My wife and I celebrated the birth of our first child, a daughter named Ava Margaret Shaw, this past Sunday. The experience of birth was tiring, painful, joyous, and exhausting…and then you have to consider what my wife went through!
The first week with my daughter has been amazing. Granted, I haven’t slept this little since college and the almost 10 years since graduation have left me ill equipped to operate on such little sleep, but that little girl has my heart in such a way that I still don’t completely (and may never completely) comprehend it. When Ava’s big blue eyes lock with mine, my heart completely melts. My parents and my in-laws have all warned me that these moments pass by so quickly that, unless you’re very careful, they will be missed. I’m doing everything I can to mark the moments, even the ones when she’s screaming and I can’t get her to stop.
More than anything else, I’m overwhelmed with the responsibility of being a godly dad. I know that the way I treat her, the way I react, and the way I listen to her will ultimately become a model for how she views and understands God. If I love her no matter what, if I react with grace and compassion when I would rather explode in anger, and if I stop what I’m doing to listen to her when she wants to talk, she will be more likely to come to know and trust our gracious and loving heavenly Father. That kind of responsibility is almost too much to bear.
I know that mistakes will be made. I know that I’m not perfect. Sadly, there will come a day when Ava realizes this, too. My constant prayer and hope is that I will learn to love her well. When she becomes a little girl and I have no idea how to put her hair up in the bow the way her mommy does it and she is frustrated, I want to be able to show patience in the moment and love when I learn how to do it. When she becomes a teenager and hormones start raging, I want to learn to show kindness when she isn’t especially kind. When that first boy comes knocking and all I want to do is punch him in the face for having the nerve to try to take my little girl from me, I hope I’ll be able to show her that I trust her to make good decisions.
One week in. I’m still learning to count the moments and, as cliché as it is, I am developing a deep appreciation and gratitude for the love of our Father. His love is always perfect.