Kyle Weckerly knows he can’t prepare for all he will endure as his daughter’s dad. But, he is proud to serve even when this happens.
Fact: Becoming a dad changes your life.
Fact: You can’t prepare for it.
When the news landed that I would be a father, there were plenty of clichés that I was told. I did my best to listen to them all and to mentally prepare for the new stage of my life- fatherhood. There’s no training for this, however.
Unlike the military, or most jobs, there was no convenient time of job instruction as to how to take care of a baby. In fact, those first months felt like a boot camp for me. A little bit of honesty here; I’ve never been in the military.
My father was a former soldier, as was his father before him. On both sides of the family tree, in fact, I have ancestors who served in the military. It’s been either Navy or Army.
In the days of my youth I had a rebellious streak and decided I wasn’t going to join the military. Part of me thought I would turn out like my father. And while I thought that was a bad thing at the time, now I’m starting to second-guess that brilliant reasoning.
I’ve been told stories of the rigorous training that happens even for standard soldiers, how lack of sleep and physical exhaustion play a part. When I had the chance to join the ranks of the Armed Forces, I valued my sleep and personal comfort too much to make that sacrifice.
Life has a certain irony to it. So I become a dad, a father.
This little bundle of joy who stole my heart and I would anything for, is actually showing me what I’m made of. Since we live in south Texas, there are certain times of the year where allergens are in abundance. It’s usually between January and December. And just like her dad, my little girl is getting congested on a regular basis, coughing and sneezing out snot left and right.
Because of this she has difficulty sleeping. And what’s my solution? If I haven’t stated it already, I’m saying it now; I am no genius. My first reaction was to hold her upright all night to make sure she could breathe and get her sleep. And when would I sleep? Good question.
I’ve gotten to the point now where I can lay her on my chest and recline in one of our two La-z-boy’s and at least get some sleep while she slumbers peacefully. It is a sweet moment, getting to hold her while she’s out, knowing she feels safe in my arms.
The only cost is my lower back doesn’t do well after eight hours resting in a La-z-boy, not being able to move all night, and interrupted sleep as I wake up sporadically to check on her breathing.
In order to cope with this I would romanticize that I was doing what the special forces soldiers were trained to do. I’ve heard plenty of stories that involve them staying in uncomfortable situations, having to endure what sound like hellish conditions all for the sake of the mission, and near death experiences with explosives.
Fatherhood is like that, I tell myself.
All night I’m stuck in an uncomfortable position, not getting enough sleep so that my daughter can rest and grow strong, and then worrying that she’ll ‘return’ her morning feeding due to the mucous she swallowed throughout the night.
Just like a SEAL, or a Ranger, or a Marine, right?
It’s not all bad though. It kind of makes me like the special forces of this great nation. They go through hell to ensure we’re safe here at home, securing for us a future.
Isn’t that what I’m doing here? Securing her future? Isn’t she, after all, the future of our country?
Photo: Flickr/Chris Price