I got conclusive proof three years ago God exists. That proof came to me at 6:55 AM in a hospital in West Knoxville, the day my daughter came into the world. I sit here with her by my side now that she’s three years old and can’t imagine a life without being a Dad. And fatherhood makes the world a better place, as long as you’re willing to put in the time.
I still remember the day I found out I was going to have a kid. I was in a state of surprise and total shock at the same time. Mrs. S. and I’d talked about it, but that soon? The day after my birthday I find out I’m going to be a Dad? I had no idea what the hell I was going to do. I’d represented the worst of the worst during my time in Juvenile Court. Would I get to that point?
For some reason I remember the first thing I did on finding out I’d be a Dad was take a full day and watch “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.” I don’t know why this was therapy for finding out I’d be a father soon. I guess in my heart of hearts Sugar Bear was the epitome of everything I despised about all the parents I’d seen pass through the system, and I wanted to make sure that I never had a chance in hell of ending up like that. It was strangely cathartic.
The next thing I remember were the tests. There’s a bit of a streak in our family tree for certain genetic issues to pop up, and we wanted to at least assess the possibility of our child coming into the world with one or more of those issues. That was a weird bit of business, going to a hospital and getting my mouth swabbed while nurses stumbled to draw blood from my wife.
Next came the classes. Sweet Christmas the “classes,” which told you everything from the appropriate baby-wearing device of the minute right down to graphic footage of live births both naturally and via C-section. I’ve watched some graphically violent horror films in my day; I still enjoy one on occasion when my kids aren’t around. I can tell you I averted my eyes when the nurse putting the films on that day grinned and said “This can get a little graphic for the guys in the room.”
I remember the day the tests came back. No issues with any of the predetermined genetic markers, though we’d resigned ourselves to love the kid no matter what if they did come up. That was issue number one. The second was the child’s gender. “Do you want to know?” asked the geneticist. “Yes,” we both exclaimed loudly.
“You’re having a girl.”
Those words made me jump up and do a victory lap around the room for some reason. I don’t know why; two years later we’d welcome our son and that was a touch more emotional of a moment for me. In any event, next came the “baby showers” where we’d get every gadget, gizmo, and gewgaw known to mankind for kids. And diapers. So many diapers, I didn’t even begin to fathom we’d need them all, and yet we certainly did.
Then came the big day. I remember it fondly, because we’d done everything absolutely right up to that point. Mrs. S.’s family was in town, and we’d just had lunch at a nice steakhouse next to Compound West. She was tired, and wanted a nap. I went to lay down on the couch and fiddle with some iPad game, when the magic words hit: “My water broke. It’s time.”
That statement sent a bolt of lighting through my brain and kicked my adrenaline into overdrive. I grabbed the bags, got the car ready, and off we went to the hospital of choice. I remember most of the details of the next half-day, but I won’t go into detail here. All I can tell you is that at 6:55 AM that day in July, I became a father to a lovely baby girl. That moment, I knew that God existed, because when I saw her, my world changed.
I knew what it was like to see a human being I’d helped create. I knew she would need me, and I’d always be there for her. I knew that I’d be in for a long, probably bumpy road going forward, but I didn’t care. I was a father at that point, and I was determined to give her the best life possible.
Today, three years later, I’d like to think I’ve got a good handle on everything Dad-related. I can tell you right now that’s a delusion. Every time I think I’ve got the “father figure” role sorted out, my kids give me a good dose of humility and remind me I know a lot less than I think I do. Getting a chance to play with my kids on the weekends and weekday evenings, making them breakfast every morning, all of it’s worth every second I get.
Being a father really does make the world a better place.