14 years ago today, I became a dad, when my son Adam was born.
One of my favorite episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation is entitled The Defector. The plotline is about a notorius battle-hardened Romulan Admiral who attempts to defect to the Federation to avert a war (sorry to any of you who are not Trekkies-- bear with me). When pressed why someone who has spent his entire life becoming a warrior, following orders unswayingly, would defect and throw everything away, he replies that the first time he picked his newborn daughter up and she smiled, he knew he had to make the world (or universe, as it were) better for her.
It was fourteen years ago, but I remember it like yesterday, the first time I picked my newborn son up, at Columbus Hospital in Chicago. I'd never picked a newborn baby up in my life, let alone one who was my child. I remember that I was shaking like a leaf. I couldn't believe that I'd shared in bringing this little guy into the world, and that he was my responsiblity for at least the next 18 years. I was the most scared guy in the world. I'd lived my life day to day for so much of my life up to that point. I was the consummate bohemian. I had no idea how I was going to do it.
Now most of those 18 years I was so nervous about that day have passed. There are now only four years until he's an adult.
I'm happy that he and I are close. I'm happy that unlike my father and I, he doesn't fear me. I'm happy to see that unlike me at 14, he's not filled with self-doubt, anger and despair.
For my part, at risk of embarassing him, he's brought me happiness and joy that I didn't think I was capable of anymore in my life back when he was born.
My role model for cool parenting, Deadspot, despite the fact that he apparently doubts my musical taste, sent me a handmade card, which I still have, when Adam was born, telling me that I was going to be the coolest parent.
That may be the case, but in all honesty, it wasn't me. It's them. Every day of your life, they amaze you. In school, you study the "nature vs. nurture" argument. But really, in the end, despite how you think you may influence them and guide them, they influence and guide you. They bring out the best part of you, and make you rise to the occasion to be the best possible you. They challenge you, ask hard questions and in the end make you realize that like the story of the god blowing dust in the nostrils of the statue to bring life, you brought them into the world, were a little of an influence on them, but in the end, no matter how much you sacrifice for them, they were so much more than whatever you brought to the table, and that they bring you ten times more than you gave up.