It’s hard to believe that my oldest daughter Riley Claire Wakefield is turning 9 years old. I vividly remember the day I learned I would become a father, it’s etched in my memory because of how proud and scared I was all at the same time. Samantha and I were in Baltimore visiting her family for the 4th of July. Samantha felt uncharacteristically queasy on the plane so that should have initially tipped us off. Though we’d only recently made the decision to start a family, we weren’t expecting it to happen so fast. When we landed and arrived at my brother in law’s house I remember Samantha took a home pregnancy test, and as soon as I saw the results I ran screaming through the house telling everyone we’re going to have a baby! Little did I know that that would be the beginning of a magnificent journey.
I’ve always been a reflector, but soon after I learned I would become a father I started to take a much more active approach to chronicling my thoughts and eventually this turned into a few different blogs beginning with my first, Riley’s Dad. We have a few traditions in our house when we celebrate each child’s birthday. First, because I have years of videotape footage of them, they have to watch their birth video (its more sanitary than you think), and they’re always excited to watch all the other years of footage of their infant through toddler and early childhood years. A personal tradition I have is looking back at previous years blogposts to see what I was thinking at the time and to reflect on how far we’ve come together as father and daughter. Here’s a look back at the day Riles was born and what was going on in my head at the time.
To borrow a phrase from Jaime Foxx in Dreamgirls: “when i first saw you, i said oh my, that’s my dream…” A day that began with waking up early and waiting for about 7 hours in between periods of intense labor (for your mom) and lull moments it was quite a journey. Then, it ended with a bang when you were born. I was so proud of your mother today, she reminded me why I married her. After I cut the cord and handed you to your mom, all we both could do was smile. For the past several hours you’ve been so tired that you’ve fallen asleep in my arms several times, while we’ve let your mom catch up on some rest. Your mom just looked over at me and asked what I’m writing. I told her, it’s just my reflections at the end of a long day. Smiling she replied, “it’s just the beginning.” I couldn’t agree more.Taken from my previous blog- Riley’s Dad
I also spent some time reminiscing about how I felt during my first few days after bringing you home. Because I worked for a super progressive organization at the time, I was able to take off a month of paid paternity leave time which afforded me ample time to ease into fatherhood. Here is a reflection I had during that first month home with you as a newborn:
There are countless new little things I’m noticing about you as we spend more time together, and I’m looking forward to each new discovery. Which reminds me: this morning, as your mother and I were talking about how we felt we’ve been doing the past few days, I asked her, how am I doing as a new father. She politely told me what I’ve been doing well, but the most interesting thing she said was that she’s glad I took the time off from work to focus on being a new parent. That struck a chord with me because it’s not often that we take time off to just focus on the stuff that’s most important. I want to keep in the habit of doing this (taking time off), so that as you grow up, neither one of us misses out on all the big or little things that we’re supposed to experience together.Taken from my previous blog- Riley’s Dad
It’s been amazing to watch you continue to grow these 9 years. Yesterday I sat in the audience as you took the stage and gave a speech to the entire school and I just couldn’t help but be proud. I love how you’re constantly willing to push yourself past your comfort zone in order to grow! Everyday before you leave the house I remind you that you’re a leader, and then you repeat the refrain you’ve heard since pre-school, and leaders make good choices. Let’s face it, this kid’s going places. I’m so proud of you, the way you’ve paved the way for your sisters and what’s more, I know that there’s more greatness in store. Always remember that daddy loves you!