The time frame for this, the fourth of six chapters of my life as I enter the tender age of 50 (in less than two weeks if you’re mailing your gift to me…), begins around the beginning of 1989. Connie and I had been married for almost a year when she brought it to my attention that we should start trying in earnest to get pregnant. If I remember it correctly we didn’t discuss how much the baby would cost us in terms of money, time, patience, formula, medicine, insurance, sickness, loss of sleep, worry or anything else….we were 23 years old and it was time. Connie, being a right-brained analytical type, purchased a Basal thermometer and started charting her ovulation cycle on graph paper which was compared to a calendar on her nightstand. After a couple of months of this she informed me that “this next week I’ll need you on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights around nine PM” to which I wholeheartedly agreed that, this whole baby-making scheme of hers sounded “just grand” to me (HAR HAR). What I came to quickly realize was that being called upon to sire a bloodline is TOTALLY different from frisky and fun spontaneous sex. My bride was all business…with no time for foolishness nor foreplay. She was all “GET ‘ER DONE” before the phrase was coined. The following video closely illustrates our exchanges at that time. The movie She’s Having a Baby was the movie that we went to see on our first date. Funny stuff…hits close to home.
We got pregnant quickly though it didn’t last…two times in a row. We were heartbroken, with one even going into the second trimester. Geez…did we really want this hurt to continue? We cautiously approached this whole “parenthood” thing again and came through it with our first-born daughter Jordan. She was perfect. Eight pounds and a head full of hair. As I laid down to sleep that night, with Connie and Jordan still at the hospital I thought to myself “I can finally relax…she’s born…she’s here…” before a stark realization pierced my conscience with “DEAR GOD…IT’S JUST BEGUN!!”
After Jordan was born Eastman Kodak probably posted record earnings. We took photos of her endlessly. Repeat…endlessly. She was unique. She was so smart. She was in the 100% percentile of her age group!! She also pooped a great deal, spit up almost constantly, tried to eat our cat and was the apple of our eye. Why our child was destined to be someone wonderful!!
First born children shoulder the burden of breaking in new parents. Who would teach new parents that they should ALWAYS bring at least one set of clean clothes for the baby to even the most routine trip…? The first-born. Who would teach new parents that they shouldn’t leave the diaper bag (with diapers, wipes, Tylenol, pacifier and burp clothes in it) on top of their car then drive twenty miles before realizing that its now somewhere along a rural county blacktop…probably being ripped apart by cars driving over it? The first-born. (true story…we realized it at eight o’clock at night…as we were getting ready to put Jordan down for the night). Someone found it and turned it into the sheriffs office where we picked it up the next day.
Fast forward three years and BAM!! Daughter number two shows up and she’s TOTALLY different from her sister in attitude, temperament and intestinal regularities (funny how when a kid doesn’t poop as often how your WHOLE being is centered on that until the issue is relieved…no pun intended). We were in a new town, a nice apartment, new careers and adjusting to being a family of four.
And fast forward again…
BAM!! Mason Sue was born…all TEN POUNDS OF HER. Our girls topped the charts in weight by coming into this world weighing at least eight pounds each.
By the time Macy arrived we were old hands at raising little girls. We had bought a little house and Connie was real adept at finding garage sale clothes that a growing family needed and bought our girls winter coats the previous spring during seasonal closeouts. Our kids didn’t mind and frankly…our family of five’s budget was lean. All through this time there were always plenty of books, a sandbox, a swing set, bunk beds and their imagination.
We continued to learn life lessons…like if our toddler ate half a bag of cheese popcorn at the babysitters said toddler of ours would throw up an orange mess onto our beige carpet that wouldn’t come out. Or…if one child gets sick the parent who slept on the floor of their bedroom to comfort them would eventually catch what the kid had (it didn’t kill me….)
It was around this time that I taught the girls how to ride their bikes. True story. They were having trouble learning how to ride, so I loaded up their bikes, dressed them in jeans and drove them to a park with a steep grassy hill. They put on their helmets, knee and elbow pads then I had them take their bikes to the top of the hill. They weren’t too sure of this method and expressed their doubts constantly to me. They got on their bikes and I pushed them off, yelling “PEDAL!! DON’T STOP PEDALLING!!” They’d make it a little ways, crash then really expressed their doubts about my methods with “DOES MOM KNOW ABOUT YOUR TRYING TO KILL US?!?!” Within minutes they were riding their bikes down the hill and onto the blacktop playground at the base of that hill. Happy and confident, but not without a bump or two. The girls were little, and whenever Connie left town for a conference and I had to be Mister Mom for several days I ran our girls hard….and they loved it. If it were summer I’d let them get up around 8 and mill around the house until ten or so. I’d load up the van with bikes, a cooler of food and drinks then head off to a park where they’d play until lunch time. We’d picnic, then change into our swimsuits and go to the pool. After a couple of hours at the pool we’d head to Dairy Queen for ice cream. After getting home I’d send them outside to play some more. Supper. Showers. A little TV and reading then send them off to bed at 7:30 where they’d crash. It was a great plan…sadly I was almost as wore out as they were.
