As a kid, the days felt like weeks and the years were centuries. As an adult, weeks feel like days and years go as fast as months. I arrived early Saturday morning to help set up for Amara's birthday party. As I put up decorations I realized I stood in the same spot a little over a year ago, it was for her baby shower. Keeping to the same theme made the scene all the more nostalgic.
It's hard to believe that it's already been a year, 2020 seems to have passed by in a blink. I think about her being born in the last few months of normalcy and the whole world flipping inside out after the Big Apple dropped.
I'm thankful for this year though, working from home and the break from daily life allowed me to spend more time with Amara. Where I usually work every other weekend and most nights, I could go to Rocky Mount and spend the afternoon or utilize the entire weekend to be in my daughter's face.
I've been able to be more in tune with her weekly developments, her various cries, body movements, what she does and doesn't like. I know exactly what foods to cook how much she'll eat and knowing when she is done catching her sippy cup mid-air signaling she had enough.
This year has allowed me to feel more adequate as a father, uninterrupted fellowship creating an everlasting bond. My heart melts everytime Amara lays eyes on me, the recognition, the excitement. Her simply wanting me, and not only when I'm around my family but at all times.
I love hearing her squeal "Dada" or repeat "Da" over and over again, I wonder if I'm always on her mind or does she like the way it sounds. For awhile, she would say "Mama" or "Ma" at my house and "Dada" at her mother's house. She either misses the other parent or has us backwards, regardless, it's a blessing.
Both sides of the family paid for matching shirts that bore "Amara's First Day," and we all had our names on the back like a jersey. Amara, her mom, brother, and grandma all had matching shoes as well. Amara kicked them off every chance that she got, I'm not sure if any baby likes wearing shoes. Or head scarfs, I think babies want to feel as less restricted as possible.
We got a professional photographer, the same from the baby shower, and like before he did an amazing job. We set up in the same place as last year and I noticed the photographer updated a couple pieces of equipment. That told me he was moving forward which lead me to ask him if he was a father and inviting him to be a guest on the podcast.
As the day moved forward in bliss, I couldn't help but take in the drastic differences between the atmosphere surrounding my daughters. I thanked God like I did at the baby shower, that I don't have the same consequences for my actions this go round. Amara's mom always includes Amelia even though she knows she won't be in attendance, buying her a matching shirt for both the baby shower and the birthday party.
My gratitude for her thoughtfulness is inexplicable, when I first learned of Amara's existence the anxiety and fear that I would have a repeat situation drove me to make rash decisions. The inability to decipher, or more accurately, to not project the past on the present. Realizing the ramifications of my actions only dampered the relationship between her mother and I.
I had to look myself in the mirror to understand that I was becoming the person I most loathed. I projected, accused, yelled, and distanced myself convinced that all women are vindictive when it comes to children and their fathers. I believed there wasn't a proper vindication, in their eyes, regardless of the atonement.
Watching the bustle of the party, I cracked a smile and stifled the river flow from my eyes. It was truly a beautiful sight, the genuine interactions close friends driving over an hour to enjoy my daughter's special day. I thought about how a child can create a family or break one apart. Not to no fault of the kid, but the parents acting loosely ignoring what the outcome will entail.
Even during this joyous time, I still thought about my irresponsibility in bringing another child into a broken home. It was another reason for the tears, I feel like I started off on the wrong foot with my daughter. Thinking I have to be more than exceptional to earn my rightful place, to establish a productive relationship. I know she doesn't understand now, but eventually she will ask the question most single parents probably fear answering.
Growing up in a two-parent household I never had to hear that talk or even think about what that experience would be like. I never had to wait until it was my father's turn to spend time with me or develop a relationship through video chatting. I'm not even sure how fathers have done it in the past without technology, I know that had to be hard. Seeing my babies face and knowing that I can't hold or kiss them is painful in itself, especially when they reach out for me or I can hear it in their voice.
I've been on a journey to better myself, but I'm not sure I would've taken the initial step without looking into the faces of my daughters. A lot of people would say that having children at an early age is a deterrent, distracting parents from their goals and dreams. I've heard parents themselves say that having kids hindered them from reaching their full potential.
Honestly, I disagree, I truly believe it's all in the mind. If you believe this child that you created will hold you back, then it will. If you choose in your mind to use your current situation to motivate you and move you forward, then you will. Mindset is everything, even when it comes down to me thinking that I lack in fatherhood for not having a solid family.
It's all about perception as well, watching a sermon from Michael Todd he did an illustration showing how our personal view can be skewed by the lense we look through. If you're wearing derogatory glasses you will only see the negative truths, although they may have validity, the vision is fruitless.
Even though my fatherhood experience as a whole hasn't been ideal, but without it, I'm not exactly sure where I'll be.
What I do know, is that I have two daughters who depend on me to be their father. Regardless of my past or who else comes into their lives, they will be relying on me to fill that role in their heart. A role that can only be filled by me, and God.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time, the energy was upbeat and the food tasted fantastic. I know if I'm going to Rocky Mount that I will eat good. I'll forever remember and cherish the memories made on Amara's first day. It didn't take any time for her to start enjoying the many presents she received, after everybody left she was trying to drive her life sized Frozen toy.
Pure pleasure in watching my daughters interactions and her happiness, noticing certain traits passed through the Punnett Square. Truly, a divine experience.
Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.