Tag Archives: single dad

Ob La Di, Ob La Da…

I hate that I used that title, it’s my least-favorite Beatles song, but it’s apt.  So be it.

But the reality is it’s true, Life Goes on, folks.

I bring this up mainly because of a conversation I’ve had on more than one occasion with more than one person about the next couple weeks in my life.  The big event?  Graduation(s).  Yes…the parenthetical “s” is a plural.  On the same day, in stellar pre-planning by my daughter’s middle school, both my 13-year-old and my 18-year-old graduate their respective schools in the coming couple weeks.  As a matter of fact, our church had a baccalaureate mass for the high school graduates today.

Abbi at her baccalaureate mass
Abbi at her baccalaureate mass

But the question that comes very often is whether I’m taking it really hard that Abbi, my oldest, is leaving by August to go to school in another state.  It’s not an uncommon question nor is it an inappropriate one.  If you’d asked me three years ago about my oldest leaving I’d probably have taken it very hard.

But today, two years after a major loss in our family, I don’t see it as a loss.  I know that seems strange, like I don’t see myself becoming a parent with the nest starting to empty.  The reality is, though, I breathe a sigh of relief.  It’s not a loss, it just isn’t.  I see this – on both fronts, from Hannah and Abbi – as a success story.  It’s a success of the highest nature, as a matter of fact.

Let’s start with Hannah.  Last year she barely passed the 7th grade.  This year . . . she was failing one of her classes.  She was still dealing with changing responsibilities and surging hormones then the fact that she was being treated by a number of people as an adult because she’s so tall.  I remind myself, quite often, that she’s still a kid, just 13.  Even though she is 5 feet 8 inches tall.  But now she’s reaching the point of graduation and she’s passing – with room to spare!  That’s a success.  Yes, she could easily have been re-taking the 8th grade the way the year started.  Sure, she’s uncertain and moving to a new school, but that’s life.  We move, change, all that happens during our lifetime.

2013-05-19 12.26.53Abbi . . . a totally different kind of change.  Two years ago, Abbi was on a path set by her mother.  She was going to go into a medical field.  She was going to make money, consequences and emotions be damned, because that’s the measure of success her mother instilled in her.  Not to criticize her mother completely, but that was the mentality her mother had.  Happiness can come from other fronts, you need to work at something that has high return, no wait.  Abbi, however, has always been my most dramatic, most vocal, most fun and quirky of the kids.  We all have our own little thoughts and quirks.  She’s young, elastic, and can bounce back if things don’t work out.  Moving her out of her private school (mostly because we couldn’t afford it) was a big cause of pushing her to make her own decisions.  She’s doing something artistic and creative, which her mother loved, but wouldn’t have wanted because it didn’t pay well.

But we always think things through, and much like my parents with me, there’s a philosophy that you should do what makes you happy.  Success is measured in your own terms, not monetary, not societal, none of that.  Without happiness, the money is a drain, not a draw.

So no . . . I don’t feel saddened or depressed.  I’m happy and feel that the coming date is a measure of our success over the last couple years. The intervening years to come will see love, success, possibly marriage and maybe children for my kids.  Through all of those they’ll have me there for whatever they need.

Life, you see . . . goes on.

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A Chorus of Feelings

Most days in my household are a juggle as it is.

Today was like juggling and eating the apples you’re juggling and painting a mural on the wall at the same time.

It’s ratings in TV Land, which means work is usually a juggle of things.  I’m not swamped, I have to admit, like I was years ago and managing an entire unit.  Unfortunately for my bosses that falls on their shoulders now and I’m happy to say I’m glad to let them handle it.

But my juggle involved the morning routine, getting everything ready and reminding my oldest that Sam, my youngest, needed to be at St. Francis High School by 5:30pm for a choir festival his choir was singing at.  That, in turn, required her to juggle her schedule, as she’d forgotten his festival.  That also required Hannah, my middle, to watch Sam’s twin brother, Noah, at home since he’s not in the choir and the festival was sold out except for two seats.

