Recently I gave a Toastmasters speech, my first one in a long while. I started on the ‘Pathways’ path so it was an icebreaker. My second one! This speech went along with about 6 pictures, so … apologies on that front.
Love is Blind(ing)
A little more than two years ago I gave my first icebreaker speech where I described myself by describing my ideal weekend. It involved a long jog, some reading, hanging out with buddies, some downtime.
Now I’m giving my second icebreaker, and this time it’s not about my ideal weekend, but about the newest version of myself – me as a dad.
The speech is called ‘Love is Blind…ing’ and I’ll give you three cases of love being blinding. One from a physical perspective, one from an emotional perspective, and one from a somewhat literal perspective.
This is my son when he was born. He was born early, about 33 weeks, and was a tiny, tiny fella.
He is almost a year old now and looks a little different.
Before I had my son I was of the opinion that pretty much all babies look the same. They can have different skin tones, sure, but they were all just amorphous blobs of goo oozing liquids and solids. Romantic outlook, huh?
My outlook quickly changed to view babies as tiny little packages of adorability and love and snuggles … but then … as time went on … I’ve kind of come back to viewing newborns as blobs of goo.
My wife and I have a few different friends with kids a few months younger than our kiddo, and one day a friend sent me a picture. I responded with an, ‘aw how cute’ but in my head I thought, ‘man that is one weird looking child.’ With the ease of technology I pulled up a picture of my own son at the same page and, what do you know, he was a similarly weird looking child at that time. It was just the big, weird-headed phase of life for a baby. See, look at this little mobster. Adorable, yes, but a bit of a blob of goo?, also yes.
Love changed my perspective, blinding me and tricking me into viewing this pooping, non-sleeping machine as the greatest thing ever.
Now let’s talk about how love has blinded me emotionally.
When my sister had her son I remember visiting her and thinking – THE WORK. THERE. IS. SO. MUCH. WORK. We decided to head to the grocery store which, I think, took about 7 years to do. She had to get him dressed, and then he was in the car seat and he threw up on himself, so she got him changed again, and then car seat again, and on and on. All I noticed at the time was the hard work it is to be a parent. I didn’t notice any sort of love fest.
I dreaded that work. And there has been work.
<the kiddo> has not been a good sleeper. When friends talk about their younger children sleeping through the night my wife and I hide our looks of disgust and envy. How dare their child be such a good sleeper.
And yet, it’s also a bit of a gift.
One night, it was 2 or 3 am, or who knows what time, and our son began to cry. I went in to comfort him, so I picked him up out of his crib, held him close, sat down in the glider to wait for him to get into a good sleep and then listened to this tiny, adorable, quiet, sweet, soft voice cooing in my ear, ‘dah dah dah … dah … dah …’ The little fella was feeling chatty, and despite the sleepiness, despite the night after night of sleepiness, I couldn’t help but smile and give the gentlest little squeeze to this little creature.
There is still work, but there is so much more joy than I ever would have guessed at that the work quickly fades from memory but the love stays like a branding.
Last, but certainly not least, is the somewhat literal case of love being blinding.
I mentioned that <the kiddo> is not always the best sleeper, and about two weeks ago the kiddo woke up too early on Monday morning. I got him out of his crib, went downstairs, and sat with him while he started to play. He was a bit fussy, so I picked him up and sat down on a chair with him, thinking I would read to him.
His crazy, flailing baby arms had other plans. A hand came up and he managed to get me in the eye. It did not feel good.
I wandered slowly upstairs and handed the fighter off to my wife and sat with my eyes closed in the darkness for a while. After a little while of that I felt ok enough, so I got ready for work and drove to a doctor’s appointment I happened to have that morning. At the office I could hardly check in, I couldn’t keep my eye open and it watered non-stop. I went ahead and kept the appointment (a mole removed, don’t worry guys, it’s benign) and my wife came and got me and drove me to an eye doctor’s. We were fortunate enough to get an appointment first thing.
The doc started by dripping some numbing drop in my eye which was heavenly, and then looked at me with some very bright lights.
‘Oooh, he got you good.’ He showed my wife, ‘ahhhh! YIKES!’
Hmm. That’s all encouraging.
I am a wuss about eye stuff. It really freaks me out.
That week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday … I went to the eye doc. He wanted to check on me frequently to make sure it was healing ok (it took a while) and I changed eye drops often. One of them was this thick, viscous substance which was soothing, but I made the mistake of seeing how thick it was and then that freaked me out that I was dripping that stuff onto my eye. Blech.
One thing I learned in all of this is that there’s no better person to inflict pain on me than <the kiddo>. If my wife had poked me in the eye, an innocent accident, you can bet I’d be very annoyed with her. But <the kiddo>? Eh, it’s fine.
The next morning <the kiddo> had a surgery to get ear tubes to address his frequent ear infections, the docs at the hospital probably found me strange, one eye leaking, not making eye contact, randomly putting on sunglasses … but when the kid needs comfort, I’ll do what I can.
As my wife once said, the pool of love is deep and intense. And I can tell you that my blinding love is a gift, and a joy.
I remember a number of math classes where the teacher or professor would explain a concept and it was no more than nonsense to me. Absolute gibberish. And then, poof, something would click, I’d get it, and now everything was translated.
That same idea could be said for <the kiddo>. Before him I saw amorphous blobs, hard work, and crazy people obsessed with a little bundle of fiscal responsibility … now, I see that, sure, but I am at once blinded to it and able to see so much more.