Emotional dad: I’m not crying, the room is dusty! *sniffle*
Finding out you’re going to be a parent can set off a ticking clock in your mind, counting down the days, hours and minutes you have left to get ready for the birth of your child. There are so many things to prepare whether it’s the nursery, the crib, the bags for the hospital stay, the car-seat for the first ride home.
There are a myriad of books out there on what to expect. And while they are all full of practical advice on what to expect physically and emotionally from the journey of becoming and being parents, I’m not sure that any book, piece of advice or wisdom from other parents can really prepare for you how overwhelmingly you will love your child.
I know that nothing prepared me for how much I love Shortcake. Nor was there any warning her arrival would make me like the Grinch at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas with my heart growing three sizes that day. It’s like she reached down deep inside me and flipped a switch on emotions that were always there but were now finally allowed to run free.
I suppose I should have suspected that something was up the first time I saw her little heartbeat on the sonogram. For some odd reason it got very dusty in the doctor’s office that day because my eyes were filled with tears and I had a big lump in my throat.
This pattern continued over the next several months as we saw sonograms of her, watching her grow and develop, readying for her big entrance into our lives.
I’ll admit I cried tears of joy when she was born and so overwhelmed with love for her that first day that I found myself getting teared up at the drop of a hat.
I honestly thought that these newly released emotions might diminish a bit over time. But as we approach her first birthday, I have a feeling the flip is permanently in an on position and that’s OK.
Over the past year, I’ve become a bit more sentimental than I used to be.
While reading the children’s book Corduroy to her, I find myself getting caught up in the story of whether or not a stuffed bear would find a home or not. (SPOILER alert, he does. I had to look ahead to be sure!) .
When the University of Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings caught a long touchdown pass against Florida, putting my Vols ahead of the Gators for good and ending an 11 year losing streak, I sang “Rocky Top” at the top of my lungs and danced while holding Shortcake telling her, “I told you they would beat Florida for you! They’re doing it for you, sweetie!”
I’ve become misty at moments in Finding Dory (that stupid theater was dusty, I tell you!) and over a repeat of Happy Days where Richie almost dies. (In my defense, the Fonz was crying too).
The latest trigger came a few weeks ago watching Arrival. The story of humanity’s first encounter with a truly alien race that isn’t here to blow up stuff real good is a compelling, fascinating story long before it gets to the central twist that had me trying in vain to hold back tears. I won’t go into more detail in case you haven’t seen the movie yet.
I’ve never felt as bad as when we all caught a stomach bug over the holidays and Shortcake looked at me desperately, seeming to ask me to fix this terrible thing that was happening to her. When she had to get blood drawn for her nine-month wellness check, I had to do my best to not grab her and run away to somewhere safer without needles and the need to fill an entire tiny vial.
I’ve had to curb my desire to laugh with when she does something funny that she shouldn’t be doing. It’s hard to ask her to stop pulling the pile of freshly folded, clean towels down off the coffee table while I’m trying to not laugh at the look of delight on her little face.
It’s moments like this that they don’t warn you about in the parenting books. Probably because they’re best if you experience them fully and completely without any kind of SPOILER warning.
And one more thing. Don’t expect to get through the soundtrack of Les Mis without a few “dusty room” moments either!