Ten Months – Rapid Expansion

My Darling Boy,

Today you are 10 months old. Double digits! As per usual, it’s been another month too incredible for words. You’re crawling at full speed, standing every chance you get, playing and celebrating music with us, and you’ve got almost 8 teeth come through! What’s most astonishing to me is the continued strengthening of our bond as father and son. We play, we eat, we laugh, we “talk”, and we even go to sleep together now. I’ve honestly been terrified for quite some time that I would never be able to get you to sleep; that you would keep looking over your shoulder for mommy to come in the room. But we’ve found our own way to get to sleep, no fuss required. To feel you relax and fall asleep in my arms, to feel you nuzzle up close to me and hear that deep sigh of resignation, of exhaustion, of comfort and security, there isn’t much that tops that. It’s one of the few times I can actually live in the moment and I have you to thank for that. My heart, constantly filled to capacity with love for you, expands daily. All it takes is that smile, those eyes, a shimmy and screech of excitement, and I know I’m home. “Da da” will eventually mean me, which will eventually morph into “Daddy”. Even though I don’t want you to grow up just yet, I can’t wait.

I love you.

Nine Month Mobility

My Darling Boy,

You’ve had a busy month! As we move past your ninth month in this world you’ve absolutely crushed life, smashing full speed into it with no fear. You’re crawling, speaking, and expressing yourself in ways I wasn’t prepared for (in a good way). I can’t believe how fast you’ve grown up, but I’m even more excited for the future as every day passes. It’s amazing how fascinated you are with everything and how eagerly you’re exploring your world. Your eyes sparkle as you figure out your toys. Even this simplest of toys holds your attention providing hours of entertainment. It’s so easy to get lost in your world and be completely absorbed in whatever you are doing. Time ceases to exist when it’s just you and I, bonding and having fun.

And the speech? I could listen to you talk for hours. There have been times in the car that I’ve shut off the radio because what you have to say has always been more interesting and satisfying than any song on the stereo. Even if the words aren’t associative yet, I can see in your eyes and hear in your voice your expression of complete thoughts.

Keep talking, my son, and you can rest assured that I will always be here to listen.

I love you.

Weighted Words

It seemed like an ordinary enough day. Mom and T were at Grandpa’s house and I was at home taking care of errands, meal planning, and some general household chores. But that’s not how it ended. Mom pulled into the garage, took T out of the car seat, and headed toward me. T turns, wide eyed and cute as a button, locks his gaze with mine, and says:

“Da da da da”.

Time stops. My son just said words!!!! I know they’re not associated with any particular meaning yet my brain neurons were firing full force in all their kaleidoscopic glory. I instantly feel overjoyed, proud, floored, nostalgic, and excited; a complex cocktail of emotions that consumes so much energy that I have to intentionally brace myself to keep my legs from giving out. In just a simple fragment of time my son grew up before my very eyes, added a vast new layer of depth to his entire being, assembled all the communication skills he’s learned on his own for the 8ish months of his existence, and formed a word using consonants, vowels, and syllables, all without even trying.

It’s the strangest yet most wonderful feeling. In my perception of time, just seconds before that moment I was unaware he had developed that capability. And instantly, he had it. Like it was no big thing. Truthfully he had been practicing those words all day unbeknownst to me, but hearing it described by my wife pales in comparison to actually experiencing it. Despite overwhelming physical exhaustion it took me quite awhile to come down from that natural high and fall asleep that night. I just kept staring at my son, tucked away next to me in Dreamland, the proudest father I could ever be.

I don’t even care what’s next. This is now, and this is incredible.

Eight is Great

My Beautiful Boy,

The last month has been an incredible ride. Every time I blink I feel like you grow more, develop more, learn more. You’re now eight months old with 2 teeth, the ability to pull yourself up, and what seems like mere seconds away from crawling around the entire house. Your energy is unparalleled, and while exhausting for both me and your mom, at the same time just amazing and astounding. My challenge now is to keep up with you! I wish I had more to say, but in all honesty this month was a complete blur. They say time accelerates when you have children and they were most definitely NOT kidding. Part of me wants you to stay little forever, but another part of me realizes that you are destined for great things in this world and that you must continue to grow to reach your full potential.

As always I’m here to help you, guide you, laugh with you, cry with you, share in both your victories and your defeats. Please keep me humble and honest if my priorities ever start to drift away from our family.

I love you.

