The perfect birthday gift

This time two years ago I was walking the corridors of a nearby hospital, dazed and confused.

No, I hadn’t been in an accident. I’d just become a father.

In my arms was my son, less than an hour old. My wife was still in the recovery ward, and so it was just the two of us, slowly walking up and down the corridors until we could see her again. Every now and then I would stop, and look straight into his eyes. (He was swaddled in a blanket, so his face is pretty much all I could see.) And every inch of my being was saying, “Wow”.

That feeling lasted until we left the hospital, at which point it became “Oh my God!”

Of course, I can’t tell you what my wife was thinking (though I’m guessing her thoughts were similar to mine). But to me it seemed like there had been a mistake. They can’t send us home yet. We don’t know anything about bringing up a child. We must have missed a class or something. (We hadn’t, by the way. Do you think we’d miss out on information like that?)

And so began our new role as parents. We learned about feeding, about changing nappies (something you can’t learn from a book or a doll), and about surviving on next to no sleep. As our confidence grew, we learned about going out with a small child and how some places make it easy while others make it impossible.

We learned about tears, and laughter, and everything in between. We learned about milestones—crawling, walking, talking, eating “solids”—and how we hope there are thousands more in his life. And we learned the feeling of being a parent is something you can’t describe to anyone, and that the only way to feel it is to become one yourself.

Today, as I watched him climb around the play equipment at his birthday party, I thought about everything that’s happened in the past two years—the good times, and the not so good. I thought about what he’s achieved so far, and what he might be capable of achieving in the future.

And for a split second I wondered if I’d done the best I could as a parent.

But then, as he walked out of the play area, he spotted me. Yelled out “Daddy” and ran towards me. And as I picked him up he put his arms around me and gave me a kiss.

Could I have done better as a parent? Almost certainly. But I have a son who is kind, and loving, and caring. He’s healthy and happy.

And now he’s two.

Happy birthday, son.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Gayle Howard March 22, 2010, 8:45 am

    I must be getting terribly soppy in my old age Bill, as this post made my eyes fill with tears. Beautiful article, written with all the passion of a good dad.


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