Today my daughter officially becomes a teenager. It’s scary enough for most folks to realize that I’ve actually reproduced, and my offspring is very much her father’s daughter, but now they have to contend with the fact that she’s only three short years away from a driver’s license. She is thirteen today and has already gotten a head start on the whole teenage angst thing, but I suspect she won’t be half as much trouble in her teens as most kids are. At least, I’m hoping she won’t be.
All things considered I lucked out big time to end up with a child as wonderful as Courtney in my life. I hadn’t intended to ever become a father because I spent most of my youth being told how immature and irresponsible I was. I had great potential, I was reminded often, but lacked the motivation necessary to capitalize on it. After awhile I decided that I’d have a hard enough time just keeping my own act together let alone being able to take responsibility for another person’s life. I didn’t think I’d make a very good father so I decided early on that I wouldn’t have kids.
Life, and Courtney’s mother, had other plans for me.
I didn’t find out that Courtney was on the way until a month after things had finally fallen apart between her mother and I and I had moved back in with my parents. I was 23 years old and working as a security guard at the time. I didn’t think I was ready emotionally or financially for a child and I knew Courtney’s mother wasn’t ready in either way as well so I argued that the pregnancy should be ended. Especially in light of the fact that we had just ended the relationship and it didn’t appear that reconciliation was going to be possible. Courtney’s mother refused and years later would try to use the fact that I had encouraged her to end the pregnancy against me with my daughter.
Just shy of 9 years after her birth Courtney came to live with me and effectively start her life over again in a new home, with new rules and a father who still wasn’t sure he was up to the job. Considering the chaotic existence she had lived through with her mother and the big changes involved in coming to live with me, she’s handled the transition pretty well. It hasn’t been without its rough spots and conflicts, but overall she and Anne and I make a pretty happy family and we’re doing alright. Courtney and I talked about my early opposition to going forward with her birth not long after she moved in with me. Understandably, she wanted to know why.
I was honest with her and I explained to her my reasoning and how I felt that it was the right decision at the time and in the circumstances. That said, however, I explained that sometimes things happen to you in life that you have little to no control over and you end up finding out that what you thought was a disaster approaching turns out to be one of the best things to ever happen to you. Courtney was one of those occasions where what I thought would be my ruin ended up being the impetus that made me a better person. I still don’t think I’m a great father, but I am definitely a better man than I was because she is in my life and that alone has made it all very much worthwhile.
Today we celebrate the arrival of Courtney into the world and she will be showered with presents and good wishes, but really it turns out that on this day 13 years ago I was the one who had received a gift worth more than I deserved.