Sofia has giggled her way into my life and stollen my heart along the way. I had no doubt that this was going to happen when she burst into our lives six months ago (ok, officially seven months tomorrow, but dang where did the time go?). But I didn’t know exactly how much my life would change.
The moment she was born I knew I couldn’t stay the man I was, even if maybe I was a good man. I had to learn to say no! Not to Sofia, at least not yet. I have to say no at my job. I’ve been a teacher for well over a decade and I love my students, but if I want to be more than a good man, and maybe even a good dad, my baby girl has to be a priority.
The first no was a very difficult one because it was to a good thing. Before the pandemic, I coached high school girls basketball. We weren’t the winningest team, but we were a team built on love. As much as I love my girls team, I had to say no to coaching basketball this year. My former team needed an assistant coach at the start of the year and I wanted to say yes, but I knew I needed to be home with Sofia. Saying no gave me time to take Sofia on walks, soar her through the air, and change her diapers. Fortunately me saying no to basketball was also good for the team. They ended up winning nine games this year!
Saying no to work has challenges. I am not sure my new boss is a fan of work life balance. When I was on paternity leave, she made it clear she wanted me to keep working. Even going as far as telling me that my grades weren’t posting when I was on break. Since I have been back to work, she keeps insinuating things about working more, but I’ve been learning to balance my job and little Sofia (as well as April, Gryffin, and Phoenix). I am not sure I have been successful, which might be why this blog is coming out a month late. Whatever is happening though, I want to choose my family first.
I love the students I teach, but when I first started teaching I thought I could pursue my dreams of writing creatively (not just blogging and you all might have noticed that’s been a struggle lately too). But I have had to say no to any writing due to emotional exhaustion. Even in the summer after the school year has ended, I need about a month to decompress. Sofia and her cutie cute smile has me thinking that things need to change.
Not only am I learning to put my family first by saying no to work (even the good parts of work), I am putting my family first by being active in caring for Sofia. When she’s crying in the middle of the night (and I hear it), I do my best to help sooth her. For the past month or so, this has meant letting the little one sleep in our bed. We are hoping to transition her to her crib here soon because April and I want our king sized bed back. I also do my best to change as many diapers as I can. Sofia typically cries when being changed, but I love making her laugh. A belly fart typically does it. The other night I had her laughing up a storm just by saying the word dog.
Sofia has me saying yes too little or no sleep just so I can care for her. I’m sure April (who gets way less sleep than me because Sofia prefers breast milk over bottle) would say I say no to late nights, but how can I say no if I am sound asleep and I just don’t hear anything. Both April and I see any of the late night feedings or diaper changes as chances to love on Sofia, and in that way Sofia has me saying yes all the time.
Last night we had to say no to Sofia. We started sleep training and so she found herself in her crib which is located in her own room. I’ve grown used to having our little lady in the room with us, but if April and I want to sleep well, we have to help Sofia sleep in her own room. So there were tears, not just mine, but Sofia’s. We checked on her after five minutes, then 15, then 30. She fell asleep, but then woke herself up and puked. We cleaned her up and April fed her some more only to try again. She passed out. I felt horrible for putting Sofia through that ordeal, but it will be good for her. I will readjust to her not being in our room. It is okay that I didn’t sleep well, what matters is that Sofia did.
And so even on little to no sleep I’m still saying yes to singing for Sofia. I’m not sure when Sofia was born that I knew I would start singing around the house again. I used to sing quite a bit (especially if no one was listening) but now it is my go to for Sofia’s entertainment. I guess in a way, I am saying yes to some things that make be feel a bit awkward and scared.
I’ve been trying to speak Spanish to Sofia which has been fun and awkward. I’m not the best at Spanish even though I lived in Guatemala for three years and was tutored privately because speaking incorrectly makes me scared. But I want to help my daughter be able to speak to her abuelos so I am saying yes to speak more Spanish.
I’ve also said yes to April’s parents moving in with us. April’s mom has been watching Sofia while April and I go to work. At times it is difficult because my house feels crowded, but I want to be a dad who helps his family and April’s family is my family. Both abuelos love Sofia so much and I want Sofia to know that her entire family loves her.
Maybe in the future I’ll be saying yes to playing dolls and painting nails with her. Whatever God has for my family and me, I want to say yes to Him and His adventures. I want Sofia to know what faith looks like. I want Sofia to see me saying yes to my own dreams so she knows what a real adventure looks like.