I found out I was going to be a dad on my 33rd birthday. I suppose that's ironic. Or cathartic. It was frightening...I know that much. You spend your adult life thinking about the day you become a dad, and you are convinced you will do a great job. But when you find out it's actually going to happen you aren't so sure. Suddenly it became more important than ever that I make enough money, that we have a nice place to live, that we drive a safe car.
I knew instantly that I was going to do it differently than the examples I had growing up. My daughter would never fear me. Never. She would never feel dread when I pulled into the driveway at night. She'd never be afraid to speak her mind around me or to tell me what she was thinking or feeling. She was going to be totally free to be herself...because it was God who determined who she is and who she was going to be...not me. And my daughter was never going to chase me like a phantom. She would never beg to know me. I would not be a mystery and I would not reject her.
I had set to work years before -before even meeting her mom- working on my own fatherhood so I'd be ready. I read books, listened to seminars and worked on becoming a great dad. Because I knew that if I didn't create the habit of great fatherhood, I would simply revert to the model I had growing up. That would become my default. I couldn't do that to my daughter.
Every day, as that tiny little form grew bigger and the bump in her mom's belly became more pronounced, I was preparing my heart. I was imagining holding her in my arms. Singing to her. Telling her about God, about her mom, about her daddy and how much he loves her. There was a moment when Holly was about 7 months pregnant that I will never forget. Each night, I had been in the habit of placing a paper-towel tube against Holly's belly and talking to Morgan. I always said the same thing: "Hi Morgan, it's your daddy. I love you and I can't wait to see you!". One night, around that seven months mark, we were lying in bed and I did this again with the tube and as soon as I said "Hi Morgan it's your daddy..." She kicked...very pronounced. Holly and I both laughed and cried. Our daughter was not even here yet but she knew her daddies voice and she knew what it sounded like when he told her he loved her. Something neither of us had heard ourselves.
Morgan entered this world wanted and expected. We anticipated her arrival. She was a blessing to us.
My own arrival was scandalous and shameful for my mother and father. It demanded his abandoning his plans and spending 30 months in the hell of Vietnam, when he really wanted to finish his college degree. For my mother, it was humiliating and embarrassing and it didn't end at all the way she'd hoped. I was born to a couple of Twenty-year olds who didn't want kids yet. Each had plans. Both had to rethink them.
My daughter was my plan. She is my dream. She makes me who I am and who I was always supposed to be.
Many times during those long 9 months waiting for her arrival I would imagine the conversations we would one day have. each would begin and end with "I love you". because that is the only foundation a child really desires.
The day is getting closer. I can close my eyes and feel you here with your mom and me. I can picture what you'll look like. I can't wait! I am so excited I just want to jump out of my skin! You are everything I have been waiting for since I was a young man. I've worked hard to become a dad...long before I found out I would be one. I don't know how well I'll do the job, but I promise I'll do my very best. While God is knitting you together in your momma's womb, I am praying He makes me the best dad I can be...the dad He wants for you. I love you already. All I ever wanted was to be your dad"