I come from a relatively large family. My parents had six kids. Of those six kids, five of us are still here and have had thirteen children between us. Now we’re working on grandkids, though I am willing to wait a bit before I see any coming from my children.
I am currently on my second (and last) marriage and I have three children. Bekah (1995) and Caleb (1996) are my children from my first marriage. I am now married to a wonderful woman named Robyn (since 2002) who works as an RN in Portland. We have a child together named Elwood (2006).
Friday night. The baby is asleep. Robyn is out with friends. I’ve got Bob Marley on iTunes. (“No Woman, No Cry”… my favorite Bob Marley song.) I should be tired, but I’m not. My mind is all over the place tonight. I can’t seem to get my thoughts focused enough to actually get anything done. I’ll do pretty good for a day or two, but then it all falls apart again.
Next week I’ll be driving back and forth to the New England Annual Conference for the United Methodist Church. I’ve been invited to participate in the Ordination and Commissioning Service because I got my Local Pastor’s license this year. But I don’t think that I really want to go. It is a fairly long event, and they are holding it on Friday night after dinner. I think I just want to get on the road and drive, but I’ll see. You only get your license once, but it’s not like this is ordination. It’s a big deal, but I hate taking myself too seriously. It simply doesn’t mean much of anything to anyone outside of the people who will be in that room that night. And I’m not out to impress them.
I have to really try to figure out what I need to do this summer with the older kids. Bekah and Caleb need to have a good summer, but I am working a lot this summer. Maybe I need a new job. I don’t seem to be getting ahead at all. As a matter of fact, I just keep getting further and further behind. But Bekah and Caleb don’t care about that. They just want to see their Dad, and I really want to see them, too. The more time I spend with Elwood the more I understand just how much I have missed with them. I owe them more than a few hours out of the summer, but I can’t take the time off to be the kind of Dad that I want to be.
I got a phone call from my mother today. She saw the kids in New York last weekend while she was there for a college graduation. She called on Sunday night to tell me something, but we never connected until tonight. She wanted to tell me that Caleb (my 10-year-old) told her that I didn’t like him because I avoid his phone calls.
It broke my heart.
I’m not the type that really likes phones. I actually avoid them like the plague. I love my email. Email can be answered at 2 AM in my underwear. Phone calls are done at inconvenient times. And right now, I have a lot of inconvenient times. So I am not avoiding Caleb (or Rebekah) on purpose, but I do generally avoid the phone. (They even called me at 10:30 AM on a Sunday… I was preaching… they know I have to preach…)
So I called them tonight. They were both doing fine. I talked to each of them for a few minutes. And when I talked to Caleb, I made sure that he knew that I loved him and that I missed him very much. The fact is that I do miss him (and his sister) very much. I hate the fact that they live there and I live here. I fight the guilt of having this great life with Robyn and Elwood while I am missing all of the great moments in their lives.
For instance, tonight Bekah had a concert for her choir. She is in a select chorus of hand-picked kids in her town. From what I have heard, she is pretty good. And all I want to do is hear her sing. I wish I could be part of their lives everyday, but that option has been taken away from me.
But I have to believe that this is all for the best. The fact is that I just want to be their father. I don’t want them to grow up and think that I don’t love them. I have no idea if it will all turn out okay, but I have to believe that it will be.
The baby let me sleep in today. She got up at 5:15 again, but all I had to do was move her and put the pacifier in her mouth and she slept for almost another two hours. She finally got up at about 7:00 and had a big breakfast (for her) and a bottle. It was wonderful. More importantly, she was wonderful. The morning is so awesome with her. It is becoming our special time together.
The problem is that it reminds me sometimes of just how much I miss my other two kids. I spoke with the kids on the phone on Sunday afternoon. Neither one of them had much to say. They had just seen some of my family on Friday and Saturday, so we talked about that for a bit. But most of the time we spent talking was just for the sake of talking.
Being with Elwood everyday has reminded me of just how much I enjoy being a father and how much I miss having Bekah and Caleb in my life all of the time. I had gotten to a sense of ‘normalcy’ with them out of state over the past couple of years. But now, with a baby around all of the time, I have realized just how much I have missed.
So, today I feel a little bit sad for the things that I have missed. And I also feel a little hurt and angry at how I lost them. But I can’t stay sad for long. After all, it would be far sadder if I didn’t miss them at all.
So tonight I will go home to my wife and my youngest child. I’ll give them both lots of hugs and kisses, and I’ll look at Elwood’s face and see hints of his older siblings in it. Then I’ll put him to bed and thank God that I have such a wonderful and caring family.
After all, having children is a huge gift and an even bigger responsibility… no matter how long you have them for.
The baby is sleeping, but the damage has all ready been done. She woke me up at 5:15 this morning. As of right now, it is Sunday morning at 7:09. The baby has just fallen back to sleep, but I can’t. I have to get ready for Church soon. I don’t know what is up with her in the last couple of days. She has been waking up early, having a meal, and then going back to sleep. That isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It allows me to get her ready for the day and still gives Robyn a chance to rest in the morning, but she is getting up too early.
On another note, my mother and sister went to New York to watch my nephew’s fiancee graduate from college. While there, they went and got my other two children and spent some time seeing them. I need to call them this afternoon and see how everything went. Mom and Chris said they may be in Church this morning, but we will see. I wouldn’t blame them if they are not. That’s a lot of driving.
Robyn should be very tired today. She is just getting off a three-night stretch. She will have two nights off and then back for another three-night stretch. After all of that, she will be taking her final in Anatomy & Physiology II. For the next week or so, she will be a little stressed. I will need to make sure that things remain relatively calm until then. On the (very positive) plus side, she will be signing up for classes in the next few weeks for the fall semester. I am incredibly proud of her.
There’s is lots more to tell about family life, but I have to wait for the court order to be lifted…