As I promised I would in my last post, I bought Lydia a balloon this week after getting back from traveling to New York. Well, I would have bought it, but the kind grocery store employee thought Lydia was so cute that she said we could have it for free! (Hooray for nice people!)
Quick parenting tip: If you instantly want to be known by your baby as the best parent ever, get him/her a helium balloon!
To say that Lydia was excited about getting a balloon would be a major understatement. I had planned to pick up the balloon on our way out of the store, and so after buying all our groceries, we headed over to the balloon and flower kiosk. As soon as Lydia saw the balloons she started pointing at them and getting excited. A big, toothy smile stretched across her face as we walked up to the desk, and she got even more excited when the woman at the kiosk started filling her balloon up with helium. All the excitement came to a climax as the employee handed Lydia the balloon, and Lydia realized that it was for her. I thought she was going to explode from enthusiasm. I don’t know if there has ever been a happier 16-month-old on the planet. What made it even more adorable was that even through all the excitement she was still able to wave at the kiosk employee and blurt out a giddy “kik yu!” (thank you) with a big smile.
We didn’t have to pay anything for the balloon, but I would have paid hundreds of dollars for that heart-melting moment. (On a total side-note, this is probably why some parents overload their children with so many toys. I now understand the temptation!) Lydia was so cute that just watching her caused Hannah to tear up (which—let’s be honest—is not that hard to do to at eight months pregnant). Much to my surprise, however, I found myself tearing up as well!
I wouldn’t describe myself as a super macho, manly-man, but I’m definitely not a crier, either. At least, I wasn’t before I became a dad. According to Hannah, she had only seen me cry once before Lydia was born (and we had known each other for six years by that point), when I read a letter I wrote to my Grandpa about how much I look up to him. Upon reflection, I realize that the tally of times I’ve cried has increased substantially since Lydia was born. I feel like having a baby has turned me into an emotional softy!
I feel no shame about crying when Lydia was born—even though I cried a lot. Everything about childbirth is truly miraculous, and I had much too many emotions to hold in as I admired Hannah’s strength during a natural childbirth. There are other times, though, like when Lydia is struggling through day five of a fever, or when I think about her growing up and facing a world full of challenges, that I realize I’m fighting back tears. When did I become so emotional?
I’ve realized that having a baby makes you so much more vulnerable, and so much more human. Watching Lydia has brought me more consistent joy than I’ve ever thought possible, but I know that seeing her grow up has the potential to cause me more pain than I care to imagine. I think the tradeoff between both extremes is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t scary. Putting your emotions out in the open is just part of being a parent (and a spouse), and since I love Lydia so much, I have no choice but to come to terms with the fact that she has made me a big ol’ teddy bear.
I’m sure I will shed many more tears throughout the course of Lydia’s life, but for now, I’m happy to report that mostly all those tears are for happy things, like getting a free balloon at the grocery store.