Sam's Choir
Sam’s Choir

Neither my oldest, Abbi, nor I must have thought much about what going to St. Francis High School would do.  For me, it was about Sam.  Noah tends to dominate the attention a lot of the time and this – singing – was something Sam desperately wanted to do again.  After Andrea, my wife, passed away in 2011, none of the kids wanted to do much of anything and we were so swamped with emotions and trying to get into a routine that it wasn’t really possible anyway.  But this school year he wanted back in the choir, so I let him.

When I got to the school, Sam had already joined the congregation of kids backstage.  Abbi had been waiting awhile, and the show wouldn’t start for an hour and a half.  We decided to go get a cup of coffee while we waited.  Along the way, I got a description of how everyone at the school recognized or did double-takes upon seeing her.  She talked about how sad she was to leave St. Francis and how difficult it was to be back there.

I told her she could go home, but she wanted to see Sam sing.

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t feel awful for putting her through all this.  Understand, though, that after Andrea passed away, our income drained.  Andrea was a pharmacist, made a really good living.  That enabled us to put Abbi in that private school.  We barely got her through the year and it was only through the help of others and some unclaimed scholarship money at St. Francis that we got her tuition paid up to finish her sophomore year.  By junior year it was abundantly clear there was no way to keep her there.  I just couldn’t pull it off.

Abbi wasn’t trying to make me feel bad and I like that she talks with me about it.  Reality is I couldn’t change how things went anyway and she knows that, just has to say it.

But then came Sam’s time.

The kids got up, after the St. Francis orchestra played, and sang a song that nearly brought both Abbi and I to tears.  The kids were rehearsed, well-behaved, and they sang beautifully, on-key, and literally touching.

Just before Phantom
Just before Phantom

The high school also did a medley of Phantom of the Opera songs, which Sam’s choir helped sing on two numbers, and the kids got a standing ovation.  It was at that moment that the past dissolved and both Abbi and I had no bad feelings about what was going on there.  Sam, in his perfect-pitch little voice I heard ringing in the chorus, had pulled us into the present.

It’s amazing what a chorus of kids, touching your soul with music, will do to you.

Sam was smiling, happy, and got a little gift from the school’s Art Director at intermission.  On the way out he chose to go home with Abbi, which I noticed made her smile . . . the little boy more perceptive than either of us, realizing he’d made his sister’s night.

Andrea would have loved it, and part of my sadness was knowing that she’d have grabbed my arm and gushed about how cute the whole thing was.  But I didn’t need it.  I knew it already, and it was amazing.

Amazing, because as much as you worry about dropping something when you juggle…Sure, Sam’s shirt was wrinkled, his shoes scuffed and his hair a bit messy, but nobody noticed that.  He was a voice in a chorus.  We juggled, and sometimes . . . .sometimes you pull it off, and the results are amazing.

Tortoises, Hares and Strawberries

My smiley son Sam
My smiley son Sam

My son, Sam, has quickly found his niche.

Well, a kind of niche.

I’ve told lots of people – hell I’ll tell anyone who asks – that the boy has near perfect pitch.  Not that he can tell you the notes he’s singing, but get him started on a song he’ll complete it, on-key, no auto-tune required.

So imagine my surprise and slight stressed consternation when he got a large role in the school play this week.

I should explain a little . . . there’s a really amazing theater troop that travels the country from, of all places, Missoula, Montana.  (You heard me right, Montana!)  They show up at the school on a Monday, the kids try out for parts, and they immediately cast and begin rehearsals.  They hold the play on Saturday.

All four of my kids have done it before.  Abbi was even the lead one year.  They’re kids’ plays, usually fairy tales, but with some horrifically bent and funny take on them.  Abbi’s was the Little Mermaid.  Hannah, Noah and Sam all were in Sleeping Beauty.

This year, Sam’s doing it alone, and he did it because he really wanted to.

