Tag Archives: Men

The Heroic

But truly, women are amazing. Think about it this way: a woman can grow a baby inside her body. Then a woman can deliver the baby through her body. Then, by some miracle, a woman can feed a baby with her body. When you compare that to the male’s contribution to life, it’s kind of embarrassing, really.
-Jim Gaffigan

As long as I’ve known my wife, Amber, her passion has been singing. “Passion” almost doesn’t seem like a strong enough word. It’s been her dream to sing since she was in grade school. She’s followed the rainbow from Ohio to Missouri, Phoenix and back again. She’s invested thousands of dollars and hours into her pursuit. It’s a longing so strong that she prays about it every day…it sometimes even wakes her up at night. Before I ever met my wife, I heard her music…and her dream has never been unreachable. She is AMAZING. So, you can imagine my surprise when, a couple months ago, she came to me one day with a revelation.

“I feel like I should give up my music.”

She explained that she wanted to see change in Cailyn more than anything else, and that her pursuit of singing had occupied a space in her life that she felt led to sacrifice for the love of her daughter. In the weeks since she made this commitment, I’ve seen more positive change in Cailyn than in the prior year…and I’ve seen more joy in Amber.

The word “hero” is thrown around a lot, these days. The term took on a new meaning for me, when I returned home a few days ago. I grabbed the mail, walked into the house and saw Amber patiently working with Cailyn on her tracing. There was food cooking on the stove and Dalton was going wild around her. There were chalk drawings outside, she had cut the lawn, cleaned the house, and the laundry was in the final stages. Just then, I looked over at the bills in my hand and realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d written a check. If a “hero” is defined by a person, who gives up their life for another, then I am certain I married one.

She isn’t alone. It takes a hero to commit 31 years out of the prime of her life to selflessly and gracefully raise four strong-willed and often ungrateful children. It takes a hero to battle the day-to-day stress of restaurant ownership, knowing that the demands at home will never allow her to “punch out.” Heroes commit to their children, sometimes working multiple shifts to provide when the father walks out. Heroes decide to keep, love, and protect their unborn child…even when the doctor discovers birth defects. A hero carries their baby with care for nine months, knowing that she’ll have to give it up to someone else, so it can have a better life. It requires a hero to cope with, let alone thrive in, a home with a child who has special needs.

A few days after we took Cailyn home, I called my mom. The conversation went something like this:

“Mom, you did a lot of things wrong with me, but you were just a KID. I only now realize that you had absolutely NO idea what you were doing, but I can see that every decision you made was with my best interest at heart, because you loved me. I guess it’s life’s greatest injustice that we never understand how much our parents love us until we’re out of the house with our own. I can only hope that Cailyn understands these things and makes this same call to me, someday.”

There are millions of strong, capable, and talented women with dreams. So many of them have sacrificed youth, ambition, and personal freedom to guide new life through an unforgiving world…and, quite frankly, to perform feats that leave their husbands in pure awe.

Though their personal passions and dreams never fade, they are surpassed by a love that overwhelms self; A bond that is developed during overnight feedings, wiping butts and runny noses, kissing boo boos, breaking fevers, driving to events, waiting up all night; One that could only be formed by having another human living INSIDE of you for nine months…a love that defies the explanation of man, because it is unique to mothers.

When you compare that to the male’s contribution to life, it’s kind of embarrassing, really.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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An Introduction to Man (Part 1)

As men, we have some basic instincts that come with the standard load on an “XY” chromosome. We are pre-programmed to protect and provide for our families, form logical plans of action, execute those plans with precision, never ask for directions, and fix all that is broken. This is who I am and the most family-friendly way I can describe the general male populous.

As an individual, I’ve always been able to shape my circumstances through an accurate understanding of my limitations and supplementing areas of weakness with hard work, dedication, and the occasional call to a service technician (I’m a terrible handyman). I never understood hopelessness because hope could be manufactured through framing events in the perspective of people with “real” problems. I was in my niche and I played life safe enough to always succeed. It was a controlled, comfortable lifestyle.

Then came love, next came marriage, then came Cailyn in a baby carriage…

The moment she popped out, I counted fingers and toes and breathed a sigh of relief. Now I had complete control. The Big Man did His job (with some help from prenatal vitamins) for the first nine months. Now, I’ll take it from here.

It’s surprisingly easy to manipulate the environment of an infant. You keep them from the runny-nosed ankle biters in nursery and day care, throw on an extra jacket for a cold day, and avoid crazy old women in the grocery store. There are industries built on books, videos, toys, and step-by-step programs to make sure your kid is healthy, polite, and intelligent. The Internet provides access to medical advice, insurance allows you to take them to to doctor for every sniffle, and overpriced baby food will ensure they have the right nourishment. It’s a compartmentalized, logical, and controllable world.

Like most first-time (read “insane”) parents, I tracked milestones and freaked out when, at exactly 21 days old, my daughter wasn’t cooing loudly enough or following objects with her eyes. I remember Cailyn crossing the threshold on the average age to start crawling. Amber and I worked with her for three straight days and averted a global crisis by getting her to crawl while she was still in that “meaty” part of the curve. It was the same for every milestone, until we hit about a year of age.

Everyone has a story about their slow to talk, now perfectly normal relative. The stories become more frequent as your child falls further behind. After awhile, you even start to go through them in your mind. Finally, I came up with a solution. Like any red-blooded American child, Cailyn was fascinated with the TV, so Amber and I bought “Your Baby Can Read” for her first birthday. Surely, this was just a temporary setback that needed remedied so that we could resume a normal, controlled life.

After all, men fix what we deem to be broken.

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