ABOUT OUR FIRST SON
When you announce that you are expecting your first child, people seem to go out of their way to give you advice and friendly warnings. One of the most common ones is, “Your life is gonna change!” Gee. Thanks, buddy. I had no idea.
It’s funny, though. Nobody really goes into a lot of detail about how your life will change. Even when they do give some more information, they will tell you something about how it’s a lot of work, and how a lot of your time will be dedicated to your child. Honestly, though, that doesn’t really even scratch the surface of what really happens.
Of course, the extra work is an obvious change. Taking care of one human being (yourself) is hard enough. Add just one more into the mix, and things become hectic in a hurry. I don’t know about you, but I already feel that I spend far too much time taking care of myself, just to maintain the status quo of my physical, mental, and spiritual health. Daily hygiene habits alone are a mental load that I really wish I didn’t have to deal with. Shower, wash your hair, wash your face, wash everywhere else (I use one of those long brushes to get my back – what, you think that’s weird? – you know what I think is weird? – a back that hasn’t been washed in 38 years), brush your teeth, floss, apply deodorant, apply face lotion, apply hair wax, get dressed, make your tea for the day (I make 8-10 cups of tea and put it in a carafe that I drink all day – I already told you I’m weird), take your vitamins, count your calories, do your workout, and try to squeeze in a daily devotion somewhere. Oh, right, and there’s work. And your wife probably wants some attention at some point, too.
However, the extra workload is only one of the pieces to the puzzle, and honestly it’s probably one of the most insignificant. One of the most significant things that happens to you is that you realize that you are no longer the most important person in your life. When you have a child, a shift in your thinking happens that I don’t think anyone can accurately describe. Your life is no longer your own. You are a second-class citizen. Your desires come second. Your satisfaction comes second. Your joy comes second. Your child is now the center of the universe.
Now, the way I say it, it sounds as if you longer care about yourself. Unfortunately, that’s not true. You still do care about all the things you used to. It’s just that you now have so little time to pursue any of it. And you’ve already used most of your energy keeping your new #1 alive and happy. And you’re now conflicted – about almost everything. The things you thought were important, you’re just not sure about anymore. Catching up on the latest show that everyone is watching kind of feels like a waste of time. And then odd thoughts start occurring to you. Thoughts like, “What actually is worth doing, outside of the safety, education, and well-being of my child?”.
Sometimes, when I’m putting Nathan to bed, the most valuable thing I can think to do is to stay there with him, laying next to him, enjoying him. My son. The one who I love more than anything and would give my life for. My precious boy.
Your own sleeping child is the most precious thing on this earth.
This blog exists, in part, as a letter to my children. Not my children as they are now. My children twenty or thirty years from now. I’m certain I won’t remember all of the thoughts I had once upon a time, whether odd or common, whether funny or serious. I want to keep that somewhere – to tell my children a little about the man that I am, and the man that I used to be.
ABOUT OUR BUNNY
I’ve been using the book Carving & Painting Adorable Animals in Wood to carve the bobcat for my mom, and now I’ve used it for Nathan’s bunny. My daughter, Emmy, looked through the book and wants an otter (which is what I’m working on now). It’s been very helpful to carve something for a second time from the same book. The author uses the same template for all of the animals, and they all have the same pose, so I feel like I’ve been able to pick up on the right and wrong way to do certain things, and I’ve been able to apply those things to the next carving.
One of the struggle’s I’m having now is trying to identify the best way to “rough out” the carving (i.e. carving the basic shape of the object before adding detail). I’ve watched a lot of videos, and everybody seems to have their own strategy. The best people don’t seem to need any kind of guidance at all. They just start carving, and within a few hours, the shape they want just emerges. Maybe I’ll get there eventually. For now, I do my best at looking back and forth between my block of wood and the templates from the book, and carving very slowly. There’s something enchanting about the idea of “addition by subtraction”. Removing something to make something new is not a common way to produce things. Mostly, you start with nothing, and keeping adding pieces until you come out with something valuable. It’s an odd reversal to the norm. I think it’s one of the things that draws people to it.
TO MY SON
My son, Nathan. You, your mom, your sister, and our new baby boy, mean the world to me. I know I say it all the time, but just for the record, for all the world to know: I love you more than I can ever say with words.