So... any day now, my first born arrives Earth side. Every parent in my social universe is telling me that my life is dawning a whole new existence of cliché dad life... that soon as this baby slips into the world, I will immediately be overcome by emotions that only fatherhood can deliver. The only emotion that I currently am feeling is that of autopilot-type husband duties... making my wife feel as comfy as possible during this process. I'm having no feelings of butterflies or nervousness, just sort of existing in the moments as they come. I had no outlandish expectations of my first born arriving. I was just hoping that his head wouldn't be shaped weird... or that he wasn't breach... or just hoping to avoid that tragic birth scene from an episode of Little House On The Prairie that I watched when I was younger. Fatherhood... bring it on!!!
Finally, we're in the hospital. It's here... the day that we've been waiting for. Apparently, life is about to get even better... and my ability to love and care is gonna grow three times bigger. My mother-n-law shows up. My sister follows. We play the waiting game for about 18 hours of labor and... there he is!!! Jaxon-Miles Sellers Jackson, 6 lbs 15oz of crying and annoyed, chocolate baby. Nurses immediately took him to a nearby station for the basic welcome home diagnostic. Everything was checking out great. I naturally peeped over to see how little man was doing with all of his new celebrity. The main thought in my head was... she did it!!! I went over to my wife and just admired her.
Over the next 24-48 hours, friends and family would visit. Everyone was so excited. All the while, I was waiting for all of the emotions and tears that are supposed to overtake me any moment. To be honest, they never came. What I felt before Jaxon's arrival, only mimicked my present emotions of 'auto-pilot husband duties' and now add on 'auto-pilot daddy duties.' Was I happy? Yes. Was I excited? Sure, I guess. I was all of those things before the birth. Whatever happened to the fuzzy feelings of being overwhelmed like so many fathers apparently experience when welcoming their legacies into the world? Tears, daydreams of ballgames, fantasies of father-son park frisbee, etc. I didn't have any of those.
Was something wrong? I honestly felt as if my days were simply busier and included less sleep. Beyond that, nothing really changed. I've always been one to take my role as provider/man of the house very seriously. I naturally turned the heat up in that department. Besides that, same Jon.
Brandi, on the other hand, instantly blossomed into this new, uber-motherly butterfly that I had not witnessed prior to Jaxon. Around 2-3 yrs old, she would salivate at the thought of taking our kid to sand parks, and mother-son dates. Every now and then, I would tag along, only to witness tons of super-hyped, cool dads playing with their kids... throwing baseballs, making sand castles... while really seeming to enjoy every bit of it. I honestly did not share their sentiments. I didn't seem to have the natural fatherly instincts that these other TV dads had.
In all transparency, it took till about 4 yrs old for those mushy daddy feelings to arrive... about four years to really emotionally connect with the tangibility of my legacy. As Jaxon would grow older, my natural desire to spend real quality time with my son would increase. I began to seek out his interest... no longer out of obligation but out of sheer enjoyment. I started to really get a kick out of learning who he was & seeing who he was becoming.
I became a father at 23 years old. Looking back, I totally can see why there was such a delay in experiencing 'the natural' daddy feelings that most fathers feel. For starters, I was 23... still figuring who I was as a man...as a husband of just 1 year at the time... really trying to balance life while chasing down the dreams that Brandi & I had as creatives. Naturally, I've always reacted to things very logically. In an effort to not seem weird, I've even faked expected emotions in certain situations, despite feeling quite indifferent.
Fast-forward almost 10yrs... a total of 2 boys later... I now get those uber-daddy feelings practically everyday. Truth is, they didn't come the first day, or the first year... they took some time... and that's ok. Truth is, I have always been present, even when the TV dad instincts weren't there. Eventually, those 'natural' healthy father feelings showed up. I do believe that I needed to grow up a bit... step outside of myself... understand that my children are one of the most tangible representations of my legacy being left on this Earth. I also believe that fathers need to be present even when it doesn't 'feel natural.' I just kept showing up... kept being there... before I knew it, I was looking forward to experiencing every moment that I could with my future kings. I'm now happy to say that I've become one of those enthusiastic dads at the parks that daydreams of upcoming ball games with my boys... that loves one-on-one, father-son time AKA man-dates (a term coined by yours truly). I look forward to taking my 10 month old out to parks. I look forward to coaching my 9yr old's bball team next season. Despite the words and experiences of many others, some things in life may take a bit more time than we initially hope. That's ok. Just be present. That's the only way to win.