The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Tag: Family

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 6 weeks

Throughout this journey, we have been plagued by fear.  It has been, as a poet might say, our constant companion.

Not fear of having the new addition in our lives, but the fears that come with a baby in the making in general.  Things that go beyond the control of mankind, things that, you might say, are left in the hands of G-d.

There are not many that would tell you that having a child over the age of forty, especially for the woman, is not fraught with potentials for risk.  Add to that the fact that my wife has had a few other health issues in her life, and you are doubling the potential risk.  So it is safe to say that we are taking every day with baby-steps.

We have had numerous ultrasounds and various other tests to make sure that there is nothing wrong with this little bugger, but still… there is always that fear that something might be wrong.  Something the doctors missed.

It is important for me to say that should any of the tests found anything wrong, we would not have terminated the pregnancy.  The only exception to that would have been two known genetic abnormalities that are almost always fatal to the newborn… in which case we would have seriously considered that, not for our sake, but so that the baby would not suffer.  Anything else is something we could work through.

As each test came back with no problems, we would breathe a sigh of relief, but then would start worrying about the next step, or the next tests, or some other little problem that would come to might.

Then there is the input from others that causes worry.  No… I do not think they do it intentionally, but when people start telling you to look out for certain signs or watch out for this or that, then you cannot help but start to feel that pressure return.  That worry or fear that maybe something you are doing is wrong.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that having a child would be such a roller-coaster ride.  I mean this from both the emotional as well as the spiritual aspects.  There is so much that I am having to reevaluate in my life.  Suddenly there are things that used to be important that now deserve little more than a cursory glance.  Decisions that I make now, I am not only making for myself or Naty, but for the baby as well.

But a have to admit something to you all.

I am loving every minute of it and I would not trade these feelings for anything in the world.  The fears, worry, excitement… all of it.  It is all a build up for something great.

This is going to be a great ride. Or as my favorite author, Hunter S Thompson, might say: “Buy the ticket, take the ride!”

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 7 weeks

Something that I am looking forward to, with the coming of our child, are the conversations.   Granted, at first those conversations are going to be mostly grunts, squeals and crying, with occasional laughing and “Baby Talk”.  But before you know it, and I am sure most parents reading this will agree, they will start talking.

I remember some of the conversations I had, as a very young child, with my Mother and Father.  Most of that was silly, when I look at it from my adult state of mind, but at the time it was earth-shatteringly important.  I really HAD to know why there were stitches in a baseball and football.  I really HAD to know why my Dad’s hair was gray.  Things like that.

When I watch the interactions between kids, especially the very young ones, and their parents, there is just something fascinating about watching them ask questions and learn about their world.  They are born with a innate NEED to understand the world around them.  As Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson says in one of his interviews, “Children are born scientists.”

He goes on in that interview to say that we need to encourage that and help them explore their world the way a scientist would.  This is something that I am hoping that my wife and I can accomplish in our upbringing of this kid.  We have both committed to one another that we will give this child every ounce of our effort to make sure that they learn as much as they can and to make it fun in the process.

I know… Kids are all different and there is no guarantee that anything we plan will survive the arrival of the baby.  It seems that everyone is quick to point this out to us, as if they assume that we are not already aware of this ourselves.  But the truth be known, we are.  But we are also aware that if we do not plan ahead for some things, then we will not be ready for those times when the child does start asking questions.

I think that I was blessed that I grew up in a house where I had a parent that offered me every opportunity to learn.  There was never a time I can recall asking my mother a question and her telling me that I did not need to know the answer or that I should not worry about it.  I do recall a couple times when she said something like, “I will explain it when you are a little older.” but that was about as restricted as she got with me.

There are some things kids do not need to know about at too early an age.  I will not go into that here, because it might turn this into a political argument, but I am sure that you all understand what some of these things are.  Suffice it to say that children should be allowed to remain children and not have to worry about some things until later in life.

There IS a magic to being a child, but we lose touch with that as we grow older and become more jaded with life and the problems around us.  I hope to try and teach our child that they can grow, but still hold onto that magic as they age.

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 8 Weeks

Decisions…

The process of preparing for the arrival of a child is something new to us.  We walk through the stores, look at the goods that are being offered and just get lost.  There are so many things out there that we need or want, but are not sure which way to go.

Luckily there seems to be no end to books, magazines and friends that seem more than willing to suggest these things to you.  Everything from diapers to doctors are suggested by those around us and in the magazines that we have picked up.  At time, however, this seems to only make life a little more confusing for us, though.

