Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Parenthood

Something new on the blog today-- I'm welcoming a guest blogger, my good friend D.B. Grady. D.B. wanted to write to my (loose) theme of transition, but except for a stint in Afghanistan, he's lived his whole life in Baton Rouge. So he's writing on a transition of another kind. Take it away, D.B.

It's a thrill to write for Angie's blog today. She is truly the Obi-Wan Kenobi of freelance writers, thoughtful and generous in word and deed. Her guidance led to my first paying gig, and she continues to inspire with assignment after assignment. She's written for more magazines than I've read. (And I am late in submitting this piece to her, so clearly I've still got a lot to learn.)

After mentioning the Red Planet Noir virtual book tour, she was kind enough to offer her website for me to scribble on. She suggested the topic of transitions. It soon became very clear that there's been only one real transition in my life, and that is to fatherhood. Everything else was a warmup act.

I don't remember much after my daughter was born.

Amelia is fifteen months old. She may as well be fifteen years. Everyone's heard, or said, "Oh, they grow so fast." They're understating things. Amelia is like a runaway stagecoach. One day, she could roll. One day she could sit. Then she was crawling. Standing. Cruising. Walking. Dancing. "Mama." "Daddy." "Dog." Baby food. People food. She presently chatters endlessly in her own secret language. I remember the first time she laughed, but don't remember why. I remember the first tooth, but don't remember when. Sometimes when she's tired she'll give me a little kiss.

A couple of months after she was born, I dropped by my old office. Everyone commented that I'd lost weight. I hadn't noticed. I hadn't been eating. It never even occurred to me. There wasn't enough time. (I've since made up the difference, and then some.)

I didn't sleep for a year. That's how it felt, anyway.

Nothing can prepare one for parenthood. It's binary; there is Before Baby and After Baby.

Before Baby, I noticed every screaming child within earshot. Now I go to Chuck E Cheese and it barely registers that I'm not at the library. It's as though I've become a Zen Master. Like there's an IV of Halcion dripping into my bloodstream.

When Amelia was born, I wondered why she was crying, or why she wasn't sleeping at night.

Then I started worrying when she didn't cry. Why she was sleeping for eight hours. I started waking more than she did.

After becoming a father, so many things start to make sense. Life is clarified, and the important is put in perspective with the truly important. And this is the most important thing I will ever do. I work from home, and am grateful for that opportunity. To watch her grow, learn, think and figure things out. She explores the house -- no cabinet is safe. When she finds something of interest, she usually creeps toward me with hands outstretched, not for permission, but for approval. "Look what I found, daddy! This is the new best thing in the world."

Fatherhood is a tremendous responsibility, but it is never a burden. When I grow frustrated, it is always at myself, for not knowing what to do. She is learning faster than I am. There is no resting on my laurels, no kicking my feet up and taking the week off. Every day brings a new discovery, for her, and for me.

Recently, I met an old friend and her husband for lunch, and we brought the babies. (Are fifteen-month-olds still considered babies? I don't even know that.) She is an artist in Washington DC, and works from home. She lamented that she would do anything for a daily, four-hour block of uninterrupted time with her craft. I'm a writer; I know the feeling. Then she said, "But it'll only be like this for five years. Then she'll be off to school, and I will never get to spend the whole day, everyday, with her again."

As Amelia fed herself Apple Jacks from a ziplock bag, I did the math. Three and a half more years. And I felt terribly sad.

They grow so fast. I'll never catch up.
--

D.B. Grady is the author of Red Planet Noir.
He can be found on the web at http://www.dbgrady.com/.










12 comments:

Jan Rider Newman said...

Yes.

GerdieMom said...

Well said!

Kimberly said...

Wait...one day you'll wake up and your precious little pink bundle is turning 16...looks like a model...and is talking about college and writing and finding a publisher for her first novel!

It really does happen at the speed of light. They are the light you are speeding after.

I am Keaghan's mom and she is the light in my every day.

Mary-LUE said...

Yes, 15 months is still a baby... at least in my mind. 18 months old a toddler makes.

You are right about that no turning back thing. And now, I am getting ready for another transition as my son is about to turn 18. Poor kid, I don't know how he's gonna make having me deal with THAT.

Trace said...

Oh so true.. I remember walking my baby daughter through the streets in her pram trying to get her to sleep at about 7am one morning after a night of screaming. An elderly lady stopped me, looked in the pram and commented "Aaah, the best time of your life". I thought she was mad... 21 years later I know she was not.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

They DO grow up too fast. As Kimberly said, all too soon she'll be sixteen and then you'll have another delimma on your hands.

Of course you can view that the way my husband did - at 13 you put barbed wire on the windows @ 17 a ladder (said the same man who often told the latest boy "I wear a badge and have a gun and I'm not afraid to use either") LOL!

If you are 1/2 the father you are a writer, Amelia is one blessed child.

Take care and enjoy every moment while you can cause they don't stay little long.
PamT

BobandGeorgiaDowner said...

You're on the best journey you'll ever undertake. More fun than Disneyland, wilder than running the rapids, more rewarding than anything money or power can buy. But be attentive. Our children were 6 & 8 one day. We turned around for a minute and while we weren't looking they grew up and were gone. So it seemed. Enjoy every minute. She is your immortality right there in front of your eyes. But there is another possible reward way, way down the road - if you're lucky: grandchildren!

Anne@Rosydreamer said...

I enjoyed reading this so much.

Lauren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beverly said...

Well said. I can't wax poetic but I understand every feeling you have expressed. What is more precious than a baby? Especially the first one, the long awaited view into mortality. One day Amelia will have a brother but there will never be the nervous anticipation of the first extension of oneself. Congratulations on a beautiful girl, so glad you get to spend so much time with her. Lucky father.

beverly said...

I think I missed my mark on mortality instead of immortality. Please forgive the mistake.

Common Household Mom said...

Well said. Parenthood seems to require being in a constant state of transition. My oldest just got her driver's license -big transition for the whole family! But two days later she wanted to take the car by herself on a date. Um, not ready for THAT transition yet.

I love the photos, esp the one of the Writer with the endless stacks of books extending behind him.