Being a Dad…the best role I've ever had.

Posts tagged ‘child’

It’s the little things that matter

Sometimes, the most wonderful thoughts can be triggered by the smallest of things.  Even when you’ve had a long, tiring day, one little thing can make you forget all of it.  Such a thing happened to me.

Before I go one, lets go back in time a bit.

In 2013, two life changing events happened to me: I lost my job of 16 years and, my wife gave birth to my second child.

Alexander was born six months before I got laid off.  During those six months, I missed out on a lot, you know, the early, early infant stuff…rolling over, trying to crawl, etc.

Then, as the middle of summer approached, I got word that I was being laid off, you know, my position was terminated. That’s a smoke screen statement, but that’s another story.

Anyway, being laid off with benefits was a blessing: I got to spend a lot of time with my family, my newborn especially.  Watching him develop over the nine months or so before I got another job was just awesome.  The smiling, the joy, the wonder. It was truly a special time.  Then…

Work.

I got a job that was an hour and twenty minutes from home.  I got up at the crack of dawn and was home at sundown.  I missed a lot.  By the time I would get home, my step son was going to bed and Alexander was played out for the day. My wife would be beat. But, it was work and we needed it.  Badly.

Less than a year later, though, I got a local job. More money, less wear and tear on the car, but, more importantly, it took, maybe, 20 to 25 minutes to get to work or come home. Less time if the traffic was light.   I got to see more of my family. And Alexander.

Now, by this point, Xander is walking and talking and into everything.  The terrible two’s. He turned three in 2016 and…got even more devilish. But, that’s OK. For all of the screaming he does, getting into things, throwing…well, he has his cutesy, sweet moments too.

Coming home from work is a treat.  I get the biggest, best greeting from him. He is genuinely happy to see me.  All of the negatives melt away when he runs up to me, throws his arms around me and yells ‘Dadddeeeeee!’  And, the icing on the cake…I get nice kiss from my beautiful wife.

During his more calm moments, he wants to sit with me, play a game with me, share in his love of all things Spongebob (what is it about that cartoon? My 19 year old grew up on it, as did my eight year old step son and, now, Xander…) and the occasional book reading.

So, that moment I started out talking about?  Well, tonight, I was sitting on the couch, my back hurting and trying to get my head around a couple of things when Xander crawls up on my lap. He had my wife’s phone, watching YouTube.  He finds these videos of some idiot unwrapping toy filled things or videos of games, usually Minecraft. He thinks they are so funny.  He found one of a train based game.  He says ‘Daddy, I want to play this game’.  I told him I would see if I could find and put it on his Tablet (yes, my three year old has his own tablet, an Ellipse from Verizon…kidified.) He says ‘OK, fanks.’ He gives me a one handed hug and goes back to the video.  Then, he stops. Puts the phone down. Looks at me, pauses…then gives me a raspberry!  He giggled and giggled and giggled.  Picks up the phone and continues to watch the video. Well, I’m dying inside…I could not hold back and laughed out loud.  He looks at me, smiles, and then gave me a big hug.

That look on his face…it was priceless.  Not only did it make me feel like the world’s greatest dad, but it made me realize that this is what it is about.  While jobs make our lives work, it is the kids that are most important.  These little moments are fleeting and I sure hope I don’t miss them. Ever.

Life goes on

1988.  I was working two jobs, one at a company that made the front end gear for pocket paging systems and a part time job at a local video store (remember them?) I was content, for a change.  I was making a little money, had an automobile and … not much else.  Later in the summer, I was laid off from my full time job (who buys paging equipment anyway?) and went full time at the video store. In management.  Which, for me, was kind of funny.

My first assignment was at a store in Colonial Heights. It was a very busy store and a challenging position. Second Assistant Manager.  Oh boy. I was a MANAGER! I was there for a few months and was transferred to a store in Richmond’s west end. This store, as I was told, was a mess.  I was to help straighten it out.  I was promoted to ASSISTANT MANAGER too.  A plus, since it meant a raise.

Well, my first day at the store was uneventful except for my introduction to one of the staff.  A perky and young person, she was very friendly and seemed to get along with everyone.  I was smitten.  Toward the end of her shift, she asks if she can leave a little early. Jokingly, I look at my watch and said ‘yeah, I suppose so!’.  She gave me an odd look, thanked me and left.

After a few months, I was completely taken with this person and gathered up enough courage to ask her out. She turned me down. Not once, but several times.  One day, though, she said sure.  Now, today, I probably would have gotten into trouble for asking a subordinate out, but it was a different time then. 

That first date? Well, it was terrible. We saw the movie ‘Ghost’ and both had had bad days.  We did agree, however, to try it again.  That second date was way better, though I could not tell you what we did or where we went.  I’m sure it was dinner and something, but I forget.  That first date, though? I still remember it.  Unfortunately, nothing remains today of that date.  The restaurant is history. The movie theater is now a Kroger. The cars we had? Both are gone. 

We went on to more dates and I eventually married her.  We bought a house, which is now someone else’s home.  We had a child, who is now graduating high school and is no longer my ‘little’ buddy. 

June 7, 2015 marks the fifth anniversary of Jo Ellen’s passing.  And, while I do miss her, I know that she is no longer in the bad spot that trapped her  for the last two years of her life.  That life is gone, but the happier memories remain.  As I go through boxes that have lay dormant for four years now, I find pictures, yearbooks and other mementos from that part of my life. I am happy to find them and I realize that life, my life, has gone on.

