Happy first Father’s Day to my son

By Tammy Keith Published June 18, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.
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I told myself I didn’t have to write about Father’s Day today, even though it is.

Sometimes feeling obligated to write about a subject isn’t the best reason.

Last year, I wrote about my wonderful dad and how that led me to pick a man who is a wonderful husband and father.

There’s a new dad in town, now. Our older son, John, became a father in May. (This really isn’t just a way to slip in another column about my sweet, adorable 4 1/2-week-old granddaughter, but that’s a bonus.)

It’s pretty awesome to see the little boy I raised become a dad. When he held his daughter up to the nursery window and I saw he was crying, I cried.

When he went home before my daughter-in-law brought Kennedy home, he had the back door open for their dogs to go in and out. Then he told me he worried that mosquitoes would get in and bite Kennedy. Yes, dads want to protect their little girls from the dangers of the world, even mosquitoes.

Before he became a father, he practiced with their two dogs and their cat, which is what couples often do. It’s not the same, but you think it’ll be close. When my husband and I took care of our granddogs, our son would often text to check on them or to remind us to give one his medicine. He blocked any gaps in our fence so the dogs wouldn’t escape because they’re known flight risks.

He took funny and cute cellphone pictures of the animals, with hilarious captions. I knew that would change once the baby was born, and now he takes cellphone pictures of Kennedy, and he often adds hilarious captions.

Like the picture he took where she was holding her little hand daintily to her chest, and he said, “Oh, I declare, Dolores, that tea is sweeter than a Mississippi honey bee.”

When Kennedy came home from the hospital, he was a little overwhelmed, as most parents are. The first week, he hovered when someone else was holding her, just like I did when he was born. He was hypervigilant to any sign that she was hungry, because he learned in baby class not to let her get too worked up before eating. I can’t say I blame him; I stuck a bottle in his mouth every time he cried. He told me how she liked to be held. When I changed a diaper and described the results, he assured me, “That’s normal.”

Always independent, he really didn’t need my help. But he liked having me there, and that made me happy. He encouraged his wife to take a nap as often as possible and let him take Kennedy duty.

He had trouble sleeping with Kennedy next to their bed at first because he said she made little baby noises in the night, and he had to use the flashlight on his cellphone to check on her, over and over.

Sometimes when I looked down at her, especially that first week, I had a flashback to 1989, and I could have sworn I was holding him. She has the same skin and hair coloring, blond with hints of red.

But my baby is all grown up. He’s been a wonderful son, and even though I sometimes call him baby, I know he’s not. Just like his father and grandfathers who served as role models, he’s a thoughtful, devoted, hardworking husband and father. I’m so proud.

I told him before they had a baby that someday he’d understand how much I love him. I think now he does.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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