Before we became parents my husband and I would spend weekends on long bike rides through Manhattan and Brooklyn.

We’d ride all day starting very early in the morning and he’d show me places around Brooklyn from his childhood; neighborhoods where classic movies had been used as locations and beaches where he’d spent weekends swimming with his friends. We were so happy when our son was old enough to come with us on our long cycling trips. It wasn’t long before he graduated from his first two-wheeler to a “big boy” bike with gears so he could keep up with us as we cruised along the Delaware River and trails through nature preserves near our home in New Jersey.

I watch him as he gains more confidence and tears off ahead of us now, lost in his physicality and the thrill of the speed he generates. I love that he loves to cycle and we can all share this together. As he races off ahead I am so in love with him at that moment, and I bookmark another memento of his growing up in my conscious mind. I am awash with emotions. I try to hold on to another of these fleeting moments where I see him being most fully himself and I marvel at his physicality, something he’s always been so proud of. He’s a daredevil and a thrill seeker who is always confident in his ability to scramble up a high wall or climb to the uppermost branches of a tree.

“Don’t worry Papa!” he calls out, reassuring my husband as he scrambles to the highest branch on the tree. I never really worry. I am so aware of his aptitude when it comes to his balance and agility. I can’t claim that skill, nor can my husband, his Papa. There’s no imprint from our own DNA to spot – for us to take ownership of or pride in. He’s his own completely remarkable self.

A close friend who’d had several rounds of fertility treatment without any success was asking me about our experience with adoption.
“I can’t honestly imagine that it would be possible to love a child more than I love my son,” I told her. It’s the feeling that I have, the feeling so deeply for my son that constantly amazes me.

In quiet moments I look at him and am overcome with gratitude for being his parent. How did I get to be this lucky? Could I have lived my life without ever knowing him or knowing how much more love my heart could hold?

Becoming a dad has challenged me to find the best parts of myself and share those with my son every day. Even when my son is pushing against my parental authority and renegotiating the boundaries I set for him I have to remind myself to be my best self. I still see the sensitive boy in that moment. I want to validate that part of him that is sensitive and sweet, to know that it can coexist with his strength and determination. To grow into a man who one day will know what it is to feel for his own children as deeply as I.