I don’t remember exactly when it was that my wife told me she was pregnant, but I know I’ll never forget it. It lacked all the basic elements for a good commercial: No international flavored coffees. No emotional background music. No surprise greeting card that ended with Hallmark tears of joy. Just an earful of sobering news.
The truth is, we weren’t ready to have a baby. Marriage it seemed was difficult enough without tossing a baby into the mix. But here she was, crying and looking at me to say the right thing. And I did. I didn’t believe a word I said, but I made her believe. And after awhile, like any good liar, I too became a believer.
The words “I’m pregnant” were followed soon thereafter by the equally painful words “I’m sorry.” I was baffled. What did she have to be sorry for? It was then that I realized that she was looking to me for tell her what she needed to hear. I was a mess of emotions. Overwhelmed by the thought of fatherhood, and a bit angry at the certain loss of freedom that was sure to follow, I felt justified in lashing out in anger. Then it hit me. If I’m scared at the thought of becoming a father, she must be absolutely terrified at the thought of becoming a mother. In an instant, I knew that she would remember my reaction to this news for the rest of her life, and that I needed to help soothe her fears and try to find the joy that had been so quickly overlooked.
Suddenly it all became so clear. I had two choices. I could become angry, depressed, distant … (fill in other negative emotions here). Or I could choose to see this news for what it was: a gift. In the end, my reaction wouldn’t change the fact that we were going to have a baby. It would only change the color of the lenses we would wear in our parental glasses. I chose the rose colored lenses. Seems it’s always been a good color on me.
With tears running down her cheeks, she stood in the doorway, lost and looking for something to hold onto. I pulled her close and muffled her crying with my shoulder. Certainly my shoulders were big enough for that. Unexpectedly, I let out a laugh, which surprised us both, and whispered softly into her ear, “We’re going to have a baby.” Granted, it wasn’t the most original of statements, but it was enough. I let my hand fall from her back, and brought it around to her belly, where it rested, hoping to find some proof of this little life that would change our world. It found no such proof, but what it did find was a connection linking the man I was to the father I was to become.
Unlike any other day, that day would become the most important day in my life.
It was the day I chose to become a father.
I knew that the days would turn to weeks, and the weeks in turn to months, and before long we would be knee deep into our new lives as parents. So I decided right then and there to sit down and write my baby a letter. It sits framed on the wall above my son Harrison’s crib. I read it every day, and like my new life as a father, I wouldn’t change a single verse.
For My Baby
Today I learned that you would be my child.
You are a gift,
And you like all great gifts
Arrived completely unexpected.
You happened while I was busy making plans.
And though I did not ask for you today,
You are as wanted as my next breath.
You were brought to us in the hand of hope
And are the answer to unspoken prayers.
While I do not yet know your name,
You have changed my life forever.
I cannot see you,
Yet, I know you are there.
I cannot touch you,
Yet you have so gently touched my heart.
I cannot hear you,
And yet there is nothing you could say
That would cause me to love you more
Than I do right now.
From love and of love, you have come to be.
And in love, may you always be surrounded.
As the darkness waits to be touched by light,
I wait for you.
As the winter hopes for spring,
I hope for you.
As only a father loves his child,
I love you.
Chicago-based freelance writer Patrick Goodness is a contributing writer with many parenting publications. In addition to his role as a proud father and his work as a writer, Goodness also owns and operates The Goodness Company, a Chicago-area advertising agency.