The Joy of being a father is a feeling second to none. My baby popped on the scene and stole my heart from the moment I first laid eyes on her. It was like a movie - you know (where the characters see each other and it is love at first sight). I watched the doctors put the needles in her chunky thighs. As they went in, I cringed as if the needles were piercing my own body. In that moment, I knew I would do everything in my power to protect her from any hurt, harm, or danger. The Joy of being a father is like jumping out of a plane. Right before you jump, you’re full of mixed emotions - excitement, fear, and anxiety overwhelm you. But as soon as your feet touch the ground (or in this case, your baby is born), you experience the fullness of Joy.
After they pulled the needles from her body and I took a breath, the nurses carted her off to make sure she was healthy. For a brief moment, she was gone and all I could think was, “God has blessed me more than I deserve with her.” I was left smiling from ear to ear. You could’ve put lemon juice on my tongue and my lips wouldn’t have wavered, especially when she came back into the room from her trek. It felt like she was gone for an eternity!
I got in the hospital bed and pulled her close to my chest as she slept peacefully. I could feel her little heart beat on mine - it was like a symphony playing a million tunes and I couldn’t stop listening. The thoughts running through my mind seemed to beat at the same pace of the music she was creating. Thoughts like, “I’m so glad she didn’t get my hair. How will she sound when she speaks? Will she be a daddy’s girl?” As the symphony slowed and my eyelids began to close, I knew I wanted to do a couple things for sure.
I determined in my heart that I would be her biggest supporter in everything she does. That I would take her on her first date and show her how a man should treat her. That I would love her with discipline and grace the way God loves us. My eyelids won the dance battle and I fell asleep with her on my chest. Yes - may not be the safest thing to do with a newborn baby - but hey, she is alive and kickin’!
The joy of being a father is like well seasoned food, eating food any other way isn’t right. When I left her that morning to go back to Oklahoma State for practice, I realized my day was missing the seasoning that brought it flavor. I had a new why. God chose ME to be her father. HE entrusted me with a beautiful life that is innocent and precious. Everyday, I wake up knowing that God chose me to provide, teach, love, and be an example that is reflecting HIS image. She became motivation for me to work as hard as I can to succeed in my career and be the best version of myself.
This newfound motivation helped me finish my time at OSU and begin my NFL journey with a fiery passion. She taught me to cherish every little moment. Like the moments she wouldn’t stop crying. Or the moments when she exploded in her diaper and I needed a face mask to cover my nose, so I wouldn’t throw up. Don’t roll your eyes! I have bad gag reflexes to smells.
The joy of being a father is like having a little teacher for every moment. God uses her to teach me so many lessons. HE knew that within her first year of life, I would encounter more moments of happiness and sorrow than I could have expected. My mom was diagnosed with cancer; I got cut from my first team; I moved from Boston to Dallas to Nebraska to Chicago. Yet through all these adversities, she always brought me joy. I’m so lucky to be her father, to see her crawl, to hear her say dada, to watch her take her first steps and so much more! When life begins to heat up, the joy of being a father is like water that cools me off. I wasn’t able to be with her on her birthday that year and it broke my heart. This continued for the next two years, which is why I am so thankful for the people who had the brilliant idea of creating facetime - it allowed me to be there for these special moments.
The saying “time flies by” is an understatement when it comes to her! It feels as if the moments we have together race by like the Flash - I can't even see where they went. The terrible two’s never came and she is on to the sassy three’s. She is already playing soccer and when I watch her kick the ball around, I realize three things:
Note: To all the fathers out there - your child is second to none. They will bring you fullness of joy. When your life seems dull, your child will bring you the right flavor that you need in each moment and they will teach you as many lessons as you’re open to learning.