Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Few Good Men

I know I am several days behind, but since Fathers' Day was on Sunday, I have been thinking all week about the good men that I want to celebrate and honor on this blog.  I love seeing each of them with Noah, and I feel so fortunate that my son has so many amazing male role models in his life:

Let's start with the oldest:  Noah's Great Grandpa Jack.

We live about two miles away from my grandparents, and they have been a huge part of Noah's life, just as they have always been a huge part of mine.  My 83-year-old grandpa loves kids, and he begs to babysit Noah.  I don't know many old men who would be willing to take care of an energetic ten-month-old, including chasing him around and changing his diapers, but Grampy actually likes to do it.  My grandma tells me that he was a very hands-on father to his own children in a time when that wasn't common.  He changed diapers, got up with crying babies in the night, and supported his children in all of their hobbies and interests as they got older.

A few months ago, I left Noah with my grandpa so I could run a few errands.  Grampy asked, "So what can I feed this kid?"

"Well, he just ate," I responded, "but if he seems hungry you could give him a mashed up banana, or some canned peaches, or a cracker--"

"Well, what about ice cream?" he asked matter-of-factly.

This made me laugh.  Of course Grampy would be the one to introduce ice cream to his great grandson.   I told him Noah was a little young for ice cream, but he didn't seem too convinced.  I have a feeling he may have snuck Noah a spoonful or two. :)

Noah is also lucky to live close to his "Bapa."

My dad was called "Bapa" by his first grandchild, and the nickname stuck.  It's appropriate that he has a unique moniker from his grandchildren because he is the king of goofy nicknames, and heaven knows he will give them lots of different titles throughout their lives.  Thus far, a few of the most unusual pet names that my dad has given Noah are "Hunchback" (when he was tiny and floppy), "The Hulk" (when he suddenly got massively chubby), and his current favorite, "Mr. Big" (because Noah is so solid and hefty).  Dad even taught this newest name to my nephew Callum, and it is quite hysterical when Cal will say to me, "Rachel, Baby Noa--I mean, Mr. Big is crying."  :)

Just like his father, my dad is very "hands-on" with Noah and is not afraid to babysit or give a bath or change a diaper.  Recently, I wanted to attend a regional adoption conference on a Friday morning, but Noah was sick, so I didn't feel like I could take him to the nursery that was provided there.  I mentioned to my dad that I was disappointed that I wouldn't be able to go to the conference because there were some classes that I really wanted to attend on adoption topics that I have been thinking about lately.  My dad said, "Well, I could come babysit Mr. Big."  I was quite surprised by this offer because it was a work day, and my dad is a bit of a workaholic, so I never even considered that he would be able to take the day off to help me.  But my dad insisted, so he and Mr. Big spent the morning hanging out together and going for walks while I went to my classes.  Do I have a great dad or what?

Noah also has another awesome grandpa, Grandpa Nielson.

Ryan's dad, Gordon, is a very gentle and loving person.  I've never heard him raise his voice at anyone.  His family sometimes teases him because whenever he is feeling touched, his eyes well up with tears.  I think it is so sweet.  I will never forget when he came to the hospital right after Noah was born.  Tears streamed down his face as I told him the story of Noah's birth and the sacred time we'd spent with his birth parents.  It was such a beautiful moment when he met his grandson for this first time.

During the trips we've taken to Idaho since Noah's birth, Gordon has had such a calming influence on our sometimes fussy little boy.  He takes him in his arms and makes a purring noise by rolling his tongue (I've noticed that Ryan subconsciously makes the same noise when he is soothing babies), and Noah quiets right down.  This most recent trip, we went to one of Ryan's brother's baseball games one evening, and Noah was a little riled up because it was past his bedtime.  I watched Gordon holding Noah and walking him around the field to calm him down.  It looked like he was telling him about the trees and the clouds, the players and the sport.  I loved watching them interact.  Noah is so lucky to have such a patient, loving, tender-hearted grandpa.

Then, there is his birth father.

I've written more on this blog about Katie than I have about Drew, but I want everyone to know how much I love this young man.  When Noah was born, Drew was standing beside me and Katie.  I will never forget sharing that experience with him and witnessing his strength and his love for Noah.  During the emotional hour after the birth, Drew asked me if he could stay in touch with Noah and receive the same types of updates that Katie will be receiving.  I told him of course he could.  I will never forget the relief that flooded his face and the way he hugged me and thanked me.  (As if he needed to thank me when he and Katie were making such a selfless sacrifice.)  He has loved Noah from the first moment he laid eyes on him, and they are so cute together whenever we have visits.  Some teenage boys are intimidated by babies, but Drew has always had such a natural, sweet way with Noah.

It is very rare for birth fathers to be involved in adoptions--most birth mothers face this incredibly difficult decision and the subsequent emotional recovery alone--and it's even rarer for birth fathers to want to stay involved in the baby's life for the long term.  We are so lucky to have Drew in our lives, and I am grateful that Noah will never have to wonder what his birth father was like and whether or not he loved him.

And last, but certainly not least, Noah has his wonderful father.

Ryan is Noah's favorite person in the world.  It is really quite darling.  Noah is currently getting four new teeth (ouch!), and the other day, he was absolutely inconsolable--until Ryan got home from work, and then he was all giggles.  Seriously, all Ryan has to do is walk in the door and Noah starts laughing.  How do dads do that??

Ryan usually puts Noah to bed, and it takes a while.  Ryan only gets about an hour a day with him, so he savors every moment of bedtime.  I think it's important to be consistent with routines, so I recently asked Ryan to teach me how he puts Noah to bed.  As he described it to me, I couldn't stop smiling.  Noah has a small collection of toys and little stuffed animals that stay in his crib.  Apparently, after Ryan reads him books and sings him songs, he lays him down and has all of Noah's toys and animals say goodnight to him.  He picks them up one by one, says "Mr. Dog wants to give Noah a goodnight kiss" and then has the dog (or car or whatever he is holding) walk around the outside of the crib making little barking noises, and then the toy gives Noah a kiss and nuzzles in beside him.  At the end of their little routine, Noah is surrounded by all of his favorite toys, ready to head off into Dreamland. No wonder he falls asleep happy each night!

 I am so grateful for all of these good men in my life and in my son's life.  The impact of a loving father is immeasurable, and Noah is one lucky little boy to have all of these men (and his uncles and his other great grandpas and so many more) who love him.

Happy belated Fathers' Day!  xoxo


  1. I LOVE that bedtime routine!

  2. Fabulous post! Noah is so blessed! I have heard Ryan purr at Noah a million times! I never knew it came from Gordon though! I thought it was deliberate--is it subconcious? I am SO glad you thought to include Drew! What s delightfully warm young man!

  3. Also love the bedtime routine.

    How lucky Noah is to have such wonderful role models for him to emulate and learn from as he grows!


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