Twelve years ago Nan and I began our family journey, and although we hadn’t talked about it in-depth, we knew we probably should start our “family planning” at some point in our lives. Preferably before I needed a hov-a-round and before she became a news sensation being the oldest mom alive. Just as most newly married couples begin to feel the pressure to start the baby talk, we succumbed to the pressure, and, after all, it’s the next logical step right? Well, we had been engaged for a year, and married for close to a year, and figured we weren’t getting any younger so we should start trying. Little did we know what the next few years would bring.
For those couples that have endured the hardship of one or several miscarriages, you understand the pain and heartache that can be felt with each seemingly fleeting attempt. The mountains and valleys of emotion living in hopes that this is the month, come and go, and a sense of hopelessness begins to take residence. As a husband, I would be strong for Nan when it became too difficult for her, and as a wife, she was strong for me when I had a difficult time. I think sometimes as men we try not to show weakness, but when you are trying so hard for something as delicate and fragile as life, knowing that there is a part of you growing inside the woman you love, you become very attached to that little heartbeat, that child that will soon depend on you for everything, that will look to you for guidance and nurturing. You can’t help but show emotion.
Desperate times called for desperate measures, and Nan and I both felt God speak to us one year at a conference we were attending in Columbus Ohio. It was one of those messages that stirs you to action, gets you off of your seat and believing God for the impossible. With tears streaming down my face, faith as high as the sky, we sowed the largest financial seed we have ever sown to this day. It was a true stretch of our faith not only as a couple, but believing for our family and our futures. After a long and grueling 6 months had passed, Nan was finally pregnant, and with all the let-downs we had experienced before, we didn’t want to get our hopes up only to be let down yet again. The first trimester passed, second trimester finished, and then the third. Finally on December 13, 2002 on a Friday morning at a very rushed and almost didn’t make dash for the hospital, at 8:48 am Eliana was born . We named her Eliana which means “God answered my prayer” in Hebrew, and which also happens to be our middle names put together, Eli and Ann. So needless to say she holds a very special and dear place in my heart. She’s a daddy’s girl, always excited for me to get home, saying Dada as her first word, and adding the twinkle in my eye and the leap in my step. If I was sitting down, she always had to be in my lap. Every moment was with Daddy. For those of you that have daughters, you understand there is just something special between a dad and his baby girl. These days she is embarrassed to hold my hand in public, but I know that at night when it’s just her and I she always wants to cuddle, and I will cuddle with her whenever she wants no matter how big she gets.
My problem now isn’t finding time to cuddle with Elly, but rather making room for 5 soon to be 6 kids on my lap. For some reason they all want to sit on my lap at the same time, and somehow I make room for all of them so no one feels left out. I wonder how we do it with so many kids, but somehow we make it. Although my kids don’t have every electronic gadget known to man, they have enough that they can experience technology without it becoming the focus of their lives. They still know how to go play outside and dredge through a forest conquering battles and waging war against the Autobots and Decepticons all under the canopy of a pine tree. they still know how to enjoy a hot summer day running through the sprinklers, while dad is actually trying to water the grass at the same time.
Being a father is one of the greatest experiences any male can ever encounter and I am every day reminded of what a great responsibility it is at the same time. Sometimes it kinda scares me that my kids will become a product of who I am, and my relationship with them will influence a lot of who they become and grow up to be. I’d like to think that they would look back at their childhood and see that there is a father that invested time in them, taught them right from wrong, and demonstrated the importance of developing a relationship with a God that loves them very much. Do I lose my temper sometimes, do I get a little rougher with the kids than I want to, do I regret things that I say before thinking, uh…yeah. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I guess that is the “scary” part, knowing that my behavior influences them either positively or negatively.
I think about my kids, and I want them to have everything I didn’t have, not too much or not too little, just the right balance so they know how to appreciate things, but don’t feel deprived because all their friends have gadgets they don’t have. I want them to grow up with values and know that people and lives matter, and when things get rough, it’s not time to give up, but seek God for answers and learn to persevere through difficulty. It is in those difficult and rough patches in life, that we learn to trust in God, and grow stronger and as a father I want to protect them from anything that could possibly happen to them. Deep inside I know there are those lessons they are going to have to learn on their own, and it’s going to be important for me to be there to help nurture and guide them. This journey called fatherhood is not an easy one, and I salute and commend all the other fathers out there that are giving their best to their families and their kids, not professing to know everything, but like myself, learning and making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes along the way. I hope you have a Happy Father’s Day and enjoy all the joys and privileges that come with being a father!