Thirteen years ago this past Thursday I sat in a hospital room in Florence, Ala., and held a tiny baby boy in each hand.
I stared with wonder at those two little lives, so small and so dependent on myself and my wife, and in that moment I understood love in a way I could never have imagined before.
Last night, as we do every night, we gathered before bedtime and those two not-so-little boys joined us in a family hug and a flurry of “good nights” and “I love you’s” before we all headed off to sleep. Now, however, instead of holding them in my hands they were looking me in the eye.
Time flies. I’ve heard it said my whole life but I never truly understood it until I became a parent. It’s hard for me to completely comprehend my pair are now entering their teenage years when that moment in the hospital feels only moments ago.
I couldn’t be prouder of Liam and Asher. I’m proud of the young men they’ve become and of the way they’ve handled the challenges of growing up. I’m thankful for their big hearts, quick smiles, love for each other and determination to do their best.
I wish I had some deep piece of fatherly wisdom to share with them as we mark this milestone birthday, but that’s not really how it all works. I just hope that each day as they see my example and as we talk and share this life they’re taking in the good things I’m trying to teach them and ignoring as much as possible the times I fall short.
I was blessed with an amazing father, and I don’t use that word blessed lightly. There’s so much I didn’t understand about him, the things he did for me, and the sacrifices he made. I’d give just about anything to be able to sit down with him now, talk about it all and hear his advice and wisdom from this different place in my own life and the lives of my children. I didn’t get it then but I think I do, at least a little more, now.
The teenage years are tough and there’s much I dread for my two innocent, kind-hearted boys. I know they’ll soon face heartbreak, disappointment, and the confusion that comes from trying to find their place in this world along with the fun and excitement of new experiences and rites of passage. They have a lot of growing up to do in the next few years.
I just pray they’ll continue to lean on me and my wife for guidance and trust that we’re there to love and support them through it all. I know on the other side of the journey good things are waiting.
It’s been a gift and blessing to share this journey with them so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.
I may not be able to hold each of them in a single hand anymore, but I still hold them in my heart and I’m grateful for that awesome gift and responsibility.
Brant Sappington is a longtime member of the Daily Corinthian news family. He currently serves as managing editor of the Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, and as assistant editor of the Corinthian.