Since becoming a dad last November, there’s been a running joke among my friends and family about how fatherhood is making me soft. It’s a fair observation to make: I do spend a lot more time watching animated animals sing nursery rhymes now, and words like “cute” and “adorable” are now a part of my day-to-day vocabulary… but the truth is, I’ve been getting soft for a long time.

This morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee with a beautiful five month old on my hip and walked out onto my back porch. As may be the case for many of you, my porch is a sacred place. It offers privacy, seclusion, a view of the turn off for my road a half mile away so I know in advance if anyone’s coming to visit… and most days, it serves as my weatherman.

“Welp, looks like it’s gonna be a rainy one,” I said to my wife through our kitchen window this morning. It was already raining, but I like to pretend the screws in my knees and ankles provide some kind of weather-based clairvoyance. The truth is, they hurt all the time, they just hurt different on rainy days.

My daughter is still new to the world and the strange ways it replenishes and sustains itself. Water falling from the sky, bugs zipping from plant to plant, it’s all foreign, and sometimes frightening, unless she’s got a handful of dad’s sweatshirt. Rainy days have been fewer and further between than sunny ones around here lately, so this morning’s rain added a new element to her confused uncertainty. She’d reach a hand out, trying to grab at the water pouring down from my clogged rain gutters (yeah, yeah, I know, I’ll get to them). When the water refused to be contained within her tiny fingers, she turned to me with a newly learned indignance: this water isn’t cooperating, Dad.