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.
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.
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.