Sunday, April 17, 2011

Thirteen Years

Now not to get all sentimental and stuff, but watching my son today play Monkey in the Middle, or listen to him ask me why I don't think certain religious things have any context in a modern world, or convince me that marriage is a greater escalation of a relationship - hell, that will bring a fast forward moment, and then you have thirteen years of memories to try and shuffle through over the course of an evening.

My favorite three pictures are above - one, I am pretty sure, is Gabe and I sitting in a chair - could be his sister, but I closely relate it to him. I remember sitting with him for hours, letting him fall asleep on my chest, the frustration my wife had in learning how to feed, when to feed, and to feel like a woman again. There were sleepless nights, and several days where the only thing that was really comfortable was going to the parking garage at work and catching an hour of sleep before going back into the basement at the Kansas City Southern and flipping through endless reams of cost sheets and time reports. I can remember him sharing ice cream with dog, and giggling when Comet would get it on his nose, and try to lick it off as much as possible. I guess I was more engaged then, I was still trying to find a way to make it better, the little townhome on some cul de sac in Liberty, Missouri, the long drives back to Jacksonville to see our families, it, compared to now was a much easier time - and as much as you hear parents say that it is difficult (and it is) - the good thing is that you get over that pretty quick - and remember just enough advice to sound useful for other new parents(simethicone is your best friend, toilet locks are really unnecessary unless you really like fumbling to take a leak in the middle of the night and give up and just piss in the sink, kids are pretty flexible, and yes, you will lose sleep, they are just farting when they smile at you). I was happy to be the father of a beautiful Arnold George - I was happy to have the small apartment or the condo, and to be in the midwest. It was good.

The birth was an experience - I had to travel to St. Louis, and Christy was two or three weeks overdue (we tried every wives tale in the book to speed the process up and I am pretty sure Christy could not walk another two miles of hills, drink another sip of raspberry tea, and the other wives tale - well it did little to help as well), and scheduled to go in to be induced - my boss seemed to care little, he said go, and that I could drive back when the time came - I did make it back - after Christy had been on pitocin for about three hours, and I caught the scowl of my mother in law for not being there sooner - the good and bad thing though, was that after another day and a half of pitocin drip, the doctors finally decided to speed up the process - and voila - out popped a slimy alien looking thing that scared the living shit out of me, and my first inclination was to ask for a hose and a bucket to wash the thing off, and try to see something that was less lizard like - but that faded quickly with the first little cry, and the fear as the doctors rushed him off and explained all about meconium or poop in the chute as I later termed it, and we had to spend those first hours without him.

Then the circumcision - what a hellacious thing that is. I am not sure why they do it anymore, and I am not quite sure why we had it done, but I can assure you, if we had to do it at thirty, there would be a hell of alot less of those procedures hapenning...

The sad thing is that I cannot remember too much more about that day - I was excited. Most of all, I was happy, but I remember being scared and ill prepared - but knew that this was it, and that I had to do something.

My next favorite photo - the infamous sippy cup drawer - that, and escaping from any type of enclosure were his favorite things to do. He was always followed by the dog - Comet became his best friend, and Gabe would fall asleep cradled on the dog - and Comet wouldnt move - he woud just lay there, as if he knew that this kid was going to be around for a while, so he might as well get him on the team. Besides, there were plenty of scraps to be had in the form of cookies, biscuits, and those nasty ass melba toast crackers that instantly turn into mush.

The sippy cup drawer. That was bain of our existence. We gave up (as you can see in the photo). The kid had six doting grandparents, more toys than a factory in China, and a huge yard to eat dirt in - but he wanted the sippy cup drawer. There were days when the kitchen was a minefield of blue and yellow and green lids and plastic cups - and that was his biggest thrill in the world. He would stand there, look at us as if to say, "Look you two - we all know these cups are mine, and this drawer, well, let's just agree that hthis is mine too. Now, I am going to throw these cups all over the floor. You are going to enjoy it as much as I am". He was a good baby, an easy kid. Of course, my travel life started shortly thereafter - I started heading to Shreveport twice a month, started going to St. Louis quite a bit - and really, that leads to the last picture -

I missed this day. This was Gabe's first day of school. Christy took this picture of him walking away - a little man off to his first day. I missed that one. You know, the more you look back as a traveller - the more you realize that looking back reminds you of how much you missed. The thought of staying home sometimes is there - what would have happened if I stayed home - what would I have not missed - I am not sure where I worked at the time - and not really sure what company I was with or what my role was - but I am pretty sure that I was not there for that day - and since then, have not been there for a whole lot of other days -

The answer is pretty clear - I was able to coach Gabe's first soccer team as an assistant. I was able to not worry about getting on a plane on Monday morning - there was even a time that I was able to enjoy Sunday afternoons - not worrying about packing or the meeting times on Monday or having to close the books - not having to miss the first day of school and get an update via telephone in some hotel in some city doing something that I cannot remember doing - I am sure that we all know the reasons why we do what we do - we have bills to pay, and things to accomplish, and deadlines to meet, and nicer things to buy, and a bathroom to remodel, and tennis lessons, and gambling trips and etc etc etc into an endless stream of justifications -

Thirteen years old today. Questions about marriage and family and politics and history - it seems as if I was sitting in that chair holding my son for the first time a few days ago - and I turn around and he is smiling at me as he tells me that he is a teenager, and does not really feel all that different, but that he knows it is different.

I don't regret many things in my life. Hell, I type about them here. I do regret missing things with him, and if any encouragement serves its purpose, the past two years of being with him ten to fifteen days a month (yes, this is an improvement) and getting to be a dad who is there and is engaged - then it worked - I still miss things now - but I try not to miss too many - I count on those times as much as he counts on me to be there - and that makes me feel pretty good.

Happy Birthday Gabe -


1 comment:

Shannon McDowell said...

Awww, this is a nice post George. :) Daphne has a sippy cup drawer just like that and she would much rather play with it than with her hundreds of dollars worth of toys. So cute. :)