Archive for the 'Absentee parents' Category

Single parent, married parent

January 19, 2011

Andrew Hicks

A Facebook friend from my Christian school days posted a link on her wall to a blog entry by Single Dad Laughing, whose popularity went viral virtually immediately. One of her friends — in the comments section underneath — posted “Google this guy and ‘fake.’ Too sad.” So I did, and I read a couple other bloggers’ accusations that SDL somehow faked the high volume of his readership and is shamelessly provoking sappy emotional response so he can get on Oprah and sell books. Making most of this crap up, in other words.

But the dude posts every day and frequently writes the kind of crafted, detailed, argumentative essays that would get you an automatic A in any writing class. Whether he’s an opportunist or just an amazingly disciplined, passionate father, I am one segment of this man’s target audience. (Every other segment? Women, women, women.) I’m at home every day with two small, beautiful kids I adore.

The Single Dad Laughing post linked by my Facebook friend from Christian school was called “Real Dads Don’t Leave.” Now that I’m the main companion of a precious 2-year-old who is growing into her own personality and obviously adores me, I absorbed the following words, written about an absent father:

He’ll never know of the hundreds of Saturday morning snuggles that could have been his. He’ll never know of the hundreds of colorful drawings his child would have handed him over the years, made with tiny loving hands just for him. He’ll never realize that he left behind so many trips to the park or the zoo…

Even more sadly, he’ll never realize that he left behind a tiny person that would have looked at him as his hero. He’ll never know that he left a child who would have trusted him and loved him more than any other person reasonably should. And he’ll also never know that he left a child who would have done anything to be like him. To be like his daddy.

I was raised in a single-parent household for the majority of my childhood. My mom and dad divorced when I was in kindergarten or so. My brother Matt and I stayed with our mom, while Dad sometimes lived in town and sometimes didn’t. Looking back on memories, it seems like I saw my dad a fair amount until the age of 14 or so, but the vast majority of the parenting burden fell on my mom. Now that I’ve got kids, I can’t imagine taking care of them all by myself. My appreciation for all the hard work my mother put in with her two children has grown in leaps and bounds.

It’s also been the perfect time to get to know my dad as an adult. I mentioned a few weeks back that we’ve been having long phone conversations. I talk to my dad at least twice a week, usually for at least an hour. I hear the old stories and the years of practical and philosophical wisdom that can be applied to anyone’s life, and we tell each other about our lives today. He didn’t want to leave, he reminds me every now and then. His marriage failed, and he lost his family. It was tragic. It was heart-breaking. He wants to do everything he can for me to make it to the finish line as the Dad Who Stayed.

I have a wealth of love, support and sounding boards these days, from my immediate family to my parents and my wife’s parents, from old friends to new friends, from writing a blog to writing standup routines to writing and editing an online comedy magazine. I need to give back as much as I get, to my kids and everyone else who’s important to me.

And laugh as much as possible.


Bearded wet-cast blues

September 28, 2010

Andrew Hicks

Life with crutches isn’t just about the mobility. Equally limiting is the fact that you can’t really transport anything from points A to B. I made my way out to my mom’s deck just now with notepad tucked into my waistband, pencil (#2, I assume) in my right pocket, can of soda in left pocket, sunglasses hanging from the neck of my T-shirt and keys in my teeth. I wanted to bring the baby, but he’s just too darn big to fit in any of my pockets or tuck-away spots.

Tiffany drove down on Saturday, and for the first time all week, both babies and both parents were under the same roof. I’d gotten to see Sarah a couple times earlier in the week, but I still really missed my little girl. When a kid’s that age, right around two, you can’t be away too long, lest you miss a major developmental milestone. I feel for those dads who are shipped out by the military or constantly travel for their jobs. They leave in the “mama/dada” phase then come back and the kid’s conjugating verbs*.

I also got in some much-needed quality time with Mrs. Hicks. We made a great weekend night out of a few warm camo-chic cans of Busch (it was What Was Around, alright?) and the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live.” We have one imperative TV ritual, Tiffany and I, and it’s watching new episodes of SNL live with a drink or two. This will continue far into the future, no matter how bad the show gets. Loyalty to Lorne Michaels & Co. is in our blood.

The late Phil Hartman may actually have been the catalyst for our falling in love. The night I met her, Tiffany and I were laughing about Hartman’s Ed McMahon character, and I was like, “You should come over to my place. We can watch my Best of Phil Hartman DVD.” And she was like, “No, I have to get up early.” And I was like, “Come on, I just want to show you a couple funny things. We’re just friends hanging out.” And she was like, “Okay, but if you hurt me, I’ll kill you.” 3 1/2 years and two live births later, she still hasn’t killed me. I never thought that “friends hanging out” line would pay off. All thanks to Phil Hartman, whose wife did kill him. Which, all these years later, still really sucks.

Quick note – if you ever find yourself with a cast on your leg, feeling filthy because you can’t take a proper shower every day, taping a garbage bag over your cast is not (repeat, NOT!) a foolproof option. If even a small amount of water permeates your cast, the damp, cold, stuck-to-skin feeling lasts way longer than any sensation of cleanliness you’ll receive from said shower**. And that musty, soggy cast smell is way worse.

If you saw me at this leg*** of my recovery, you would likely reach the conclusion that I just don’t care about personal appearance. All I packed for this trip was like five old T-shirts I usually sleep in, two pairs of shorts and one pair of athletic pants. (Athletic! Ha!) I thought I’d be hiding out at my mom’s for a few days. Now it looks like I might be here for up to three weeks. Whoops.

Also, I haven’t shaved since the ankle break. The first few days, it was because I was doped up in the hospital. Then it became a conscious decision. I would use beard growth to mark the length of time since I had a “normal” existence. That beard’s pretty full-on now, and I have a whole list of reasons to defend it:

  • I’ve always hated shaving. It’s the most tedious four minutes of my day. Eight minutes if I also have to shave my legs and pits.
  • My dad and brother sport full beards, so it must have a genetic predetermination sort of component.
  • When else in my life will I be able to experiment with excess facial hair without worrying about loss of employment?
  • The crutches send a pretty strong You Should Stay Outta This Guy’s Way message. The beard really hammers it home.
  • Joaquin Phoenix. Nuff said.



Sarah plays with Legos

* = “I got game, you got game, he/she/it got game, we got game, they got game.” P.E. in full effect right now until the year 2000!

** = Yes, I said “said shower.” My word choice often leans toward that of an ubergoober^.

*** = I will neither confirm nor deny the intendedness of that pun.

^ = All people who say “ubergoober” want to think they invented the term. Well, you guys didn’t, and neither did I. Who actually did? No doubt, a majorextremeprofoundubergoober.