I have written you letters and notes since before you were born and were still in your mother’s tummy. I bet she has a few saved, she’s good like that. They’ll be the ones with tear stains on them. I hope at some point you get to read them.
Those were the words of a scared little guy. All through the pregnancy I would get up in the middle of the night and sit in the living room in the dark. I’d stare at the floor and shake. Sometimes I’d fill with hope and love and joy, other times I’d cry, mumble and worry.
Back then I had no idea what would come. For you at least. I knew certain things for myself. In my life I learned to see the signs. In fact we didn’t even know if you were a boy or a girl. You were a busy little bump and whenever we looked with the ultrasound you’d turn away, probably snickered too. So if you were a boy you’d have been called Henry (Hank for short) and as a girl for a bit there you were to be Veronica (Ronnie for short). Then one day I was listening to an old favorite record of mine by a guy called Buck Owens and a song came on called Ruby (Honey Are You Mad At Your Man) and I thought ‘Ruby…Ruby….Ruby Mae!’. The Mae is a family name on both sides of your family.
And so there you were, August 5th, 2007 you were born. I was 36 and never expected at that age to become a father. And I was so scared. So very scared. As your mother was delivering you I was frozen for a moment. I had glanced at my hands. And they seemed so small, so weak, so callow. I bit hard on my cheek and thought ‘I’m too much a kid to be a dad. I don’t know what I’m doing, I am just fooling everyone by pretending’. But it was not a time to turn back. And you came to us. I cut the cord, I held you first and you were my girl. And that’s it. There’s no deep explanation or secret. I was your daddy and no matter how far and how long we go. It just was. No epiphany or bright light. Just a delivery room, your mother and a life. Your life.
Now it’s coming up on 4 years. It’s been a hell of a run for you and me. We’ve done lots of learning. And growing. Maybe I don’t feel as small as I used to. I don’t feel very big most days. But not so small. I’m growing into the job of daddy. I can’t read books on it. They all seem to be written for guys with middle-class sensibilities and a closet full of Old Navy and Gap clothes. Guys who drive nice safe cars and plan things down to the dollar. Me I’m still out there, still a little wild and rough around the edges. Quickly I learned my Daddydom would be one of trial and error and feeling for the switches in the dark. A whole lot of guess-work and revelation.
I made some big mistakes, I made some big success’ and I just sort of fumbled through with a bit of help from some good people. I am not perfect and if anyone ever came to me for parenting advice I think at this point I’d only tell them they’re on their own and to do what feels right. The only real thing I can give as a father is forgiving myself for my mistakes. Everything else, it’s guesses and flying machines held together with wire, twine and rubber bands.
So that’s what this will be. Guess work I want to share. Things I want to tell and things I want you to know and learn about. They say this internet thing isn’t just a passing fad. So I’ll wage dollars to donuts this will be around maybe even after me. Maybe you can look at what is I have set out to do here and remember.
I was just a kid the day they handed you to me. And as you have grown, well I have too. And maybe by the time you can understand all this. I’ll be a man. Even if all I ever want to be is Daddy.