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Fool In The Garden Of Love, Part I: A Dad Looks At Big Dumb Life

The four of us, along the road.

Sometimes I wonder weirdo crap.

A lot of times, actually.

Lately, it’s been this pondering up in my head/this back and forth ping-pongy thing bouncing off one side of my mind just to shoot back over and bounce off the other. Jeez. It gets to be where the question is non-stop and there’s hardly ever any time to even try and answer it.

Whatever. I don’t give up all that easy. So, whatever.

The question is this.

Can loving your kids so much, so wholly and completely the way most parents do, can that actually damage your relationship with your spouse or significant other?

Does that make sense? See, I think what I’m really wondering is this.

Check it out.

I have this hose, right? It’s like an upper-end garden hose, not some cheapo one with old folds and kinks and Home Depot duct tape on it, it’s a pretty good one and I have the one end hooked up to a spigot in my guts,okay? That’s where the love comes gushing out, roaring its way up from the dark springs down in the deepest parts of me, pushing up endless gallons/farm ponds/lakes/Atlantic Oceans of pure clean love to higher points up in me.

Now listen, it used to be that I had more than enough of the stuff to water everything. Way more than enough. People say that until you have kids you don’t even really know how much love you are capable of. And guess what: the reason people say that is because, like it or not, it’s damn super truth. So, back when I was younger and floated around in a haze of horniness and lust and wild untamable passions for things like rock ‘n’ roll and good East Coast pizza, when my blood was all electric for girls with savage bodies and well-written novels, back then I thought I was this master of love.

I thought I was a man, that I had a pulsating bead on manhood.

I figured I had a decent grip on that garden hose and that I was doing really good, watering all the things that were growing up out of the garden I had started on the surface of my little heart; that little patch we start cultivating way way back when we first know some semblance of love: that first taste of chocolate/a cartoon we start digging/the look in mommy’s twinkling eyes.

So like a lot of twenty-somethings, basically unattached and stumbling around in the night, I figured that I knew what love was too. I figured I could be good at it, be good at loving everything, and more importantly, everyone in my world who needed to get sprayed down with water from my well.

But, I knew nothing, man. Looking back now, I was flipping around a trickle. Standing there, my chest puffed out like an idiot rooster, acting like I was putting out forest fires with one hand, but I was barely wetting a damn thing in the process.

Then, along came my wife and somehow I managed to turn up the flow. But, it wasn’t really enough, I don’t think. You ever feel that way?

You fall in love before you even know what love really is and then what the hell are you supposed to do? Are you a good lover then? Or a good husband or wife? Or are you just a dude spraying your guts out on to someone else’s heart for the hell of it, with no real idea how to make anything actually grow … to bloom … to bare a pineapple or a tomato or even a measly little radish somewhere along the way.

I don’t know the answer yet. I might never know. What I do know now though is that a few years later, the kids came along and everything changed on its own.

The second our daughter, Violet, was born, gravity tilted, the plates in my ribs shifted and the small stream of love that I had been wrestling up from deep down instantly became  the hardest flowing spring river you’ve ever seen, dude. And it never let up, either. Two years later, Henry came along, and I was holding that hose like a fireman by then, holding on for dear life, trying to keep the blasting gush aimed right at both kids and trying to keep myself from cracking my head on the curb at the same time.

The love was humongous.

It was epic Gladiator love.

It pulled everything out of me, wrung out my guts with a spongy squeeze and then just submerged them even deeper down into the dark, where there was always more cool clean love to give.

But, I think maybe I got caught up in giving it to them, to our kids, you know?

It seems like a natural mistake too, at least for a fool like me. But I think maybe I looked in their little eyes just once and that was that.

Maybe marriage got slid to the crusty back burner.

Making her happy and showing her that I was still there, still spraying her down in the heat of the toughest/hottest days, that was all easy to ignore when I got to looking at the kids.

Ugh.

Now what? I’m a confident daddy/a father with a heart the size of an August thunderhead, but I’m storming all over one wonderful field while another one cracks in the sun.

The whole thing is a bad metaphor, ya’ll. I know that.

But words can be hard to come by.

And I wanted to tell you the little that I think I might know.

You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.

And on Facebook and Twitter.

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More on Dadding:

The Littlest Victory: A Tale Of Potty Training With Dinosaurs

First Best Friend: Dads, Daughters, And Magical Dogs

The Stress Of Love: On Fatherhood, Sadness, And New Tomorrows

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