My favorite memory of my dad is not one particular event. I can’t tell you how old I was, or what day of the week it was, or even the month. I don’t know if it happened a hundred times, or a dozen. What I do remember is that it was warm, and sunny, and that the air smelled like grass and charcoal. Dad wore a T-shirt and shorts, white tube socks, probably pulled up too high. My blonde hair was tinged green from the chlorine in our pool, and cut into the same bowl cut as my two brothers. So, it was probably summer. But every time we’d grill out, hamburgers mostly, maybe chicken, Dad would kick the soccer ball with us in between meat-flipping sessions. The image pretty much sums up summer evenings, growing up in Southern California.
One of my favorite things about becoming a parent, is seeing the transformation of my husband to “Daddy.” I obviously married John because I love him, and I loved him before he was a dad, but there’s something about that moment when your spouse/partner holds their child for the first time that just… kind of changes everything, you know? Now I see John in Xander, and Xander in John. And now the same with Luna. Not just looks, but small mannerisms and expressions (although, my son and my husband are indistinguishable from each other in baby pictures). When Xander was just a few weeks old, and still sleeping in the co-sleeper by our bed, I woke up (probably because he sighed, or something; drat that Mom supersonic hearing!) and looked over at the baby. His arms had come free from the swaddle, and he was sleeping with his elbows bent, and tiny fists up by his head. Then I looked over at my husband, deeply asleep after a long day of Pass The Fussy Baby. He was sleeping in the exact same position: elbows bent, hands in loose fists by his head. Both of their faces turned in the same direction.
I never really “wanted” a boy or a girl baby. But, had I been pressed, I probably would have admitted to being a bit nervous about having a boy. I, obviously, am a girl. I grew up with brothers, yes, but I didn’t know anything about RAISING them. Now that he’s here, I don’t really see him as a “boy” baby (or, child, really), but just my son. And I’m so excited about being able to teach him how to be a man, a father – if that’s the road he chooses. Teaching him to be respectful and kind, to be a helper when others are in trouble, to value his imagination, to recognize his own strength, but not be embarrassed to be vulnerable.
In short, I’m excited about teaching him and mirroring for him all the traits of the men who’ve influenced me.
A very happy (early) Father’s Day to my dad, husband, and all the uncles, Big Brothers, future dads, and any men who have any influence in the lives of the kids around them.