On Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014, my son Xavier Slade O’Connor was born into this world. Weighing all of 10 lbs 8 oz, forcing his mother through three hours of intense pushing, my son has been willful since his arrival. In that, he is like his father. Now three years old and having witnessed his mother, father and sister exert themselves, he is undoubtedly a little boy filled with passion. More than anything, Xavier loves to laugh. He loves to make his sister laugh. He loves to make his parents laugh. He’s overwhelmingly successful. What Xavier doesn’t know, can’t know, won’t know until he is a father himself is the powerful effect his boyish devil-may-care approach has on his father.
I’ve captioned this photo on this page before, but there is no better photographic evidence of the fire Xavier ignites within my heart. During the moments under his captivating exuberance, I am reminded of my own boyishness, and I feel alive in ways manhood does not create on its own. Windblown hair on open water on a sunny day with your son is how I wish for every day to be. On top of all of that, having to constantly check my teaching style in order to creatively administer a lesson to a willing pupil has made me sharper, more patient and more reflective on my psychology, and my son’s. His beauty is in his joy. Also, in the indelible marks he’s left on my heart. I have not the words to adequately express the unique happiness that arises from the bonding of father and son. I’ve been a beneficiary of it my whole life, with my father. I only hope that my efforts will meet with similar joy and success.
Over the weekend, we spent our time with family, back in Maryland. It was our first opportunity since Christmas to see all of my wife’s family and we had so many joyous achievements and special days to celebrate. Since last we all gathered, my wife’s youngest sibling had taken another step in realizing his dream; as he was drafted in the 5th round of the amateur professional baseball draft by the Atlanta Braves. Both of my sisters-in-law have successfully created niches in careers up in New York City, my brother-in-law and his wife are expecting their second child right before Christmas and my wife and I have welcomed our third child into the world. My son and his Godmother share a birthday, so we celebrated all of that together in a gathering on Saturday. We played games, ate excessively and caught up on the details we often don’t have time to delve into during the busy course of life and long-distance communicating. On Sunday we went back to the church where my wife and I were married nearly five years ago. While there we saw friends and even more family. We returned back to my in-laws’ to open presents for my son and to get in a game of baseball my son desperately wanted to play with his uncle. When my brother-in-law makes it to the big show, that will be a memory he’ll be proud to have. Hopefully it happens frequently. We wrapped it all up with a crab feast at my wife’s Uncle’s place. It was a perfect afternoon filled with people who love each other, and the best cuisine God ever created.
I’m so grateful I had the chance to celebrate in the way. So often we are in a rush to jam events in between items that have to happen, and happen successfully, in order for our growing family to have what we need to get by. Work is pressing for both of us and there’s always the opportunity to seek the excuse in favor of less labor-intensive events. Driving 3 hours in the remnants of a hurricane, then having that same system follow you up to Baltimore for one of the two days could have been reason enough to stay home. My wife being 3 weeks postpartum via a C-Section could have been reason enough to stay home. Several members of our family encouraged us to take it easy, that there’d be no harm done in remaining at home. Probably true. What we would have missed would have cost us more than we were willing to part with. So glad we didn’t miss the opportunity to celebrate my son’s 3rd birthday with a great portion of the people who matter most to us.
And if he wasn’t already willful, he’s now 3, so we’ll have the blessing of experiencing that wonderful phase while praying the trips to the doctor’s is minimal.
Yours in the Pursuit of Happiness,