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

By Serge Bielanko |

Serge and his little buddy.

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.

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About Serge Bielanko


Serge Bielanko

Serge Bielanko writes about fatherhood for Babble Dad and about marriage stuff for Babble Voices at He Said/She Said. His writing has appeared in Esquire and The Huffington Post, as well as on his personal blog, Thunder Pie. He lives with his wife and two kids in central Pennsylvania. Read bio and latest posts → Read Serge's latest posts →

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8 thoughts on “The Stress Of Love: On Fatherhood, Sadness, And New Tomorrows

  1. s.lange says:

    You really manage to hit the nail on the head every time. I may not always agree with you, but I love the way you say it man.

    Marriage and parenting is HARD and people who say it isn’t are either lying or lucky. There are days when knowing that if I have to deal with my husband for more than a few minutes at a time I will claw my own eyes out – and I love him, I really do…but we all get tired and cranky and needy and overwhelmed. So many people leave/divorce/start over and I see the whole train wreck happening again…sometimes it really is you – you are the problem – the way you deal with others is the problem and if you don’t fix you, you can’t fix the whole problem.

    You guys are great and I love everything you are doing and sharing with the world. Keep your chin up.

  2. Melissa says:

    This is just so beautifully written: “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.”
    Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Sometimes we get stuck in our patterns of reacting, so stuck that we don’t notice the ground shifting, as you said. It takes a lot of maturity to address the issue, because it’s not pleasant. It may get worse before it gets better, but I think you both are starting from a good place, of loving each other and your kids, and wanting to make it better, happier. It doesn’t happen overnight. At least it didn’t for me.

  3. Kristen Jones says:

    Don’t ever let go. Just keep on keeping on, cause if you quit trying….it’s just over.

  4. Kim says:

    You guys have been through more than most newlyweds/new parents have had to endure. All marriages go through difficult phases. You know that. Ours has had it’s share, and we are celebrating 18 years this summer. We’ve been through insecurities, money and job trouble, and even a battle against cancer in our three year old. Each of these things left scars on our marriage, but we came out on the other side stronger and more sure that we can face whatever life throws at us – together. Love isn’t always a feeling, but it is always a choice. Sometimes we just chose to love – even if we didn’t feel it. Be gentle on yourselves and your marriage. Don’t underestimate what that fire has done to your minds and hearts. Take time for each other – even if it means the kids come second sometimes. The best gift that you can give them is stability. Blessings to you and your family.

  5. Alison says:

    Please. Give yourselves a WHOLE YEAR post-fire before you make any big changes, take any big leaps, even starting a new baby. Just wait. Take everything you can, slow.

    That is all.

  6. Lori says:

    When our two kids were young, my husband and I had some of the worst years of our marriage. It’s just so hard to be tired all the time and so busy as well. However, we stuck with it and now that the kids are older, things are SO much easier/better. Seriously. Things will get better.

  7. Nicole says:

    Keep trying. The love is there. The family is there. If you want to try, you will.
    Love to your family as you continue on your journey.

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