January 9, 2016 by Dadinator
It happens often.
I’m watching him. He’s riding a bike now with training wheels, his trike sits idle at home. We have been talking. “What does six and eight make?”. He’s asked the question at least ten times a day for the past few weeks.
“Do you mean six PLUS eight? Or the number six and the number eight together?”.
“Six plus eight.”
“It makes fourteen.”
He’s happy about that. Fourteen is his favourite number at the moment.
And in that little moment, that second it hits me. My eyes widen and I inhale. “I’m a dad” I think to myself in disbelief.
I’m walking down the street my vanguard of children run before me before they dutifully stop at the road crossing and make sure we are all holding hands. I look down at the heads that look back up on me. I see them both do it, checking to make sure I’m there.
I hold my hands out, words are not necessary, and the hands of my children clamp on mine.
And in that tiny instant, that suspended milisecond it hits me. My eyes widen and I inhale. “I’m a dad” I think to myself in disbelief.
It is morning. Kids are piled into our bed as they always are by morning. My son has been clinging to me. My daughter is wedged between The Mamanator and I. I’ve been running my fingers through their hair again, twirling it absent-mindedly in the grey of early dawn. As I mentally organise the day, working out what I can make for breakfast with what’s in the kitchen, wonder if we can avoid TV this morning or not.
I keep twirling that hair.
And at that very point between the strands of hair twirling in my fingers, in that minuscule sliver of time it hits me. My eyes widen and I inhale. “I’m a dad” I think to myself in disbelief.
My girl and I have been playing. In truth I am following her directions. She is determined, confident and assertive. She is also disarmingly charming, joyful and she has eyes I lose myself in every day. I follow her often contradictory instructions, as she navigates the nuances of a language she is still learning, and as I surrender myself to her guidance.
“Be the daddy monster!” she extols, moments before yelling “NO! SHTOPPP!” as I clearly get it wrong. I grin the whole time, amazed at the willpower in this little girl who used to be my baby.
And in her gaze, in that gap between the seconds it hits me. My eyes widen and I inhale. “I’m a dad” I think to myself in disbelief.
It has been hours. I am exhausted, terrified and impatient. After hours of grimaces, grunts, groans, and fervent expectation it’s here. It takes a long time to prepare things, and then suddenly it happens.
In pools of blood and other fluids a tiny, grey, wet lump lies on a sheet. I fumble with scissors, trying to cut something much tougher than I thought it would be while masked faces gaze intensely at the writing mass before us. Some wiping down, some wrapping and I am handed it.
And in that first sense of the weight of him, in that limitless potential in my hands, it hits me. My eyes widen and I inhale “I’m a dad” I think to myself in disbelief.
It is 4 years and 2 months and 19 days into my dadhood. Yet it still hits me, stuns me and surprises me. That simple statement. “I’m a dad”, sometimes it feels like it doesn’t quite fit. Like I never took the entrance exam, never received the induction or never got the welcome bag. Yet here I am.
Where did these beings come from? How did all this happen? And yes, when did they get so big?
Part of me worries this sense of surprise verging on disbelief is a sign of incompetence. That I’ll never hit the groove of this parenting thing. That it’s a succession of stumbling, speed bumps and train-wrecks. That the surprises will keep on coming and that I’ll never be cool, calm, collected or prepared in the face of the continual onslaught of these tiny humans in front of me. Part of me worries that these pauses are a sign that I was never ready, and never will be.
But that passes…
My eyes widen and I inhale. “I’m a dad” I think to myself in disbelief. I exhale. My breath is warm in my nose, and my eyes glaze over. My heart rises in my chest and my lips upturn. “And I love it”, the thought completes.
I hope I never stop being surprised, that I never stop being subjected to these shock-waves that radiate out from the day my children were born. I love the surprises fatherhood brings. Surprises full of excitement, joy, pride and love. Surprises that ensure that the tedium of rushed mornings, of putting shoes on, of constant cleaning and tidying don’t get the better of me. I can’t imagine being a father without being surprised.