Sunday Post 173: Becoming a Real Father

The second week of DJ’s life, I defined my role as a father.

I came home from work at around 6 pm. The house seemed empty but I knew Lisa was home. Her car was there, and she really hadn’t been out much since the birth.

I made my way to the second floor of the house and found my wife vigorously rocking the new kid. DJ was tightly bound in the blanket we’d received from the hospital. She was crying with all of her itty bitty might.

“Why’s she crying?” It was an innocent question.

“I don’t know,” my wife snarled. She’s been like this since you left at 7:30 AM. She stressed the AM.

I thought I knew how to respond, “I’ll take over. I’ll put her to bed.”

That wasn’t what she was looking for.

As both bodies swayed back and forth, a deep voice boomed from my wife’s body, “I am her mother. I will make her sleep.”

Her look frightened me. The thought, she might kill our child tonight, ran through my brain.

Another thought quickly followed, she might also kill me.

Some dads might take charge in a moment like this, demanding that his spouse take a break explaining that perhaps she’d had enough. I, however, slowly backed out of the room, my eyes on her – ready to run if need be.

I went downstairs and put the phone in my hand. I put my thumb on the 9 in the event I needed help.

I then grabbed some peanuts and a beer and turned on the Nightly News.

Sure, I cared. We’d worked too hard over the past ten months not to have the opportunity to try to raise this new addition to our family. Plus, deep down I didn’t really think Lisa would hurt our child.  It was at this point, however, that I decided my wife knew more than I did in the parenting department and that she should be the one to lead in this arena.

I would support as directed, and mow the lawn.

It wasn’t until Lisa died that I found out what I had been missing. Instead of just hanging with my kids, I was thrust into full care provider. And that responsibility changed my life.

No longer is work my number one priority. It’s important to me, very important to me; but my girls come first. Period.  I now know what they’re doing, and I’m driving them all over town. I didn’t know that chauffeuring was the primary key to garnering information. Toss ‘em in the back seat, and they chirp like little birds.

Oh what I was missing. Oh what I have gained. The depth of my connection with my girls is so much more significant than it ever was before. I wonder how many other parents are missing out because they’re consciously choosing to take a back seat.

Take it from me, the front seat is better.

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Sunday Post 76: A Proud Father

Posted by Danny

I was never the best looking kid, just average.  I’m not much of a sports guy – ran cross-country in high school but not in the top 5 and that’s what counts.  I was in a few school plays but never the lead.  I missed the National Honor Society at Terry Sanford Senior High School by 2 points – just didn’t quite apply myself enough.  And yet, with all that – or better yet, with only that, I always felt like my father was proud that I was his son.

He grew up with an alcoholic father.  His dad didn’t heap on the praise.  In fact, I don’t think he told my dad he was proud of him until my dad was 40.  And even that was in writing.  Yeah, that was about the extent of Granddaddy Tanner’s praise.

As I look at my father, I see the good pieces of my granddad – strong financial sense, good at tinkering with things, generous.  But I also see that he avoided all of the mistakes my granddad made.  My dad doesn’t drink – a lick.  He’s pretty open with his feelings.  He outwardly loves and respects my mother.  And he is the first one to tell his kids he loves them – regardless.  Yea – just regardless.

If my girls don’t know anything else in life, they know these two things:

1) Their dad loves them more than any human could ever love another

2) Their dad is proud of them just like they are

Yea, I push them on grades a bit.  There are times I’m disappointed in their actions, and I make my opinion known.  They don’t readily help out around the house very often, and their bickering drives me nuts! 

But in no way do their actions affect my love for them.  It’s just too deep.

I think God’s like that too.  Maybe that’s what being a father is all about.

Sunday Post 22: Fathers

I wish I could pinpoint a day when I learned a significant lesson from my dad or one of my granddads.  I cannot.  There doesn’t seem to be a particular moment that sticks out in my head.

I wish I could remember the birds and the bees talk.  All I recall about that is at the age of 6 my wise older brother taught me a very, very bad word.  As the story goes, I used it when the boy across the street stole my matchbox car city.  And I used it with the zest of a mother calling for her children to come home for dinner.  My voice carried all over Glendale Acres.  It was a Sunday afternoon and my dad made it down the three sets of stairs in our split level house in three giant leaps.  I recall a conversation about that word – I’m not sure how detailed he got.  But I didn’t use it again for a very long time.

Although I can’t remember a specific ah-hah moment that turned me into a man, I do recall time.  Time with these men, doing the mundane. 

I recall hanging on my dad’s shoulders at the beach with what to me were humongous waves smacking us in the head.  And with each wave my father would say, “That was rude and unacceptable!”  I laughed and laughed to see him act as if the wave had gotten the best of him.

I remember squeezing into the cab of my granddaddy Tanner’s pickup truck each time we went to visit.  The three musketeers – Woodrow, my brother and me.  It was tradition to go get a Slurpee at the local 7 – 11.  It seemed that I never had one unless I was in South Carolina visiting him.  And to me it was like nectar from the gods.

My other grandfather, Papa, owned a small convenience store.  I’d spend a week with him each  summer and would pump gas.  The pay:  all the candy I  could eat!  I remember him pulling out a brown bag on Saturday just before my parents were to arrive to pick me up.  He’d walk over to the candy rack and would watch me collect my booty.  “Here, these are good, take a few more.”  My eyes would glaze over at the thought of the weeks to come with my sugary stash.

This attention that they gave, just focused on me – showing me that I was worth their time – actually did more to develop me into the person I am than any significant lecture or event or vacation.

I hope my kids remember the Invisible Daddy Handbook that’s always in my pocket.  I hope they remember sitting on the couch and learning to master a bow tie, just in case their husbands don’t know how to tie one.  Or shagging to beach music in the kitchen.  Time – on a daily basis.

When it all shakes out, my bet is that will be the most powerful lesson they take.

Muncle’s Day, 2011

Posted by Danny

Today is the second annual Mucle Jesse Day.  The kids came up with it last year – it comes between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and celebrates uncles who at times act like mothers – or fathers.  They also retain full uncle status because they don’t consistently act like a parent.  They sometimes act like a friend and sometimes they just leave the house – not something a parent can do as easily! 

This is an original song for Jesse sung to the tune of Wagon Wheel, a family favorite.  I was going to record us singing it – but at 7:30 am, it really wasn’t pleasing to the ear. 

Verse 1

Headed down south from the land of DC

To come and take care of Steph, Michelle and me

Plays basketball but his shoulders gonna fall out of the socket.

He tweets a whole lot and he used to be a blogger (a little dig at his lack of support right now on The Real Full House!)

He’s really our uncle but he’s kinda like a mother

Snoozes in his bed with a game on the TV.

Chorus:

He plays the piano – sings a little off key

He likes hamburgers but he doesn’t like peas.

Jesse, he’s our muncle.

He works real hard but never has any money

He hangs out late with his buds Chip and Bomani.

Jesse, he’s our muncle.

Verse 2:

He sweats really bad and his feet smell stinky

He picks his nose with Mr. Pointer and his pinky

He is a bit peculiar-  but we still love our muncle.

He breaks his own rules when he farts at the table

Don’t know how he’d live without candy or cable.

Chorus

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