Posts Tagged ‘Birthday’

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

– Kahlil Gibran “The Prophet”

On August 7, 2009, our son was very nearly born in the back of our Ford Explorer during what my wife refers to as “the worst hour of my life.” After an hour of unexpected stop and go traffic during what should have been a twenty minute drive to the hospital, Jaime was exhausted after completing the most difficult phase of labor in the back of our SUV on her hands and knees, bracing herself on the support of her arms amid intense contractions as the vehicle could only inch ahead. My intrepid partner was worn down. In desperate whispers she asked for either drugs or death as a substitute for the pain. I remember looking back at my wife in the rear view mirror with tears in my eyes, feeling entirely helpless as I could not comfort her in her agony and I could not push through the wall of traffic blocking the last mile to Yale New Haven Hospital. Prayers were plead for immediate deliverance and mercy, but God knew that the sorrow being carved into our being that hour was necessary in order to forge a well deep enough to contain the boundless joy that Shepard Lincoln Fisher was about to bring into our lives.

The traffic miraculously parted like the red sea and we arrived to the hospital just minutes before our son was born. We were rushed into Labor and Delivery where we were informed that while our baby was about to arrive, our doctor was not yet present. Foreshadowing the relational nature of the child that was about to enter the world, nurses from different practices and offices quickly formed an alliance to become our delivery team. Even in his first moments, he was able to bring about unity through a time of suffering, leading to the selection of the rather intense middle name Lincoln. His first name, Shepard, had come to us with great resolve shortly after we found out we were having a boy. We were not sure how we would spell it and had not officially decided on it, but I remember praying that God would send us a special soul capable of exemplifying Kingdom leadership in a world and church so frequently found lacking. Wouldn’t you know it, but almost as if sealed for this purpose, the young man was born with a heart shaped birth mark on the top of his forehead. A Harry Potter of Love, destined for a story worth telling.

Shepard sucks people in with his friendly big blues

I do not know what my son will become, but I already know he has the gift of love and I know he is already a tremendous blessing to all those he encounters. Shep acts as the official town greeter, frequently offering unsolicited hellos and smiles to friends and strangers alike in an attempt to brighten their day. He has proven himself truly a shepherd in his constant care and compassion for the family flock; he keeps tabs on everyone’s current location either in or out of the house and does not like to leave anyone behind. Shep often feels lost himself when someone is missing, especially if he is without the company of his sisters. When I must leave for work, Shepard is the one who will run out onto the porch with smiles, blown kisses and waves with shouted requests that I have a good day and that I say hi to the “woo-woos” (fire trucks) for him on my way to the office. He is so empathetic, that he frequently elects to punish himself when big sister Clara gets in trouble, just to demonstrate sibling solidarity.

As soon as he started talking, the little guy could often be found giving unprovoked and incessant hugs while telling us “I wuv you.” One of his first sentences was an exclamation of “I happy!” When Shep wakes up in the morning or from an afternoon nap, he just wants to bury his fuzzy little blond head into your chest for a while to snuggle himself fully awake. He is always quick to follow up a denied request with a doe-eyed “pwease” and genuinely says “thank you” after any form of compliment or gift, frequently making me laugh when his gratitude is contextually unexpected.

Shep and Mom: Two Peas in a Pod

Just like his momma, Shep Shep has a gift for smiling bigger than you would think his face would allow and as a result brightening an entire room. Just like his momma, he would rather be playing outside “barefeet” than staying indoors. And just like his momma, his has an incredible ability to watch something a few times or even just once and be able to replicate the action with uncanny precision. This can be cute and impressive like when at a very young age he would build very tall block towers, when he potty trained at 18 months, or when he seemed to figure the tricycle out before Clara. Still impressive, but less cute when he grabs my keys, opens my driver’s side door and places the right key into the ignition with confidence. Also, just like his momma, Shep also has an incredible sixth sense for sweet treats, one time deciphering that we had hidden a cookie in a brown bag at Panera and wildly celebrating with fist pumps and shouts of joy while pointing at the bag before we even revealed the secret. It is also not uncommon to think you have been successful in sneaking a bite of ice cream from the freezer, only to hear Shep’s little pitter patter coming around the corner only to be found out by his finger pointing directly at your stuffed mouth while curiously asking, “What’s that? Can I have some?”

Of course as our boy nears the Terrible Twos, he is not without a defiant streak which we are working on with him. I do not think it is at all humorous when he does not immediately respond to my commands, but I’ll admit I have to try hard not to laugh out loud when I ask him to take another bite of dinner and he says stuff like, “No thanks Daddio. I’m all set.” I know this stage is fleeting and that much will get more complicated from here, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying his floppy self and his audible gasps of excitement for life. And when times get tough my boy, I’ll keep singing to you every night, “You cannot lose my love” and I’ll keep praying that I can be a better follower of Christ, so that you might have an example to grow beyond. As someday you will again be asked to lead toward unity through suffering and sacrifice, and your unique gifts of love and shepherding the flock will be needed in His service. But I know you will succeed, because God has plotted your path out before you, even when you were in the womb. You were marked for this my son and I am proud of you. Happy Birthday Shepard.

