I didn’t choose to become a father, it just happened.
Maybe I should back up. When Beth and I were going through premarital counseling, our counselor (who was a licensed therapist) told us that we were perhaps more alike then any couple he had ever counseled with before. Truth be told I think it drove him crazy that he couldn’t find issues we disagreed about or hadn’t thought about before. Then finally in our last session he hit a goldmine. Kids. Beth wanted them very much. I never wanted them.
He asked how we could get married with such differing hopes for our future in that area. Now truth be told we had talked about it, and we just figured that one day we would be on the same page (which I knew meant that Beth would change her mind, because I knew I never would). When we expressed that he continued to push and asked what would happen if there was an unplanned pregnancy before we made that decision? What would I do? Would I be the kind of guy who would stick around?
In that room that was an easy question to answer, because I knew it would never happen… until it did. In 2014, after being married for 2 years, “disaster” stuck. Beth was pregnant. Neither of us was excited about that development in our lives. Beth wasn’t excited because she wasn’t ready yet and she wanted us to make that decision together in the future. I wasn’t excited because my life was ruined. I don’t like kids. I like free time, having money, spontaneous date nights to Dairy Queen or Sam’s, and going to the movies (don’t judge me). I can’t handle throw up or diapers. And yet that was to become my future.
And so for a couple of months Beth was pregnant and nobody knew. The entire time I was battling a lot of different emotions. But finally we were through the first trimester and it was time to tell people, starting with our parents. They were so excited, and for a moment so was I! The excitement was contagious. But it didn’t last.
Most people say that when they hold their child for the first time they melt inside, and that there is an instant connection and bond. I was holding out for that. I was praying for that every night, because the truth is that while Beth had a bond with Allen before he was born and grew to love him, I did not. It was surreal to me. I couldn’t feel him growing. And I couldn’t feel that connection no matter how hard I tried. Well- finally the day came, January 23, 2015. And I held little Allen for the first time… and I felt nothing. What was wrong with me?
Going home from the hospital was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Beth and I were now alone with Allen. Our parents were gone. The nurses were gone. The nursery was gone (God bless you night nurses! I didn’t know that would be my last few nights of sleep for 6 months). A million questions went through my mind on the way home:
- How do you take care of someone so little with no experience?
- Would I break him trying to put on his clothes?
- How much should he eat?
- Is the car seat even installed right?
- Is his head suppose to have a dent in it?
- Why is there not an exit exam before you leave the hospital?
And yet, Beth always knew what to do. She was a great mom! But I wasn’t a dad. At least not yet. I tried and tried and tried but I continued to struggle with this new development in my life.
There wasn’t a single moment when things changed for me. But in time my feelings changed. Being left alone with Allen went from something I dreaded to something I looked forward to. Rocking him back to sleep when he woke up crying went from a chore to a precious moment. And I began to feel a bond and love for Allen like I never thought possible. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world (most days, at least… check back when he throws a tantrum in the middle of Wal-Mart).
I never wanted to be a father, but God brought a child into my life. And now, 2 years later, I am choosing to be a dad to another child. This time it is my choice. It is what I want to do. And now God is making us wait. We have to wait for pictures of her that should have been here 3 weeks ago. We have to wait for a video that was promised last week. A comprehensive medical exam that happened 2 weeks ago still hasn’t made it to us yet. And we have to wait a full year before we can bring her home. And yet if there is one thing I have learned, it is that God’s timing is always what is best. God always has had, and continues to have, what is best for me in his mind.
Left to my own devices I most certainly would have never chosen to become a father. But God removed that choice from me and put Allen in my life. And he led me down a long road (far longer then I have ever admitted to anyone but my wife prior to this writing) to choosing to become a daddy.
You may have noticed I have used both the words father and dad/daddy in this post. I do not see these as interchangeable. Father describes a relationship that is biological. Dad describes a relationship that is emotional. Fathering is an act of nature but being a dad is an act of nurturing and supporting. It is easy to become a father. In fact, many people become a father unintentionally (and I fall into this group.) Being a father requires no commitment. But being a dad requires a lifelong commitment.
There is only one person in this world that will ever be able to call me his father. But this time next year, there will be two people who will be able to call me “daddy.”