18 years ago, I carried a baby out of a delivery room. MY baby. Â 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. Â 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. Â And now, that day has arrived.
Jon is now a young adult. Â And looking at the ultimate result of the last 18 years of worry, I feel immeasurably proud. Â He has made his mistakes, and no doubt will make more mistakes in the future. Â But he has not let those mistakes dampen his confident optimism, or drag down his sense of what’s right. Â More importantly, he has a heart for others that expresses itself with everyone he’s around. Â 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. Â At times, I’ve been far from perfect. Â 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. Â Have an excellent life. Â 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.