It’s been 365 days since I started watching Will Ferrell’s monologue from the November 23rd episode of SNL, but I have yet to finish it. Don’t remember why I didn’t finish it the first time. Something about my wife yelling at me from the bedroom that her water broke at 9:20am prevented me from finishing it…

Well, anyway, let’s finally rectify that:

Not sure what he’s promoting. Maybe The Lego Movie 2 coming to Blu-Ray or something, and I’m definitely not sure why Ryan Reynolds was there, but the most important thing is that this was well worth the wait and I’m happy that I finally got to see it and there’s nothing else of value going on today…

Oh yeah…that…

I’ve wanted to be a father since I was 14 years old. In all the time since I’ve done nothing in this far-off dream than imagine all the ways it was going to be tough to be a father. All the challenges that would come my way, how I would have to stand up for them, discipline them, offer them my worldly advice like I had any semblance of a clue what I was talking about. None of that could have prepared me for the actual hardest part of being a father to newly crowned one-year olds.

Both my boys were born one year ago today, five minutes apart, in the early afternoon. If I was a better writer I would have kept detailed notes of my feelings and emotions from that time, noting the sounds of the delivery room, the smell of their heads after the nurses gingerly cleaned them up, or the first noises they made which were the loudest cries I’ll remember.

But I didn’t do any of that. If that makes me a bad writer, whatever, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve told myself that. What matters more was how the day felt.

It felt like nothing.

I don’t mean to get all nihilistic and say my soul is empty and I shouldn’t be allowed to raise children. Far from it. I mean I felt nothing because there weren’t new emotions needed for what I was going through.

The boys were taken to another room after they were delivered. My wife needed some more recovery time, so I went with them, to watch as the nurses took weights, lengths, and so on. The room was quiet, a few beeps here and there from the machines. The staff whispering information back and forth.

And my boys breathing.

It was just me in that room for a while. My wife got to technically hold the boys first, as they placed both of them on her chest right after delivery, but I got to observe them first: see how they took in air; watch how they moved on their backs; how they interacted with their new environment; study their fingers contracting.

In all, it was only 45 minutes, but in my head, it was hours.

And that was the “nothing” feeling. It wasn’t because the moment held no resonance to me, it was because I felt at total, complete easement. There was nothing happening because it felt like nothing had changed. I don’t want to use the analogy “it felt like I had come home…”

…But it felt like I had come home. A lateral move, not upwards nor down, but a sidestep into a new pair of shoes I had been waiting my whole life to step into.

So, quick notes on this first year of fatherhood:

  1. You’d be surprised on what you can get done with a severe lack of sleep.
  2. You’d be surprised on what you can no longer get done with a severe lack of sleep.
  3. Baby food is sometimes better than adult food.
  4. Poop is no longer a “taboo” topic, as we routinely talk about it all the time, all day long.
  5. You will find time for romance with your partner.
  6. Playing with your boys is better than playing video games.
  7. Playing with your boys is better than playing Magic.
  8. You become increasingly self-aware of how you appear to your kids, thus causing an internal panic of how you want to present yourself to them. This is quickly erased as they don’t care what you look like and they just bit down on a weird, pointy object and now they’re crying and they only want you to hold them to make them feel better.
  9. Butts. All the time. Cute, baby butts.

This leads me to today, the hardest day of my fatherhood experience so far. Something so small, so simple, yet I’ll have to repeat this at least once a year for the rest of my life: finding toys they no longer play with and boxing them up.

See, thanks to some wonderful gifts from their aunties and uncles and grandparents, my boys have some new toys to play with. Trying to be conservative with how much they have and what we should be saving for any future kids, my wife and I gathered up their stuff they don’t use anymore (teething rings, wrist rattles, stuff like that.) and will put them away.

And it absolutely destroyed me.

Because they are no longer those boys anymore. They’re one-year olds, ready to play with their music sets or their first words e-books or play grills. They don’t need a stroller mouse that wiggles when you pull a string. That’s for babies.

They’re men now.

And, I know it’s still early on their lives, with hopefully a lot more in the tank, but there’s a great quote from the last season of Modern Family that the patriarch, Jay, delivers I’ve been constantly playing in my head over and over again since I heard it:

Thing about babies, you… you fall in love with a baby with the cutest little fat folds, and then… bam… they’re gone. But it’s okay, because in its place is this… toddler with the greatest laugh on Earth. And then one day, the toddler’s gone, and in its place, a little kid that asks the most interesting questions you’ve ever heard. And this keeps going on like that, but you never get the chance to miss any of them, ’cause there’s always a new kid to take the place of the old. Until they grow up. And then… in a moment, all those kids you fell in love with walk out the door at the same time.

Jay Pritchett

We don’t like posting a lot of photos of the boys, and honestly I may not post anymore after this, but since they’ve been a big part of my writing life this last year, I figured it was okay to dedicate an entire post to them. To close, before I move forward from the special class of “First Year Dad” into the category of “Just Like All Other Dads,” there’s one last thing I want to say.

Happy Birthday, boys. Thank you for giving us so much.

Thanks for reading,

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