I haven’t seen the script, nor the play, but he’s a photographer in The Tortoise and the Hare.  I picked him up tonight, roughly 8pm, from the school.  He’s normally hitting the shower and readying for bed by now, but because of the schedule Sam’s facing homework and then the nighttime routine.

“I’m onstage almost the whole play,” Sam says grinning at me.
“That’s awesome, little man!”
“Yeah . . . although I didn’t remember all my lines today.”
“Well, it’s only Wednesday, Bud, you’ll get it.”
“Yeah…” his voice trailed off.
“You were playing your video games last night instead of learning your lines, weren’t you.”
“Umm….”
“You didn’t go to Umbridge,” was my response – a typical response when my kids say “ummm…”
“Well, yeah.  But I won’t tonight.”
“Nope…you have homework to do.”
“Can I have a midnight snack, Dad?”

I looked at him, ready to not cave in and tell him that he’d had McDonald’s – his sister brought it to rehearsal for him – but couldn’t.  He’d eaten at 5pm, danced, sang, and run around.  I was still ready to say “no” when he said:

“They gave us quite a workout.”
“Really?”
“Yeah…up, down, up, down.  They had us sing so much I almost hate singing now.”
“You hate singing?”
“Dad . . . I said almost!”

I smiled.

“Hey, Dad?”
“I’m not made of hey, Sam.”
“Oh . . . Dad?”
“Yeah, little man?”
“Can I get an extra snack for lunch?  I need something to eat before we start rehearsal.”

I had just bought healthy snacks, we had tons of fruit in the house.  Even though I’d made brownies, I asked him:
“I could put an apple in your lunch.”
“Mmmm.  Okay…although . . . I’d bet even money I’d be even happier with Strawberries!”

Even money.  Where does he pick up this stuff?  Laughing, I look at him and say “even money, huh?”
“Yep . . . I looooove me some strawberries!”

He finished his homework, I gave him a cup of Cheerios to snack while he worked, and put him to bed.  I had a video project I was completing and was about to slap together their lunches.  My inclination was to wash an apple and stuff it in his bag.

Then I saw the strawberries, and smiling, I started to cut them and put them in the baggie.  He may looooove him some Strawberries, but any kid who talks that intelligently in my house . . . deserves to get them.

Yelling, Shouting, Frustrating!

I hate yelling at my middle daughter.  I absolutely loathe it, as a matter of fact.

The other day I talked about how she was starting to show massive signs of her mother coming through her personality – and not in the best way.  Last night clinched it.

 

Andrea
Andrea

Andrea, you have to understand (if you’ve never read my blog), passed away two years ago, on our eighteenth wedding anniversary.  She went in on a Tuesday with a cough and passed away in the hospital on Saturday.  My daughter, Hannah, was joined to Andrea at the hip, and they were inseparable.  For that reason, I worried about my relationship with my middle daughter after Andrea died.

But back to the similarities:  Andrea, when we were first married and first had children in particular, had a habit of picking the absolute perfect moments (for her) of hitting every horrible emotional button of mine.  She would start an argument (or I would, it takes two, I know!) and get my slow build going.  Then she’d needle the little things that bothered me.  None of them had anything to do with the argument at hand, they’d just come out anyway.  Then she’d tell me to lower my voice, the kids might hear, and when the little ones would round the corner throw an emotional grenade at me so I would just blow.  Right when the kids were there.

She always apologized, but for years I looked like the angry guy who yelled and hollered and she was calm and cold.

Bear in mind, there was never anything evil, violent, or worse that came.  Just anger.  Pure, unadulterated anger that she could fuel like Ronsonol on a fire.  When I told a doctor about this after Andrea passed away, that I worried Hannah would only remember those things, the doctor told me it was best she knew that we were communicating.  “You never got violent, nor did Andrea.  You never threatened to leave.  At the end of the night, you were in the same bed together and up the next morning.  She saw you were talking, though loudly, and at least you were communicating.”

Hannah in the middle
Hannah in the middle

Hannah has learned those very buttons to push, though.  In the worst way.

