Archive for the 'Awesomeness of my father' 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.

FAMILY PICTURE OF THE DAY

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2011: A blog a day, I promise

January 1, 2011

Andrew Hicks

Ankle break aside, 2010 was one of the best years of my life. My second baby was born, my first baby really began to grow into her personality, I started this blog, I quit drinking, I made inroads into standup comedy, I met some great Facebook friends, I continued my slooooow progression into adulthood, and I steadily seemed to enjoy everyday life more and more as the year went on.

I didn’t manage to achieve my simplest goal for this blog, though — I want to update it daily. Well, 2011 will be the year I post every day, and to hold myself accountable, I’m participating in the WordPress Post a Day 2011 campaign.

I’m already going to have to cheat and backdate the post time, though, since my blog dashboard seems to think I live in London. Blog time is six hours ahead of actual time, so I’ve already missed January 1st by that definition. I don’t know if that’s the international dateline or if I could easily change the setting to central time with a little poking around. That’s not my concern. My concern is writing every day, even if it means writing about time zone settings I can’t figure out how to change or if I can change. Quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, people. First things first.

The highlight of New Year’s for me was spending a total of two hours on the phone with my mom and dad. With the time consumption of the Wife-N-Kids life plus my own lazy procrastination and antisocial behavior, I haven’t devoted enough communication time to either of them over the years. And each, I think, has been too considerate to be the social aggressor in initiating regular phone calls.

I closed out the year with separate high-quality dialogues with both parents. My mom I’ve known all along, but my dad and I have been incommunicado for about half my life. I’m only now realizing he’s twice the talker and thinker that I am. I laughed harder at his end of our phone conversation than I have at any movie or TV comedy since I stopped drinking. I’m at the perfect stage of my life’s journey to seat my parents up toward the front. The peak of my relationship with each has yet to come, and it’ll be a lot of fun climbing to the top.

Speaking of family, today is my stepson Josh’s 18th birthday and the first time I’ve mentioned in my blog that I have a stepson. (He has red hair, too, though I long ago tired of cracking second-rate “redheaded stepchild” jokes.) When I started the blog, I made a decision that I wouldn’t write about Josh until he got to legal voting and smoking and lotto-gambling age. It’s one thing to tell stories about my own kids. Neither of them is old enough to read, write or kick my butt. But I wanted to respect Josh’s privacy. Now that he’s legally an adult, I can feel free to bitch to the world about how he pees on the toilet seat sometimes.

The number-one question I’ve been asked — when it becomes apparent to people that I’m a 32-year-old man with a 38-year-old wife, an 18-year-old stepson and two kids age 2 and below — is, “Isn’t it weird?” And you’d think it would be. When I was 14, and my parents had been divorced a few years, I don’t think I would’ve welcomed having a stepdad living in the house with me and doing my mom. Much less a stepdad who met my mom in April, got married in July and got her pregnant the following March. But the situation, as it developed, seemed natural from the beginning. Okay, I often feel much more like Big Brother than Dad to Josh, but it’s obvious that he values my opinion and my presence. Both good things.

So, anyway, you can find new words right here tomorrow. And every day this year. Who knows? I might even write something funny next time.

BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY

Josh holds Silas on the day he was born.