Parenthood is a funny thing. Tiny babies can reduce big, strong men to mush and sometimes, comforting an infant is just as healing for the parent as it is for the child.
Such was the case for first-time dad Antwon Lee recently, when he took his 2-month-old son son Debias to the pediatrician for his immunizations. A video of Lee comforting Debias has gone viral in the last few days, garnering over 10 million views and counting — and the reason for its popularity is as simple as it is heartwarming.
In the clip, Lee cuddles his adorable baby boy close, nuzzling his head while telling him to “stay strong” and that “Daddy loves you.”
I’m not sure if my reaction was more sympathy tears for the baby or emotional tears triggered by the sweetness of the father-son bond. Maybe some of both.
There’s just something awful about watching a baby receive shots. I remember my own husband’s tears when our son got his first round of vaccinations. We both cried and neither one of us really expected to have that level of reaction. We weren’t second-guessing our decision to vaccinate our son, only distressed at the level of pain it was causing him. It’s a parenting rite of passage no one really warned us about. And it’s one I saw Lee grappling with himself in the video.
But, there’s another layer to Antwon Lee’s story that makes it even more poignant.
The day this now-viral video was recorded is going to be remembered for more than just the day little Debias got his shots. According to ABC News, it was also the day Lee’s father passed away at age 57 from alcohol-related complications.
Twenty-nine-year-old Antwon, who’s from Warrenton, Georgia is amazed that the video of him and his son has gone so viral and says that this puts fatherhood into perspective for him.
“That night I [spoke] to my son — he’s only 2 months — and I let him know: ‘Son, I want to see you succeed before I die,'” Lee told ABC. “I’ve got to see you succeed.”
I can’t imagine what it’s like to grieve for your father while comforting your brand-new son. I’m sure it’s overwhelmingly bittersweet. It’s never easy to see our children in pain, even when we know the pain is coming from something that’s for their own good. The fact that Antwon Lee was dealing with his own emotions from his father’s passing surely only intensified this moment at the doctor’s office.
But, it made this moment more memorable.
As Lee later told ABC News, “I didn’t expect him [my son] to be this type of angel.”
Kids are always surprising us like that.
It’s hard not to smile and wipe away tears as we watch this new father-son team go through their first difficult moment together. There may be more hurdles ahead in life, but these two look like they’re off to a fine start together.