COLUMN: That First Ride Home

It’s amazing how you can look back, and a period of four months seems like an eternity. Four months since our little man came into this world and changed ours all around. The list of major adjustments is endless. But, let me tell you about just one of those: getting in the car and going somewhere — anywhere.

Of course, today the routine goes like clockwork, timing the placement of Arden in the car seat coordinating with the estimated time of my wife’s readiness to scoot out the door. It’s like a well-oiled machine. Arden usually doesn’t like the initial getting-in, strapping on the belt, but he gets over it quickly with a little singing and excitement about going somewhere. Our Volkswagon Tiguan is now broken-in to the routine, from team-oriented errands, trips to see Grammy and Grandpa and even jaunts to Albany, carefully timing a visit to Buy Buy Baby for an item or two — and more importantly — the comfortable nursing room for an oft-needed feeding.

Of course it wasn’t always like that. It’s a quick learning curve. But the first time is always the most memorable. I’ve talked with at least a few other fathers about that common experience.

It’s always just about the same.

Do you remember how fast you drove from the hospital to home with that newborn baby? Actually, the right question is: Can you ever remember driving so slow and defensively anytime ever?

Your driver’s ed teacher would be proud.

The nurse accompanied Ali and the baby as I pulled the car around to the front of the hospital’s main entrance. In the nurse’s own words, her responsibility was to make sure the car seat “clicks” into place — and that’s it — we were on our own from that point on.

I remember imagining our little SUV being equipped with some sort of defensive deflector shield as I pulled out onto North Street — super-vigilant of any other vehicle coming within 30 feet on any side. Driving like 15 or 20 mph tops, my wife and I simultaneously shouted at one driver who pulled up from the side street way too close for comfort. While this driver didn’t do anything wrong, coming to a complete stop at the proper spot — hyper-sensitivity rules this special trip. Yes, there are “Baby On Board” signs that some parents use in their vehicle (we don’t), but this short journey deserves something more like signage with yellow flashing lights, school bus-like and student driver-type treatment. At least that’s how it felt.

We finally pulled into our driveway after our seemingly never-ending five minute commute with this very precious cargo.

And for the first time, this tiny stranger entered into this home that he had never seen, never experienced — and yet — so many of his firsts, milestones and memories will take place right here, in this home.

Think of your own first memories in your childhood home, those happy days when the world was so much more simple. Pure joy. Remember that old shag carpet, the faux wooden paneled walls, linoleum kitchen floors and forts made out of afghan blankets and steel folding chairs?

I look around today and know that images of this house, our house, the floors, the furniture, the doors, the walls, the paintings, baseboard heaters, the dining room table and every other detail will all be emblazoned in my son’s mind even when he’s an old man and I’m long gone. And yet, here we are. After ever so carefully carrying him in his car seat to set him down in the living room on a bright September day, he continues his deep sleep. Even then, he still hadn’t taken his first glimpse of his home, our home — and I dream of the pure joy to come.

John Krol

John Krol

John Krol is the owner/founder of OneEighty media (http://www.johnkrol.info). He lives in Pittsfield with his wife Allison and newborn son, Arden.