Saturday, April 9, 2011

Discovering Family

Daniel Plouffe, my guest blogger for this week, is one of my oldest and closest friends. Dan had his baby girl, Evelyne, back in January, just shortly after we had Ewa. While the girls' names and the timing of their births were only coincidence, having him come and write this blog was not.

Dan now living in Ottawa, and myself in Toronto, it's been difficult to see eachother and seemingly more difficult to keep in touch. Not knowing just how the birth of Evelyne and all that has happened since her blessed arrival has impacted Dan's life, I decided that this entry would not only serve as a fresh perspective on being a discovering dad, but would also give me a glimpse into one of the most important parts of my good friend's life.

Thanks for being a part of this, Dan.

I always held my family close. Closer than anything in my life. Even while my two siblings and I were growing and figuring ourselves out, and while my parents’ generation seemed set in their ways, despite their ways. But it was not until after my daughter was born that I truly discovered what family was.

During my life I have gathered a few people around me that I consider family, so the definition is a bit nuanced. But now, it seems clearer who my family is, that it can be more than blood, while blood is still a stronger bond than most other social connections.

I have discovered love, loyalty, dedication, sacrifice, humility, understanding, and patience. Family, more than ever, has become not quite a shield, but somewhat of a fortress.

Family is everything.

It is something you build upon, build with, and build for. Those close to me, really close to me, have become more so. And I am thankful every day.

What I have discovered is that it is not so much that we are perfect, while striving for it, but that we are trying and aiming for that lofty goal.

Family, I have discovered, is trying.

In a lot of senses. Conflict, clashes, opinions, decisions, etc…

What bonds a family is the unfaultering ability to look past anything and stand with someone. Weaknesses, errors, foibles, all can be forgiven.

Family is Love.

But love is not always easy. Same with family. While some of the most passionate, ugly or deeply hurtful fights are with family, the uncanny ability to overcome difficulty between people can be found within family.

And they are the ones that really understand us. And can forgive us. And, hopefully, can be forgiven.

What I have been facing, with the birth of my beautiful daughter, is that I need not only to better myself, which is always something I strive for, but prepare myself for a person who could question everything I say and do, be different from what I expect, or even go beyond my expectations, highlighting my shortcomings.

Kind of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation, potentially.

But I have found out I am not alone. I have a wonderful family, starting with the mother of my child, who is patient and supportive beyond all belief. My parents have been nothing short of spectacular. And my brother and sister. They amaze me, constantly.

It goes beyond that. Relatives and closest associates, though few, have surpassed my expectations, and I have discovered that I was not wrong in considering some born outside of my family tree to be considered as close as such.

As a father I have discovered that love is a silly word, but a deeply moving, and noble concept, the act of which makes life better. Trust and loyalty, as in eras past, are more valuable than any amount of money; and patience is the primary hobby any person should practice.

Family keeps going. While it was always there, like a house, you build upon it, but hopefully never forget that it all depends upon a solid foundation.

Follow Daniel Plouffe on Twitter.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Laughing It Up

Last Saturday, Ewa hit another one of the many milestones that are achieved while growing up. This one was probably my favourite thus far; laughing. At just over 3 months old she surprised me with the heartiest of laughs at the strangest of times.

After a wonderful day of exercise and outdoor activity at Bruce's Mill Conservation Area—where I happily ate the biggest homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookie I've ever seen and drank syrup like water—Ewa and I found ourselves comfortably lying on the couch at home.

I'd talk, she'd smile, she'd squawk, and then cry a little; demanding I put her into a sitting position so that she could see all but 180 degrees of the same living room she's been observing for the past 3 months. Nonetheless, dady's little girl got what she wanted.

We were enjoying ourselves. Content with the way things were going and happy to be at home just hanging out. My neck was getting tired from the position I was in on the couch so I put my head back and rested it softly on the pillow that lay behind me. A second or two later, as I lifted my head back up to see what Ewa was up to and what she might be observing, I startled her slightly and triggered what would be one of the happiest moments we've shared to date; a laugh.

Fortunately, Basia and my iPhone were nearby. Both were ready to capture one of the happiest times…of my life at least. Here's what it was like:

It's been about a week now and I still haven't been able to get her to laugh like that again. I tried the same technique in a variety of ways, but I guess she just doesn't find it as funny as she did that day. Maybe it's because she's getting older? Maybe it's because she hasn't been in as good a mood? Who knows. I'm just looking forward to the next time she surprises me with another glimpse of her beautiful personality.