Special Guest Post by Nick Allen –
Nebraska played at Southern Miss on Thursday, September 25, 2003.
The scariest day of my life.
Six weeks prior I was in a doctor’s office hearing an OBGYN tell my girlfriend and I that we were going to be having a baby in October.
I said, “This year?”
Six weeks later my first son was born.
At the time, I was cooking at a German restaurant and had been 21 for three months. I was in no position to be a dad. Sometimes I still feel like I’m not.
My future wife and I were blindsided. There had been recent signs that a baby may be appearing but we figured we would have standard notice. Instead, we had six weeks.
I’m a habitual procrastinator and was on the phone calling relatives the night before Sara was going to be induced saying, “I’m having a baby.”
They would say, “When?”
I said, “Tomorrow.”
The only piece of advice I remember from that six weeks came from Miguel, an 18 year old father of one I worked with at Das Rheinland. I told him I was going to be a dad and he simply said, “It’s not about you anymore, Homie.”
Since the day my son was born, that’s how I’ve been trying to live my life. Not about me anymore, Homie.
I’ve been trying but it’s not always easy. Trying to make sure my bad days stay my bad days instead of becoming other people’s bad days. Trying to wake up early. Trying to drink less. Trying to smoke less. Trying to be around and be present.
Sometimes I succeed, often times I fall way short. I’m really just trying to raise a good kid who doesn’t resent me. Who’s a good person because of me instead of in spite of me. And do the same with his brother and sister. It’s all a work in progress.
Sara was induced early on the day Conner was born. Nebraska was playing at Southern Miss that night but it was pretty far down on a lengthy list of things I was worried about. She was in a painful labor until an epidural. After that, we were kind of just hanging out, waiting for a baby to arrive.
While we were waiting into the night, there was a lone football game on the TV. Nebraska at Southern Miss.
Southern Miss, Brett Favre’s alma matter. On a Thursday. Under the lights. Against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
I don’t remember who Nebraska’s quarterback was that night, I don’t remember who the coach was either. I don’t know if I was supposed to be mad at the defensive coordinator that week. It didn’t matter. It still doesn’t.
I was much more concerned about the human life that I was going to be responsible for busting out at any second. He was more laid back, waiting for Nebraska to secure the victory before joining us.
He was born at 10:52pm. I remember seeing him and watching his eyes adjust. I remember kissing my wife then staring at both of them in awe.
We had family waiting outside the door waiting to hear any news. I opened the door and put both fists in the air.
“It’s a boy!”
By the end of the night I was a dad with a newborn son.
This past Saturday, I took Conner to his first Nebraska home game. Southern Miss at Nebraska. He turned 12 the day before. It was perfect.
A kid in Memorial Stadium with a grin on his face. Runzas in the stands. Big plays from the Blackshirts. A Nebraska kid at fullback stealing the show. Two old ladies sitting in front of us getting hit with a hot dog shot from a canon. My son thinking Jordan Westerkamp should get the ball every play and wondering if Tommy Armstrong will win the Heisman because, “He’s a quarterback and a running back.”
Nebraska beat Southern Miss. The game got close at the end. There was grumbling in the stands and bated breath throughout the stadium. Someone sitting near us said, “That was scary.”
I wasn’t scared on Saturday. I was scared in 2003. I’m still scared now. But not about football. It’s a game. A game played by kids not much older than my son. I’m scared I’m not a good dad. Scared all of my shut off notices are going to arrive on the same day. Scared I’m in over my head. I need to be more laid back like my son.
I asked him if he thought Southern Miss was going to come back and win. He said, “I knew Nebraska was going to win the whole time. They had it.”
They did. And I think we have it too.