I guess I never saw it coming.
Famous last words, huh?
Even after marriage proved so tough for me, I still thought kids would prove easier somehow. But, of course, that really isn’t how stuff with kids go. The first month or so after the birth of my first child was great but then I remember the night my wife went back to her job and it was me, all alone, with our very young daughter.
I tried my best. I mean, I really believe that I did.
I would hold her in those first few hours as she cried and bawled and screamed, for her mom? For more formula? For a different dad? I still don’t understand. I still don’t know why she was so frustrated those first couple of days.
But then, it happened.
We just clicked.
And oh, how I fell more in love than ever before.
On long walks with her strapped to my chest, we’d watch the dogs up ahead of us leaping and splashing, and for me it was the closest I have ever come to staring a great God in the eye. Out of nowhere, I was happier and more overjoyed than I had ever been before.
And sure she cried and freaked out now and then, but overall I handled it well. I’d coo in her ear, tell her little white lies/that I named the sky after her/that I traded an autumn leaf for the entire moon…just so I could give it to her. Sure enough, her tears would disappear soon after, and we’d lay down together on the big bed in her mom and my room and I’d tickle her sweet neck.
It was heaven.
Then, slowly but surely we both got a little older and things changed a bit. Me and her mom were often just two bumper car people, bouncing off one another in the few hours we’d managed to spend together. Work ate up a lot of her time. I think she began to miss being with her baby girl as much as I was. Ground can shift right under your kicks and you never even feel it, really. I don’t know. Maybe you do feel it, but pretend like you don’t.
I was always too much of a fool, I guess, to figure stuff out. If things seemed alright, I just went with them. If things could be better, well, I suppose I didn’t always try to make ‘em that way.
Then after a while, we were all so excited to welcome a little brother to this world. He was such a sweet sweet boy and he still makes me smile whenever I walk into a room where he’s at. But two kids proved harder than one, of course, and while we managed to always put the little ones first, I reckon I kept on thinking things would simply right themselves after a time.
Yet, I believe that all the while little stresses were piling up on each other, down inside me, down inside their mom. We must have let them pile up too long, I guess.
Nowadays, I want nothing more than to stand there, out in the yard or at a country fair or something, to be standing there with my wife and my two children and to feel as if we are love, we are family. I want to just take a deep drag of evening air and pat myself on the back and say: dude, you have done just fine for yourself.
Just damn fine indeed,
Still, that’s just not the whole truth.
Man,I have no idea about any of this. And if none of this makes any sense to you well, either I’m a crappy writer or you know yourself much better than I know me. Because I don’t get it, man. I don’t get how fires shoot up outta tender hearts. It seems so impossible. Everything, once upon a time, seemed so beautiful and real and unmistakably forever.
But that’s the thing with living, you see. And with loving, too.
All of this life, it’s just a ride: a hard fast ride from the most gorgeous smiles we could ever have even imagined to some new basement of pain and uncertainty, where our dreams, our confidence, our stupid fictional hero is just lying out there in the dust outside the saloon, a gaping chest wound, and no one with the guts to come and pour some whiskey on the hole.