Part of life’s progression is finding an identity for yourself – finding out who you are and what defines you. You try to develop ways to narrow down what seems to be an endless list of things that interest you, careers you may like, and hobbies you enjoy all in an effort to finally say, “that’s what defines me.” For some of us, myself included, it can be a struggle to reach that point.
Then, on June 7, 2011, at 8:39 in the morning, from the floor of the operating room where I lay from nearly passing out, crackers and orange juice in hand, surrounded by more nurses than my wife who had a gaping hole in her stomach, my struggles were over, hobbies and careers no longer played a part in my soul-searching, and my list was finally narrowed down to one thing. In that instant, whatever purpose I had convinced myself defined my existence went out that second story window and was replaced by Mason.
I’m defined by kissing boo-boos (real and fake), playing peek-a-boo, a shirt over my nose when I change diapers as if it’s some kind of radioactive waste, and saying “no-no” about a million times a day. I’m defined by a house with toys strewn from one end to the other, more food on me and the floor than in Mason’s stomach, and reading books over, and over, and over again. I’m defined by sharing ice cream, cookies, cereal, and whatever other junk food I have (within reason), partaking in discussions about Bubble Guppies (what’s up with Nonny never smiling or expressing emotion?), and wiping snots when he’s sick. I’m defined by the memories of the past 19 months of his life and the hopes and desires I have for the future. I’m defined by the responsibility I have to him to be whatever he needs me to be and to love and protect him until I take my last breath.
I’m defined by Dad.
It’s a limitless definition, one that I can control and make up as I go along, and whose evolution and change parallels Mason’s. It’s something in which I take great pride, and there is no better way to be defined than that.