7 Months – Radiance

My Son,

I cannot think of a greater first Father’s Day gift than to celebrate you turning 7 months old today. Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe you and how fast you’re growing up. As I type this we’re sitting in the living room and you’re happily banging away on your toy xylophone, cooing all sorts of “words” I have yet to understand but know carry such meaning and emotion. It brings me such joy to see you explore your world, to see how happy you are playing with your toys, with other people, with the pets, with me and mommy.

And that smile. That radiant, infinite smile that lights up every room is one of the highlights of my day. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul which means your vast, beautiful brown eyes reveal such a clear innocence and curiosity about your world. You feel raw emotions with such intensity that sometimes it overwhelms you, and my job is to help you learn to harness those emotions to guide your passion and get the most you can out of life. I will do my absolute best for you as I know how it feels to be overpowered by emotions, both good and bad.

Keep on smiling, laughing, playing, and growing. You are wonderful to the point that no words I will ever say or write can fully convey my feelings. So instead I’ll pledge to be by your side watching you and guiding you through this life as best I can.

I love you, father to son.

6 Months – A Bright and Shining Star

My Baby Boy,

It’s getting much harder to call you that now that you’re six months old. Every time I look at you and think “this can’t possibly get any better”, you gladly prove me wrong. To see you gain awareness of the world around you and want to explore it with the fearlessness and confidence everyone wishes they had, this brings me an unspeakable amount of joy. Your personality is on full display as this bright and happy baby who wants to be a part of everything that’s going on around you. And I hope your mom and I can foster that confidence and curiosity for your entire life as it’s one of the rarest and most valuable traits in today’s world.

We’re about to embark on one of the wildest rides of our journey together as a family. In the next few months you will start eating solid foods, cutting teeth, and crawling around the house. While I honestly cannot wait for all these developments, I’m already starting to wax nostalgic about the early months. You used to be so little that I could engulf you completely in my arms for hours on end. That’s proving to be much more difficult now that you’re so big, and while this makes me sad, this sadness is replaced tenfold by the abundant joy of seeing you explore this world.

So let’s explore this world together, my son. You have so much to learn about it and I have a feeling I do too.

I love you.

Goodbye, Old Friend

While it’s definitely true that I get really excited over buying a new car, it’s definitely not like me to get emotional over the car I’m trading in. This past weekend proved much different. My car was getting up there in miles, had some decent wear and tear on it, and was proving to have not enough storage space for everything we needed to haul on longer trips with our son and dog in tow. So we decided to go car shopping. I’ll spare you the details of the experience as car shopping is about as much fun as watching paint dry, but needless to say I purchased a new vehicle. Cause to celebrate, right? Well, yes, but it was definitely tempered by having to say goodbye to my old car.

I bought this car (2008 Chevy Malibu) brand new. It was really the first car I got to choose to buy as opposed to having only one option for financial or circumstantial reasons. My plan was to drive it until it died, but obviously having a child changes the rules of the game quite a bit. Regardless, I drove the hell out of it – 128,000 miles in 6 years and 23 days. I’ve hauled everything from bikes to drums to pets to moving boxes, and it handled everything with nary a complaint. But those experiences aren’t enough to get my eyes to tear up. It’s the other, life-altering experiences:

March 8th, 2009: After walking into Petsmart with the sole purpose of buying cat food, we fell in love with the cutest dog ever and brought home our first dog since childhood – our pitbull/pointer mix Sandy.

September 19th, 2009: I drove my then fiancé to our wedding at the courthouse. After the ceremony I was almost given a parking ticket for an expired meter, but the police officer saw that I just got married and decided to give us a break. I then drove my new wife off to our reception.

November 14th, 2013: After over 24 hours of hard but productive labor at home, I loaded up the car and carefully navigated the 20-minute drive to the hospital where our first son would be born in the wee hours of the next morning.

November 17th, 2013: We brought our brand new, first born son back to his home.

 

As I took a final glimpse at my old car in the dealership parking lot, completely emptied of all my personal belongings, reflecting back on all those life changing events that it supported, my eyes welled up uncontrollably. Goodbye, my old friend. You’ve been nothing but the best.