And, so too is my desire to write about it. This will, likely, be the last time I write about that part of my life. I have another wonderful wife, two more wonderful kids and look forward to making more memories with them. 

Jo Ellen’s death was devastating for me, my family and our friends.  It was unexpected and seemingly out of nowhere.  One day she is in the hospital for muscular problems and, then…the ICU and she’s gone.  I will never forget the lifeless stare or having to tell my then 12 years old son he has lost his mother.  It is seared in my memory forever.  The decisions I had to make that day will haunt me as well.  But, there is a bright side.  She is no longer in pain. She is no longer suffering the deep depression she had fallen into and she is at peace. 

After five years, my life is completely different. While I do miss her, I have gone forward with life.  I have married another wonderful woman who has accepted my son as hers and given me another biological son and a really cool step-son.  Jo Ellen would approve, she always told me I needed to remarry if something ever happened to her because Chase needed a Mom and I needed someone who could tell me where my socks were and what day it was.  She was right.

Oh, and the comment I made to her that first day and the odd look? Well, I found out, years later, that she thought I was an ogre! She did not realize I was just having some fun. I’m glad she, eventually, realized that.

Being Dad

xander_spock_paintingI have been a father for fifteen years now.  I have two sons and one stepson.  They are 15, 5, and six weeks. Yep, six weeks. At the young age of 47, I have started over this whole Dad thing.

I still remember when my late wife informed me that she was pregnant. I was still mostly asleep.

“Honey, I’m pregnant.”

“Honey!”

“That’s nice dear!”

“Did you hear me? I’m pregnant!”

That was nearly sixteen years ago. Last summer, my wife says “Honey, I’m pregnant! I’m not crazy!”

My reaction, this time, was a bit more lively. Tears ensued and, well, it was one of the happiest moments of my life.  Just like that moment, sixteen years ago when it finally struck me that I was going to be a Dad.

Until I met and married my first wife, being a father was the last thing on my mind. I was a horny geek. I only cared about geek stuff and sex.  Funny thing, once the sex entered the picture, I didn’t even care about the geek stuff.

I was a late bloomer when it came to dating.  Awkward and inexperienced. I had no idea as to what to do or how to act.  Again, being a father was something I had not given a second thought. I was a typical guy, I suppose. Dating and all that comes with it was fun and exhausting. I had a couple of ‘long’ relationships, even thought one was going to be ‘it’. It wasn’t, but that is OK.  It would not be long before I found ‘it’. She was cute, funny and someone I took to right away.

And, once I realized that this cute, funny woman was someone I wanted to settle down with, then I began to think. Maybe this family thing was something I wanted. Yeah, maybe so. We talked about it, a lot. We decided we wanted to be in our own house before raising a child. Almost six years went by…

Fast forward to 1997 when my first son was born.

Suddenly, I had this wonderful little person to help care for.  It was rough at times, for Chase was colicky and, once we got that under control, he started getting sick. A lot. As time went on, we found out that he had an autoimmune problem. He could not produce enough white blood cells to fight off anything. As he got older, it got worse and we ended up having to give him infusions once a month. It worked, and his immune system got much better.

Today, he still gets sick, but not as often and not as long as he used to.

In 2010, Chase’s mother passed away. She died from pneumonia, but had been sick for quite some time.  It was quite a shock to both of us, but Chase was my bedrock and we got through it.

Through Facebook, a relationship with someone blossomed and, last year, I married her.  She is a beautiful, vibrant and all around awesome lady. And, best of all, she puts up with me.

Preston, my wife’s son from a previous marriage, is a smart and full of energy five year old.  Like Chase, Preston is a scary smart kid.  Preston needs little in the way of instruction when it comes to electronic devices. He can grasp certain ideas (but, like any child, there are some that go over his head, like listening to parents) and has an excellent grasp of the English language.  He is lucky in that he has not one, not two but three parents who care deeply for him and spend the time with him.

Xander, our six week old, is just so damned sweet. So sweet, you just want to eat him up, figuratively, of course.  I cannot wait to experience the firsts again, to watch him figure out what those things are that he keeps flailing. To watch him experience solid foods. Take him to his first movie. Watch him walk.  Watch him develop. And, I cannot wait to ride his first rollercoaster.  I got to do that with Chase and Preston. It was very special. I still remember riding one, for the first time, with my Dad. It was the Scooby Doo at Kings Dominion near Richmond.  I remember the Jet Star at the State Fair.  I don’t know why, but the rollercoaster experience seems very special to me and I cannot wait to do so with Xander.

Being a Dad has its downs as well. Having to correct them is never fun. Especially when you know they are fully capable but were just careless. Teaching them that there will be consequences in life for ones actions is, perhaps, the most difficult part of parenting.

Perhaps being able to tell when they need guidance and help is also a difficult aspect.  I know I’ve had issues with it. Both our five and fifteen year old have needed certain help and I was slow to recognize that. But, we have gotten over that. At least, I hope we have. As with anything in life, one never can be certain but you hope you do the best for them.

I hope my sons know I am there for them. It may not always seem like it, but I am. Just as my wonderful wife is, so am I. 

Trying to maintain a balance with the kids, my wife and my own needs is very tricky. Sometimes I am selfish, I know.  I try my best not to be, but I know I don’t always succeed. My bride sometimes lets me know, but, for the most part, she puts up with me and does not complain. She is awesome.

With all it entails, I cherish the role of Dad. I would not trade it for anything in the world.

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