Tuesday, July 12th, 2011
For the first 29 years of my life, before I became a dad, I just didn’t really “get it” when it came to babies. When someone would show me a picture of their baby, I would always compliment them, but subconsciously think, “All babies look alike.” To me, a baby was like a really expensive pet. I couldn’t yet relate to the pride a parent feels. But now I totally do.
It’s only natural to believe that your own child is the most beautiful baby ever born. Because I do. But I am also more partial to him than any other man in this world can be. Honestly though, I don’t care if he actually is the most beautiful boy on Earth. I don’t care if he ever wins a “cutest baby” contest or gets on the cover of a magazine based on his looks.
My son doesn’t necessarily look anything like me or even that much like my wife, but instead a baby version of my wife’s dad. So when I look at my son, it’s not like looking into a younger, innocent clone of myself or my wife and me combined. Admittedly, I never viewed my father-in-law as “beautiful.” Because after all, he was my father-in-law. (He passed away just a few months after my wife and I were married, back in 2008.)
So I think it’s interesting that the most beautiful boy in the world actually reminds me of a 67 year old, half-Norwegian, half-Irish man from Sacramento who loved to fish and drink good beer.
But the type of beautiful that I see my son as is not limited to just physical aesthetics or even that whole “beautiful on the inside, too” deal. It is a deeper, spiritual, eternal kind of beauty that I can’t describe in any other way. His beauty is not limited to his unexpected hair and eye color or skin tone. Nor is it confined to his innocent, playful personality.
So now when people show me pictures of their kids, the most appropriate response comes natural to me. It means something when I say, “That’s a good lookin’ kid you got there.” I understand now what I never could before as a babyless dude.
When it comes to parenting, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder: Beauty is in the shared heart between a parent and their child.
You’re welcome, Hallmark.
Photos courtesy of Moments in Time Photography in Fort Payne, Alabama:
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Growing Up, Must Read, Nostalgia, People, Story Bucket, Storytelling
Thursday, June 24th, 2010
*Did you hear about this blog from American Baby magazine? If so, click here to get to the main page (table of contents) for “dad from day one”. There’s a whole lot more where this come from…
During the closing credits of my favorite movie of all time, I Love You, Man, Barry (Jon Favreau) finds out his wife Denise (Jamie Pressly) is pregnant after she vomits on him at the wedding reception. With puke on his shirt, he says to her, “Please, try to make it a boy.” Barry is a Type A jerk, inhabiting every memory and idea of a typical beer-guzzling frat boy. So of course, having a boy (instead of a girl) would be very important to him.
Being that I’m nothing like that character in the movie, instead being much more like the main character, Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd), I had just always assumed I would have all daughters. Here’s the picture I had in my head of my future family: Me, wifey, three daughters, and two Cockapoos (or Labradoodles).
It just makes more sense that a guy who has no interest (or talent whatsoever) in sports or hunting (or anything proving I’m man enough by showing my “game face”), but instead has always been enthralled in everything artistic (drawing, entertaining, acting, singing, songwriting, writing) would somehow automatically make a better father to daughters instead of sons. So that’s part of the reason I was so authentically surprised to learn that our baby is a boy. Like somehow I deserved a son less because I’m not a certain macho stereotype I’ve memorized from three decades of watching sitcoms and movies.
And now, I have to admit, there’s a part of me that can’t help but laugh that without any preconceived hopes or crossed fingers, I get what every man secretly hopes for- a son. There’s an unspoken concept (at least in my mind) that raising a son is a rite of passage for a man. A coveted elective course, a special honorary badge, an engraved trophy so easily received- to be a father to a son. A chance not so much to relive my own life, but to enhance another future man with all the life experience and knowledge I’ve learned the hard way.
The movie I Love You, Man is built around the fact that male friendships and bonds don’t often come so easily. By a man having a son, he is automatically given that opportunity- to nurture a male the way every boy and man craves to be taught and directed. What I lack in knowledge of fixing cars and football statistics and home repairs, I can make up for in teaching healthy communication skills and anything that falls under that categories of “literary”, “artistic”, “psychological”, and “entertainment”.
In other words, I have a feeling I will be raising the likeness of a future Jewish comedic actor, maybe the next Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the next Shia LaBeouf, the next James Franco…
A well-rounded people-person who is confident in who he is, that’s who I predict he will become. Who knows? Maybe he’ll be a quiet, mild-mannered, studious, future accountant. But with a dad as quirky and Hawaiian-shirt-wearing as me, I just don’t think he has a chance of being anything like Clark Kent.
Baby Jack's body is the length of a cantaloupe this week.
Here’s what The Bump says about Week 20:
Baby’s digestive system is busy creating meconium (a tarry black substance made of swallowed amniotic fluid, digestive secretion and dead cells), which will fill the first diaper after birth. And, speaking of the diaper situation… baby’s genitals are now fully formed!
To return to the “dad from day one” main page, click here.
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
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