Seven years ago today, I was so sure I had it all figured out.
When Andi and I first discovered she was pregnant – after being awoken in the middle of the night in the middle of the deep, dark woods in the middle of the only real wilderness we’d ever truly ventured into (i.e. the comfy campgrounds of Acadia State Park in Northeastern Maine) with what Andi could only describe as the first stages in an alien infestation, we went through all the normal preparations that seemingly normal, first time parents go through.
We vetted our suspicions through an actual practicing doc and not just the baker’s dozen of EPT that the local CVS dropped on us (Hey – we were in Northeastern Maine where the local yokels have barely mastered fire, we weren’t taking any chances). We excitedly told our friends and family. We bought some baby books. We feathered a nursery. We…. errr, SHE read the baby books. And then we sat back – tearing the calendar pages with reckless abandon as we charted that tiny bump in her abdomen as it grew several sizes too large – knowing full well that what lay beneath was someone that would change our lives forever.
And we thought we had it all figured out.
And then on May 5th, as we descended upon the South Shore Hospital in South Weymouth, MA for our scheduled 6 a.m. appointment – where Andi’s labor would be induced – we realized that for lack of a better term, like the best of parents often do, we hadn’t a f@#king clue.
After all, I started the day thinking “Hell – If we’re starting at 6 am we’ll have this baby out and about before Hasselbeck nestles down into her seat alongside Star.” Flash forward about 15 hours later – as the Red Sox are just within two outs of closing out a loss to the California Angles – and my lids have finally given up resisting arrest and finally a nurse kicks open the door and announces “It’s Go Time!!!” And we were off to the races, looking ahead to the deep, dark night and knowing full well that no matter how mannered you think you can lay things straight for the big day, life will always toss you a curve ball.
And that’s the fun of it all.
So seven years ago today, our little boy surprised us. He burst out kicking and screaming before the clock turned to midnight meaning he would still lay claim to the title, Cinco de Mayo Nino, which also guarantees him a birthday Corona for life. That said, he did make us wait with baited breath.
I remember back then wondering if I’d ever watch TV again. It seemed every moment of those first waking minutes of parenthood stretched on for time eternity. If sleep would never come, how would I ever welcome back all of the various entertainments that add a little color to the corners of my life? Were our trivial pursuits packed in a box and shelved from that day forth? And why didn’t those baby books caution new parents against the tidal wave of emotions that would wash ashore the moment you exited the safe confines of the hospital and the reality settled in that you, the guy who almost always missed that back belt loop, was suddenly required to piece together a child seat so devious by design that the creepy clown from the Saw flicks might take pause in considering it?
I’ll tell you why. Survival of the species! Mankind would cease to exist if neophyte parents knew the Sisyphusian challenges that lay before them. No matter how many times we push that rock up the mountain, something is waiting to kick it right back down.
But the baby books in their clinical design also err in very large fashion by neglecting one additional tidbit of intel. The moment you lay claim to one fraction of your child’s real estate – as their eyes first open wide to the world and they unleash that first real war cry – and you realize that you had a part in handcrafting the miraculous – that you have brought forth a new life upon this Earth – and whether that new life becomes the next President or a Civil Service Engineer or just a lazy loaf-about, that new life will make you the proudest Papa to walk the planet – well, that knowledge can grab the mightiest of us and bring us to our knees, gasping for breath.
Spider-Man had it right. With great power comes great responsibility.
So, on that day, when Andi and I welcomed Colin Edward Humphries to the world, we ran that gamut of emotions. From joy at beholding our newborn son to a bittersweet melancholia at kissing our former independence goodbye, we came out on the other end emboldened and feeling more complete then we ever have in our entire lives. Feeling the love and wanting to share every life-affirming ounce of it with our beautiful little boy – one who I feel will one day reinvent the world even if it’s just our little corner of it.
And now here we are, seven years later and I’m just struck down once again, humbled by how swiftly time flies when you’re having fun. Those first sleepless nights seem like the proverbial drop in the well. A few restless nights plucked from the 2,555 that my boy has shuttered his lids for the evening seems like such a tiny price to pay for such great rewards. Hell, I’d call that a fantastic return on investment.
There isn’t a night that passes that Andi and I don’t walk into Colin’s room, after he has turned down for the night and we just stare at him for a moment as he drifts through whatever dreamscape his fertile imagination has cobbled together for the occasion.
And as I do, I wonder just what dreams may come for my boy knowing full well that he’s living proof that dreams do come true.
Happy 7th Birthday Colin!!!