I’m going to tell you a story.
One day, I’ll tell you the stories about how your mom and I met, and how a singer named John Cougar Mellencamp helped me get a second date with her. I’ll tell you about her and my years together before you. I’ll even eventually tell you about the afternoon you came to be conceived. That last one might embarrass you, because who likes to hear about their parents getting it on? But you’ve probably been wondering all these years why Uncle Henri and Aunt Nicole insist on calling you ‘Baby Vegas’, and well, there’s a story there. Also, there’s a cool tangential story about a rejection e-mail I received earlier that day, and how, if not for that rejection, you might not be here.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now, I want to tell you the story of the night your mom and found out you were going to become part of our lives.
The news you were coming was a late birthday present for me. My birthday almost always coincides with Memorial Day weekend. That Saturday, your Uncles John and Jason came to visit Chicago, and we ran the Soldier Field 10 Mile race together. Recreational races are this thing that people do to motivate themselves and stay fit and have a sense of community. To tell you the truth, sometimes, I feel a little silly doing these races when there are other goals and problems I could be tackling, but well, crossing the finish line at the end of one of these races gives you a sense of accomplishment and euphoria like nothing else, especially when you do with someone you love. I hope by the time you’re reading this, we’ve done one of these races already.
Again, I’m getting ahead of myself. (I would say get used to this, but perhaps you already are.)
On Sunday that weekend (my birthday), John and Jason left, your mom came back from a visit to your grandmother’s, and she surprised me with a canoe trip on the Chicago river. We went to see a movie that evening (“Captain America: Civil War”) then went karaoke with some friends (Yes, I represented the great Mellencamp once again. It’s sort of a thing with your mom and I, a part of our story.)
Monday was an unremarkable day. I worked. Your mom stayed home and cleaned the apartment, which I’m sure you’ve learned by now is her own form of relaxing.
On Tuesday, your mom texted me near the end of her work day, telling me there was something she needed to do that night, and she couldn’t wait for me to get home. I was teaching a class that evening. I told her to do what she needed to do, but to not tell me anything until I got home.
I probably tell you to do your best in everything you do, because that’s what dads are supposed to tell their children, but I’m going to admit: I totally phoned that class in that night.
When I walked in the front door later, she was sitting in the arm chair facing the door. I knew just from the look on her face. She showed me the pregnancy test.
We held each other. We laughed. We cried. We admitted we were scared out of our minds. We wanted you. But you came so early after we started trying, we weren’t quite prepared to actually start this journey. But then, no one is ever fully prepared for the journey of being a parent.
I’m writing this on January 5, 2017, a few weeks, or maybe just a few days, before you’re here, depending on when you’re ready to join us. It’s been nine months since that night. It feels like yesterday, and feels like forever ago, like we’ve been preparing for you for years, both at the same time. I think both are true.
The year 2015 was a personal struggle for me, and I’m sure I’ll bore you with all that one day. I was well underway to putting that behind me by the time we found out you were coming, but the news gave your old man a swift kick in the pants, new motivation to put that struggle behind me. This is just one way you’ve changed me, and you’re not even here yet.
But: Our small condo is filling up with more and more of your things everyday: The crib, the changing table, the cradle, the bouncer, the clothes, the carseat. And you’ll be here soon enough.
We can’t wait.