Where I had an equal relationship with my wife, Hannah has the feeling she’s in that position now that she’s tall, hormonal, and graduating middle school.

She isn’t.

Last night the boys came and informed me that payment for their school pictures was due tomorrow.  This, I knew, but I appreciated the reminder.

Then came Hannah, hormonal, angry, and threw out that hers were due today, “Daaaad!”  and proceeded to inform me that her teacher informed everyone of this, that I was late . . . and wouldn’t stop.  Just informing me wasn’t enough, there was an accusation of impropriety.  That’s where I threw her the Dad glare.

“You know, Hannah, it’s nonsense that your pictures are due a day before your brothers’ pictures.”
“So what, Dad?!”
“Okay . . . let me put it to you this way, then.  You want me to remember this and do what you want, when Abbi and I have done the dishes for the last week.  When you did your chores day before yesterday you didn’t finish.  Dishes were everywhere.  I can’t get any more garbage in the garbage can.”
She started to give me more attitude in the least pleasant of voices.
“For the last time, Hannah . . . I have no money.  None.  I get paid tomorrow!  I have a car that has 12 miles left of gas.  12.  That’s it.  I had to plan it out just this much due to your sister’s college deposit, your tuition, all that!”
She moped.
“In addition, HANNAH!  I have THIS much work to do (picture me with my arms wide, like I want a hug) and THIS much time to do it all in! (picture me with my hands next to each other.)  Then, when I have to do YOUR chores on top of cooking meals, making your lunches – which I do every…single…day…and then cook dinner, laundry, vacuum, dust, all of that . . . I have THIS much to do and THIS much time to do it in. Did I mention that I worked 10 hours yesterday and did THIS much work after it too?!”

Hannah’s eyes got glassy, but she was angry.  I saw it in her face.

“So when I miss some little deadline . . . like a freaking packet of pictures that I know damn well they’ll just make me buy the whole packet next week anyway . . . and your brothers’ pictures aren’t due until tomorrow . . . you might want to cut me just a little slack.  You see when I come home I do more work.  You come home, slog into your bedroom, that is so full of crap snakes could be living on the floor you wouldn’t know because of the layers of garbage all over the FLOOR!”

It’s hear the anger left her face.

“So when I missed one little deadline, or wait until the last minute to fill out a field trip form . . . maybe you might consider cutting me just a little freaking slack?!”

Hannah went up to the same said bedroom and shut her door.  Her sister, Abbi, looked at me and though grinning, I could tell she thought I’d gotten a bit too angry.

My girls...Hannah on the left, Abbi on the right
My girls…Hannah on the left, Abbi on the right

“Too much?”
“No . . . I just don’t know how she got it in her head she could act that way.”
“You know that if it had been your grandma none of this would even happen.  She’d have beaten us then made us do it anyway.”
“Oh . . . yeah.  But you’d have deserved it.”
“True.”

I sighed.  I hate getting angry.  It really, honestly, doesn’t happen often.  In fact, it’s very rare.  But . . . Hannah is learning the wrong things to do: the button pushing and the manipulation to try and get what she thinks is most important at the moment.  School pictures or food?  Those were the choices I gave her.

Still, I felt bad about how angry I got.

I got up from the couch, moved to head up the stairs to have a calm discussion with her.

But then I looked and realized it . . . she’d managed to disappear without doing the dishes yet again.  Some things never change.

 

Her Mother’s Daughter

My daughter Hannah is one of the sweetest, happiest, most kind individuals I’ve ever known.

Most of the time.

Noah, Sam and HannahIn the last few months, though, I’ve noticed a change in her.  It’s not for the worse, don’t get me wrong, but it’s like somehow the influx of hormones hit overdrive and I’m having to deal with a teenager who’s still struggling with their own identity.  Now, before you tell me that’s every teenager, I get that.  But it’s never been Hannah.

