In the summer of 2008, my wife Jennifer and I learned we were going to be parents. The chapters that led to that exciting time need to be written one day for sure.
We didn’t care what gender our child would be, our prayer was that they just be healthy. My secret prayer was that it would be a boy.
Why a boy? They’re easy, rough, and tough, and for a cheapskate like me meant I wasn’t going to have to pay for the wedding one day, right?
At our ultrasound, I remember seeing two heartbeats. What if we could have one of each? Later we learned that our dreams were coming true. A boy and a girl! I proudly exclaimed “One and done” and told anyone who would listen about just how efficient we were.
When J.C. and Sidney were born at 31 weeks, 9 weeks early, I was there in the hospital at Jennifer’s side as our two children were wheeled quickly in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A few days later we were finally able to hold them. Six weeks later after nearly doubling in size, we took them home.
J.C. was an easy baby. He ate what you gave him. He was the first to laugh. Sidney on the other hand – didn’t see eye to eye with me for a while. She was definitely all about her momma.
Something happened as she got closer to becoming a 1 year old and the tides changed. Maybe it was her mobility, figuring out her gas pains, maybe it was me, but we finally started to click. At the same time, J.C. entered full boy mode. Loud and rambunctious.
I have the extreme blessing of being able to stay very involved in the life of my children. For the first few years of their life, I stayed home two mornings a week with them and every Friday. The other days of the week they were in the same building as me in a Mother’s Day Out program.
Each morning I made them breakfast and helped them to get dressed. JC’s hair was thin and straight. I just had to wet it and brush it to one side. Sidney’s hair is thick and curly. Curls like we’ve never seen in our family. I had to learn how to get knots out without making her cry along with taking care of her hair. Our favorite was the whale tale which consisted of wetting her hair, placing curl gel on my hands, and kneading it into her hair. This helped her curls to turn into the prettiest ringlets. I’d then pull her hair up on the top of her head and clip a bow in place.
I loved dressing Sidney in her little Polo tennis dresses. They looked like long polo shirts that went to her knees. I’d ask her to take a picture to send to her mom each morning for approval and she’d pop her hip out with her hand on it to strike a pose. J.C. sported his traditional khaki shorts and polo shirts most days.
We watched shows together, swung on our playset in the backyard, and went to the Zoo occasionally. Some of our most fun moments were turning up the stereo and singing songs together and playing in the living room.
They were so stinking cute.
Sidney started gymnastics around 3 years old because she would roll, jump, and just had such great balance. Her first practices I can remember watching her and as she would perform a maneuver and gain a new skill her head would swivel so fast to spot a parent giving her a thumbs-up of approval.
One of the most heartbreaking moments was after practice one day in the car she mentioned to me “Dad, I looked at you to see if you saw what I did. Every time you were looking at your phone.” That’ll break a dad’s heart to hear their little girl say that.
9 years later and Sidney is still in gymnastics. This past year she represented the state of Alabama on her regional team. Her practices are about to be 4 days a week and take up 4 hours of the day, so most of the time I don’t stay the entire time. I do make a point though to show up early and catch up on her new skills.
J.C. started playing soccer at 3 years old too and I had the privilege of coaching his first team. Lots of Saturdays were spent running the sidelines as small children wildly kicked the ball from one end to the other.
He has continued to grow and now counts playing football as his new favorite sport. Thankfully he still likes to join me at the occasional Atlanta United soccer game.
Each morning I take both kids to school, and most of my evenings are spent collecting them from their various activities. JC, from football practice in the falls, soccer in the spring. Sidney from gymnastics. It’s some of our favorite times and generally, it’s just one kid at a time in the truck with me.
We talk about practice, school, friends, and life in general. Sometimes we roll all the windows down and sing loud so all the cows can hear us on our ride home. Sometimes we just sit in silence after a long day. Either way, we enjoy the company together.
Making Memorable Moments
When they were little I would sing a song with each of them at bedtime. J.C. was “Silent Night”, Sidney was “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. The tradition obviously started at Christmas time for J.C.’s song and “Away in the Manger” was a constant addition, but the songs were sung year-round for many years. We then would pray together before heading to sleep.
Now as they’ve grown older most nights it’s me popping their backs with big bear hugs and kisses on their cheeks. Before I go to bed, I check on them each night, pray over them, and thank God for the blessing they are in my life.
The seasons have changed as they get older, and I know the day will come when the kisses will end. I just have to embrace every moment I can and take times like now to write down the memories so that they will never fade.