We both know that everyone has the very best intentions when they suggest this diaper or that doctor, or some other device or service that is designed to make having or caring for your new baby.  So we really do not mind, we are flattered that so many people out there are willing to take the time to offer advice.  But even with the advice, we start to get a little overwhelmed at times.  Sometimes too much information can be just as bad as too little… and as the old sales saying goes, “If you give a person too many choices, they will choose not to choose.”

I am amazed, though, at the sheer volume of merchandise there is out there for babies and their new families.  Everything from ultrasound units for the home, if you are wealthy enough to afford one, to music to play for the child while they are still in the womb.  You name it, it seems to be out there, waiting for someone to buy it.

We have decided to keep spending at a minimum.  There are a lot of tricks out there to save money if you just look around a little.  The biggest savings that my wife and I have found has been buying much of our stuff at either yard sales or at second hand stores.  There really are some fantastic deals and prices, if you just look around.

Everything that we have picked up so far has been in near perfect or new shape, and with almost no signs of use.  Which makes sense when you think of how long a child actually uses this stuff.  It is about the only time in a kid’s life when they are liable to outgrow something before they wear it out.   A fact that is very friendly on our pocket books and one that I am very aware will change as time goes on and our child grows older.

As I am sure I have said before, though, I am excited about the upcoming addition to the household and am sure that these worries will all take second place to the enjoyment to be had with the child… at least until they reach their teens.  Then I might need to look for a tranquilizer gun.

Countdown to Fatherhood – T-Minus 9 Weeks

“Dad”

I have thought about this a lot over the years. Most of the time, though, it has been from the point of view of a child that never really KNEW his father that well, except as the guy that would occasionally show up for the errant birthday or take me off for the obligatory weekend visitation.

That is not to say that my father did not love me, I am sure he did. But when it came to communications, there really was not that much there between us. We would talk, but it was, most of the time, because I do not think either one of us liked the sound of silence.

That being said, there really was no template for me to use when I thought about myself as a father. No image I could hold up and say, “This is what a dad is!” Unless, of course, you counted the Andy Griffith, Dick Van Dyke and Ward Cleaver images that some of us grew up with. Images that would not stand the test of time even in their own generation.

Instead, as I grew, I learned about being a father through reading, through what my mother told me a father should be, through watching my father’s interaction with my sister.I had sort of built up this “Frankenstein” image and understanding of what a father really could and should be.

It would not be until years later, as an adult, that I would start to really understand what being a father was, when I would adopt people into my life as my mentors and father-figures. People that represented, to me, what a father should be to their children and those around them. People like James Baier (Major, USMC), Jack Bell, Paul Eidmann, Clifford Ayers (My Dad-in-Law) and Russell Petrone. None of them are perfect, far from it, but their hearts are all in the right places, and their kids have all grown up to be good people. Many of their kids are my friends to this day as are they… though two of them have some issues that they need to work out before I kick both their asses (you know who you are.)

The other person that I have to give kudos to for being like a dad to me, oddly enough, is my mother. Barbara E. Wright. She force-fed me the education to be who and what I am today. When I was not in school, she was teaching me manners, principles, ethics, right and wrong, and would occasionally instill the required discipline when I would step out of line. Trust me… there were several times I deserved a good paddling.

It is my hope that the experiences that I have had and the things I have learned from these people, people that have meant so much to me and are a part of my life, even though some of them are no longer with us, can help me by becoming an amalgamation of experience that I can incorporate into my life and help me be a good father.

Someone that I hope, when this child is and adult and I have long since passed, can look at his or her memories of me and say. “I had a great dad!”

Guiding Friends

When you think of your friends or the kind of friend you are to others, how do you see yourself?

Are you one of those passive friends that occasionally gets together on special occasions but rarely sees your pals otherwise?  Maybe you are lucky enough to be one of those people that has many friends and you go out with them all the time and see them often enough that they are almost family to you.

No matter how you are or how you see yourself, how we are with our friends says a lot about us.

I like to think of friendship, TRUE friendship, as a way to extend the boundaries of your family.  As we draw these people into our lives, earn their trust, and in turn, they, ours.  We get to a point where the relationship is almost indistinguishable from another family member.

