From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad


I have a theory. It goes like this.

The second you hear your first child cry for the first time, a chemical is released in your brain that makes you mildly psychotic for the rest of your life. The world is now forever different. You have been transformed. Changed. And you are probably better than you have ever been.

I am pretty sure that it is more than a theory. Whenever I am around other dads at different events with my sons, I can see the loving glow that can only come from absolute, unconditional love. It is not the love you have for your wife, siblings, or parents. It is a love that you can only have for your children. It makes you stronger, weaker, braver and filled with more fear than you ever thought possible.

If you have a son, you have probably lost count of how many times you have saved his life in the first few years. If you have a daughter, your instincts create a radar that is always on to protect her from everything. You would do anything for your children and it is something that is unique and hard to articulate. Right now, if you are reading this and don’t have children, you probably don’t get it.

No one can prepare you. No one can accurately describe what it is all about. And the funny thing is, when you make the decision to start the process of fathering a child, no one can talk you out of it. It is nature working its best, most amazing, beautiful, complicated magic.

I was adopted. I was told what that meant as soon as I was old enough to understand. My sister was my mother’s only pregnancy that didn’t end in heartbreak. She simply couldn’t go through another failed attempt and decided adoption was the best option. My parents wanted me. They chose me. I loved and respected them. They are both gone now and I miss them terribly.

Their sacrifices were beyond reason or logic. I was sick as a child and they did everything they could to find the answers to bring me back to health. When we found skating, I miraculously started to recover. But as I got to the higher levels of competition, the expense became unbearable.

My father was a professor at Bowling Green State University and did everything he could to support the family even as he was losing the love of his life to cancer. We all knew he was suffering, emotionally and financially. My father and mother had to make incredible personal sacrifices to keep the family from going bankrupt. My brother and sister felt it too. I carried a lot of guilt about the sacrifices my parents made for me until I had children of my own. It was then that I understood there is no sacrifice too great for your children.

When Tracie and I got engaged, our friends Sterling and Stacy Ball threw us a party. I mention Sterling and Stacy by name because when their son Casey was five years old, his kidneys stopped functioning. Sterling, without hesitation, gave one of his kidneys to his son. Casey is alive and thriving due to the sacrifice that his father gave without a second thought.

Toward the end of Sterling’s party, I lined up some friends who had children and I asked them what made them decide to start a family. Tracie and I knew that we wanted children, so my question was about gaining perspective. Each one of them gave a different answer.

One said, “Because we have a responsibility to continue our family.” Another said, “That’s why we are here. To be parents.” Then there was, “We all emotionally need to have that responsibility.” Or, “I wanted the unconditional love that you can only get from a child.” And yet another said, “I knew it was going to be a lot of fun to experience another childhood.”

You get the idea.

But knowing I was a testicular cancer survivor, I thought it might be unlikely that I could become a father. A miracle might be necessary. We got one a little over nine months after we got married. When my son Aidan was born, it was the first time I had seen the flesh of my own flesh.

Being adopted, that was one thing I could never share with my parents. Physical characteristics. Eyes, nose, body type, etc. I never craved those things. I didn’t really think they were important until I looked in Aidan’s eyes. They were MINE! Identical! And I’ll never forget the moment I realized that. After struggling with health issues on and off throughout my life, and wondering if I would be able to have my own children, I suddenly realized my own reason for becoming a parent. No one will ever look at me the way my children can — with complete love, need, fear of the unknown, and trust. With my own eyes.

My second son Maxx was another miracle. He was very unlikely to happen after I suffered a pituitary brain tumor in 2004 that changed my body chemistry in a way that inhibited fertility. I gave myself six injections a week for two years. Three in the leg and three in the belly. It was at the end of the second year that I gave up. Tracie understood and we accepted the fact that one miracle was more than enough. It was the very next month we found out we were expecting another child. Another boy, Miracle Maxx.

I have the magnificent duty and honor of being the most important man in my sons’ lives. And they are the most important men in mine. I will never be the same.

I’m now better than I have ever been because I have to be. They deserve it, and it is my life’s mission to fulfill this tremendous responsibility.

This is the magnificent duty and honor all dads share.

To love, and be loved, unconditionally.

To be looked up to.

And for me, with those identical eyes.

~Scott Hamilton

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