Becoming A Father

By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.

I was like most boys growing up -- energetic, mischievous and horny. In the back of my mind, I was always considering the possibility of a budding relationship, but my main focus and purpose was always trying to make out with girls. Through my numerous dating excursions, my wife and I eventually stumbled upon each other, and my energy turned towards her.

We married at a young age. On our wedding day, I was a couple weeks away from turning 21, and she was 23. Although that seems like a young age to get married, we knew that we were meant for each other, and we were ready to get on with our life together.

As with most young married couples, we had our adjustments (disagreements and arguments), but we were best friends. We spent all of our time together, even distancing ourselves from some of our friends, opting to be homebodies, or preferring the intimacy of just going out by ourselves. During that time, we had no desire to have children.

We were further influenced to hold off on having children by our frequent contact with my nephew and niece. We observed the stress involved in parenting, and whenever we baby-sat for them, we were ready to give them back. They were good kids, but we were anxious to get back to our lifestyle of no parental responsibilities.

For 8 years we enjoyed going to movies and restaurants on a whim. We'd go and do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. We loved hanging out with each other, and we loved our freedom.

Over time, our healthy selfishness started to become stale. Going to the bookstore to look at books and magazines began to get old. All of our routines slowly became dated, and we were starting to long for something more significant and meaningful in our life. We were looking for something that was a part of us, yet wholly separate and unique.

For two agonizing years we tried to conceive a child. I gave a couple of sperm samples, while my wife took the brunt of the testing. She had to go through a series of medical procedures and blood tests, only to find out that our infertility was inconclusive. After much consideration, we decided that my wife needed a break, and she quit her very stressful and demanding job. Within weeks of quitting her job, she got pregnant.

Her pregnancy was surreal, and while we were excited about the pregnancy, we were also nervous about the possibility of a miscarriage. Fortunately, since we had been using the services of an infertility clinic, she was closely monitored, and was given the best chance for carrying our baby to full term.

October 28, 2003, our daughter was born, and our lives changed forever. We could no longer go anywhere we wanted on a whim. We could no longer be spontaneous like we used to be. In fact, in the beginning, we couldn't even get much sleep. All of our energy and focus was on keeping our new daughter alive, and helping her grow. It was no longer about us, it was about her.

Her birth changed our lives forever. Our selfish love for each other had transformed and regrouped into a selfless love for our daughter. All that we did (and do) now revolves around her well being. Instead of hanging out at the bookstore late at night, we now read children's books for the thousandth time before she goes to bed. I often watch amazed as she learns new words and sounds. I love it when she goes barreling down the hall with a book in her hand, yelling out "peez weed, peez weed." Of course, this is known quite well to my wife and I as "please read."

I often sit back and wonder if she'll think I'm a good father, and if she'll like me when she's a teenager. When will I warn her about boys? How will I tell her that her own father was once a crazed teenage boy with testosterone running through his veins? How will I communicate that there's really only one thing boys want from girls, and that it isn't true love or a good conversation.

I do know what I will do. I will love her with all of my heart and soul. I will worry and pray for her daily. I will practice and teach her forgiveness, like my parents taught me. I will make every effort to participate in every part of her life. And most importantly, I will be forever changed and blessed by the gift of her life.

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