Three and a half years ago I met a pastor friend of mine for breakfast at a local Waffle House. He was in town from up North for denominational meetings and was excited about his first visit to the iconic southern breakfast joint. That morning the sun shone brightly through the not so tinted windows lighting up the breakfast counter which was a buzz with activity. The weekend regulars coming and going. Old men lingering while drinking coffee and reading the paper. Fathers who traveled all week reconnecting with their young children over breakfast. The smell of coffee, smoke from the griddle and fresh waffles filled the air. The place was hopp’n.
My friend and I sat in our corner booth awaiting our waffles and hash browns while our server filled and refilled our ceramic mugs with coffee. We talked about his meetings, ministry opportunities and challenges that lay before both of us, books we were currently reading and parenting. My wife was due any day with our first child and my pastor friend was a father of three. As we poured syrup on our waffles and stirred sugar in our coffee, he told me he was jealous of me.
I didn’t understand why. I was anxious and nervous. I had no idea what to expect from being a dad. I had friends who filled my head with birthing horror stories. I was concerned about the sleepless nights and how our world was about to be turned up side down. But he was jealous of me?
When I asked why, he searched for words to try to explain. Then he said there’s something indescribable about meeting your child for the first time. He said, “You can’t understand it until you’ve experienced it. And I know that sounds cliché, but there’s really nothing like it and you only get to experience it a handful of times in your life, if your lucky. I don’t know how else to describe it other than to say I am jealous that you’ll get to have that encounter any day now.”
As it is with friends you don’t see that often, our time together was too short. After our last few bites of waffle we kicked back our final sips of coffee, paid our bill and said our good-byes. He was off to his meetings and I was headed home to my expectant wife. And it wasn’t just any day now that we would be meeting our first child, it turns out it would be the very next day.
At 12:37pm the following afternoon we welcomed into the world Katelyn June Marvel.
I’ll never forget that moment and I too struggle to find words that capture the awe and wonder of experiencing life find its way into our world. It’s one of the few moments where time stands still. Nothing, literally nothing else at that moment matters. The freshness, purity and innocence of a new baby is overwhelming.
In that moment so many questions are answered. What will she look like? Whose features will she have? What will her cry sound like? But at the same time, so many more questions surface. Who will she become? What will her personality be like? What interests and passions will she develop?
And now, having gone through that experience, I get it. I understand why my friend was jealous. The moment of meeting your child for the first time is indescribable and precious. It truly is amazing.
As I writes this post, I find myself fortunate enough to be on the eve of having that experience again. It’s a bit surreal and I find myself not quite grasping the gravity of what’s about to happen. All of the same questions tumble through my head and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous or anxious. But the anticipation of tomorrow’s first greeting over takes my fear.
Tonight we wait, but tomorrow a new journey begins.
As the little life growing inside my wife has left no space wanting, tomorrow the two will work together to push and kick her way into this world. I can’t wait to meet her. I can’t wait to see her face. I can’t wait to say hello.