It is easy to blog about the good and the bad in your life when you are grappling with your own issues…it is much harder to blog about the bad when there is a tiny four-week old baby involved. However, it is important to keep it real. Being a new dad is not all smiles and happiness…it is more frustrating than anything I have ever experienced before. It is humbling, exciting, scary, amazing, and teeth-gritted-frustration.
I’m not the guy who is known for being on an even keel, that’s Kate. I’m a hot head. I jump to conclusions. I’m a fighter, that is why I am good at my job. In social situations where it would be unacceptable to erupt and yell at someone I have to will myself to make the right decision…don’t blow up! So I don’t…but it took a battle inside my head. It wasn’t always this way, I used to blow up at everything. With a little (okay a lot) of help from my parents and a childhood psychologist I learned to breathe through my anger and wait to make decisions when I am calmer and have better perspective. This is how I operate today…but that anger is still there. Now before Social Services starts banging on my door because I’m writing about how angry I am, I’m not channeling that anger into anything abusive emotionally or physically into anyone in my life, especially my wife and son. I am however…frustrated. I feel slightly defeated. My emotions are on a roller coaster.
Yesterday I woke up to Max breast-feeding next to me in bed and I started my day. I was running a little behind so the only time I got to hold him was while he was screaming his head off about a full diaper. I went to work, and soon met Kate at the dentist for our check-ups. Kate was up first. The plan was to feed him before the appointment and he would fall asleep in the car ride over. I would meet them there, take sleeping Max for the hour, then hand him back to Kate so I could get my teeth cleaned. However, when I arrived at the dentist there was a screaming Max who was livid about not being on the boob. Kate handed him off to me – and Max proceeded to SCREAM in my face for 30 minutes straight. We took a short drive around the block which calmed him…then he screamed again…then another drive…and then he fell asleep about 2 minutes before Kate came out of her appointment. I handed him off to her and went in to get my teeth cleaned.
There was a dinner at my parent’s house last night because my sister Lindsey and her son Jake are in town. Jake LOVES his Uncle Boo Boo (that’s me) and I was so excited to see him because I LOVE my Jake-y Bear! However, there was too much work to be done so I stayed at my office. Bud picked me up to go to the WSU Shocker game which was awesome! Last home game of the year! WSU vs. Creighton! It was a sell out crowd, the place was rocking, and we needed the win to stay tied for first in the Valley. There’s a lot of hoopla that goes on while people are watching commercials like the Ashley Furniture Shootout, The Grassshopper Dance Cam, etc. I don’t pay too much attention to them except for one…the Wing Ding Ball Fling! That is the part where they throw the tiny basketballs into the crowd! I have been trying to catch one all year for Max and have been close twice. The best was at the WSU vs. Tulsa game at Intrust Arena. Everyone had new seats since it was a new venue and we had some mean old curmudgeons sitting directly behind us. Everyone stands at the beginning of the game and claps till the other team makes a basket. We stand for defense! So there I am standing, clapping, like I have for 30 some years and I hear from behind me, “would you please sit down!” I turn around and there is this mean old raisin giving me the stink eye. “Excuse me?” I replied. “Sit down!” He answered, “…some of us are trying to watch the game!” This is not the attitude of the WSU Shocker Fans and certainly did not win him any friends in our seating section. I calmly replied, “I’m sorry, but if you would like to sit and watch the game I’m sure you have a nice comfy couch at home in front of the TV.” Bud followed up with a remark about how real fans stand for their team and cheer…it was awesome. Well there were a few comments back and forth throughout the game like this…and then came the Wing Ding Ball Fling…and wouldn’t you know it…they threw a tiny basketball right to this guy. I remember seeing it in slow motion as it soared over my head just out of reach. I could hear this old fire breather heaving with excitement knowing he was going to catch the ball. I couldn’t let him have it. He wasn’t a real fan. Much to my wife’s chagrin I placed 1 foot on the step of the aisle and used my seat to help propel me into the air! It was still out of reach to be caught but not to be blocked. Slap! I swatted the basketball away from his outstretched fingers moments before it would have landed in his soulless arms! The ball flew forward and was caught by the woman 2 rows in front of me. My seating section cheered a little, none of us wanted this guy to catch it. “Maybe you would have caught it if you stood up.” I told him. I know…I’m a dick.
