Mrs. Large Man and I have raised two great kids. They’re not better than your kids…they’re not better than anybody. Well, they’re better than me, but that was the plan all along…it was what I hoped for from the start. Please remember “…what I hoped for” as you read the rest of this story.
A lot of people (including me) will insert the barb, “You mean Mrs. Large Man raised two great kids.” Then we follow with “…you were gone all the time playing golf, traveling to exotic lands, like Greensboro, NC, and Rehoboth, Massachusetts”. Well, just so ya know, my well-meaning and beloved friends; no, we both raised these kids, and we both made them who they are…good stuff and flaws.
Mrs. Large Man gave them manners, a work ethic, their pretty faces, and a little bit of class. I gave them curiosity, passion, courage, and belief. It may not seem like I’ve been around… but I was, and I am, and I gave them good things. Not “store things”, just good things. I don’t spend a lot of time boasting on my contributions to society, but I’m unapologetically (it’s a word) proud of the two people Mrs. Large Man and I are about to donate to you.
I’ve written a tale or two about the magic I felt the day my kids were born. The very first “official” Large Man Chronicle was ‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls’ written about the day I met my daughter. I can’t wait to finish and share the story of my son’s first day here with us. He came quickly, and quietly, with a little bit of humor, and just a touch of intrigue, and he’s spent the last fifteen years living pretty much that same way.
I explained once in a Large Man story about how I didn’t want kids, and how stupid I was for thinking that I didn’t want kids, because I think kids have ultimately defined who the Large Man really is.
I love being a dad.
When my daughter was born, after the original scared shitless days, I remember the bliss that came after “bath and boobs”, just holding that little bundle of hope, and staring into those little blue eyes full of potential, and thinking about all the things she was going to be able to be. This baby girl was going to be the “fix” to all my flaws and failures, and she was going to make me a better person. It was no longer about me, it was about her.
Then I remember thinking, Didn’t I say that same shit about my wife when I decided to ask her to marry me? Yeah, I did.
My wife was going to straighten me out, and here was the theory:
I knew she was a good person, and for the first time in my life, I also knew, and trusted, that she loved me. This was the first time someone who wasn’t required by birth and bloodlines to love me, actually loved me…not because she had to, but because she wanted to. If somebody this good, this beautiful, and this amazing, could love me, maybe, I didn’t need to be “straightened out”. If someone like her could love someone like me, then there simply had to be good and beautiful and amazing things inside of me.
Yeah, no… I was wrong there…way off. Turns out, great, amazing, intelligent and beautiful women fall in love with assholes almost every day.
But, somehow, holding my daughter, kissing those little cheeks, and nibbling on those tiny little perfect fingers, and gazing into those perfect little eyes that gave me hope, I trusted that she was going to be amazing, and I was still going to be flawed, and that it was all going to be okay.
The day I found out my son was coming, I experienced two extreme and opposite emotions. My wife and I were on our way to The Virginia Wine Festival and as I was getting ready to manipulate her…I mean convince her, into being the “designated driver”, she came out of the bathroom with one of those sticks in her hand, and a smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eye.
My initial reaction: YES! DD baby! Daddy is gonna get his drank on! Because this is what people with goodness inside of them do at wine festivals when they find out they have another child on the way.
Then, like 10 seconds later, I thought, Damn, another baby? I’m just getting used to the idea that I’m not gonna break the one I have. I love my little girl more than anything I have ever loved. I didn’t even know you could love like this. How on Earth will there be enough of me to love another one? They’re both gonna be cheated.
I share these very personal thoughts as support data for my earlier statement that women fall in love with assholes all the time. But I’m an asshole that can learn.
Wanna know what I learned?
I think if you love, and you love unconditionally, love becomes infinite. I could have ten kids, and I would love each one as much as the other. That’s what I learned the day my son showed up. I didn’t know it until the day he came, but it happened the second I saw him. I owe him for that one, that’s a lot for an asshole to learn in one second.
I think loving someone, and ALLOWING SOMEONE TO LOVE YOU, allows you to change, and evolve, and to develop the good things inside of you. And I think most of us have good things inside us.
So now these babies who taught me and my wife (but mostly me) these great lessons on love and life and goodness, have grown up. We have laughed and learned together, been on great adventures together, and we have experienced intolerable sorrow together. Our storms of life have been much more bearable because of this bond…a house full of love and kids can do that to you. It’s what I hoped for.
I’ve bitched and moaned so many times as I grabbed a jacket and boots and sat through the rain sleet and snow at soccer games, band performances, football games and track meets. I’ve whined and complained about “FOUR NIGHTS IN A ROW AT THE THEATER?! REALLY? ARE WE ON F-ING BROADWAY NOW? I’M RUNNING OUT OF BLAZERS!” And at the time of my protests, there was always a little truth in my ranting, but I never regretted going. There is always something that amazes me, or tickles me, or makes me proud. Watching one of my kids do something I can’t do, and something I didn’t teach them, has been one of my life’s greatest joys…there is an emotion there that I’m not skilled enough to explain in a Chronicle.
But things are changing. My daughter is driving, she’s been accepted to college, and I just watched her march with her marching band for the very last time. My son is riding in cars with buddies, he’s talking to the ladies, and he’s making decisions for himself. Just in the month of August, both of my kids showed me strength of character, maturity, and courage, that would make the most disinterested and detached parents on Earth beam with pride. They did these things on their own, as their own people…kinda like grown-ups.
It’s the nature of things, and these are things to celebrate…and it’s what I hoped for.
All my dreams somehow had me and their mom in the same picture with them. When my daughter was fighting for justice in a courtroom, passionately speaking the truth as she stares over her glasses into the eyes of the judge, I was sitting on one of those hard wooden benches watching with pride and admiration. And in that dream, when the bad guy spoke harshly or threatened her, I stared him down with my best Clint Eastwood stare and he sat his ass back down. (I’m talking ‘Dirty Harry’ and ‘Unforgiven’ Clint, not Republican Convention Clint)
When my son rescued dogs from puppy mills, scored touchdowns, hit home runs, and pulled women and children from burning buildings, in the dream, I’m driving him to all these activities. As he crosses the finish line, covered with sweat and grit and blood, I’m handing him the Gatorade and his mom is handing him a cold washcloth to wipe away the hurt.
My daughter and my son are going to stare down life’s bullies, bad guys, and “storms”, because they can. They’re better than me, and that’s what I hoped for. I just didn’t think it was going to happen so fast, and I didn’t think they were going to do it without me.
I didn’t think about that part.