My daughter, Darby, was born Dec. 12, 1994.
My son, Samuel, was born Oct. 22, 2006.
I’m 38, Father’s Day is nearly here, and I’ve been reflecting on my kids, wondering who stole my time, why I did this or didn’t do that, and how my actions have impacted them.
Darby was a little one when I found myself as a single father living in a trailer park in Kansas after I was honorably discharged from the Army. I remember walking the trailer park each night, hand in hand, laughing and willing bed time to arrive late.
I remember she somehow squeaked out wins during best of seven wrestling matches, waiting at the bottom of the slide, learning to braid and sing simultaneously, and watching her spit out the green beans I hid in ravioli, leaving me afraid my daughter would grow up with a vitamin deficiency.
I also recall searching for change under floor mats to buy diapers, drinking too much at a barbecue when I was the only one responsible for her, and a doctor who thought I caused the bruise under her eye because the cigarette smoke he smelled on her and my Medicaid card told him all he needed to know about us. Yet, when I reflect on that now I wonder, “What kind of a father smoked near enough to his daughter that she smelled like cigarettes?”
As Darby has aged, wrestling matches have been replaced by hiking, economic debates, frustrated eye rolls and my annoying pep talks. I’ve loved her with everything in me, though my actions at times have hurt her, a regret that never rectifies itself. And there isn’t a second that passes that I don’t wish I could reach into her belly, pull out her Crohn’s disease and keep it as my own.
Reach Editor Stephen Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.