Saturday, July 26, 2008
Years ago, deep in my bachelor wilderness, I had grand daydreams of fatherhood and what I'd be like as a pop. Long story short, you never fantasize about your shortcomings.
I would rule as a Dad. My awesomeness and generosity would know few boundaries. Parents would lobby me for advice. Like a grand pooh bah dispensing favors, I would impart morsels without giving away the secrets that would come so naturally.
Nine months in, I acknowledge that I'm a pretty good dad who still has a lot to learn. It seemed so easy for my parents. I thought it would be a snap to follow their lead and call it my own. But one thing I've learned: It isn't always intuitive to a 38-year-old who has spent much of his life refining the art of selfish pleasure. Time moves fast and you realize -- holy jeepers -- there's much you planned to do but haven't.
Like having professional portraits shot of your pride and joy. We have hard drives full of Hope's every bray, hiccup and smile, but none captured by anyone who knows what they are doing. It seems like a natural and rite of passage: Put your baby in her Sunday finest, trot her out to the studio, wave a lollipop in front of her face and pray for the best.
Somehow, it eluded us.
Fortunately, my brother, Steve, has willed himself into becoming a professional-caliber photographer. Always artistic and the son of an ace shutterbug, Steve somehow taught himself skills in about a year that it's taken others decades to master. This time last year, I was vaguely aware that he bought something called a ''camera." Today, I am in awe.
Steve converted my childhood bedroom into a makeshift studio, complete with multiple flashes, muted backgrounds and umbrella-type doodads whose names elude me. Our 12-year-old nephew, Matt, was his eager assistant, distracting Hopesy with toys, making silly faces and cooing "Work it, baby" as though he had spent a lifetime on the runways of Milan. Hope did the rest.
The session was cut short by a nasty bout of gas, but we think the results are remarkable. I'm lucky to come from such a talented family.
I left this morning from 10 great days in Maine, taking Hope to the coast, showing her sea urchins, dried seaweed and the salty mud of the Atlantic. We ate too much; celebrated my father's 70th birthday with food of the world, beer and an elaborate barbershop quartet performance with my niece, Kate, and nephew; yukked it up with my generous sister, Beth, and her hubby, Rob; ate my aunt Denise's guilty-pleasure Midwestern dip; watched too many bad movies; and bathed in the glow of the people I love the most.
Mo and Hope get to continue the fun for another 10 days. I get to go back to work. I miss them all terribly.
PS: Much more to report on Hope's first big vacation. Hours of video to distill and photos to sort. But once again, she exceeded our expectations and proved herself a trouper and party girl of the highest order.