Saturday, August 25, 2012

He Missed It

When my oldest daughter was born (11 years ago), my husband thought the same thing we all did as new parents.

"I can't wait to do ____ and ____ and ____."

In his case, it was camping and 4-wheeling and just about anything else you could think of that involved being outside.

In fact, he bought her first pair of baby hiking shoes when I was 9 weeks pregnant.

And then when my son was born, I could see my husband hold him in the delivery room, envisioning baseball gloves and footballs, Boy Scouts and t-ball.  It was all there.  Right in front of him.

Finally, when our youngest daughter was born, the world was wide open to us.  Surely one of them would like to do the things that we loved to do.

I think we all did that as new parents.  I know that I looked at all three, wondering if any of them caught the music bug that seemed to travel through my family.  And I think that my husband looked at his kids, hoping that one of them might want to do something - anything - that he always loved to do.

I made a deal with him, when the kids were little.  I said, "I don't want to force them to do anything.  If they ask, then we'll invest the money."

(I made that deal when he took my 5-year-old daughter to the go-cart track, hoping to entice her into racing.  Not a small investment.)

But I know that he watched them all and hoped, just as I did, "Please like what I like."

I felt it a couple of years ago, that sadness that he didn't live to see what they loved to do.  Because like most dads (and moms), when that kid comes out...we think that catching the ball in the backyard is just around the corner.

We don't realize that it will be years away.

And that's where I am.  Years away.  But he's not here.  I'm watching my son flip off a diving board, climb rock walls, and love roller coasters.  I sit through ballet and piano recitals with my girls, go to elementary school art shows, and (it seems like) catch baby teeth right and left.

I am at that point of parenting that he always wanted to be.

This is a magical time.  It's that in between time when they are searching for independence and but still need to see your face in the crowd.  When they show off because they know you're watching and actually care.  When they test their boundaries because your opinion still matters.

When they want to go sleep someplace overnight...but still cling to you for a minute when you leave.

I'm so sad, so very sad that he's missing this.   This, right now, is what he dreamed about when he became a parent.  Not the restless nights of a newborn, but the playful days of a child.

Watching your kids grab life.

Hoping that one of them might latch on to something that you loved, too.

And waiting, with breathless anticipation, to see who they might become.

Widow Chick (aka, Catherine Tidd) is the owner of and the author of the upcoming memoir Confessions of a Mediocre Widow (Jan. 2014).  She is also a writer for The Denver Post's Mile High Mamas and a contributor to several books on grief and renewal.


  1. So eloquent. Made me sad.

    But LOVElovelove the line "watching your kids grab life"

    xox, fellow widda

  2. I know exactly what you mean, I am always so sad that my husband isn't here to see the type of people our girls have grown into. I know he would have loved who they are now x

  3. oh WC, we only ever had exchange kids (sorta pre-packaged great high schoolers) and yet read your poignant post and think how the missing hits us. Not only the ones considered momentous but the small intimate ones.

  4. Please pray for and encourage this recent young widow.