that focus your life to a single point.
I’ve had two, exactly eight and a half years apart.
The first was the day I married Melissa, a moment of such intense joy that I still get a silly grin every time I think about it.
The second happened two and a half weeks ago, when my son, Michael, was born.
People say having children changes everything. I certainly understood much of that: the excited anticipation, the shock and intense sleep deprivation, the way that your schedule and priorities inexorably and irresistibly bend around that little one, but what I couldn’t have ever imagined was the way that becoming a father would simply and completely change me.
Some things just have to be experienced to be understood.
No one could describe what it would be like to watch Melissa be transfigured from wife to wife AND mother in the course of a single day.
No one could describe what it would be like to watch my child take his first breath.
No one could describe what it would be like to put my nose to my son’s nose minutes as he lay on his mother’s chest, and have our eyes lock for one eternal moment.
No one could describe what I would feel as I held Michael in my arms and wept as I told him over and over, “You are MY son.”
No one could describe my unmistakable conviction that I had changed, at a level so deep that I still don’t have words for it.
Thanks to a truly blessed birth and a truly amazing community who have given us space to breathe as we’ve transitioned into parenting, I’ve had nothing more important to do than sit in the presence of that singular moment.
No one has asked me for advice about being a dad. (Nor should they really, I only have two and a half weeks of experience, after all. ) However, if I was to have learned anything so far, it is this:
In those precious few hours and days, don’t get distracted by expectations, by anxiety, or by plans for the future.
You’ll always carry expectations around with you. Anxiety about the future will inevitably emerge, whether you want it or not. Your plans for the future, whether that be cloth diapering or Netflix binging will come to fruition or fall apart in glorious chaos.
Stop and receive that one singular moment as a gift.
Because it’s there for a second and gone in a flash, leaving trails across the rest of your life.
And the worst thing you could happen is to miss that spectacular, life-breaking event that will literally be looking you right in the face.