“Success isn’t just what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.” – Unknown
Having children will always be one of my most exciting, fulfilling and monumental moments that I will ever experience. It still feels like yesterday that I was having my firstborn (Niala). Well, okay her mother was having her and I was on the sidelines cheering her on, or at least trying to be a good coach. I can recall the very moment she poked her head into the world. I saw all the hair on her head first and there she was alive, healthy, kicking and screaming. It seems the screaming part lasted longer than I imagined, but I digress.
For some reason after she was born I had to make a quick dash to our vehicle to get something, not sure what it was anymore, but upon my return her mom (my wife at the time) was rushed into emergency surgery. Our newborn had caused her to tear during the birthing process and she was bleeding internally. It was a scary time for us both and it took many years for her to fully recover from the blood loss, which caused congestive heart failure. So point being, Niala almost killed her mother during birth, literally. I promise there is a point to this story 🙂
When Niala was just four months inside her mother still, I had a dream about what gender she was. I was convinced that she was a girl because I believed that God had given me her name during a dream. It was as clear as day, but I was concerned her mother would not like the name, so I kept it to myself for a while. Then I begin to look at names and their meanings in a book. When I found her name I realized it indeed was a real name and actually had a profound meaning. It was kind of two-fold, because her full name means “destined for success”, and her short name (Nia), means “strong warrior”. It was confirmed after that, and she has certainly lived up to both names and then some. From day one she came out fighting, (hence the mom story at birth) and has never let up. And interestingly enough her mom always believed that Niala was a boy, even up into birth.
The first-born is always special and because I actually wanted a girl first, it made the entire experience of being a parent that more special. The first child inherently gets the best of your time as you are learning to adapt to the new lifestyle changes, which include learning when she wanted to eat, what cry means what, and the new appreciation for what a fifteen minute nap can do. I don’t think I have ever slept the same since I had children. You gotta love them. Anyway, back to my story…
As I have watched Nia grow and mature as our eldest and the older sibling of the group, something begin to take shape early on. I wondered what type of legacy she would leave on the earth and how I would impact that. Science says that children learn the most between birth and six years old. I was blessed that her mom was able to stay home for a significant part of her early years and instill values and skills that are important for healthy development and life preparation.
As Nia grew it became evident that she was very intelligent, friendly and a kind-hearted person. At her core she has not changed, at now eighteen years old. She tends to be the glue between her now childhood friends. It has been amazing to watch it all unfold.
As a parent there are so many things that I wish could have been different for her, but I realize there is a plan for her life and I am happy and content on who she is now as a young adult. We have both given her a foundation to pivot the rest of her life off of and we both expect to see great things in her future. As she approaches the last few months of high school with an average 3.90 GPA and several collegiate options, I am obviously a proud father, but it is more than the grades that I am proud of. It is her tenacious spirit to keep focused in the midst of her parents’ separation and ultimate divorce. It is the going between two homes and maintaining a positive attitude during the process. I know what it feels like, because I was there myself as a child, but I am proud that her mom and I have committed our lives to being the best divorced co-parents that ever existed. It certainly has made a tremendous difference in all of their lives.
One day more than eighteen years ago, my first child was born. Who knew what she would become? Who knew what she would face in life? Who knows the ultimate plan for her life? I can only trust God that it all has occurred for a reason greater than I can understand, and as time progresses He will use every story and experience for her good. But today in this season of my fatherhood, I realize that my roles must change as she embarks on now what will become the rest of her life, the beginning of her career and the legacy that she will ultimately pass down to her own children one day.
What legacy do you have in the making? Are you nurturing and cultivating it like a delicate flower? Are you taking care of it like it needs you, even when it begins to talk back? One thing I told Nia when she first transitioned into womanhood, was that as her father I will be the only man in her life that would be willing to give her the world, and expect nothing in return. That’s just a fact of life, so in other words the message was for her to know that I will always have her best interest in mind when I make decisions regarding her, even when she did not fully understand or necessarily agree with them.
It is often said that we typically give our flowers to our loved ones once they have passed away. Well as my eldest child begins to take larger steps into her future, I want her and the world to know how proud I am of her accomplishments, hard work and dedication towards her education, her commitment to excellence and most importantly for being a sweet human being that I am proud to call my daughter. Keep living up to your namesake. I love you always.