Flash forward to last night. It is the last home game of the year. They are Wing Ding Ball Flinging! I stand, a few fly over my head and are caught by people a 10 rows back…nothing in my range. That was it. It was over. Then, like a unicorn through the mist came this freshman cheerleader with one last Wing Ding Ball. She pointed to the rafters like Babe Ruth and cocked her arm back ready to throw. Suddenly, her arm slingshot forward with power but she lost her grip on the ball! Her arm heaved forward as if throwing a baseball but the Wing Ding Ball floated through the air like bubble in the wind. It was going for the row in front of me. The woman in front of me had spent the entire game on either her Blackberry or her new Galaxy Tablet, I heard the words “look, it shoots video!” …playing over and over in my head, she had exclaimed that earlier as an excuse as to why she was not paying attention to the game. Of course it shoots video. Its a friggin Galaxy Tablet! She wasn’t going to catch it. I didn’t jump. I didn’t move. I just stretched my arms out in front of me and with 2 hands…and the Wing Ding Ball landed square in them. I finally caught one! I caught one for Max! Like a school girl I jumped up and down exclaiming how it was for my son. My section was happy for me, they knew I had been trying to catch one for him all season. I couldn’t wait to bring it to him.
The Shox won with a game winning shot from Aaron Ellis with 1 second left on the shot clock! It was unreal! The place went wild. Gabe Blair ran to the student section and jumped into the crowd. It was Senior Night. The last time he would play in Koch arena. It was gorgeous and sad. Three days prior he and I were sitting at Heroes talking about our kids. He has a 17 month daughter. I looked over at the Seniors jumping around the court and there was Graham Hatch…also a father. Their kids were there and were a part of this. I wanted to go home to Kate and Max, and to see Jake.
Kate had been texting me about how cute Max was being and how Jake was mimicking everything he did. Jake was going crazy asking to see his Uncle Boo Boo. I walked in the door to no fan fare. I found Kate nursing Max in the family room, Mom was half asleep. We talked about the game for a while and then I heard the familiar steps of my nephew Jake. He entered the room hiding behind Lindsey and I knew he would pounce at any second…but he didn’t. He stayed there. He peeked out at me twice and both times jumped into Lindsey’s arms and hid. He whispered to her “sometimes when you haven’t seen someone in a while you get shy.” So Jake went to bed. I never even really saw him. No hug…and Jake gives the best hugs…they make me cry they are so good. But not tonight. I wish Max could hug. I just want a damn hug from my family. Kate passes Max over to me who is almost sleeping. I hold my son in my arms, look at his beautiful face, touch his perfect hair, and smile as he opens his eyes. He sees me. Immediately he erupts into tears and screams at the fact that I am holding him and not Mommy. I pass him back to Kate. Silence.
It was a long car ride home. Me, Kate, Max, and the Wing Ding Ball I worked so hard to catch for my son who I think hates me. Kate tells me a story. “Today the most amazing thins happened, I was breast-feeding Max and he opened his eyes and looked right at me! Right at me. It was like the first time he really saw me and you could tell he was all like oh, you’re here too. So I smiled at him…and he smiled back! Isn’t that awesome?” I looked at her with disgust. It was awesome. Jealousy swept over me. I no longer felt frustrated with Max…I was mad at him…I decided he was an asshole. I know…he’s 4 weeks old! I know its ridiculous. That was how I felt. I wish I could say that I was just sad…but I was mad. That’s life…its real like that and it messes with your brain. How can a 4 week old be an asshole? He can’t!!! But you can still feel that way.
That night I got friendly with Jim Beam, nuked a frozen dinner, and passed out alone in front of the TV. No…it is not all sunshine and roses. Parenthood is frustrating, exhausting, trying on the emotions, and generally hard. However, every time Max smiles it is exponentially better. He smiled at me all morning today and I no longer felt like he was an asshole…I just felt tired, and I was mad at myself for thinking he was an asshole. The Wing Ding Ball is here with me at my office, for now I need it more than he does. He can have it when he discovers his thumbs. I don’t want to miss this part of my son’s life but I can’t wait to be able to give a hug and get one in return. I want to be able to talk to him and listen. We are both frustrated with each other.
Today…I am going to give my parents big hugs. I’m in my 30’s now and tower over them. I hope it makes up for when I was an asshole and couldn’t hug.