One year ago today, I watched as Miles emerged into the world. There are a handful of people in my life whose impact on me was so profound, even from the beginning, that I can remember every detail from the moment we met. With Miles it’s a little different, in that everything around us is a blur, but his birth is crystal clear. It’s almost like, for an instant, everything ceased to exist except this one little newborn.
A year in I can say with no hesitation that being a father has enriched my life in every way I thought it would and more. Having a child was never something I felt I was headed on autopilot towards. I never wanted a kid simply because “that’s what you do after you get married.” That said, while being a parent means different things to different people, I’ve always felt like having and raising children is a meaningful, intrinsic part of the human experience, lending purpose to life in a very deep and personal way.
While I never really wistfully fantasized about being a parent, it’s certainly been a longtime goal. I don’t really like to dwell on hypotheticals, and for a long time that’s all fatherhood was for me. Even when we found out Jaclyn was pregnant and the prospect of parenting seemed all-but inevitable, I shied away from spending too much time on speculation about the baby or what the experience would be like. When Jaclyn was pregnant (I daresay when anyone has been pregnant ever), one…make that two of the questions we got the most were 1) “Is it a boy or a girl?” and then, after saying we were waiting to find out, 2) “Well what are you hoping for?”
On one hand, I didn’t really entertain that second question. After all, what does it matter what I want? Why even commit time to thinking about that (see the above statement about hypotheticals)? The truth was, either a boy or girl was gestating inside of Jaclyn, and no amount of speculation or wishing was going to change what that child already was or (more importantly) how I was going to feel about him or her. I also wasn’t keen on spending the next several months prescribing gender-based expectations on a kid who, in all fairness, hadn’t even gained consciousness yet.
On the other hand, and I’ve probably only shared this with two people, deep down inside I was hoping for a girl.
Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up with brothers. Maybe it’s a desire to raise a strong girl in a world that still pushes back against women. Maybe it’s just wanting to introduce her to that new She-Ra cartoon on Netflix (NOTE: having a boy has not stopped me from doing this anyway). I don’t know, but that was my extremely private (and, frankly, only briefly considered) feeling.
And then Miles (NOT a girl) was born. And I return to my initial thoughts on the rampant speculation about the sex of the child — what difference does it make? The second that boy came sliding out, every bit of love in his mother and I was projected towards him. Son, daughter — it didn’t matter at all. The rest of the world faded into the background, and all that mattered was that this was our child.
That night, while I was holding this tiny, perfect boy in my arms alone in the hospital room, I looked down at him, assured him that we were going to love him with everything we had, and said, “I didn’t know who you were going to be, but I’m so glad it’s you.” I meant it then, and there’s more truth to those words every day, as Jaclyn and I see more and more of who he’s growing into.