An unexpected Father’s Day gift

It was 2004. And I was in a place I never thought I would be.

I was lying in bed. And lying next to me was my one-year-old son.

I never expected to find myself as a single parent with a baby to raise.

I never expected to find myself as a single parent with a baby to raise.

And he was totally and completely my responsibility. Because I was now a single parent.

I never dreamed I would use the words “me” and “single” and “parent” in the same sentence, unless it was some Tarzan-sounding phrase, like “Me no want to be single parent.”

But that’s where I was. And there was one very small, but somewhat significant fact that was plaguing my mind:

I HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE HECK I WAS DOING!!!

I remember often lying awake at night and asking God, why? Why did you put me in this situation? Why did I have to lose my wife. And why did you give me a baby to take care of on my own? I didn’t understand why this was happening to me. And why I had to take care of a baby on top of all the tragedy we had already suffered.

And I didn’t know how to take care of a baby. I knew they involved a little more time and care than say a house plant. And I sure didn’t want to over-water him or anything.

Of course, I had another child too – a daughter who was on the verge of becoming a teenager. My knowledge of raising a teenage daughter was about the same as raising an extraterrestrial.

But a baby?!!

I was lost.

But somehow we survived. I learned. And in the process I didn’t drop him on his head, or accidentally stick him in the washing machine, or fall asleep while he was taking a bath, or kill him in any other way.

And we developed a routine. Somehow, someway we struggled through. We struggled through diapers and baby food. We struggled through his push stroller and my running stroller.

We struggled through diaper bags and extra changes of clothes. We struggled through daycare, through my son excited every time he saw a fire hydrant, and to him wanting to listen to Devo’s “Whip It” every second we were in the car.

We made our way through car seats and first days at school, through sicknesses and long nights of throwing up, through birthday parties and scary dreams.

Somehow we made it through all of that

And all that time I managed to not kill him (although there were a few times I was very tempted . . .).

I look back now, and I really have no idea how we made it. I have no idea how I survived those early months together when he needed constant attention, and I still had to find a way to work fulltime and manage the house and try to get in a run every now and then.

Those first few months after my wife passed away . . . those are a fog. It’s strange to really have chunks of your life that just seem to be not there. Poof.

But as we developed our routine, my son and I have developed a very close relationship. A very special relationship. We spend some time doing something together almost every day. I try to go to as many of his events as I can. And I’ve noticed that he tries to embrace the things that I enjoy doing. dad and son

I teach business – now he wants to be an entrepreneur. I like bad, cheesy movies – now he likes to laugh along with me. I like to run – and he want to start running some races.

It’s been so rewarding to have the relationship that the two of us have developed.

Now, when I think about those early days, when I think how I questioned God as to how He could burden me with a baby through everything else that was happening at the time, I know now how wrong I was.

You see, my son wasn’t here for me to take care of him.

He was sent here to help take care of me.

And he and my daughter are the Father’s Day presents I get to enjoy all year long.

 

 

 

  15 comments for “An unexpected Father’s Day gift

  1. June 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I confess to getting something in both my eyes while reading this.

    Happy Father’s Day!

    • June 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. June 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    Brings tears of joy and sadness 🙂 my Father’s Day shout-out to you and a couple other Dads will post tomorrow. Enjoy your weekend with your two “saving graces.”

    • June 12, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Thank you. And thank you for featuring me in your blog. I can hardly wait to read it!

  3. June 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Mark, I remember those days and o how i wished i could say something or do something to help. Now I see you did not any help. God was all you needed. Melba

  4. Candy Crumbly
    June 12, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Mr. Trout, you may not remember me, but I went to Horatio when you taught there. I’ll never forget the trip to yearbook camp! We probably drove you crazy! I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how hard that has been. I just happened upon your blog and thought… I know that guy! I was just thinking about that yearbook trip the other day. I have been teaching for 13 years now and just got a job as a reading interventionist for next fall. I enjoyed reading your blog!

    • June 12, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Hey Candy. Yes, of course I remember you. And yes! I remember that trip, too. That was a lot of fun – didn’t drive me crazy at all. I loved doing yearbook, and kind of miss it and teaching and horatio from time to time. Of course, now I’m teaching again, only this time I’m teaching marketing and business classes and I’m teaching at the college level. It’s quite a bit different.

      Congratulations on your career. Do you enjoy teaching. It sounds like you must. Where are you teaching these days?

      Thank you so much for writing and for following my blog. I hope you enjoy! 🙂

  5. June 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Great to read that Mark! Hope you are doing good.

    • June 20, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Thanks, Kim. I’m glad you enjoyed!

  6. June 13, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I’m visiting by way of Sammy D. Wonderful post! I’m so sorry for your loss. I know what you mean about parts of your life being in a fog. I felt the same way when my husband passed away several years ago. My kids were five and six at the time. We survived. You just get through it. You have to. A well-deserved Happy Father’s Day to you! You obviously got it right.

    • June 20, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      Thank you, Lori.
      I’m sorry for your loss. I can understand a bit of what you’re going through. It sounds like we’ve had similar experiences. I’m glad to hear that you and your kids made it through. I hope all of you are doing well.

      I hope you had a good weekend, too. If you’re like me, you know that you’re part father, too, and feel touched on a day like Father’s Day, much like I do on Mother’s Day.

  7. Loni Townsend
    June 13, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Wow, made me cry. Beautiful and touching post. So happy you have your children. So sorry you lost your wife.

    • June 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you for reading and for the kind words, Loni. I appreciate you taking the time to write me.
      I’m glad you enjoyed.
      I hope you’re having a good week.

  8. June 14, 2014 at 12:55 am

    Such a touching story of survival! How sad to lose your wife so young but how wonderful you have two lovely children. Happy Father’s Day! I found you thanks to Sammy D. and will come back again. 🙂

    • June 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

      Thank you, Debbie. Thanks for reading, and for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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