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Ed Hudgins

An Older Dad of Babies on Father’s Day

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An Older Dad of Babies on Father’s Day
By Edward Hudgins

June 15, 2012 - This is my second Father’s Day as the daddy of Sophia and Allegra, my 17-month-old fraternal twin girls. I never thought I’d meet the right woman but—wow!—I did and thus, well into my fifth decade, we decided to become parents. The day the girls were born was the most wonderful and memorable of my life.

Evolution programmed us with a sex drive that keeps the species going. But contraception now makes parenthood a choice. Evolution also has programmed into most of us a psychological propensity to get all gooey and mushy when we see a cute little baby. But is this enough reason to accept the decades-long responsibility for a child? Why choose to be a parent? What’s in it for me?

Let me review some highlights of the girls’ physical and mental growth so far and see what answers emerge.

When they were first born the girls had three modes of behavior: sleeping (they were so cute!), feeding (they looked right into our eyes!), and crying (such lung power!). But as weeks went by a fourth mode emerged: awake, quiet, wiggling, cooing, just taking in their surroundings.

Soon they would begin to react to the music and movements of mobiles above their cribs, reaching for the revolving figures overhead. Then they would try to hold their bottles during feeding in their own tiny hands. Soon they could hold a small rattle and then larger toys. And now they must hold and touch everything.

At first they could only lay in the position we put them in, on their backs or their stomachs. But soon they were able to turn over on their own. Then they would try to crawl, at first jerkily, pulling themselves along. Soon they were moving smoothly on hands and knees all around the room.

And soon they were strong enough to hold on to a chair or table and pull themselves up. Then they would let go and stand for a few seconds on their own. Then they would take a few wobbly steps, and then a few more. Now walking and running have replaced crawling.

At first they would utter only single syllables, including “Dada” and “Mama” when around the appropriate parent. Now they string together sophisticated sounds. Those sounds for the most part aren’t recognizable as words, but the girls are quite insistent in their utterances and are clearly trying to talk. And for some of the sounds the meaning is clear. Allegra, especially, for half a year, a hundred times a day, says “Wa zat?” (“What’s that?”), pointing to anything and everything.

At first to the girls our voices seemed simply to be soothing noise. But now the girls understand more and more, and respond in actions correctly to “Where’s your nose? Your belly button? Your sippy cup? Come to Daddy and Mommy!”

At first we would read to them children’s books to soothe them. Now they hand us a book and we read it to them and they laugh and hand it right back to us again and we read it to them over and over and they are delighted.

At first their attention span was short and they were easily distracted. But now they’re beginning to remember. We take away a cell phone or TV remote that they are playing with but that we don’t want them to destroy. We hide it on a shelf but they see where it is and they keep pointing to it. They won’t be deterred!

At first we would hold, hug, and kiss them, but affection was a one-way street. But soon they would give us little smiles. Now they give us full-faced laughs and run to us when they see us coming and hug our legs and lift their arms wanting us to pick them up.

So what does this greatest hits list say about being a father?

I have the joy every day of watching the emergence and growth of human consciousness and intelligence in two individuals. The girls are insatiably curious about the world around them. They love the new. They’re always looking, touching, tasting, opening, exploring. And I take daily joy in the joy they take as they explore their own capacities as well as the world around them.

A few months ago Talia, the girls, and I were waiting for the start of a political dinner at a country club. We were early and we were in a huge, empty lounge next to a huge buffet area with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on a lake, emitting the afternoon sunlight. Our girls took the opportunity to run round and round in that open space, laughing loudly all the way. That vision of my toddlers taking joy in their lives stays with me, and such a scene has now been repeated often.

As a father I join my Talia in guiding the development of our daughters, of training them and teaching them, in fostering the best within them so that decades hence they will be mature, flourishing adults. This is as worthy an enterprise as one can imagine, with consummate rewards. So for me, Father’s Day is indeed a day to celebrate!
--------
Hudgins is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.


