• Nathaniel G. Sands

Double Digits

For her tenth birthday, all leah asked for was musical instruments

Today is Leah’s tenth birthday! It’s crazy to think that at 10:57pm, it will have been a decade since I watched her emerge from the womb. It is a moment burned into my brain – a memory unlike any other.

I didn’t really know what I was expecting. I was then, and still am, something of a moment to moment kind of guy. I knew I was leaving the world of childhood and entering a much more challenging role – the designation of father has, or at least should, place a strong sense of responsibility on any man.

A lot of people asked me if I was scared to become a father. It’s never an easy transition, but especially when you’re still a boy yourself. It was the end of the summer of 2008 and I had just graduated high-school. I was so exited to be done school and to enjoy the summer with my girlfriend, Katrina. I worked part-time at swan-e-set golf course; A friend of mine got me the job, who happened to be a guitarist in a band I was in. Most days we got off work around noon, went to his place to jam, or took off to the beach for the afternoon. I was also in try-outs for a competitive hockey team, The Abbotsford Pilots. I still remember that as an amazing and memorable summer - as close to “living the dream” as any boy could get.

Leah's new ukelele and amp

When I found out I was going to be a dad, it wasn’t as difficult for me to process as one might imagine. I knew that I wanted to be the best dad I could be, and that that would require me to sacrifice my boyhood. I met with the hockey coaches after our last exhibition game and quit the Pilots. I told the guys at swan-e-set about the pregnancy as I left to work a full-time job, delivering drywall and steel-stud. And moving in with the soon-to-be mother, I was required to begin taking on the responsibilities of caring for another, and this meant less time for myself and for my music, and I ended up quitting the two bands I was in at the time.

It certainly wasn’t easy getting through the pregnancy, and this is not to discount the mother’s experience. Obviously carrying a child for nine months then delivering it in agonizing pain is rough, but a good father takes on as much of that struggle as can be transferred. Giving up on my dreams and goals were certainly hard to process. Especially looking back on it now, with all the years in between, I certainly realize the degree to my imperfect execution. But one thing I would say is that I was never resentful. In fact, it was somewhat of a relief to be called away from those hopes and dreams. Hockey was more my dad’s idea of my future. I loved music and I loved drumming, but I was only driven to enjoy it, not perfect it. It may seem odd to most guys, but I was honestly more excited to become a Dad then for anything else.

I sit here and write this as Leah watches Toy Story 2 in the same room. I told her she could stay up until she actually turns 10. She was born at 10:57 PM, April 7th, 2009. It has been a decade, but I remember the moment of her birth like it was yesterday. It’s hard to describe the feeling of watching her emerge from the womb. It was a moment of ecstasy – I honestly felt like I was floating in the air. To witness a miracle, the marvel that is being a part of a unique individual entering this world – I was in awe. I cried helplessly, as did she - succumbed to the miracle that is life, and our embodied reverence toward its mysteries.

After a decade, both of us have changed so much. Obviously, she has changed a lot. Her hobbies were once pooping, eating and sleeping, now horseback riding, Minecraft and music. From crying for what she wanted, to being the most polite and considerate girl you could encounter, I am so proud of how she has developed this last decade. And as I hear the character’s voices behind me, from a movie she chose that just so happens to be my favorite movie from when I was 10, I am so pleased to see how much of myself I see in her. It is an honor and privilege to help in her growth and development – building onto the amazing person she already is. Although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to go through these formative years on the horizon, I will say I am excited to see where she will be a decade from now, and I am eager to support her in her dreams – whether it be in music, animals, forestry, or becoming a mother.

Sometimes people look back at their lives and wonder, if only they had done something different. I enjoy reminiscing, but never to wonder what could be. If I had the choice, I’d choose Leah every time.

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