Nothing is more difficult with four children than trying to make sure that you spread out the attention, love, and fun. That’s always been the biggest concern for me when each of the new children were “announced” as coming into our lives. With Abbi, my wife, Andrea, freaked out. We were very young, married just a year, and suddenly we were having a child and thought of ourselves as just kids ourselves. With Andrea freaking out, one of us had to be not freaked out. That was me.
But then came Hannah. I won’t go into all the details of how we ended up pregnant with Hannah – and by that I mean the timing, not the sex part. Get your minds out of the gutter! Andrea thought I was angry, but I was really just scared. I had one and couldn’t figure out how I’d spread the love between my wife and my newborn daughter. Add another daughter and things are even more uncertain. This comes after hormone tests showed possible birth defects; amniocentesis; “Genetic counselor” meetings; a discussion that we had the option of abortion . . . even before the genetics test, and even though we weren’t considering that; and then my wife nearly dying on the operating table. The hospital discharged Hannah before Andrea, Abbi was home with my mother-in-law, who didn’t know how to handle Abbi and an infant . . . and I was already spread too thin.
Then came the scary news that we were having twins. Andrea, my wife, was told after the horrific surgery to fix up the damage from Hannah’s birth, that it was unlikely she’d be able to get pregnant again. When she started getting sick, getting uterine cramps, all of that, the doctors assumed it was a form of cancer and were prepping for tests, papsmears, and even chemo if we needed it. Then came the news “oh, you’re not sick . . . you’re pregnant!” Oh, and before I could let that sink in or even celebrate that my wife wasn’t ill . . . “and it’s twins!” Andrea was ecstatic. I was understandably freaked out. I don’t know that she ever forgave me for not being over the moon and dancing the parental mambo. Instead, I was sullen, dark, and just quiet. Andrea hated me being quiet.
Don’t read this thinking I’m some sullen, dark, Oliver Twist form of guardian. I’m not. Once the boys were born, I was the same parent I’d been with the girls.
Then in March of 2011, Andrea passed away. Now I have those same four kids and one less parent to help spread the wealth around. Noah has had anger problems and needs therapy, attention, and help. Sam is finally warming up to having me be his source of attention and care. Abbi and I have always been close. Then there’s Hannah . . .
Hannah was always her Mamma’s girl. She was attached to Andrea at the hip. She had the similar mentality. Losing Andrea quickly and suddenly hit her hard. So where I did things with all the kids, each of them needs their own time. Abbi, I took her to see The Black Keys and when we first moved to Sacramento we saw Paul McCartney.
Hannah finally got her concert experience. . . I took her, my little guitar player, to see the Who. When Pete Townshend swung his arm in a windmill she giggled. When Behind Blue Eyes and Love, Reign O’er Me played she was excited.
Last night was an example of the things you do as a sole parent to get that attention spread.
Hannah was entered in an art show. Now, we’re in February sweeps, there are stories to be edited and work to be done . . . but I left at 5:30 to join her there. I had called one of the Hannah’s friends’ Moms to pick her up . . . they were going there too. I asked if I could meet them there, the whole bit. I could see in Hannah’s face – the face that doesn’t get to do or see as many things as her siblings just because she doesn’t have as many interest – that she thought I wasn’t going to make it. Lo and behold, at the end of the night, a crazy ex-cop from LA sets fire to a cabin and holds up against the entire police force and I’m looking like I’m going to be late.
But I got to the show, leaving around 5:30pm and leaving the script approval and arguments to the reporter and EP. I hit the road getting to the show just 15 minutes before awards and saw that Hannah was truly happy. She was with her best friend and also saw her Dad there to watch her doing what she loves.
You can see in the laughter and smile on her face she’s happy . . . and that makes me happy too.
Spreading the love and attention sometimes spreads me a bit too thin . . . but when you see that kind of smile . . . those kinds of smiles . . . it’s worth it.