I have thought about posting this for years but could never find the words. Today I just sat and wrote and the words came. This is my unconventional story of becoming a father.
I walked down the quiet and empty hallway of my dorm building for the last time. My fingers lightly grazed the wall as I walked, almost as if I were trying to soak in all the remaining memories I could through my finger tips. It was a place where I felt accepted and loved. All of it was ending. I didn’t want to leave.
A few hours earlier I found myself driving. A million thoughts collided through my head as I tried to comprehend what was happening. I remember telling myself “this is a moment you will remember for the rest of your life” as my white knuckles gripped the steering wheel. I was right.
The year was 2006, I was a student at a bible college who had a policy about unmarried students having sex…and my fiancé just told me she thought she was pregnant. I drove to the Wal-Mart on the outskirts of town hoping to not get noticed in the pregnancy test aisle by a professor or another student. I rushed back and delivered the test to Sarah. I wanted to throw up.
I sat in my dorm room waiting for the phone call that would change my life. When it came I heard the words “You’re going to be a Daddy”. Sickness. Panic. Frustration. These are not the emotions I always envisioned having. This meant my schooling was done and I would be kicked out. This meant my parents would be disappointed in me again. I was 22 years old with no job, how could I be a father and raise a baby? My fiancé was 18 and she also would be kicked out and sent home. What had we done?
Fatherhood did not come in the timing that I had written out for myself. It thrust itself upon me and completely rearranged my life. I had two choices, accept it and embrace it, or run away from it. Running was never an option.
Years later as I reflect, I smile at how naïve and selfish I was. I am embarrassed that I suggested adoption and I feel irked that I thought this meant I would be shamed forever. I wish I could go back and scream in delight at the news. Give Sarah the hugs, kisses and support she deserved. I was selfish. I suppose one always can view their short sited-ness with the luxury of a few years and life experiences to look back with. I decided to write a letter to my 2006 self. I hope he gets it.
Congrats on baby Hannah! She is the best thing that will ever happen to you. You will get frustrated. You will be up for many hours. You will not sleep. It will all be worth it. Being a father is what defines you and you are damn good at it. You need to pick yourself up off the ground and realize that this is bigger than your feelings. You get to raise a life, teach her what is good, hold her hand, and have her look at you like you are the strongest and smartest man in the world. Fatherhood will make you better, it will mature you, and most of all it will give you a heart filled with compassion and love. You are loved, you are respected, and you are needed. So buck up. Life is awesome and you will soon have a 7-year-old beauty who thinks the world of you.
A future friend who knows better.