Hannah was always the little girl joined to her Mom’s hip.  She loved her Grandma – my Mom – sometimes to the ire of Andrea, my wife, who thought she had Hannah as a complete and utter kindred spirit.  Hannah once, as a 3 or 4-year-old, after getting a new nightgown and a pair of fuzzy slippers from my mother wasn’t understanding that my parents were leaving to go home.  Hannah had grabbed a paper bag and inserted her teddy bear, the same said slippers, a second pair of pajamas and was waiting by the door to get into my folks’ car.  When my Mom informed her that she had to stay at her own house Hannah was crushed.  Tears welled up in the corners of her giant brown eyes and she said, huffing in tears the whole while, “but I wanted to go with you Grandma!”

That was Hannah.  The little, loving, sweet kid.

Now it’s Hannah the teenager.

Yeah, sure, there’s the acne that’s started.  More than that is my having to constantly ask her if she’s used the face wash and cleaned up and washed her hair.  I’m constantly telling her to take her hair out of her eyes, not because it bothers me but because she can’t see what’s in front of her and is constantly saying so.

“I’m going to take you to the salon and get you a pixie cut,” I told her recently.
“What?!”
“A pixie cut . . . you know, short hair like that girl on Once Upon a Time.  She looks good in it, and she’s a brunette.”

I’m still pulling the daggers out of my chest she shot from her eyes.

Now, while I deserved that irksome response, others I don’t.  Tonight was the best example.

I got home, unable yet again to cook due to the lack of counter space.  It’s not that my kitchen is too small, it’s because the dishes I’d ordered her to do seemed to have duplicated like rabbits.  I had no pans to cook.

A year ago I made a deal with my kids: I’ll cook.  If you have a meal you prefer, I’ll make it.  I’ll make desserts for your lunches.  Heck, I make their lunches.  I’ll do that, the laundry, vacuum . . . all they have to do is the dishes so I can cook.

Needless to say I’m the only one making good on the deal.

So when I got home to the mess and Hannah walked in, annoyed, yelling – nay, screaming – at her brother and then ordered me to fill out a field trip form it was my turn to give a look that would kill.

But it didn’t take.

“Daaaaaad!  It’s due tomorrow!”
“I know, I got emails from your teacher, the room mother, coordinator . . . everybody.  I’ll fill it out.”
“No . . . you need to fill it out now!

That’s when I lost it.  Truly, completely, lost it.
“Oh . . . really?!  You want to eat tonight?  I have no room, no pans, no forks, no dishes from a kitchen that I was told would be clean when I got home and your most important issue is a form I already knew I had to fill out?!”

She got angry and started raising her voice.  She was, you see, right in her mind.

I bring this up because of several things:
1) she’s hormonal, 13, and just being a teen.  I get that.
2) Before you get mad at me, it’s still true…Hannah gets horrible PMS, just like her mother did.  Now it’s added to the hormones
3) This is the hardest…she’s showing signs and signals of acting like her mother.  Just like her mother.

Andrea, when I first met her, with that smile...
Andrea, when I first met her, with that smile…

I loved Andrea, let me be firm on that.  There were 10 million things about her I adored.  Her anger over random things was not one of them.  It’s hard thing to look into the face of my 13-year-old brunette daughter with the brown eyes and see the angry, fiery rhetoric of the blonde haired blue eyed woman I met twenty-odd years ago.  I also worry because that behavior didn’t help her mother, not one bit.  It didn’t scare me away because I could help her control it.  I don’t want Hannah to have to look at working on that for too many years.

But it dawned on me that there are a number of differences.  I have genes and DNA of my own floating around in her body there, too.  I also am not married to this girl, I’m her father.  Andrea was an equal and usually there was something that stressed her out and I could find the root cause of her anger.  For Hannah, it’s the random stresses of the day she thinks are most important.  Where with Andrea I had to come to compromises and was often far too deferential, with Hannah it’s different.  I love her to death, but this isn’t a democracy, it’s a dictatorship.

“I have every intention of filling out yours, Noah’s and Sam’s forms.  I will fill out your registration packet for high school.  I have it all on a big list in my freaking head.  The thing you should worry about more, though, is the fact that I’m going to take away your guitar . . . again . . . if this kitchen isn’t cleaned up!”

