Adding to the Family
We are expecting our second baby girl to arrive in less than two months, and I have spent a significant collection of moments—some fleeting, some lasting for hours at a time; some anxious, some so joyous that I have been brought to tears—considering our little family and what it will mean to add another person to the mix.
I had spent so long before my daughter arrived desiring to be a father, by biological fact, but what always lingered, coming to the fore once the biological was fact, was the nagging concern that I might only be capable of being her father in the most biological sense. What did it mean to be her father? To be a good father?
It seemed so possible, perhaps it was possible, that she just might not like me. That by nature or by nurture, I was simply ill-equipped for the task. It is a glorious burden to raise Saoirse, to observe without any effort at all that she is obviously precious, and to feel inadequate to the task of living up to who she already is and who I am convinced she is becoming. What a wonder! What a fright!
I have been her father for just over two years, and I know now that we have something special. We understand one another. It fits. I don’t feel complacent as her father, but I feel like raising her is possible. She has brought out of me songs I did not know I had. She has changed my songbook, and it is now hers in a way I could not have imagined.
Melissa and I very much wanted a second child, and God has blessed us with our littlest, on-her-way girl. We cannot wait to welcome her. We already love her. She already has nicknames, with “Clambake” serving as an early favorite.
Yet, those early anxieties have crept back. What if we’re pushing it? What if the second changes the first? What if I let them down? Might we ruin what we have?
These kinds of questions are not always blaring, but they nag, they whisper.
The time frame of a pregnancy allows for one to come to terms with things. Nine months or so is enough time to contemplate, to wrestle. There are few major events in life that you can see coming nine months down the road. It’s similar, in that way, to betrothal. There are not many other adequate comparisons.
As these questions have whispered, I have come upon an answer: Our second daughter will be welcomed into the love of our family, a love that has been made possible, in part, by our first daughter. The new songs we have created as a family, those songs Saoirse brought out of us, those songs are her sister’s inheritance, the result of deposits made by her family before she even existed. Our discoveries have been marked on a map for her reference. Whatever our family is, whatever our family has, it is Saoirse’s, just as whatever we become will be her sister’s. The second will change the first, will change all of us, just as the first did.
I can’t wait for the new songs you will bring us, littlest girl. I can’t wait for you to make them yours, make them ours. We’re ready for you, Clambake.
Michael has written about fatherhood for this newsletter before, including this essay on fatherhood, daycare and modern American life. You can receive all of the content of the Reclaiming Hope Newsletter, including political news and analysis, by joining the political and religious leaders, journalists and folks from all kinds of backgrounds who are already a part of this community as paid subscribers: