Sunday, November 29, 2009

BLOG: It's always different when Daddy leaves

It's always different when daddy leaves. In our household, daddy happens to be a firefighter who works 24-hour shifts.

When he leaves, the baby waddles around the house clumsily looking in closets and cabinets while calling "Da-deee?!" The 3-year-old talks about how his dad, the policeman, is catching bad guys. (I don't know. I really don't.) And the older kids like to sometimes crawl into bed with me in the middle of the night.

The other morning, daddy had just finished a shift. He was exhausted. I could see it in his eyes, his body language. He was slouched over the dinner table telling me about how he didn't stop the entire night except for a brief 45 minutes.

And then he told me about how we needed to go to Sam's to stock up on groceries and then get the oil changed--things that needed to be done before he hit the bed for the day. And we might as well stop by Cracker Barrel for breakfast, he added, since the cabinets were bare.

A few moments later, I was in the bedroom standing in front of a mirror pulling my hair back into a sloppy pony tail, getting ready to leave and dreaming of cheese grits, when I overheard Hubby.

He was in the bathroom and the door was open by just a crack.
"I know Mow (rhymes with cow)," he said.

He said it again, this time more slowly.
I. Know. Mow.

Well, who the heck is Mow?

I peeked in and caught him standing in front of the mirror. "I. Know. Mow," he again repeated. The 1-year-old, Baby R, was propped up on the sink, clapping his hands and repeating. "I. Know. Mow!"

I stood there for a second, choked up. Baby R was pointing to Hubby's face, saying "Eyes. Nose. Mouth." And Hubby, after a sleepless 24-hours, was patiently enjoying the moment.

Watching them, I was reminded of my own father. I only have one memory of him from the time when I was a small child. There were other memories from my older years, but as a small child, I have one. I am sitting on his lap and then my mind fast-forwards: I'm walking around the house calling "Da-deee?"

I remember my mom telling me that he had gone to work and would be back soon. Well, soon never happened. I think she was secretly hoping I'd forget. I secretly never did.

And although I didn't know much because I was so young, I know that it was just different when he left. Even as a 3-year-old, I felt that. Little did I know that different meant food-stamps and public housing for the next few years of life.

Thirty years later, and I'm sitting at a Thanksgiving dinner with my paternal grandparents, who had driven in to spend a few hours at my brother's house, where we had Thanksgiving this year. I wanted to ask, but couldn't bring myself to do it.

Finally, right before they left, I said it. "So, how's my dad? How's, um, John?" It's weird because I never know how to refer to him. "He's in real estate, still plugging along," my grandfather replied.

Standing in my bedroom, watching my Hubby and son and recalling my own father, I was so grateful. In our home, it's always different when daddy leaves, but when he leaves, he always comes home.

Thank you, Hubby. This one's for you.


  1. I didn't have a relationship with my father (not to his doing though), but it does make me more thankful that my kids will ALWAYS have a father in their lives. The security of knowing this makes me want to be a better wife to him. Cheers to our wonderful husbands!

  2. Yes! Cheers to them :-) I think it means so much more to me because of my own past, so I know you understand.

  3. Wow, that was beautiful. I, too, am grateful for my husband, but reading your blog made me feel even more grateful...I am sorry you didn't have your dad in your life and that he is missing out on knowing your children. We have sooo many similar issues in our family. I sometimes feel my husband and I are all our kids got. I wish your family wasn't so far away from ours!

  4. Thanks for commenting, Lori. I feel the same way as you do. We are all our children have, so we have to keep it right:-) One day, we'll have to have a Mixed and Happy meetup. Wishful thinking, but it would be so much fun!

  5. That is a beautiful story. I found myself first laughing, and then nearly crying at the precious moment. Thanks for sharing.