08 December 2008

The Birthday Parade

Usually, when someone from my family celebrates a birthday, the neighborhood has a parade. This year was no different, despite the ungodly weather.

It started with the kaleidoscope kalashnikov car that has some creepy music thing inside.

Oh, I see. It's called a Calliope.

So we quickly got the baby toddler out but he gave me the same look he gave me when he was a week old, when I brought him to the doctor to cut him up for hygienic reasons (but not really). The look that said, "I trusted you..."

So with all due respect to the good people of Baltimore, and of course I was grateful for the parade, but the baby and I were going back inside. Count to ten, and he was asleep.

Now we were alone in my friends' house, and I had a sleeping baby and a remote, which meant no more football.

First, I landed on the Golf Channel, where these three Boomers were talking about golf exercises. Pretty surreal, not sure why.

But even when the guy in yellow started stretching on the floor, the novelty wore off quickly, because I'm in my late-mid-thirties, not in my early twenties. When I were twenty-something in England, I used to watch Man and His Dog, a weekly sheep-herding competition. Things change.

So I kept on surfing, and found this golf-related movie.

Here's another clue. A post-modern one.

Luckily, before I got sucked into the movie, Honey came in and took over, which meant I got to go outside and see the Birthday Parade. But it was still Hellishly cold, even when God sent his messengers out, complete with angels sitting on a cross.

And that's pretty much it for the parade and the party. Now that it's over, here's something I'm not that comfortable talking about, but might as well:

A year ago we were in a hospital room with this stranger we were supposed to love. It wasn't instant, at least for me. How can it be instant? He was just this creature that lived inside my wife's body and now lived outside. And I was scared and I was sad because I thought it was the most horrible thing in the world that I didn't love my son.

But then I thought that maybe it was normal. Maybe everyone--at least men, because they're not the pregnant ones--goes through those same unspeakable fears. Maybe I just needed some time.

And of course I was scared and sad. Because I didn't know what my reaction would be when one day, out of nowhere, he'd open his big blue eyes and smile. And then I saw him laugh. I didn't know he would fall off his crib on his head, leaving me shaking as I waited for the ambulance. And I didn't know that one day I'd be so thrilled to see this stranger clap his hands, and sit up, and crawl, and stand, and sing, and dance, and talk in a language only he understood.

Because if anyone had told me any of these things a year ago, I would have had a good night sleep.

But no one was there to tell me about the future. No one was there to calm me down, maybe because I didn't tell anyone and didn't admit it to myself. And no one was there to tell me that even though I didn't know it yet, I was about to experience the most incredible year of my life. And even though on that first night I looked at my son and saw a stranger, at the end of our first year together, I look at him and see the most beautiful creature in the world, and I love him so much, it hurts like Hell to hear him cry, and it makes me the happiest man in the world to see him happy.

Happy birthday, Liam, my love.


Bluestreak said...

Happy Birthday Liam.

I don´t know why I find it so touching your admiting to not feeling what you thought you would feel when he was born. I guess it was love you imagined. And your description of not even being able to imagine what you would feel a year later, which is the real experience of love and not the imagined love.


Xbox4NappyRash said...

Oh boy.

Happy Birthday young man, you'll do just fine I suspect.

Craig said...

One of mankind's greatest tragedies is that we outgrow furry hoods with ears.

Happy Birthday little man!

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Drop kick me Jesus through the goal posts of life.

I just been saying that as often as possible because I enjoyed that song so much when it came on the radio this weekend. And it fits in with your post. Sort of.

And anyway end of your post is so sweet!!!!! Seriously I almost had to cry. For real.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Oh gee whiz and I almost forgot - HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GirlGriot said...

This is so great. I'm reading through your post, laughing, smiling ... and then the next thing I know, I've got tears in my eyes. Beautiful. Happy birthday to Liam!

SJ said...


Awwwwww man you are getting all sweet an mellow these days. I hope he becomes a rebellious teenager and makes up for all the joy he is giving you now . Kidding.

Kori said...

This was a beautiful post, though I could have done without the men in robes. Happy birthday to your Liam!

A Free Man said...

Aha, I knew you would have to let the inner sweetie out there. It's impossible not to.

Where the hell do you live? Have I been out of the States too long and forgotten the disturbing religious marches or is that a newish phenomenon. Fucking creepy either way.

lunaticg said...


Happy birthday.
I wish my birthday without any parade. I will not go because I don't like crowd.

See You around friend.

LiteralDan said...

Oh man, you nailed it, just perfectly. I think people (or at least men, I suppose) who swoon about their reactions that day are often repainting their emotions with hindsight.

