Little ones

Inspiration, as well as motivation often comes when you are not looking for it. Recently, while catching up with Lisa’s blog I found this beautiful poem on childhood. It’s no wonder I try to keep up with her work. This is brilliant.

I cannot be seen if I cover my face
There are scary beasts hiding under my bed
I cannot fall when my Daddy carries me
The Shadows in my room have horrid faces
I cannot be hurt if teddy is with me
When you turn off the night light terror finds me
I cannot get lost when Mummy takes my hand
Don’t leave me alone, I’ll cry. I can’t see you
I cannot grow up. I’m safe, when I’m not scared.

I’m feeling empty lately. I don’t have a lot to do. I haven’t been sleeping. There has been a lot of open time for the dark forces to attack my defenses.

I miss working, it made me feel productive. I was an important man at my company, always fixing problems and blessed with the opportunity to help people.
I miss having a companion, despite how unhappy we were. When we got along, I liked having a wife, the idea of being married. I’m lonely.
I miss my big, noisy house. I loved the chaos during the day and the closing of the door at night that alerted me that everyone was home and safe for the night. It is so quiet here at night, and I don’t have the luxury of knowing that everyone is home and safe. You don’t stop worrying about children because they are grown.

Where Lisa’s beautiful poem hit me in the feels is that, more than anything, I miss when my children were young.
When they were innocent and untainted by the ugliness of this world.
When a kiss on a boo-boo was a million times more soothing than any medicine.
When Daddy was a force bigger than life itself and could always save the day.
When I was needed.

23 years ago I was cleaning up the kitchen where I worked with my co-worker Tony. We were sipping beers and talking. I took a pull on my beer and said to him, “I need to stop this soon, my daughter will be born soon.”
“Why do you need to stop drinking?”, Tony asked. “You can’t be a father and have a beer?”
“I need to get this right, Tony.”
I hadn’t gotten much right at that point in my life, I needed this one.

I never did quit drinking. But I sure made an effort to get it right. When my beautiful daughter was born, I felt a joy unlike any other. I doted on her. I made sure I changed a lot of diapers because it is the best way for a dad to bond, they have nowhere to look but at your face while you do it. I raced home from work to catch bedtime and when I missed it I camped out on the floor of the nursery listening to her breathe. With 2, 3 and 4 I lightened up a bit but not much. I worried less and enjoyed them more.

There is so much about their younger years that I wish I had a redo on. Not blessed with a particularly strong skill set, I had a string of awful jobs with terrible hours and I missed an awful lot of pivotal moments. But when I was home, I tried to make the most of the time.

I missed a lot of dinner times, but I made a lot of bedtimes. I would come home to smiling babies, toddlers running to see me and an exhausted and grateful wife. I gladly helped with baths, we called them “tubbies”. I loved to read them stories, with my own little twists of course. Daddies “additions” to the story were the best part and if done properly would draw huge ear to ear, toothy (some missing) smiles and a chorus of belly laughs that defied the dimensions of their tiny bodies and still ring beautifully in my memory all these years later.

It was a source of frustration as parents to stay on the same page as parents and not contradict or undermine each other. I was guilty of it when it came to bedtime. Selfishly, I wanted more time, regardless of what the clock, or mommy said. It wasn’t unusual to sneak another show or video in, or have my daughter fake an asthma attack in order to get a Nebulizer treatment and an extra half hour with Dad. The end result was the same, I got to carry a sleeping child to bed, tuck them in and marvel at them as they slept.

For the first ten years of fatherhood, I was not a particularly distinguished career man. I didn’t make a lot of money or drive a nice car. I failed to earn any titles of importance. I didn’t care. Someone called me Dad, and it was the finest of all titles. My favorite job consisted of witnessing an amazing series of “firsts”, making silly faces, causing belly laughs, giving shoulder rides, rolling around in newly mowed grass, leaf piles or fresh snow. I experienced more than any man’s fair share of witnessing wonderment at things that adults are now bored of, like a butterfly or a sunset. I taught them about the world they lived in, answered ten million questions, magically healed boo boos by kissing them and slayed any and all dragons that dared occupy the space under their beds.