It’s hard for me to see the darker side of Andrea coming out in my child.  Hannah and I have conflicts often because there was such a closeness between the two of them and a distance between the two of us.  We’re not like oil and water.  She hugs me every day, talks to me constantly and the horror I thought she’d face in losing her Mom isn’t as horrific as either of us thought.

Still . . . I’ve come to realize there are things I have to face that genetically bleed through in her hormones, PMS, and mentality.  It’s hard to see and face because it does . . . once in awhile . . . remind me of the best and the worst of her mother.  I miss all of her, not just the good parts, and she unwittingly lets them all bleed through at once.

Hannah and a friend
Hannah and a friend

But by tonight’s end, I saw the best as well.  When the four of them finally stopped fighting and the calm hit the room, they smiled as I read a chapter of a book to Noah and Sam and Hannah peeked in the doorway.

Of course . . . I had managed to fill out all five field trip forms, too.

It was then I saw the sparkle in her eyes and the happiness again.  It was then I saw the smile, the combination of all four of them smiling, and I saw the best of her mother too.

That’s when I knew she really was her mother’s daughter.

 

Of the sanitary napkin…

My girls...Hannah on the left, Abbi on the right
My girls…Hannah on the left, Abbi on the right

This morning saw something that doesn’t happen very often . . . my two daughters arguing with each other.  Not screaming, “I hate you!” kind of arguments but just . . . sniping at each other.

I, of course, was harping on the middle daughter, Hannah, already because the kitchen – her one chore every day – was a gigantic mess.  From my peripheral vision I noticed Abbi, hair wet, towel wrapped around her diminutive form, barreling down the stairs shouting “I don’t care if you take them but tell me!”

The “them” she’s referring to, of course, is the feminine hygiene products in the home.  Apparently that time of the month had arrived for my oldest and she was out of tampons.

That’s right, I said tampons.

Yes, I’m a guy, but no . . . I’m not flabbergasted or red-faced when I say the word.  I can use lots of feminine hygienic words like maxi-pad, tampon, panty liner, period, uterine flow, Kotex, Tampax . . . need I really go on?  I was already on the way out the door to take the other three – Hannah, Noah and Sam – to school.  Knowing how an 18-year-old without these products would suffer . . . okay, I don’t know, but you know, I know.  It cannot be easy, so I shouted, on the way out the door “I’ll stop at the store after dropping them off and get you more.”

It’s a big thing for your oldest to come to terms with and embrace the fact that her father is buying tampons for her.  The middle daughter apparently cannot come to terms with that yet.  How do I know this?  Because every month I find at least one or more pairs of underwear either in the garbage – which I cannot afford to keep buying new panties every month – or in the laundry let’s say more than a week past their wear date and they’re less than pleasant.  About as pleasant as when her 9-year-old brothers sneak a pair of soiled underwear in there.

Now, before every woman on the planet starts lambasting me, let me inform you that my oldest already told me how embarrassing it is for a girl to have only her Dad to tell her these things.  I understand that.  It would be like the boys having their mother or aunt telling them the specifics of having sex . . . not really a conversation you want to have with a female authority figure.

The problem is, though, there are two older people in the house that she has: Abbi – who is really her sister and not always as responsible as she could be . . . and me.  That’s it.  You can’t call your Aunt to tell them you’re out of maxi-pads and your underwear is soiled.  You can’t tell your sister because . . . let’s face it, I’m the one who does the laundry.  I’m also the one who ends up cleaning the bathrooms – for both girls and myself.  So when that time of the month comes . . . as much as the feminine products dress their boxes up with day-glo colors and butterflies and flowers . . . it’s not the most, shall we say, sanitary of things, those sanitary napkins.

