18 years ago, I carried a baby out of a delivery room. MY baby. What a rush.
Looking down on him in the baby warmer, amazement and fear dominated my thoughts, clamoring for my attention. I was a father. What would I do now? My life was REALLY not just my own anymore; I had this little one that was counting on me. Was I up to the challenge?
And what about when he wasn’t a little one anymore? What would he be like as an adult? Would he be a good person? What would he care about? When he turned 18, what would we do, and what would his plans be for the future?
That day was something I thought about often in that nursery all those years ago. And now, that day has arrived.
Jon is now a young adult. And looking at the ultimate result of the last 18 years of worry, I feel immeasurably proud. He has made his mistakes, and no doubt will make more mistakes in the future. But he has not let those mistakes dampen his confident optimism, or drag down his sense of what’s right. More importantly, he has a heart for others that expresses itself with everyone he’s around. Often, the topics of our disagreements center around his fierce protective instinct, and on more than one occasion, he’s challenged me to improve myself.
I have not been a perfect father. At times, I’ve been far from perfect. But I am grateful that I’ve been a part of raising a young man I can admire and, yes, even learn from.
Happy 18th birthday, Jon. Have an excellent life. I’ll cherish the rest of the time you’re still at home, miss you when the time comes for you to leave, and always be there for you as long as I live.
Your mom and I are your biggest fans; never forget that.