You’re a daddy!
The first time a man hears these words from his wife, his heart soars and his mind fills with dreams of the future. Suddenly this guy who tended to think that it’s all about him, or all about his job, is struck with some noble ideas about protecting his wife – the Mother of His Child – and providing for this little one in the womb. He has a stake in the future and no sacrifice seems too large.
This is very much how I felt when my wife came to my office unexpectedly one day to present me with a baby rattle. I was clueless. After 18 months of married life trying to have a child, I thought, maybe my wife was losing it. But when she shook the rattle (I can still hear the sound) and said, “You’re a daddy,” I lost it. We hugged. I cried. No man on earth was happier. We still have the baby rattle – along with two growing boys, ages 10 and 6.
When the Feast of the Annunciation was approaching last week, I decided to ask men if they recalled when they first heard their own fatherhood news from their wives and what they thought and felt on the occasion. I sent out word through the Fathers for Good email and Facebook network and have received a fair number of responses – some of them quite moving, all of them deeply heartfelt and personal. If you think that men don’t “share” or have deep feelings about their wives and children, you need to read these comments on the Fathers for Good website. (https://www.fathersforgood.org/ffg/en/big_four/first_heard_dad.html)
Some are just flat-out funny: “I ran to her and slipped on the kitchen floor, smashing my head on the table. Groggy and dizzy, I crawled to the bathroom and she was crying tears of joy. Then she told me I was a father.”
Others comments come straight from “Guy Land,” like the husband who heard that his wife was pregnant and ran out to buy the baby a #18 Peyton Manning jersey!
Most are filled with faith: “I was thrilled to find out I was to be a father each time my wife told me to expect another one. There is this feeling of being a co-creator of something wonderful and mysterious. I thank God even now for my five children and ten grandchildren, each one with a separate but wonderful personality.”
Many tell a story of initial infertility and the joy of finally conceiving, like the tall, burly man who had been told he and his wife could not conceive. When the good news finally came, and his wife called him, “I lost it right there.” He “cried like a baby” with happiness.
Some stories express a fear of miscarriage: After an “unsuccessful first pregnancy, we were both filled with hope and trepidation with the second one,” a father wrote. He went with his wife to most of the prenatal check-ups and said the birth of his “little man” was a blessing and an answer to prayers.
There are also stories of adoption, with the father feeling every bit as joyful as the other dads when he gets the news that a baby is waiting for him and his wife.
There is a place in every man’s heart reserved for the joy of fatherhood. It would be good for all of us dads to think back to that moment when our wives broke the news, and see if we still approach our children (no matter their age) with the same joy and wonder as we did when we first heard they were conceived.
Brian Caulfield is editor of the website Fathers for Good, an initiative by the Knights of Columbus that features regular articles, videos and other multimedia on the subject of Christian fatherhood. A father of two young boys, Brian writes on the spiritual truths found in daily life and the issues men face while striving to live out their vocation.