St. Maddie's Day
I was an arrogant kid from a broken home and some pretty unhealthy attitudes about – well – just about everything. My Father had his heart broken, divorced, and never really fully recovered emotionally. Sadly, I was the recipient of a LOT of his vitriol against women. Still, I loved women and hoped to find happiness the way he never did. I had plans for travel and living in places that WEREN’T the South. As a young man in college and looking toward the next phase of life, I wanted someone to share my dreams. So, It was a bit of a shock to even me that I married a woman who already had two children. But I loved those kids and so did My Dad.
It wasn’t an easy transition for me, to say the least, but I loved being a dad to my oldest daughters. Being their Dad was fun and brought me joys I’d never imagined, but also some unimaginable heartbreak and struggles. I tried to step up to the responsibility as best I could. I wanted to be as good a Dad as My Father was to me. Despite his flaws, My Dad really fought hard for me. When I met my oldest daughters in 2000 – I realized I was very much capable of love. Choosing to love someone is different, though. Biology…well, it scared me SO much the thought that I would bring a child into this world and just feel…empty. It was a fear I couldn’t voice. They have labels for people like that. I didn’t want to be one.
I loved being a Dad. However, being a Father was something I was always scared of for so many reasons. Mostly, I’ll admit, I was afraid I wouldn’t love a child of my own – that I wouldn’t be able to emotionally connect to a biological child. I was scared what that would mean for me and for those I loved. I was scared that if I had this child and I DIDN’T feel anything, then did I feel anything for ANYONE? Did I love my daughters? My wife? My Mom and Dad? What was I expressing when I said “I love you” if it wasn’t love? If I wasn’t capable of loving my own blood, what kind of monster would I be?
Somewhere inside me, I always felt – damaged. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of love. I felt like I didn’t deserve love. Moreover, I worried I wasn’t capable. I had a difficult childhood and not nearly enough therapy.
And then, in the wee hours of St. Patrick’s Day In 2005, I met my Best Buddy in the whole of reality. Every fear and anxiety I had was squashed and I realized that I was capable of so much more love than I ever imagined possible. I fell head over for this child…this crying, purple, scrunchfaced…newborn. I didn’t even know her! She couldn’t call me Daddy or hug me or say, “I love you”. She wasn’t dancing around to Backyardigans or crying because I was dropping her off at Mother’s Day Out. She just little – crying or sleeping. Not much personality at that point. Certainly not much for conversation.
You get to know someone – you like them – you love them or you don’t. That’s simple. But this kid…I loved her instantly! And I’ve never stopped. I wouldn’t know how to. And why would I want to? I know there was a time I didn’t even know she existed – before she did…but I cannot imagine ever NOT loving her. Every story I tell in my mind,
The love we share and the beauty of our reality for the past 5 years has been such that I look back less and less on the times we lost together – being alone and wondering when I would ever get to talk to you again – and am so consumed by all of the incredible quality LIFE I’ve had with you.
You are bright, brilliant, funny, smart, sassy, and all the things I hoped for.
You are stronger than you know – Braver than you imagine – with a head on your shoulders I wish I had at your age.
You are the best thing that has ever happened to me.
You are the most consistent thing in my life.
You are the single most consistent source of joy, laughter, happiness, gratitude, warmth, sincerity, pride, and love.
You are so much more and better than I deserve, but you also make me feel like I deserve all the love you give.
You saved my life.
You made my life.
I couldn’t have asked for a better sidekick through this portion of my life. And, at 15, as you’re growing up into starring in your own spinoff, I look forward to suiting up as your sidekick as you take the stage of life.
I’m always on your side. I’ll always have your back. I’m always your Dad. I’ll always love you. We’ll always be Buddies.
I am so proud of you, Maddie. Happy St. Maddie’s Day! And Happy 15th Birthday, Buddy. Now, let’s get you a job and teach you how to drive! You’ve got a world to conquer!