Honestly, I have led a very mild life in general. I've never really experienced what the world has to offer, as I've been fairly content with just staying in my little controlled and comfortable world. I've had the opportunity to experience some once in a lifetime events though:
- Joined a team who developed a massive youth gathering in San Fransisco and Indianapolis in 2011.
- Traveled to Mexico to help with an orphanage that needed some love in 2005.
- Visited California to experience #E3 2016 and meet the Now Loading team.
- Spent two summer teaching students about archery, riflery and skeet shooting at a youth camp.
Yet, through all these experiences there is really nothing that compares to the adventure that started when I married my best friend, and we met our first son, Brycen.
So let me set the stage for you, and in honor of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story releasing this past weekend, I figure it as my responsibility to start the story this way:
So there I was standing at the altar waiting for my then-soon-to-be-wife to tell me that she doesn't think I'm a complete idiot and wants to spend the rest of her life with me. She was young which probably accounts for her being crazy enough to say "I do." And even though we probably weren't truly ready for everything that marriage encompassed, we were ready to jump into the deep end together and share our lives. Over the last 5 years we've had joys and sorrows, we've shared in laughter and tears yet the greatest experience as I'm sure she would agree would be the birth of our first son, Brycen.
He was 'A New Hope' for me.
Sorry, I couldn't resist the phrasing there, because honestly it's true. Being a father was always something that gave me so much anxiety., and seeing Brycen for the first time filled me with a hope that I couldn't explain. But to understand why I felt the way I did, it requires some back story. So here's where my Phantom Menace set in. Yes, yes I know the puns are out in force (haha get it?), but I can't resist.
I didn't grow up with the ideal fatherly influence since my parents divorced before I even knew what a dad was. Growing up my idea of fatherhood was skewed towards the realm of indifference and obligation rather than supportive and informative. I grew up feeling as though I was just something to mark off the list as completed, something that could be quantified and managed like a project in my dad's company. So the fear in me for the years to come were that I would become just like him; so consumed with forward progress that I would lose sight of the importance and grounding effect that a family could provide. I wanted so desperately to have a normal family like all my friends seemed to have, and I was fearful that that was something I'd never be able to offer my wife and potential children someday: and honestly it ate me up inside.
Fear consumed me, in every part of my life leading up to the day that I met the woman who would become my wife. She gave me something to look forward to, and made me believe that I could be everything that my father was not.
Yet when I look back at the time that I first came to the conclusion that my dad, although I loved him, wasn't the man that I wanted to emulate, this classic Star Wars scene comes to mind because he truly wasn't the father I was looking for.
For quite a while I held onto hope that I could someday discover that I could find a redeeming quality in him, and find faith in him being a fatherly figure. But through the several attempts to reconnect (I haven't seen him in over 10 years now), at every turn it wound up always being about how I was a bad son for not being in his life. So I actively walked away from his and even in doing that the fear in my heart was planted that I was destined to follow his leading.
I Chose To Be The 'Rogue One' In My Family Tree
Realizing that I would soon be a father, I was honestly terrified (at time I still am scared out of my mind). I felt unqualified, undeserving, unfocused and un-just-about-every-verb-you-can-imagine; yet through it all I had the hope that I could turn around the pedagogy that was instilled in me through the absenteeism from my father. I wanted to make sure that the trait of indifference was stopped. My father was absent, his father before him was the same and most likely my great-grandfather was the same sort of distant witness to their child's life. They were all clones of their father in one way or another and I was determined that the Attack of the Clones stopped with me.
I spent a long time leading up to my son's birth trying to wrap my head around the kind of father that I wanted to be. I wanted to be everything that I didn't find in my father. Then when the day came and I was standing there in the delivery room with hands shaking, heart racing and my mind completely blurred; they handed me a beautiful baby boy. He was crying and I had no idea what to do so I held him close and hummed the only children's song that came to mind - Queen's "Bicycle Race". Yes, that is truly the only song I could think of, so I just started humming.
Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
You say black I say white
You say bark I say bite
You say shark I say hey man
Jaws was never my scene
And I don't like Star Wars
It was all I could do to keep my legs from crumbling beneath me while I held this nearly 10 pound baby boy in my arms. So I hummed and then I hummed some more until the nurse asked if I was singing Queen, and I answered that I could stop if it was annoying. She was just pleased to not have to listen to Old McDonald or Hush Little Baby as every other parent sings.
Yet, in that simple moment when I was swaying back and forth to the voice of Freddie Mercury in my head, I knew that everything that I thought I feared about my future as a father was moot. Because looking down at him - I knew without a shadow of a doubt that there was never going to be anything that stopped me from being a present and devoted father. I've been living in this journey of fatherhood now for nearly 5 years now, and our second son, Travis just turned 1 and he's just as important a part of my journey.
And what I'm realizing is that even though I'm going through this journey with my wife, it's one of my greatest #goingsolo moments because I'm choosing to live every day as though I could be frozen in carbonite and sold off to Jabba the Hutt. My life as a dad is truly one of the reasons I find joy in the day because I'm able to find faith in myself that I can turn against the empire and create a true rebellion in my family tree.