 

Malbu1Malibu2

The Littlest Fan

Blackhawks_LogoLast week we took my 5.25-month-old son to his first Chicago Blackhawks hockey game. In the playoffs. He’d been to 3 previous games in utero (all wins), so we were hoping for some additional luck here so we could even the series against St. Louis. Regardless of the outcome, being able to experience his first NHL game with him was magical. Here are my top 5 incredible, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping moments from the game:

5) If you know anything about Blackhawks games at home, you know they’re loud. You probably also know the National Anthem is LOUD. He was a trooper for the entire thing, not batting an eye as mommy and daddy went partially deaf for 3 solid minutes. NOTE: He did have hearing protection. We may be crazy parents, but we’re not stupid. 🙂

4) All the fans we met in the stadium and around us in our seats (even the drunk ones) were respectful, courteous, and downright happy to see such a young kid at the game. In any other venue I can see this one going completely FUBAR with people whining and complaining about a young kid fussing, general looks of “he’s not supposed to be here”, or shock/disgust/general discontent over breastfeeding (see #3). But not at the Madhouse on Madison, proving once again that Blackhawks fans are the greatest fans in the world.

3) Speaking of breastfeeding, my wife was able to feed him during the game. In her seat. While the game was being played. All with no issues from any fans around us. She and I are of the same mind that we don’t care (kid’s gotta eat, right?), but we’re very aware that other people make it their business to care for some stupid reason. But again, not at the Hawks game. So BIG kudos to my wife and son both for making breastfeeding at a professional sports stadium during the game look like just another meal at home.

2) I mean it when I say this kid was a trooper. The stadium was loud for the entire game (as it should be), yet he fell asleep while mommy was wearing him in the 3rd period. And then he stayed asleep until the end of the game in OVERTIME. All while maintaining his mellow, laid back personality as if to say “as long as I have mommy and daddy everything is no big deal.”

1) Holding my son as the red lamp lights up, the horns blare, and over 22,000 of the greatest fans in hockey belt out “Chelsea Dagger”. There is truly no other experience like this in the world. He shoots, he scores. Go Hawks.

 

Epilogue: The Blackhawks won the game in overtime, 4-3. This kid now has 4 wins under his belt including 2 in the playoffs. Maybe you’ll see us at more games. 🙂

Five Fabulous Months

To My Son,

You are now an incredible 5 months old. As I type this you are sound asleep snuggled warmly against my chest in one of our carriers. It’s a wonderful experience watching you relax and slowly fall asleep while I’m wearing you, seeing the feelings of comfort, safety, and security in your eyes as the Sandman slowly lulls you into dreamland. Normally I talk about your development and how it’s outpacing any of our expectations, and to be sure there’s been some great developments this past month. But for me the major milestone this past month has to do with our bond. Specifically, I think you and I are both starting to realize that we are more than father and son. We are family.

It’s very obvious and yet breathtaking at the same time, to see you, so brand new to this world, form bonds and connections with others, to see the trust and understanding build on foundations of billions of neural connections. You’re clearly happiest when you, me, and mom are all together. You laugh, you smile, you flirt, you’re excited and exploring your world! Our weekends have been so relaxing and filled with so much fun and joy that it makes the meat grinder of the work week seem a million miles away. You and I have a great relationship, just as you and mom do. We both love you so much and would do anything for you. All the stresses, sacrifices, and tears just disappear when your eyes light up and you smile at us.

While I never had a completely clear picture in my head of what my family would look like when I started it, you are by far the best way to start one! Now that the brutality of the winter is behind us let’s fill your first spring and summer with some great memories as a family.

I love you.

4 Months – Acceleration

My Beautiful Baby Boy,

4 months old. Four. Some people might say only 4 months old, and truthfully it does seem like ages ago that you were born. But strangely at the same time it has gone incredibly fast. Your development has accelerated at light speed this month and shows no signs of slowing down. You can push up on your own, roll over, grab your feet, bear all your weight on your legs for awhile, grab objects and pull them into your mouth, grab things that I need to be careful of now (like my food and my earring), have wonderful, bright-eyed “conversations” with me, and let’s not forget about those 2 top canine teeth that started coming in 5 days after your 3rd month! There have been some rough times this month but every giggle after a neck raspberry (that I’ve affectionately nicknamed a snozberry) makes it all worth it. Our connection is solid albeit constantly evolving. There are some days where I feel we’re completely in sync and others where I feel like a brand new parent with no skills at all. I’m definitely growing as you’re growing and we’re learning together; hopefully you can look back and say I’ve done the best I can for you.

I gaze at the photo I took when you were only 3 hours old and I’m floored, speechless at what a glorious wonder you’ve become. You’re changing so fast that I can already see what you will look like as a toddler! I could easily sit and stare at you, watching in amazement as you grow up before my very eyes. But then I snap out of it as you give me that “WTF?!?!” look and realize that I should be talking to you!

My heart bursts with pride and joy for you as it always will. I look forward to every day with you and as much as I want to hold you, freezing this moment in time forever as the world flies by, I cannot wait to see who you will become.

I love you.