This does not apply to all our friends.  I mean, we all know people that we consider friends, but we would not leave our children alone with them for too long, or hand them the keys to the house and the new DB9 and go on a three week vacation.  Then again there are people I know well that, if I had or could afford one, I would not give them the keys to a DB9… Sorry Grant and Jackie.

But through these relationships you build, you are not just getting something from them, but you are giving something as well.  Good friendships are a two-way road, you both get something out of them and you both give quite a bit too.  You are guiding each other through the relationship.

If the friendship is right, it can sometimes lead to more, as in the case of my wife and I.  We started off and casual friends that really saw nothing in one another, that turned into a close friendship where we shared the details of our lives and then, eventually, into love and marriage.  We both feel that our friendship is the basis that makes our marriage strong.

I cannot think of anything in life that is quite as important as friendship.  I also think that it is also taken for granted more and more these days.  In part because of things like Facebook, MySpace, and social networking as a whole.  People just do not meet in person anymore, they meet online.  Even when people live in the same town and only a few minutes from one another, they will meet online when they could go visit each other.

Unfortunately, I have started to fall into this process as well.  I have two good friends and a sister that live within five minutes drive from me, yet we see and speak to each other in person rarely, and really, this is just a sign of where we are all heading and might just be the reason we have as many problems in society as we do.

Maybe if we spent more time sitting with one another over a beer or coffee, there would be less problems in the world and we could all be friends guiding friends.

The voice of my father…

In the wake of learning that I am now a father, there has been a lot going through my mind these days. While many of these thoughts are the usual “New Father” things, there are many that are either introspective or retrospective. I have started thinking about MY childhood and how I was raised and the people that influenced my life the most.

It was during this process that I made a startling and sad discovery. I can no longer remember what my father’s voice sounds like.

It is not like we talked all the time. We, more or less, would have about one phone call a month and there were the occasional visits. We were not close, by any stretch of the imagination. There always seemed to be this wall of misunderstanding and inability to identify with one one another between us. So our conversations were relatively generic.

But there was always something calming about his voice. Even thought I never spoke to him about my problems or issues in life, there was something about the way he spoke to me that made things feel better.

When I think back to those conversations that we had, both the ones that really meant something and the ones that seemed pointless, I no longer hear his voice. In my mind’s process of playing back those conversations, I hear only my voice for both parts. I see his face, the face of when he was younger and healthy, not that of the man lying in the hospital, dying of cancer. I can remember the smell of his Aqua Velva aftershave and even the smell of cigarettes on his breath that were all just parts of who he was, but when I see him speak, it is in my voice. A process of the mind to fill in gaps with something you know.

It feels as though I have lost something. A crucial memory or artifact of my life, a key to my past and who I am. Unfortunately there are no ways to get this lost memory back. I have no recordings of my father speaking, there was no video tapes of him since that technology just was not available when he was still alive.

I spoke to someone else about this, and they told me that maybe it was my mind’s way of preparing me to be a father. Letting me know that it was time to say farewell to the overwhelming memories of loss of my father and begin the road of fatherhood myself.

If that is true, and if there is an afterlife, then I hope that somewhere my father is still watching me and is proud of what I have become and how I will help raise this child with my wife.

Our next adventure…

Well… My wife and I are about to embark on our next big adventure in our lives.

About two weeks ago we discovered the completely unexpected, but not unwelcome, news that we are going to have a baby.  At the time of my writing this, she is about 6 1/2 weeks along, so we are expecting to have a little package arrive sometime around the first part of February 2011.

We actually had given up trying to have a child.  We were told that we would not be able to have a child.  This was not for lack of TRYING, I mean, like they say… that is the fun part.  Trying to have a child.  But it never happened, so we just figured we would not worry about it and have fun.

I have had a couple people tell me that it is not a good idea to have a child at our age.  I am 41 and my wife is 40, she will be 41 when the child is born.  There are stories of people that have problems with pregnancies after the age of 35.   I understand this, but I also think that in this day and age, where people are having children well into their 50s, that my wife and I will have no problems at all, as long as we stick to the doctor’s advice and make sure we take care of ourselves.

I will not lie to you all… I am nervous.  But that emotion is joined with several others… Fear, Excitement, anticipation and anxiety are a few of these other emotions that I am feeling.  I am sure that these are the same feelings that all fathers have felt when they first got that news that they were expecting.

In all… this is going to be great.  Between my wife and I and our friends and family that will be part of this child’s life, there is going to be no lack of love in the child’s life.  That is the most important thing.

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