One December afternoon five years ago, I found myself in a mad rush from St. Luke’s Hospital to SM Centerpoint Department Store’s baby section. After spending about 2 weeks in a hospital room for premature difficulties, my wife was about to give birth and I suddenly, mistakenly thought we had bought nothing for the baby: mattresses, feeding bottles, a sterilizer, diapers…!
When I got to the department store, my mind began to spin…I was confused, I had no shopping list! I grabbed everything I could get my hands on, everything I thought our little Noah Caleb would need. I surely gave the salesladies a tough time asking for tips, for the best brands, the proper sizes, the right textures, and they all had to be blue!
And then just as I was about to approach the cashier, I realized, I remembered, Nike, my wife with who I am happily un-married, had already bought everything we needed and tucked all of little Noah’s supplies in a corner at home by his crib. And I remembered I was even with her when we bought some of those things!
It slowly dawned on me how unprepared I was for fatherhood. Though I was with Nike for every pre-natal check up, I suddenly felt unready, inadequate and afraid. How easily my nerves frayed. What kind of dad would I be? I never saw my dad panic when I was a kid!
It wasn’t fair, I thought. Nike had 9 months to get used to and prepare for parenthood, while I was busy working! The reality hit hard. I’m going to be a dad. I cried a little and said a silent prayer asking God to not let me screw up. Then I realized the salesladies were staring.
But right there, at Cashier 17, a father was born.
I went back to the hospital after 7pm that night – it was coding day – I could’ve gotten a ticket! — just in time for Nike to wake up and make fun of my frantic faux pas.
Noah was born a few days later, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Saw him corkscrew his way to life in one smooth, expert motion, I did! And I cut the cord!
I’ve been staring at my son ever since, every night, thinking what good things I could’ve done to deserve such a beautiful blessing, because God’s list is probably short. And I still find myself saying the same prayer I said at the cashier.
We could be dancing, playing the Xbox or Wii or making Lego robots. We could be reading or talking about school, but always at the back of my mind, I am all at once marveling at the boy, thanking God, praying I don’t screw up and keeping my chest from exploding. When you’re a parent, multi-tasking becomes a cinch.
Fatherhood’s been fun, mostly. Just that some parts of the past five years (I’m looking at you, Delgado Hospital) were extremely traumatic, I may write about them here or I may not.
This blog is for Noah Caleb Lorenzo Parlade. So someday he’ll know his dad always did his best, and that even as I am making all this up as I go along, I (and his mom) have the best intentions for him. So he knows, I never mean to screw up.
So he knows what a wild, awesome ride he’s taking me on.