When a child is born
There was a huge earthquake just before our son was born but all our attention was on him. He needed to get out of the womb and begin breathing, drinking and staying warm. His mother did all the hard work then I cut the umbilical cord. And there he was, a baby, miraculous and wonderful. And I was a father.
You have left the womb
And now you’re here among us
Let’s fly together!
I felt a heavy sense of responsibility, having played a role in bringing this life into the world. Now I had to be present, ready, and available—to say to him, “With all my being, I am here for you.” I couldn’t be haunted by and brought down by echoes of the past, or escape to the world of future fantasy.
I found that the reality around me and in me was deeper than I had known. And wherever I was, there was nowhere else to go, because I was already there. I felt alive, appreciating that moment to be “as good as it gets.” It was okay to slow down, experience the moment and help my son enjoy life. And in doing this I too learned how to fly.
“What will our children do in the morning if they do not see us fly?” (Rumi)
The biggest surprise was that I was able to give more of myself. Rather than looking to receive, in giving to my baby I was receiving. I was becoming more than I thought I was or imagined that I could be. I knew love.
Reflecting now in old age, I see that my greatest failures in life are as a parent. There are so many ways that I could have done better. And yet, I kindly forgive myself. I also know that my greatest successes in life are as a father. I see this in my children, their unique expression of life. They are not “my” children but God’s gift to the world, “Life’s longing for itself.” (Gibran) I have found joy in being a bow that thrust them flying swift and far.
I’m learning to let go of regret, disappointment, and expectations, of them or myself. “I love you just the way you are,” is still the best thing I can say to them. I couldn’t have known when I looked at them for the first time that living with them—innocence, play, pain, beauty, love, and death, everything—appears in a new light. I thank them for being my treasures and making my life richer.