Can I just say how lucky I am to have the best kids known to mankind? And the best wife ever? Yeah, yeah, what great sentimental overdramatic pap I'm pumping out right now, but I'm on a post-Father's day high and there's no stoppin' me now.
It's quite something to add a new label to your persona. When I became an uncle that was such a big emotional deal for me. The term "uncle" sounded so old and official. I was 25 at the time and the last I checked 25 wasn't at all old, nor was it official-sounding. You aren't just given a new label in life; It becomes you and forms you. Maybe I'm not that typical uncle that gives unnecessary advice, smokes Swisher Sweets, or somehow always needs a place to stay, borrowing money from your old pop time to time, but I did become that uncle that liked to act silly, make stupid faces, speak like Scooby-Doo on the phone for birthdays, become instant human monkey-bars, and draw funny pictures if poked and proded long enough. Throughout the years I've realized that once you're labelled something, it doesn't always have to be what the rest of the world expects from you. I know that my niece and nephew will look at me as the only Uncle Ward that they'll ever know, and that they'll love me for who I am.
Becoming a father was like that, but on a much larger scale. It literally took the wind out of my lungs once I saw Ava emerge from her mother and was held up in front of me to witness the beginning of a new, wonderful life. A new life!
A new baby is born! And thus: A new father is born! A new mother is born!
It was so overwhelming and so BIG at first. To have this little thing that you've helped create with someone you love so dearly, in your arms while she's sleeping for the first time in her entire life, well, that's just so HUGE. It's beyond comprehension. To hear the slight whistling of the air going through her tiny nose on her first night on earth: HUGE. To watch her eat for the first time: HUGE. To witness her eyes focusing on objects in front of her, to have her cling onto your index finger, which must seem like a treetrunk to her -- all of it monumental and larger than life itself.
Memories are fleeting, but there are a few moments in my burgeoning career as a father that stand out like tent-poles for me, and I will never forget them. Here are a few:
As I was holding Ava in my arms sometime during her first year, she began to study my face and slowly reached up and ran her pudgy little hands down my rough cheeks, both sides. She did this several times and I just melted right there on the spot. It was as if she was very intent on knowing who this strange person was who was holding her all the time, tickling her just to get her to laugh, making the crazyiest faces she's ever seen. The next day, I was beaming very loudly to everyone at work that they all must experience being a parent, as it's the best thing that's ever happened to me, period. I wanted every guy there to experience what I just experienced the day before. They all looked at me like I was nuts.
To hear Ava laugh is priceless. I made her laugh uncontrollably one night, while mom was out, teaching. It was just after Easter and Ava was almost 2 years-old. I placed one of those plastic eggs that you put candy in, in my mouth and spit it out in front of her. She laughed so much, it sounded like she couldn't breathe, as she would gasp in air with such gusto. It sounded like she was hyperventilating. It was so funny, I taped it so Andrea would see it when she got home.
To witness my two beautiful infants be born right in front of me was simply amazing. (Of course, the pain that Andrea had to endure was definitely not amazing, and she'll have to tell you the birthstories when she's good and ready.) Nothing can describe it. I still think about both wonderful events to this day.
I love hearing Ezra say his first word, "ball." It sounds right on some days, but sometimes it comes out sounding like, "ba, ba, bah." He'll reach out and try to grab the object that looks most like a ball or balloon, but is almost always beyond his reach. Sorry, kiddo. You can't havies.
My Father's Day was great. Got some wonderful artwork done by Ava, as well as a piece done by both Ava and her mommy, Andrea. I love these new drawings, but am conflicted about posting them, as I can't always share every single Ava drawing that's out there. There are some drawings that are meant for family, and family only, and I plan on respecting that. These drawings are precious, and I love them dearly.
Oh! -- I got some great presents, too. Thank you, Andrea, for making my Father's Day the best I've ever had. And thank you, Ava and Ezra, for making me so proud to be called father. I am truly blessed.