YOU ARE MY CALM
There are two times in my life where I felt instantly different. The first being when I received the Melchizedek Priesthood and the other when I became a father. Becoming a Dad made the movie ‘Taken’ seem like a bare minimum.
Somewhere around 12 or 13 I developed insomnia. Over time it grew worse and worse. I hoped that with the strict regimen of mission life it would get better. Mostly I would still lie awake and still get up at 6:00 am. After my mission it got worse because I now had people that would hang out with me until 4am every night.
Then I got married and I had to get a permanent job and all that responsible stuff, blah blah blah. The day Axel was born was the first time I could just lay down and go to sleep. Ever since then I have had no problems falling asleep at night.
The romantic part of me likes to think that my body/mind/spirit or whatever, was just anxiously awaiting his arrival here on earth. Maybe it’s the tiredness that comes with being a dad, but honestly, Amy was up with him most nights. I only stepped in if feeding him didn’t work. Not to say I didn’t put in my time walking around the house or yard with him in the middle of the night every so often.
The other day, I thought to myself, this kid is my calm. We can just hang out without anything really on the agenda. Life is calmer when he’s around. Maybe it’s because I don’t worry about the future or the past because spending time with my family is the thing I’d rather be doing than anything else in the world. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to worry about his future because he is so genuine and smart and creative that the whole world seems possible to him. Whatever it is, I’m never more in the moment than when I spend time with my family.
I’m not saying we just sit and stare at the wall doing nothing all the time, but we could. And we’d be fine with that. But he has such an amazing imagination that it’s always exciting. He can create whatever he wants out of what’s around him. If he really wants to wear purple pants, he just imagines that his black pants are purple and he’s good to go.
I envy his creativity. Not only does he have a ridiculous ability to create things as accurately as you can with the things he has, but he also can imagine up the rest and describe it with such detail you can see it yourself. It takes me back to being a kid and reminds me how much we lose to ‘growing up’. While I chose to grow up to facilitate a stable environment for him to be a kid in, I appreciate him inviting me into his world regularly, no matter how tired I am.
I see the world differently now. I can see God’s plan for us more clearly as I can see His perspective now that I have the responsibility of trying to raise a kid and let him grow while guiding him towards being a good contributing human. I see more adventure in mundane tasks and even more excitement for kid stuff than I did when I was a kid.
Being a dad is the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Part of why I wanted to have kids was not only because I naturally gravitate towards children and love being around them, but because there didn’t seem to be enough good people out there. I thought I could have a kid and teach him to respect other people and how to lift other people around him. I find there’s a lot more to it than that, but I put all of my best self into my family, and hopefully that’s enough. He is a good kid. He is indiscriminate with who he plays with, and generally is kind, loving, and inviting to everyone. He’s ultra sensitive, but that I think will allow him to be a better friend down the road.
When he was born I was expecting it to be like an old friendship finally reunited and I would feel like we’ve known each other for forever. When he came flopping out into this world like an alien head with a body just dangling from it, one of my first thoughts was ‘I have no idea who this kid is’. He was his own little person. He wasn’t a blank slate, but a person who already had his own personality, preferences, and thoughts. The next thought after that was how excited I was to get to know him. There was no little person I was going to build from scratch. I was going to get to find out what he loves and thinks as he learned to express himself and as I learned how to understand those expressions.
This is my calm.
I love you kid.
When Dani was born she looked exactly like her brother. I expected she’d be a little clone of him and that made it seem like raising her would be easier because we’ve done this before. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Dani was the exact opposite of what we were expecting. She and Axel are complete opposites. Even down to their appearance. He has blonde hair and dark brown eyes and chubby cheeks. Dani has dark hair and some of the brightest most beautiful eyes I’ve ever seen, and she’s the tiniest person I know. She never stops moving. She doesn’t like to be touched. She doesn’t like help.
While she’s one of the most thoughtful little people I know, making sure everyone gets their fair share and including everyone in what she does, she’s got the energy of the sun wrapped in that little body. This puts me out of my comfort zone. She doesn’t let me sit on the couch when there is music on. It’s mandatory to dance. When there isn’t music on she generally asks me to turn some on for her. I realized just how much out of my comfort zone she puts me when some guy came around the corner at home depot in the kitchen section to Dani and I dancing. I was super embarrassed at first. Then I realized I would be embarrassed a million times over to see this little girl’s smile. Everything is exciting and full of life with her. I can’t slow down with her because I’m a sucker for her little voice asking me to join her in whatever she does.
She tires me out just watching her, but just watching is generally not an option with her. I love that she motivates me to be a little more crazy as I’ve grown passive in my old age. We butt heads often as there are 4 bossy people in our house. She has to have things her way and will do it by herself no matter what you say. I constantly find her stuck in places because she wanted something and didn’t want to ask because she knew what the answer would be.
Dani keeps things moving at our house and keeps me more active than I want to be. She is just as compassionate as she is active and she can be the sweetest girl you’ve ever seen. When Big Dog was in her last few weeks, Dani would hand feed her dinner and breakfast on the days that she didn’t have the strength to stand there and eat. She would change her whole demeanor and sit with Big Dog when she knew she was struggling. She does this for everyone. She asks if you’re ok if you look sad or hurt.
I’m not looking forward to the day when I’m not one of her favorite people, because she’ll always be one of mine. Or the day when she doesn’t think I’ll understand what she’s going through because I’m her dad, and dad’s don’t get that kind of stuff. For now, she’s the last person I see as she waves to me on my way to work, and the first person to greet me when I get home from work.I love that, and I love you little girl.
This new kid is not easy on Amy’s body. She has to work really hard to keep both of them healthy. Waiting for a baby is an awesome time. You get to wonder about what he’ll be like. You wonder how he’ll fit into your family and how your kids are going to react to them. Will he be a musician, will he be smart? What will his challenges be? Some of these answers come quickly, and some of them I’ll have to wait a long time for.
With this new kid on the way, I feel hope. We felt strongly about having another baby. We both knew it was time and had distinct impressions about it. I don’t worry about how much it’s going to cost or about having another mouth to feed because our family follows Heavenly Father very closely, and if He gave his blessing and told us this was right for our family, He’s not going to set us up to fail. We do our best to do what’s right and the rest is out of our control anyway. Not that bad things don’t happen to good people, but whatever happens, I have faith that that is where we are supposed to be.
I feel hope because I get to invite someone into our lives that’s guaranteed to be someone I love with my whole self. It’s kind of cool that way. You never know who you’re going to meet in your life, what friends you’ll make, and how they’ll affect your life. But this instance, No matter what, I will love this kid very literally unconditionally in a way that’s inexplicable to people that don’t have kids.
I feel hope because there is one more person in the world I will do my very best to help teach to love those around him regardless of their demographics. To be someone who could teach others that they are loved by someone and to find hope in their lives.
I have big hopes for my kids. One’s that I probably won’t hear about or see very often, if ever. I hope there will be instances in my life where I will see what kind of person they are and know that they have these qualities. I have seen it already in Dani and Axel, and hope they continue to develop this part of them, and the new kid will also find these parts of himself.
I am excited to have you in our lives.
If you made it this far congratulations. Sorry for the cheese but I felt very compelled to write this and put it out there into the universe.