August 28 2007 is a day I will never forget. I became a father on that day to a beautiful little girl we called Sumi-Anna. Sumi is Korean and Anna, well Anna is international. Growing up I had many dreams, ambitions, desires. But the one that burned and burned was to become a father. I had to wait for this for what seemed like always; what seemed like never. But it came like that old cliche – when I least expected it. And that moment when we left the labour room, my wife with our newborn in her arms and us holding each other’s hand was the greatest feeling I have ever experienced in my life.
Before becoming a father, I read and was told by everyone that it would change me; that I would not recognise myself when I became a father. I looked forward to that so much, eager as I was to leave my old life behind. Around the time she was born I remember checking to see if this was true and honestly, then I felt no different. Fast forward a few months and I could not recall how life was like before she was born. Everything had changed.
Being a father is the hardest job I ever have had. She is seven today. She woke at 6 in excitement. She and her brother played as quietly as exuberant little children can as their parents try to get just that little bit extra sleep. As I am writing this, she is singing around the house.
We have a little birthday tradition. We get a double decker bus into the city centre and sit at the front on the top deck. We go for a smoothie and a little cake and after that we head to Waterstone’s where she picks out some new books. Along the way, I will try to get photographs of the two of us together. Today, I let her take photographs. She loves it when I give her the camera. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she tells us ‘ a photographer!’
On the bus, I ask her will you remember this and before she responds she looks at me, tilts her head a little, gives me a smile and shaking her head from side to side she says: “Daddy, of course I will. How can I forget my birthday? On the way home, we try to get the seats at the front upstairs again. Luckily, we do. The bus bobbles along and Sumia is non-stop chatter. I hold her hand and wait until next year. I won’t forget these days either.
The photograph I chose to post on Flickr today is one of my very favourites of Sumi-Anna. It was taken when she was just over two years old. Taken in the back garden of my parents’ house. My mother (Sumi-Anna’s bestest friend) was sitting on this little bench reading Candide. Sumi-Anna was playing in the garden. Granny was reading. This caused curiosity. She toddled over, took the book, turned it over and over in her hands and then sat down, opened it up upside down and stared for the longest time at the indecipherable text. As fortune would have it, I had the camera with me.
This image we have printed and it hangs in our bedroom.
Happy Birthday, Sumia! Juah!
The iPhone image I chose for today is one of her playing in the garden on the swing. This summer has been fantastic by Irish standards. It has been raining the past few days and makes you realise how few days of rain we have had this summer. I hope as she gets older exuberance is never far.