Max, like all kids at this age, grows and changes every week. So when I go away on a business trip the change is such a slap in the face it is astounding! Last week, I had to go to Honolulu for 10 days which was torture to not only be so far away from my family but also in a different time zone that would not permit me to end my day talking with my wife. Yes…I know I was in Hawaii, but it was for work so it might as well have been Tulsa.
Upon landing in Honolulu I was greeted with a slew of text messages that had been chasing me across the Pacific. “MAX IS CLAPPING.” For months I have been working on trying to teach Max how to clap his hands…and he does it the day I leave. The next day, “MAX IS WAVING.” Another skill I have been working on that he chose to execute for the first time in my absence. Then…the killer; a few days later, “MAX IS WALKING.” While Max has been standing and taking 3-5 akward steps for a few weeks now – he mastered the art of balance and walking while I was away.
When I finally made it home after a week and half my son walked across the airport floor to greet me. I immediately scooped him up and donned him with kisses…he responded by clapping happily. When I left he was my little baby boy – when I returned he was clearly more grown up than before. His hair was longer and thicker, the shape of his face ever so slightly changed, the new skills were astounding, and the level of interaction we can have is amazing. This weekend he said his second full blown word, “Mama.” I looked at Kate and knew exactly how she felt as I will NEVER forget the day he said “Dada.”
My life is better with Max in it. He fills me with love but more importantly he makes me aware of everything around me. Its like he was a key that unlocked awareness and emotions inside me I never knew existed. Last night he thrashed around the room after a day of terrorizing Mommy, sitters, family, etc. He wants to communicate something but doesn’t have the words yet. I held him like I did the day he was born and sang to him our favorite songs. His tiny eyelids fought hard, his breathing got louder, and slowly his limbs became limp. Shhhhhhhh. He drifted off to sleep in my arms, something he has done many times but this was the first time I had experienced it in over 2 weeks…and I bawled. Happy, loving, paternal tears of joy. I have never loved two people as much I love my wife and son, it is impossible to communicate that feeling. Being a father (and husband) is the greatest gift my life has bestowed upon me, and I am thankful for it every day.