Happy 2nd Birthday Shep!

Three years ago today, Clara Jane Fisher, literally burst into the world. I suppose we expected her to gradually emerge like a normal newborn, but with an innate flair for the dramatic, her entire little body flew out in one final push.  I distinctly remember Nana’s gasp of “A whole baby!” upon witnessing Clara’s arrival. Three years later she still has people excitedly exclaiming due to her unpredictability and sheer cuteness. I distinctly recall falling in love when she smiled at me just minutes after she was born. And although she lived her first day without a name, labeled as “Baby Girl Fisher” in the hospital, Clara Jane has lived up to her name and demonstrated on a daily basis that it is clear that God is gracious.

Clara has always seemed to be ahead of the game, and this has brought about some quotable quotes and great memories. Like the time 18 month old Clara informed me in the middle of the night while attempting to change her diaper, “Dad, I want a choice.” Of course, I told her no, but who has to tell an 18 month old she doesn’t get a choice anyway?

In part because she is verbally and intellectually advanced, she often has hung out with older children, and attempting to watch her socialize with the big kids has often been humorous. One of my favorite stories occurred while at a park in Cheshire when Clara was just shy of two years old. A boy around four or five years old was playing with Clara on a merry go round when he said to Clara, “Have you seen this movie called Casper the Friendly Ghost? Remember the part where the uncle gets sucked into the vacuum cleaner and he says ‘This sucks!’?” The boy laughed hard and without skipping a beat Clara bent over laughing and responded by pointing to her feet before she giggled, “I wear socks too!”

The kid is full of enthusiasm, just like her mom, and often makes us laugh. Like the time at 21 months when driving from Connecticut to New York to go camping, that we made a pit stop in Massachusetts an hour into the trip and immediately heard Clara’s victory cry of “Camping! We made it! I did it! Yeah!” with hands fully extended into the sky. In the weeks leading up to her birthday, Clara was super pumped about having a “Bayou Birthday” in a tribute to Princess Tiana of The Princess and the Frog and literally took to jumping for joy when telling others about her New Orleans themed party and the planned menu including gumbo and beignets.

Sometimes it is her unexpected skills that bring us joy like the famous “moonwalk” video taken at 15 months. And given her dancing and the fact that she is my genetic offspring, I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by the following conversation we had just last week:

Clara: What should we name the new baby?

Me: I don’t know. What do you think we should name it?

Clara: How about Michael Jackson?

Me: Who told you to say that?

Clara: Nobody. I just made that name up myself.

Her wit has always impressed me as has her logic, far beyond the capability of the average toddler, as evidenced by this exchange in a Department store around 26 months:

Clara: “What’s that? Movies?”

Me: “Video games.”

Clara: “Can I play video games?”

Me: “Maybe when you’re older.”

Clara: “Can I be older?

So clearly, we have our hands full and it is just the beginning. Luckily, she takes great pride in being a big sister as evidenced in her leadership in naming the still unborn third child, but she wasn’t always so eager. When Shepard first arrived in August 2009, her first words upon seeing him for the first time in the hospital were, “That’s okay.  I don’t think I like this one. We’ll come back another time.” Never without an opinion.

But perhaps my favorite part of our little girl is her spiritual nature. She often will run over to Jaime and I when we are praying together and form a huddle by grasping our legs. It is a common occurrence these days to hear Clara pray for “the new baby, this home we live in, (and) this wonderful meal we just had.” Once at 26 months, I witnessed her pretending to dribble and asked her if she was playing basketball. Clara replied, ““Yeah. I love basketball. Everybody loves basketball. Daddy loves basketball. Nana loves basketball. Jesus loves basketball. Mom loves basketball. Everybody loves basketball.” Yep, everybody does love basketball and Jesus is a part of the family. Can you believe this chica even asked me at the age of 24 months, “Dad, what is your foundation?” I’m pretty sure she didn’t quite comprehend what she was asking, but it challenged me nonetheless.

Clearly, I would die for this young lady and am preparing to do so on a daily basis as is my duty as a father. After becoming a father to a girl, Bryan Douglass encouraged me to read Meg Meeker’s “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” which I did and also highly recommend. Dr. Meeker writes, “Love isn’t just about feeling good. It’s about doing what you don’t want to do, over and over again, if it needs to be done, for the sake of someone else.” This seems to sum up love, life and parenting. Perhaps more poetically, as Switchfoot sings, “If it doesn’t break your heart it isn’t love. If it doesn’t break your heart it’s not enough.”

And so, I am preparing to fight for her and to show affection to her, even and especially during the awkward teen years. I am preparing to make the tough decisions that will not earn me immediate respect, but will protect my little one, even and especially as she becomes not so little. All in hope that through the mountaintop experiences and valley lows, that a strong woman in the Lord will emerge ready to exhibit the unique blend of a tough mind and a tender heart, an independent thinker willing to trust and depend on God alone. I love you Clara Jane. Happy birthday.

For those of you who know her, feel free to add your own favorite memories in the comment section.

P.S. Also thanks to Mark Wade for the picture directly above. Check out his photography at http://bluemarblephotography.smugmug.com/