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 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 www.theWiddahood.com 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.