Before Matthew was born, Karin was seriously beginning to question whether I was completely dead emotionally. Maybe I was just a typical guy, but she told me for several years that if I didn't at least cry when our first child was born, there would be no doubt. I wasn't sure what I could promise, because I really didn't know how I would feel. I'd had some friends/family say that they had an instant emotional bond with their children, and others say that it took time. I almost expected the latter to be the case with me, given my track record.
Two years and eight days ago, something in me changed. The moment I saw my son, it was like I had tapped into some emotional well deep within myself that I hadn't known existed. I was overcome in a way I never had been before, and to some degree every time I see my son that feeling comes back a little bit. Part of it, I think, comes just from him being my son, but I think a lot of it comes from the amazing little spirit he has and the realization that the father of my spirit has entrusted me with him and given me the privilege of being his father. I think I do a better job of that on some days than on others, but I do feel truly blessed to be a father.
I also truly feel blessed to have been raised by my father. Much of what I am - at least the good parts - are due to him, and there are other less-than-perfect parts of myself that I am trying to change and am grateful for his tremendous example as I do so. My dad has endured (in the best sense of the word) trials that are completely outside the confines of the relatively uncomplicated life I have lived to this point, and in spite of that (or perhaps because of it) he has a strength of character that I'm only able to emulate in my best moments. Underlying that strength is a complete lack of pretense, a combination that seems to be increasingly rare and one of those things I need to work on a bit.
Another thing I've been conscious of lately is that I need to be more willing to volunteer. Sometimes it's easy to convince yourself that you are somehow more busy than everyone else and be a bit of a "free rider," but I'm amazed at people who always seem willing without much consideration to stand up and get things done. I found out tonight that my dad has volunteered to be trained and become an ambulance driver in Beatty because there are not really enough now to keep it going, and I honestly wasn't really all that surprised. As I get older, I'm increasingly grateful not only for the things I learned from him growing up but also for the things I'm still learning now.