You’re over a year-old now. Almost 13 months.
We threw a party for you a week after your birthday, in the back room of The Grafton, an Irish pub in Chicago your mom and I love. There was a lot of snow on the ground, and even more coming down that day, but our friends were still able to make it. Your grandma was even able to make it from Michigan, although at the last minute, because her train was delayed for a long time. You had a power nap on the way, and you slept in your carseat while your Mom and I decorated. Your mom went above and beyond with balloons and paper streamers, and party favors consisting of suckers, and rubber duckies, and a sticker of your smiling face on each little bag.
You woke up just as people were starting to arrive, and you were grumpy for the first hour or so, and clung to me or Mom more or less, when you’re usually very amiable about being passed around.
But then we lit the candle on your cake, the banana cake your mom made for you because you love bananas, and everyone gathered around and sang “Happy Birthday”, and you were surprised by all the attention on you, but not scared. I blew out the candle for you (Daddy needs to get back to the gym, it took a couple of tries!), and after that, you seemed to realize that all of this was for you, and you started having a great time and being playful with everyone.
The party went on for a few hours, and then we drove home and a woman yelled at me out her apartment window for stealing her “dibs” spot on the street.
Such is life in Chicago.
You stayed home sick from daycare today. You have an ear infection, and you had a fever yesterday and through the night. But you woke up this morning with no fever, in a much better mood. We maybe could have sent you to daycare, but I had already arranged to not work today, so you and I spent the day together while your mom worked, and then went to “healing circle” with some co-workers, a gathering of different holistic practitioners who over their services in shorter, “sample” sessions. Your mom needed the recharge. The last time she had planned to go to one of these nights, a few months ago, we got word that day your first daycare, Rainbow Brite, was closing unexpectedly, and instead of her going to her healing circle and me sitting in a pub to work while your babysitter, Suzanna, looked after you, your mom and I went to a pub together and took advantage of the all-you-can-eat Friday fish and chips and freaked out and figured out what do to. That was a scary few days, but it worked out, and now you go to Ms. Lety’s place, and you love it there, and one of women who work there, Lissette, calls you her boyfriend, and your mom and I don’t know how we feel about that, but she adores you, and you light up when she answers the door every morning.
But anyway, you stayed home from daycare today, and we spent the day together. This is the longest you and I have spent together without mommy. We hung out in the morning, and ran some errands in the afternoon. We took a short walk with Jessica in the early evening, and then dinner and bedtime.
Bedtime was rough. You did not want to go down, and I tried everything – medicine, more water, more milk, more food. You were having none of it. I finally caved and texted your mom for ideas, and just when she was about to leave, you finally fell asleep, and now I’m writing this.
How does it feel to be your dad? I still feel like I’m becoming him. It still doesn’t feel real. I expect one day to wake up and it’s just me and your mom, and you were never born, some cruel joke, because I was never meant to be a parent, never to be trusted with that responsibility. In this scenario of mine, I wake up and not even Jessica Jones is around because I can’t be trusted to care for even a pet. I still feel every day like I’m just doing my best, and that best is barely enough. When it’s just you and me without mom in public together – like today, at Target – I expect someone to come walking up to me and ask if you belong to me, I can’t be your dad, because who would trust me to be a parent?
But then, I am also filled with a joy being your dad I’ve never experienced before. It’s sometimes said that parents come to love their children more than they love their own spouse. I don’t love you more than I love your mom. My love for you is a different kind that feels more profound, perhaps, because I’ve never felt anything like it before.
And I can’t wait to see how that itself grows in the coming weeks, months, and years.
I love you,
I was feeding you dinner tonight while Mom was out having a celebratory drink with her colleagues from work; they had a big win this week, her particularly.
It was a four-course meal: White cheddar cheese, peach cubes, peas, and banana.
You’ve gotten into this game the last couple of weeks where you like to give your food away. Sitting in your high chair, you like to hold pieces of toast down for Jessica Jones to snatch, who is glad to come back again and again.
Tonight, you started holding your peas out to me. The first one, you snatched back and put in your own mouth, but then the second and third, you put in mine, giggling all the way.
These words slipped past my lips: “May I live to be an age that you have to feed me one day.”
A thought. A prayer.
It’s one that nearly brought me to tears. I was 37 when you were born. That’s not particularly old, but yes, I often wonder how many years I have with you, if I will get to live to be the age to see you have your own children, if that’s the path your life takes. I want to see the circle of life fully come around, and reach the age I need caring for, to see as much of your life as I can.
But then I started overanalyzing it all as I am so often prone to overanalyzing everything, and I want you to know, I really don’t want you to ever have to feed me. I don’t want you to ever feel you have to do anything for me, or your mom. This is something she and I have talked about a few times. We never want to be a burden to you.
If we’re lucky enough to get to old age, let the nursing home staff feed us and change our diapers, and listen to me tell the same stories over and over again. We brought you into this world, but we want you to know you owe us nothing other than going out, making your mark, and being a good human to others.
No more, no less.
Love you, kid.
It’s been weeks since I’ve written you here. How you’ve grown these last couple of months. You’re teething. You’re going through mental leaps and developments. The world is opening up to you. You’re crawling all over our condo. You try to eat Jessica’s food from her bowl. When you wake in the middle of the night, or in the morning, you sit up in your crib, waiting for me or mommy to come pick you up. You and me have a game, just a few days old now, where I look everywhere around you, above and below and either side of your gaze, saying, “Where is he? Where’s Harrison?” and you giggle expectantly, waiting for me to find you, and when I do, I squeal with excitement, and you giggle even louder.