I don’t say this to complain about what women go through.  I don’t pretend I can understand what it feels like or what they go through.  But I am their father . . . I can empathize, I’ve done my best to try.  So when things happen, and I know they will, just tell me.  If you’re too embarrassed . . . then fix it yourself!  Put a liner in the trash can!  Clean your own toilet!  I’ve shown Hannah the tips – peroxide in cold water for your underwear.  Buying dark colored or black panties.  Calendars to track your cycle.  Hell . . . borrow tampons or pads from your sister, but as her sister said . . . tell them!

It should show the progress I’ve made as the sole parent and being a father that my biggest complaint about running to the store and looking specifically for the Kotex brand of tampons wasn’t going to the checkout with tampons . . . it was the fact that I got to work a half-hour late because I had to buy tampons.

But then . . . I never said it would be easy, did I?

Zipper trouble

Abbi in a different dress – prom from this last school year

It’s not what you think.  (Well, I’m not sure what you’re really thinking, but it’s not even what you’re thinking.)

So I got home the other night and my oldest daughter was trying on a dress that she pulled out of her closet.  It’s a beautiful dress, one that she wore some time ago, but not many people have seen it.  She was trying it on because the dress she wanted for Homecoming wasn’t in her size.  She tried on this particular dress even though she wanted to wear it for her prom.

As she was there, in the living room, in front of the mirror, though, I heard her grumbling at her sister, Hannah . . .

“You’re not doing it right, Hannah, you have to zip it and . . . ”
I pushed Hannah out of the way and managed to zip Abbi’s dress up in half a second.  She looked gorgeous, by the way.  She was disappointed, though, because she wanted to wear it for prom.  So I promised – considering I’ve managed to budget OK in the last few weeks – to get her a dress on Sunday.

It made her night.  She turned around and said simply, “can you . . . ” pushing her zipper toward me.
“Of course.”  Then . . . the next part just kinda slipped out.  “…not like I haven’t had a lot of experience doing this.”

Now . . . I didn’t mean it the way it sounds.  Without sounding too gratuitous, yes, I’d *ahem* removed a few of Andrea’s  dresses.  More often than not, though, it was “I’m dying in this dress…will you unzip me?” That was inevitably followed by the pad of her feet moving to the closet to remove said party dress.  The following moments were usually with her in sweat pants and a big Creighton University sweatshirt.  Not really the sexiest of scenarios.  (Though I have to admit, it was nice having her relaxed and lying in my arms.  I do miss that.)

Still . . . it’s not how my daughter took it.
“Ewww.  Thanks, have that vision in my head all night now.  Thanks, Dad.  Ugh.”

That’s what I got.  “Ugh.”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I see myself in the mirror – and even though I’ve managed to lose another 10 pounds, I can’t really look long without being a bit angry with myself for getting here.  Hoping that changes in the next couple months so I’m at least able to wear some of my clothes from a few years ago.

Still, it opens up a major question.  In weeks past, when I’ve had any time alone with any woman, my daughters have had some nitpicky issues with it.  They don’t want to see their Dad with anyone else, I’m fairly sure of that.  It’s not that they expressed the worry, but I know my kids.  I can hear it in their voices and see it in their body language.  It’s funny, too, because none of the moments I’ve had alone have been romantic ones.  They’ve been for work or just meeting for a beer with friends.  Nothing close to putting myself out there.  It really cracks me up they’re that worried for nothing.

But I don’t really use that as a litmus test.  9 years.  I’ve figured it out.  9 years is how much time I have with kids in my house.  That’s not a lot of time, when you consider I still look at Abbi and think of that little girl from 9 years ago.  In some ways the last year and a has felt like ten years.  They will start their lives and I’ll have to make some difficult choices about my own.  In some ways I see time speeding up and I’m losing a grip on the moment as well.  Time has found a way to right itself in our lives, whether we were ready for it or not.

So when I hear my daughter say “ewww” when I simply mention the ability to unzip a fancy dress it actually makes me smile.  These little moments don’t disturb or bother me any more.  They show me that we’re farther ahead than we thought right now.

Though the disgusted “ugh!” I could have lived without.