Being a father is the most rewarding and challenging job a man can have. God blessed me with my first child eight years ago. I was frightened and inexperienced and stumbled through the first few months until I gained my bearings. Since then, my wife, KayEm, and I have had two more children and I can attest that fatherhood has been more rewarding and more challenging than anything that I’ve ever experienced before (other than marriage).
I can remember exactly how I felt on the days of each of my children’s births and I’d like to share those feelings with you:
One night at dinner, KayEm, told me she had been extremely hungry lately. I didn’t think anything about it until she said, “Maybe it’s because I’m eating for two.” I was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of joy.
I was going to be a dad.
I was the doting husband throughout my wife’s pregnancy. I attended every checkup and birthing class. The pregnancy went fairly smoothly, but we had some complications during the delivery when the umbilical cord wrapped around Nee’s throat. The doctors rushed KayEm into the operating room for an emergency C-Section. I was worried for my wife and baby, but I didn’t allow KayEm to see I was afraid. I just stroked her hair and assured her that everything would be okay.
When Nee was delivered, the nurses rushed her to another operating table to ensure that she was breathing correctly. During the commotion, the OB/GYN failed to find out the baby’s gender. Throughout the pregnancy, our doctor insisted that we were having a boy. She even pulled out an ancient Chinese chart to prove it.
“What is the baby’s gender?” the doctor yelled across the room.
“It’s a girl,” replied a nurse.
“Are you sure?” the doctor demanded. “Because we’re supposed to have a boy.”
“Doc,” I said. “Can you please verify that we have the right baby?” Another woman in the same operating room had delivered a baby (a boy) at the same time. Thoughts of my baby being switched at birth ran through my head.
The doctor and I walked across the room to find my baby. She was wrapped in blankets and had a tiny knit cap on her head. I have to admit that I was not as overwhelmed by fatherly prided as I thought I would be. My newborn daughter looked like a little alien. But it didn’t take long for that little alien to abduct my heart. And today, daddy’s little girl is still the apple of my eye.
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Nee woke me up eager to give me the cards she made for me. Of the several she gave me, one touched me the most. On the outside of the card, Nee drew a cat and wrote the words: Have a PURIFFIC Father’s Day. On the inside she wrote, “OUTSTANDING! You’re the best father!”
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Every father longs for a son and I was blessed with my first son in 2003. To avoid the operating room confusion with our daughter’s birth, we decided to learn the gender of this child in advance (my wife also wanted to know what color to paint the nursery).
I remember sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for the results of the ultrasound. N was being quite active (a trait he still maintains) and the technician was having a hard time capturing a suitable image. The suspense was driving me crazy. Just as I was about to grab the instrument out of her hand and operate the ultrasound machine myself, the technician finally turned the screen around and said, “Congratulations, you’re having a boy.”
“Yes!” I yelled and gave my wife a big hug (she rebuffed my high five).
On the day of my son’s birth, I sat next to the operating table holding my wife’s hand as the doctors worked. Within a few minutes, the doctor handed me my son. He had a head full of thick, curly hair. His hair was so pretty that I had to check to make sure that he was actually a boy.
Over the past five years, I’ve discovered that he is all boy. He likes to run, play in the dirt, and wrestle with me. He is also very outgoing and popular with the girls. But most of all, he is my son and I will love him forever.
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At church, N made me a Father’s Day card. He made a paper tie and pasted it to the front. Inside, was this poem:
His prickly face rubs mine each day.
His hands hold mine to pray.
His strong arms hug me and hold me high.
He lets me sit in his lap when I cry.
His ears listen when I have something to say.
His legs run fast when we play.
His fingers can tickle and make me wiggle.
He can make silly faces so I will giggle.
I love my daddy, and he loves me.
I’m glad he’s part of my family.
* * * *
When my wife informed me that she was pregnant with our third child, I was apprehensive. Aside from the increased financial responsibility, I would be responsible for guiding two African-American boys into manhood, and that scared me. But when I held my beautiful son for the first time, I could hear God whispering all is well. Immediately, my fear turned to joy.
In the past year, my son has developed into a rascal who keeps me on my toes. However, he knows that he only has to say “Dada” in his cute, little baby voice and everything is right in my world.
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Father’s Day vignette
Here is a conversation Nee and N had this morning:
Nee: We have to make Daddy breakfast in bed
N: No, we can’t
Nee: Why not?
N: Because breakfast in bed is only for ladies.