Life won#8217;t be the same … and I#8217;m thankful

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2008

Your life will never be the same again.”

I bet I heard that simple eight-word phrase a million times.

As parenthood loomed, I confidently assured all those well-wishers that I knew that and was fully prepared for the life-changing experience of welcoming our first child into the world.

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Boy, was I na•ve! A little more than two months into fatherhood, I realize that I could never have fully understood what all those parents were trying to tell me — and likely still don’t even grasp the magnitude of what it means to be “Daddy.”

It is impossible to fully explain the subtle and not-so subtle changes that have taken place in my life in just a few short weeks. To explain parenthood to someone who hasn’t experienced it would be like trying to explain all the nuances of the Egyptian Pyramids to a four-year-old or to describe the beauty of the night sky to someone who has never seen it. Those things just cannot be done.

A great rock-n-roll song once touted that the singer was “seeing things for the first time.” That’s kind of the way I feel about the change that my daughter, Avery Rae, has brought to my wife and me.

Some changes are very tangible. Who would have thought that someone could get pee, poop and spit-up on them and feel great about it? Certainly not me.

I notice the environment far more than ever before. Concerns take center stage now. Is anyone smoking cigarettes? Is the place clean? Is it safe for her to lay in the floor? Is the temperature OK?

Other changes are a little harder to put a finger on, but equally impactful. My view of the world is changing almost daily.

I find myself becoming less cynical, more faithful and more focused on making our world and our community a better place.

Don’t I owe it to this precious miracle to do that and give her the best possible chance to succeed in life? I couldn’t look myself in the mirror if I did anything less and I hope other parents feel the same way.

Although babies don’t come with an instruction manual (though my wife and I have read enough parenting books to make our heads explode), Mother Nature does a pretty good job on her own.

I used to chuckle when talking to proud parents who always were quick to share their stories and photos of Little Johnny or Susie.

Now I have become one of those people.

Sure, the teenage years worry me. And the pre-teen years. And the toddler years. And just about every year between now and then. But, that’s OK.

Parents worry. Children grow. The world keeps turning.

It sounds kind of silly but that is truly the level of inner peace and perspective my daughter has brought to my life.

So, you know what, maybe our lives never will be the same again.

That’s OK because I know in my heart that our lives will be better, enriched in ways that I cannot even imagine yet.

Maybe I am a hopeless romantic or blind optimist, but one look at that smile and glance into those beautiful blue eyes was all I needed to convince me that the future holds so many new and wonderful things.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at