It's a very surreal and memorable day, to be sure, but it's nowhere near as simple as some big love-at-first-sight music number in a movie. You touched on the complexity and chaotic parallel thoughts and feelings just right.

Happy birthday, Liam, you're in great hands!

People in the Sun said...

Bluestreak, I suppose it's easy to admit now that things have changed. But for the first few days, when Honey didn't feel good, I actually resented him. But of course I couldn't tell anyone.

Xbox, thank you (from both of us).

Craig, someone actually said that when he saw Liam, and I told him he could probably get an adult size online with a zipper at the bottom. But I'm being inappropriate again.

Jill, thank you. I think it does fit, but I don't know the song. Is it one of them "country" songs all the kids are listening to nowadays?

GirlGriot, hey, thanks. I really didn't know where I was going with that, too. I just planned on putting up some parade pictures.

SJ, I hope he becomes rebellious, too. As long as he does his homework!

Kori, if you don't like these guys, you better start sinning, because they're all over the place in Heaven.

Freeman, I suppose it's a Christmas parade so... But actually I've seen the parade for three years and I've never seen the angels sitting on a gigantic cross before. Ravens fans on scooters, yes. Elvis impersonators and a caped Underdog Woman, yes. But no giant crosses. To be fair, I usually get inside for a while because it's so cold (only this year I had an excuse).

Lunaticg, thank you. And just because of that, I've arranged a parade for you. Look outside your window.

Dan, thanks. I'm glad I'm not alone. I thought it could be the case even then, but it was still frightening. Books prepare you for a lot of stuff, but not for unexpected emotional reactions. And even if they did say, "You'll see... you'll love him eventually," it probably wouldn't have helped.

Simon said...

I guess babies have to grow on you the same as anything else. I didn't like curry the first time I tried it.

We don't have 'A Man And His Dog' on the TV here in England any more. We got a life, I guess. And even if it *was* on, I wouldn't watch it any more. I've reached the age where half an hour is a sizable proportion of my remaining life span, so I'm not going to spend it watching sheep.

Seriously though, a touching post. And happy birthday to Big Ears!

People in the Sun said...

No "Man and His Dog"? It always reminded me of "European Vacation," where every channel in England has the same show about cheese.

And thanks. But these are not his ears. It's the horns.

Sarah said...

Congrats on your first year of daddyhood and happpy birthday to Liam!

And, I have always thought of naming a kid Happy because I love that movie so much. And I always hoped my golf game could be as easy as his...definitely not.

cooper said...

I'm always amazed to come and see pictures as I remember last year when he didn't look like much of a person. Now he is a regular little being.

Hope he had a grand first birthday, he is a lucky kid who will one day be very pissed off to see his baby pictures on his old man's blog. said...

Happy Birthday way late from me :) but better late than never. Kiddo is so cute :)

People in the Sun said...

Sarah, thank you. It took me a while to get used to Adam Sandler. His movies don't really work anywhere else in the world. What was so funny about this angry guy? And it was the same thing in all of his movies, only a different sport! It's insane! I don't know why I think it's funny now. But it is, you know?

Cooper, at some point I might have to delete the post about him peeing straight into his mouth. Then again, by that time, all the cool kids will have parents blogging about them.

Firefly, thank you. You're not too late. It's still his birthday month (and I'm pretty sure the parade is still going).

Florida Girl In Sydney said...

I also had a slow to warm up reaction to parenting-- and I was the mother, well duh on that one... but anyway, I think more people feel that way but never admit it.

Once you have kids though you look at everything differently-- different in a good way.

I think the shock of parenthood and the expectations of love at first sight can be scary to some of us-- or at least me.

But how completely immeasurable the love becomes!

Mark said...

The idea of fatherhood was abstract for me during the pregnancy, though the pregnancy and the changes my wife underwent were real enough. I was amazed at how I recognized this baby in my arms in his first minutes outside the womb. What makes such a thing possible? And within a short time it was as if there had never not been him. That was seventeen years ago.

People in the Sun said...

Girl, so it happens to women too? Maybe it's even harder to admit because you expect this thing that made you sick for 9 months to have a little gratitude.

Mark, I'm with you on the abstract. At some point I made the terrible mistake of telling my wife I understood what she was going through. That was the first time I learned her eyes could turn red and shoot lasers.

Irish Mammy said...

Thanks for the post, it is beautiful to read from a man's perspective. When my son was born I remember looking at this stranger and wondering would I ever get to know him and him me. I was frightened but then again he must have been as well. My son's name is also Liam and sometimes the love hurts.

People in the Sun said...

Hi, IM. And thanks. I think he just demanded my love until I couldn't resist. Your son has a beautiful name.

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