There are a handful of moments in your life, if you’re lucky, when what you’re doing is so consuming that it becomes your whole world. Where your field of vision gets so incredibly, incredibly small it’s really just a single thing. And in those moments, so many things come into such perfect focus that it can change how you think about everything going forward.
When your wife gives birth to a child is one of those times — there’s nothing in the world but you, and her, and the focus on bringing a new life into the world.
Anyone who’s been through it will understand — the process is hard to explain, because after months of anticipating and planning and hoping and dreaming, time seems to both slow down and speed up at the same time. You get admitted and wait around a while, but you know that the gears have started in motion, and things are slowly starting to gain momentum.
The first time we went through this the time had a bit of a dreamlike quality to it — it was an amazing, singular experience for both Kathy and me. This time around was different — more focused, more intentional, and in a lot of ways a little more stressful because we’re older now and went through a lot to get here.
But in that singular focus — just Kathy and me and the folks at the hospital — everything fell away and I saw so much in Kathy that I’ve always loved and admired, but with perfect clarity. We’ve known each other nearly 30 years now — a lifetime, really — and in the moments leading up to ZBL’s birth, she was just so striking in her strength, and care, and thoughtfulness, and sense of purpose — just so, so graceful in every way. It really took my breath away.
Some moments are like that. Wonderful in their clarity. Sometimes letting you see new things. Other times, like this one, seeing things you know so well, but with such startling clarity that you find yourself completely undone.
It was a special moment, and I don’t think the memory will ever really fade away for me.
I meant to write all of that weeks ago — it was more or less in my head fully formed the day that Z was born. But over the last 4 weeks another clarity has emerged that I want to write about as well.
The first days and weeks at home with a newborn is a very very focused time as well — not as concentrated as the actual birth, but just as focused over a longer time. You’re learning as much as you can about this new person who’s living in your house, learning about what they’re like, how they communicate, how they live. And we’re surely learning much about Z every single day.
But I’ll tell you that the person we’ve learned much, much more about is his 7 year old older brother, SPL. We’ve watched him turn from an only child into a big brother — with all the joy, frustration and generosity that comes along with it. It’s been astonishing to see, and really one of the most gratifying events of my entire life.
With your children, you do as much as you can to prepare them to live their lives as well as they can. And you think you know how they’ll develop and act in situations that are both opportunities and challenges for them. But you never really know until you see them go through it.
And I’ve been completely, completely undone by how gracefully he’s made the transition. So much more than I could have hoped for. Every bit as graceful as his mother has been all along the way.
So two moments — one just a few hours, the other over a period of weeks — with two people I’ve known and lived with for years. Amazing times, and focus that’s made it perfectly clear how amazing they both are. I couldn’t ask for a better summer, and I’m filled with excitement about what’s yet to come.
What a wonderful time.