This Thursday, June 19th, is my oldest son's birthday. Calvin will be 10 years old.
According to Einstein, time is relative to the observer. If you are a stationary observer, your clock moves faster. It seems that I have become very statue like. Time seems to fly by me, and my son, who was an infant only yesterday, is becoming more man-like in thought and appearance in front of my eyes.
I know this is only an illusion, but I secretly want time to stop so that I can hold my children forever. This is an unreasonable fantasy, but I can't shake it. Honestly, it doesn't seem like it was that long ago that I was anticipating Calvin's arrival.
I was probably better prepared for birth than most men are at that point in life. In college I had to take all of the classes in child development. I was the only guy in a class full of young women during the birthing video. Every girl watched me to see how I would take the miracle of birth displayed on video before me. I treated it like a fat shot of tequila in a biker bar. I stared directly at the screen and didn't flinch. Any display of weakness in a situation like that is the kiss of death. I was young and single and was not about to eliminate any potential liaisons.
I also had the benefit of being man in a female dominated profession. The things that women discussed in front of me when they accepted me as non-threatening were always very interesting. When my wife became pregnant I had been a kindergarten teacher for 8 years. That is 8 years of listening to girl talk. I must have picked up something.
My wife and I took those pregnancy classes together, not Lamaze, just the regular birthing classes. Amy was having none of that non-epidural birthing, and I don't blame her one bit (any man that thinks he knows what is best for a woman during childbirth needs to shut the hell up). The classes involved talking about all of the changes that were coming, reviewing anatomy, and watching birthing videos. Really just review for both of us.
The only problem was that I was not prepared for the overwhelming emotional response that was coming. We had a day to prepare for Calvin's birth. At our last OBGYN visit (yes, I went to every Dr's visit for all of my children), the Doctor turned to us and said, "Do you want to have a baby today, or tomorrow?" We picked the following day. I had to cut the grass, I don't know why I had to do that, but at the time, that is exactly what I said. So I cut the grass and worried about all of the things that I had not yet completed in preparation for our new arrival.
Calvin's birth was as smooth as they come. I held Amy's hand and let her squeeze me very tightly while practicing the breathing that everyone tells you to do. The Doctor said, "Ok, here he comes," and bam! He was out. I was presented with this small, wiggly bundle that I could not see. It took me a few seconds to realize that I was crying. That was the most wonderfully overwhelming experience that I have ever had. It really did not change with my other two children, each time I had the same reaction. Overcome with the beauty and magic of life.
And now Calvin will be 10.
Once, when Calvin was almost one, I was holding him up while he tried out those wobbly little legs that all babies have, and I felt like I was in control. I was protecting him while he began to explore the world. Slowly he moved is feet forward. Then out of nowhere, his feet kicked out from under him and he went limp, banging his chin on the coffee table, and opening a small bloody gash.
I was devastated. My perfect baby was scarred for life by my careless parenting. How could I have been so thoughtless? It took me a long time to forgive myself. I finally realized that I had done everything possible to protect him, but that is just not enough. Life is hard, and no matter what you do, you can not protect your children for all that life throws at them. This is the one thing that they don't cover in the birthing classes and the hardest lesson that all parents must learn. Maybe that is why I want to stop time and just hold my babies...