Four years ago I watched my amazing partner in crime bring my only known blood relative into the open air. As nefarious as that sounds, I am referring to the birth of my daughter, whom is to my knowledge not nefarious. She’s sneaky, smart, and sometimes loud, but more than anything she is the greatest thing to happen in my life.
While she was floating amniotic, we learned that she had a heart condition. A rare occurrence where the lower chambers of the heart reverse function called Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Greater Arteries (CC-TGA for short) developed as she grew in the womb. Our initial reaction was one of fear and frustration, but with the guidance of some excellent cardiologists and a few supportive groups on Facebook, we could see this condition as a surmountable challenge.
The day she was born, they whisked her to NICU for observation and to assess whether she required surgery. While the love of my life lay recovering (yay, drugs!) I made many trips to our new cohort’s room. I gazed upon this bundle of tubes and blankets from which the tiniest face peeked. I sat in the room as the head cardiologist reviewed her various scans. Tears threatened as he concluded she wouldn’t need surgery.
It was a lot for a new dad (I won’t speak for Mom, though I know it was as much or more for her). Not five years prior I was convinced I couldn’t have kids, had no plans to, and found them a bit creepy if I’m honest. So there I was, looking down at a life I helped bring into the world, wondering how in the hell I was supposed to operate this strange new device. That’s when I realized.
I am not supposed to.
I get to.
For as long as she lets me be her guide and mentor, I have the opportunity. My job is not to convince her to keep letting me be "the dad,” it is to step in ways I hope she will step and let her decide if that is the direction she needs to go. I never realized as a kid that a parent’s position is not to force ideas, but to offer the ones we think best and explain them with the hopes our wards make decisions that take them to good things.
Four years on, I’m still learning (and unlearning) what dadding is. I’m not perfect (I hope, because that would suck) but I learn more every day. Thank you, to my daughter, for always wanting to play and show me cool stuff. And thank you, to the woman who agreed to embark on this adventure with me. I still think kids are kind of creepy (well, YOUR kids. Mine are fantastic), but I’m learning, growing, and damned proud to gush about my weird little superhero.