I had been minimized in all areas of my life, even my marriage. But in the eyes of my children I was a giant among men and a force to be reckoned with. I could make anything better just by being there and would do anything to protect them.

Sometimes, when in the presence of my children, I find myself staring. Part of me sees the fine adult sitting before me, but another sees the cherubic face of the beautiful baby they once were. After all, they will always be my babies no matter how old they are.

Now, as they are all grown and living their lives, I would give anything to go back to those days. I didn’t know that it would end up being the happiest time of my life.

I wish my friend Tony was still alive. I’d love to tell him, after all these years, that I got this one right.


26 thoughts on “Little ones”

  1. If it was the “Little Ones” post, then I think you know me too well. Alcoholism and parenting… yeah, the name of my blog isn’t a coincidence. It made me very proud of you, and worried for me. I’m already a pretty sentimental guy, so when the kids are gone, I’ll probably be worthless. Return to true alcoholism.

    This one hit me hard. Made me cry. I wish it was only the sweet parts, but it also reminded me of a very fresh wound (read: screw up in the alcohol / parenting department).

    Thanks for the read. Helped me to lift the mirror to my face a little bit.

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  2. What a wonderful, wonderful post! This is so touching and vulnerable Billy, really spoken from the heart.
    Thanks so much for including my poem; I’m so glad it inspired you to write this – it really moved me xx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I hardly slept a wink last night, went to the dentist this morning(don’t ask), took my son to the zoo, had lunch with parents, went to work and meeting friends later. On some days it’s really too much. I’m having chest pain and trouble breathing today.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. As parents there is nothing better than being the hero, the funniest comedian in the room, your baby’s best snuggle partner and biggest cheerleader they will ever have. Your story hits home with my husband and myself as we sit at a high school track meet watching my junior daughter and freshman son compete together… Miss their baby days but are proud and excited about the wonderful young adults they are.
    As always, a great read!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely on point. You are turning me into a soft old crybaby these days, B. Or perhaps I’m just getting soft in my dotage. Those babies (I called mine my sweet babboo’s) grow up no matter how much we parents dislike the mere notion. Then God willing, they make us grandparents, you want to talk about the feels?!?
    Lord have mercy, that little bundle of chubby, toothless smiles and baby giggles melts my black heart to a puddle of mush.
    When I get melancholy because my littles are now bigs, I look at them and see what loving, articulate, empathetic, brilliant amazing young adults they have become and my heart fills with so much pride I think it may burst.
    Just remember those tubbies are amazing people today because of both of their parents. You and their mother should both be delighted and proud of the adults that your children are/are becoming. It takes work to raise awesome children like that in this world full of safe spaces, socialist politics and participation medals. I understand the sentiment though, what I would give for one more day of them being littles again, because back then I was PERFECT in their eyes🥰😪♥️

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      1. Hahaaaa!! I’ve met my smart ass match!! Finally!!
        Ha! We were both hotties back in the gap!! Those sure were the good old days. You appear to be a young parent as I was.
        I turned 19 on April 7th and my daughter was born on April 24th of 1991. I thought it was awesome being a young parent, I could keep up with the little rascals, and I got to enjoy the experience of “growing up” with them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Bald men are the best looking. It gives ones head some character. Unless one does that comb over a la Donald Trump thing…..that’s just too awful!! lol! My best friend Debbie (the one that is foregoing any more treatment for her cancer) recently shaved her head and although she was beautiful to begin with, she is absolutely stunning now. Bald is a magnificent look for her. Besides, ones outside appearance doesn’t amount to a mound of dog shit in my opinion, if you are a beautiful person inside, as both you and she are, that transcends EVERY bit of surface looks. In my humble eyes, you are both beautiful!! Rock those bald heads!!

        Liked by 1 person

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