The nights are a little rough right now. There are a couple of hours in the middle of many nights, you just want to be up and social. We try and eventually get you back to sleep. Some nights, I’m tempted to bring you out in the living room and play and let you crawl around and explore.
You love daycare. You love solid food, and are less and less patient with baby cereal every day. You’re wearing size 12 and 18 month clothes, and you’re just nine months.
You’re growing. We can’t wait to see who you become, but we love who you are now.
We love you, kid.
You’re a little over six month’s old as I write this. Here’s the morning routine in the Frymire household these days:
I wake up around six in the morning. I take Jessica downstairs for her morning constitutional, then I have some “me” time – journaling, meditating, learning a new language. I’ll eat some breakfast. Then I eventually check work e-mails, and figure out if there’s any client needs I need to immediately address.
Sometime around seven, that’s when you start stirring. You babble. You play with sounds. You’re trying to find words. This morning, it sounded distinctly like you said, “Dad”, but I know that’s just hopeful thinking on my part. When I come into the bedroom and look at you in your crib, you’re almost always on your stomach, pressing up, looking around, and when you see me, you give me big smile. I’ll pick you up out of your crib, and sometimes sing the opening lines of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from “Oklahoma”.
There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow…there’s a bright golden haze on the meadow…
And I open the blinds to let the sun in while I sing.
This is so incredibly dorky, and one day I’m sure you’ll come to be annoyed by it, but for now, it makes you smile.
By the time I’m done singing, your mom is sitting up and getting ready to nurse you. I’ll go off and start getting ready for the day, and then a few minutes later I’ll come back, and all four of us (Jessica Jones too) will snuggle on the bed together, you the center of all the attention. We all lay together for maybe five, ten minutes, and then it’s time to start the day.
These few minutes we have together every morning have become the highlight of my day. We have other good moments during the day, of course, but these mornings in particular are some of most precious times I’ll look back on.
You’re taking a nap as I write this now. I’m watching you on the baby monitor, and you’re starting to stir awake. We’re all about to go grocery shopping, and enjoy this Sunday weather.
Whenever and wherever you’re reading this, I love you, kid.
“The Flash” is a TV show I’m sure I’ll introduce you to when you’re old enough, maybe both versions, the current one playing in 2017, and the one that was on air in the early 90s, when I was the same age I imagine you are when you’re reading this letter for the first time.
The third season concluded a few weeks ago. It was okay, at best. It definitely didn’t come close to the brilliance of the first season, and I doubt any future season ever will. But there was one moment this last season that sticks with me. It makes me think of you.
Minor spoilers ahead, son. But that’s okay. Life is short; you have to read some spoilers every now and then.
So there’s this scene late in the season where Detective Joe West is sitting on the couch with his adult daughter, Iris. They both know Iris is destined to die in a few days at the hands of the season’s Big Bad, Savatar. They know this because of, well, time travel shenanigans.
Joe feels helpless to protect his daughter, and to convey his helplessness, he tells her how he would watch vigilantly over her when she was lying in her crib while she slept when she was an infant. He was terrified she would stop breathing and die, because sometimes, sadly, that does happen with newborns. He would watch her sleep every night, and often times, even place his hand on her chest to just will her to keep, keep breathing. (The actor who plays Joe is the unsung hero of this show, able to deliver such great, touching moments like these.) You were a couple of months old when it episode first aired, and when I watched it, it was like a punch in the gut.
I know how Joe felt.
I don’t dramatically watch over you as you sleep at night, but oh, how often your mom and I check on you. Even though you sleep in our room, we have the baby video monitor on the bed between us so we can check on you. If you sleep more than a few hours, I’ll awake anxious, and sneak over to your crib and place a hand on you to make sure you’re still breathing.
When you go down to sleep a little too quickly, I worry about that too.
I so often feel neurotic about this worry your mom and I have, but I’m told it’s perfectly normal, and it goes away a little more and a little more as the first year mark approaches. Knowing your mom and I, we’ll keep on worrying even longer.
You probably don’t understand this just yet, and likely won’t until if and when the time comes for you to have kids of your own.
But the silver lining: Every morning, when I hear you stirring and I walk over to your crib, and I see your eyes light up when you see me, it is a little miracle. Pulling you into the bed with us and snuggling as a family – Jessica Jones too – for a few minutes is my favorite part of the day.
Today is my first Father’s Day as a father. Yours. Your dad.
Father’s Days have been weird for me for a long. I lost my own dad 15 years ago. We had a complicated relationship at the end, one I’m still processing to this day. And every year, all the marketing and attention that is given to the day, I fight it with gallows humor at times, but it always stings a bit when I get an email or some ad geared towards buying your dad something for Father’s Day.
This morning, I was in the kitchen making breakfast, your mom was still in bed asleep, and I heard you begin to stir, start to talk to yourself in your crib. I put aside whipping the eggs for a moment, and came back to say good morning, and you greeted me with a smile, as you often do. And in that moment, it really sank in that Father’s Day has a new meaning for me now.
I took Jessica Jones out for a walk a while later, and when I came home, your mom had placed some gifts, a couple from you, cards you made at daycare.
In the years to come, I’m sure you’ll give me gifts and kind words on this day. But this year, know that you are the greatest gift to me.