Sophia-Allegra-Daddy.jpg
Dad with Sophia and Allegra.

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What beautiful children! You are indeed a Lucky Dad. If you need a baby sitter, I would be glad to oblige.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I know well what Ed has experienced and shared about so eloquently. My wife and I, already each having at least two older children from previous marriages, tied the knot in 1990, and four years later -- at the ages of 45 and 46, respectively -- had our wonderful daughter, Rachel. My mother, frequently the pessimistic wet blanket of my life trajectory, dolefully opined that we would be lucky to see Rachel graduate. But Becky and I are both doing fine, now in our early 60s, and Rachel is off to college in just two short months. She is a talented, outgoing, sweet girl, and we're very proud of her. It has been one of the great joys of my life to see her develop from cradle to cap and gown.

REB

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I know well what Ed has experienced and shared about so eloquently. My wife and I, already each having at least two older children from previous marriages, tied the knot in 1990, and four years later -- at the ages of 45 and 46, respectively -- had our wonderful daughter, Rachel. My mother, frequently the pessimistic wet blanket of my life trajectory, dolefully opined that we would be lucky to see Rachel graduate. But Becky and I are both doing fine, now in our early 60s, and Rachel is off to college in just two short months. She is a talented, outgoing, sweet girl, and we're very proud of her. It has been one of the great joys of my life to see her develop from cradle to cap and gown.

REB

Hang in there. You will yet see the graduation. And by the way --- daughters are a blessing that sons can never be.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I know well what Ed has experienced and shared about so eloquently. My wife and I, already each having at least two older children from previous marriages, tied the knot in 1990, and four years later -- at the ages of 45 and 46, respectively -- had our wonderful daughter, Rachel. My mother, frequently the pessimistic wet blanket of my life trajectory, dolefully opined that we would be lucky to see Rachel graduate. But Becky and I are both doing fine, now in our early 60s, and Rachel is off to college in just two short months. She is a talented, outgoing, sweet girl, and we're very proud of her. It has been one of the great joys of my life to see her develop from cradle to cap and gown.

REB

Hang in there. You will yet see the graduation. And by the way --- daughters are a blessing that sons can never be.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Oh, my mom meant Rachel's ~high school~ graduation -- so, we definitely passed that hurdle. College will be the icing on the cake.

Plus, my oldest grandchild is 13. It's not outside the realm of possibility that I will see at least a few great-grandchildren, perhaps in the next decade or so.

As for daughters vs. sons, although it's probably unwise to name favorites, the girls are definitely sweeter to their daddy than the boys. But not by much. :-)

REB

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Roger - Thanks for sharing your success story with kids! I suspected I'm not the only one to wait until the right time to take on parenthood. Of course I'll be pushing 80 by the time mine graduate. But they'll keep me young at heart and exercise, modern medicine, and good genetics--both my parents are 80 and still kicking!--should keep the body in sync with the spirit!

Ba'al - If I can hearness the energy of little Allegra--we call her the espresso baby--we'll have a power source that will easily take us to the planets!

Ed

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Hmmm -- Ed, if you're in your 50s, I think you mean you're well into your SIXTH decade...

Ah, fathers and daughters. No one will ever, ever love you the way that your daughters will during their pre-adolescent years. You are the king of their world. Enjoy it -- and remember that you are the most important man in their lives and will influence how they see men (and themselves as women) for the rest of their lives. (And try to keep perspective when you get demoted from king to tyrant-dictator when they turn into teenagers! :-) )

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Judith - How many decades? I just lose count.

Already, the toughest part of my day is leaving for work. I don't want to leave my little darlings and I need to sneak out the back door because the kiddies cry when they see me leave. I want my girls to have a good sense of their own worth and how they should treat and expect to be treated by others. When they come of age I want them to only be attracted to the right kind of men.

Parenthood: What an adventure!

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