If anyone knows me well enough, they would tell you 2 things: 1. I’m a sarcastic bastard, and 2. I love my family more than life itself. When my beautiful wife Evelyn gave birth to our daughter Amber, neither one of us could ever imagine being away from her. She is the sunshine of our lives. When Amber was just over 17 months old, our son Aden was born. His energy, loving nature and sense of humor have completed our family circle.

Why would I ever want these two angels to grow up?

When we moved to our new home here in Antigua, we were so excited to give our children the opportunity to become true bilinguals and start building a promising future full of opportunities. Sure it sounds great, but it came with the most emotional moments of my life. At the age of 3, Amber was eligible to attend full time school. Evelyn and I were overcome with excitement while getting her ready for school. Getting her uniforms, books, supplies, and decorating her activity box was such a fun time for us – especially Evelyn. We couldn’t wait for her first day of school. Imagining this beautiful little blue-eyed blond girl doing her usual hop-jump-run to her class was just too beautiful. Then the actual day came. The entire family (Evelyn, Aden, Amber and I) walked Amber to her class and were greeted by 2 of the most wonderful teachers I’ve ever met. After a short introduction and chat, we were ready to leave Amber with the rest of her classmates.

What did we just do? I can’t leave her all by herself!

It felt like someone just reached for my heart through my throat and started to pull it out. I couldn’t even walk away from her. There was no sarcasm at that moment. I felt like a weak and lonely father forced to say goodbye to his child. Next thing I knew the tears started to flow as I saw my little girl hop around and explore her class. She was obviously fully excepting the situation. And why wouldn’t she? In the meantime, the daddy is an emotional wreck!

There was no sadness in my tears. It was a bold realization that my kids are growing up, and some day they will eventually have their own lives.

I’d say Amber prepared us for the next inevitable goodbye session with Aden, but it didn’t make it any easier for me. That angelic son of mine, with his energy and fantastic aura took a piece of me when he walked into his classroom for the first time. To this day, when I see him walk out of his class to run to greet me feels like I hadn’t seen him for years. The joy and satisfaction of picking him up and kissing him dozens of times gets more enjoyable with each passing day.

When you’re not a parent it’s so hard to imagine what it feels like to see the stages of your child’s growth. All we have to make sure is to be there for them, understand them, comfort them, reassure them, support them, and provide them with the most precious gift any parent can aim for: the freedom to choose their path.

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This post was submitted by Andy Yadegar.

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