Five years ago, Andrea and I sat on the floor of, what was then, the nursery, sorting through diapers and doing some last minute cleaning of the room. We nervously fussed over different things and talked about how the following day would play out. We were due the following morning at St. Luke’s Hospital at 6:30 for a scheduled C-section, and we were scared to death of the life change that it would bring. It was so hot and that room seemed so empty.
Just like that, five years have now passed and Benjamin turns five tomorrow and is three weeks away from his first day of kindergarten. A room that was once filled with a crib, diapers and all sorts of baby gadgets, he shares with his little brother and is now filled with bunk beds, assorted sizes of dinosaurs and more toys than we know what to do with. The room that was so quiet and empty is often filled with songs and laughter as we get them into bed. We are no longer the clueless, parents to be, but slightly less clueless and maybe a bit confident parents of five years.
I’m amazed at not only how quickly the five years have passed, but how much I have grown with Benjamin. Part of the fear from five years ago was wondering if I would have the patience to be a good father…Patience wasn’t a virtue I would have identified with back then. While I definitely lose it at times and there were long, long, long, long, long, long nights when I thought the kid would never start crying, I’ve done so much better than I even prayed for that night before he was born.
Tomorrow isn’t just Ben’s fifth birthday, it is also (obviously), five years since Andrea and I became parents, and while we know there are going to be tough times ahead, it feels like the most difficult times are behind us now. When Benjamin was born, we had no experience as being parents and now, no matter what happens, we have the experience behind us and that makes us stronger.
In my mind, a montage of the last five years has been on an endless loop with the soundtrack being the laughter of the boys playing together: First steps, first words, diapers and bottles, early mornings and playgrounds, birthdays and illnesses, all those smiles. It’s a happy place.
The one image that surfaces the most, for some reason, was from a particularly stressful morning after a night when we hadn’t gotten any sleep. I was walking past the nursery, and all I could see was Ben’s little feet sticking up from the changing table with Andrea, looking haggard, staring down at Ben and smiling as he cooed. I think that’s what being a parent is about…even in the toughest times, it just takes a little smile from those precious souls to change everything.
Happy Birthday Benjamin. They have been the five best years of my life…so far.