Early Thoughts About Fatherhood

So…tea’s just gonna have to wait.

Since the title of this page is “my mind and what’s on it” I’m going to stay true to that idea and tell you what’s on my mind these days: Fatherhood.

Me holding Maryam Noor

 

As a matter of fact I had quite an experience only some hours after Maryam was born.  As I mentioned in the previous post when she came into this world, and at the exact moment she took her first breath, I lost it emotionally.  It was a nice kind of lost, a relieving lost.  After Shaista had gone through the post birth process (which was also very tough), her mom and sister visited in the delivery room.  I was exhausted at that point and was ready to fall on to the softest and closest thing around for at least a few hours.  We did get to rest a bit before moving to the post-birth ward where they keep you for a few days (at least…we stayed 6) in order to make sure the baby is doing all right in its first days in the world.  At last we were able to close our eyes along with the baby and sleep glorious sleep.

We slept for about 2 hours then about 3 midwives came into the room somewhat abruptly yet politely in order to talk to Shaista and check on the baby.  As I woke, I stayed in that half awake mode associated with a lack of sleep and then being woke up too early.  I couldn’t really grasp what was going on entirely because I was still trying to hang on to the dream world where all this massive change hadn’t taken place.  And that is exactly what came crashing in on me in that small hospital room at 8:00 in the morning: Reality.  I was a father!  No more unscheduled time to my self! No more uninterrupted sleep for months to come!  Maryam’s teenage years came slamming into me along with this sudden realization.  So did unwanted trips to the doctor (God protect her) along with teaching about the birds and the bees and how evil boys are!  I could hear lots of little girls chattering at slumber parties and endless visions of the color pink!

But the huge rush of reality wasn’t all bad.  I started thinking of first laughs, crawls, and walks.  Warm hugs and reassuring her after hard days.  Trips to the ice cream shop and having her run up to me after school is out.   Coming to visit her class as “show and tell.” (I’m going to be the coolest dad for sure)  Teaching her the few things I know and learning from her the many things I don’t know.  Watching her and her mom and aunt shop for clothes while I twiddle my thumbs outside the store (boring yes, but good memory? yes) I saw her as an intelligent young, independent woman who values tradition.  I saw her traveling all over the world visiting her vast, diverse family.  I saw the smiles on both sets of grandparents’ faces.

It was in that moment that I knew that my life had changed forever and definitely for the best.  Not long after that the midwife showed me something that I had long wanted to avoid…how to change a diaper.  But I took it in stride realizing that I had to do it from there on out and…it wasn’t that bad.  But I’m writing this statement only three weeks to four weeks into her life mashAllah.  We’ll see how I feel after the first year.  But diaper changing brought something along with it as well.  Something special, something beautiful.  (Only I would associate beauty with a dirtied diaper.)  It gifted me with the sense of responsibilty…the good and welcome kind.  It was a sense of being a protective figure in young Maryam’s life.  I had felt this on very small scales before and I had even felt it for the barbershop I used to own (which was as much work as a baby) but this was obviously different.  I looked into her tiny face and saw helplessness.  If we leave these little creatures on their own, they won’t make it.  They are not set up to.  We as parents and big brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, friends and loved ones are the ones who help them to grow up.  Maryam couldn’t clean her own self and in that need I knew my position and how grand it was.

I started to notice how simple babies are.  They are completely at the mercy of what their bodies and environments tell them to do.  The body needs nutrition…time to cry.  Gas bubble passing through…you get the picture.  I was amazed by this and started to notice in myself and in others around me that we’re not that different.  We’ve just gained control over our muscles and can deal with pain differently but at the root of it, we to as adults have to stretch when our muscles tell us to and I’m sure we all make faces during bathroom time.  All this made me feel part of something.  Something extraordinary and huge…acutually infinite.

All that from a diaper change huh?  You should hear my theory about cheese sandwiches.

Maryam has given me something to look forward to.  Her coming has made me appreciate her mom and even myself more than I already did before.  When I look at that little face I just want to make sure everything will be alright for her.  A friend of mine in Seattle gave me some very sage advice about children.  He said to always remember that God is control and while we do what we can to help in the situation, the situation was put there for a reason beyond us.  And that if we try to control our babies’ lives we will be infinitely stressed.  That is an incredibly hard lesson to apply yet oh so effective.  I pray that I’ll always be able to be that grateful.  I know that I’m over the moon about the little girl.

Until next time.