You know what was even neater, though? Watching my friend -- the guy I have known for 30 years as pretty much the strong, quiet farmer-type -- make over his new daughter. Don't get me wrong -- Mama is quite proud, too. But there was something pretty special about watching Eric take care of the baby -- fastening her in and out of her infant carrier, holding her, gazing at her with a mixture of awe and new-parent concern. to really appreciate this, you need to picture that Eric has sort of beefy, rough hands. I don't mean that in a bad way. He's worked a lot with his hands over the years and they show it a bit. Nothing wrong with that -- it's a good attribute in fact. (To be honest, actually, I have never in my life seen anyone beat up their hands and fingers as much as Eric has over the years.) But to see his big hands handle that little baby so gently and tenderly was pretty cool.
There were several times yesterday when Eric and I caught each others' eye and I suppose it's the result of being good friends for a long time, but I knew what he was saying without him even saying it -- "Wow, this is incredible, Todd. I know now how you felt when your son was born!"
Eric and his wife, like Lisa and me, ended up waiting and going through a lot (them even more so than us) to be blessed with a baby. Eric and I talked about it off and on over the years. he and I were even off on a business tirp together when his wife had a miscarriage and I had to rush him to the airport late one evening. I remember back when Lisa and I were hoping for a baby, Eric said, "You know, it just doesn't make sense. People who don't want babies or can't give them a good home seem to have them all the time but people like you and Lisa who will be great parents, have problems having kids." I really regretted it when I had to repeat that line to him a few years later.
I've written before about how I think I am a better parent because I am an older parent. I'm more patient, less self-centered, and I try hard to be more focused on others.
Eric's wife said that, the first night they were home with the baby, he said that he was going to give himself an ulcer worrying about her. I remember those days, checking to make sure Evan was still breathing, worrying about every scratch on his face and about the color of his poop. (The first time your two-year-old eats colored fruit snacks is a real surprise!) I don't think you ever get over worrying about your kids. (Goodness knows my mom is proof of that!) But, as they age, you gain a comfort level with seeing them try new things, seeing them learn and grow and mature, seeing them hopefully develop into the person that God wants them to be. You get excited about all of those things ... and you still catch yourself gazing at them with awe and new-parent concern, no matter how old they are.
Our friends are going to make phenomenal parents. It was obvious before and certainly obvious yesterday when I saw them. Pretty awesome.