Without Connie around I usually relaxed the house rules. On one occasion I encouraged belching at the dinner table with a follow up exclamation “GOOD FOR YOU!!” shouted by everyone and hitting the table with both hands (this was done by one adult, me, and three little girls under the age of 11 for approximately one week). It went over BIG!! The girls loved it and practiced it as often as they could…with silverware clattering with each pounding and a lot of laughing….then Connie got home. I didn’t think to tell the girls to stop our little routine, why would I? At our first meal with Connie back Macy let out an ear-splitting belch that would make a sailor proud then hit the table with both hands and yelled “GOOD FOR ME!!!!” with a big smile on her face. Connie’s jaw hit the floor. Jordan and Karalee looked on in astonishment like Macy was about to die. I chuckled and told Connie what we had been doing. It ended right….there.
Fast forward…we wanted a larger house and bought one. Everyone was excited. Each girl had their own bedroom and got to decorate it accordingly. Friday afternoons I’d pick them up from school then race home to clean the house, shower, order pizza then crash on the couch and watch Nickelodeon’s Friday night line up of Dexter’s Laboratory, SpongeBob, Jimmy Neutron, Rugrats and Ed, Edd and Eddy.
School days…roughly 7,000 of them…not to mention their time in college. Our girls got good grades, a direct reflection of their mother’s influence.
Lots of Halloweens…
Connie was/is always in charge of Christmas. Since I work retail I’m usually not in any good mood to do anything other than drink and watch others enjoy the festivities. We both grew up with generous, loving and thoughtful parents. I’d like to think that we carried those traits onto our family.
Lot’s of birthdays. We’ve hosted many, many birthday parties for our daughters. When they got older and had friends over…we got wiser and ended “sleep overs”. I suddenly started feeling my age when I started telling kids “its 4 AM dammit…get into your sleeping bags and go to sleep!!” One hundred and thirteen birthday cakes later…we’re still ready for more.
Vacations. We finally started taking good vacations. Destination spots. Disney. Washington DC. Colorado. It’d take a couple of years to save up for them. I think that Connie and I were just as excited as our girls were.
Photos!! We took a lot of photos!! There’s around 15 large photo albums of the past 27 years, with roughly 20 smaller photo albums of our vacations. Connie is to credit for all of these, that and we took photos of everyday life and special occasions.
Did I mention birthday parties…?
Graduations…four of them. Three high school. One college.
As a tradition that our girls started…whenever we have a holiday or event that one of them can’t attend, the absent ones face is printed out and taped to the face of a stuffed snowman…so she can be there in spirit. What started out as a joke is now kind of a deal for them.
Empty-nesters. Nuff said.
Flying the nest…literally…
Traditions. We have them. Won’t go too far into them. One is cookie baking for the holidays. Here Karalee photobombs with the batter. I think she’s practicing to take my spot as the family ham…but I’m still firmly on my throne.
As I looked back through our family photos I became a little melancholy. Where did the time go? I always knew that we were very blessed, but to see it again and again….and again…all of the love, the fun and good times…it makes me feel overly blessed. Connie’s done a WONDERFUL job as a wife, and mother of our daughters…I couldn’t ask God for a better person to spend my life with. I couldn’t ask for better parents or in-laws. They’re the kind of folks that taught us about love, affection, laughter, honor, God, home, a work ethic, family, solidarity, responsibility, honesty and how to be a good parent, spouse and brother/sister. They taught us without saying anything most days….we just didn’t know it.
Whenever I overhear a young couple say that they don’t have enough money saved up to have a child I tell them “don’t wait, you’ll never have enough money and you’re missing out on the ride of a lifetime.” Parenthood isn’t for everyone….but it was for me.
Once in a great while…we get all three of our daughters home. It doesn’t happen very often. When we do…this is how they act…
…but this is how I still see them…
Parenthood has made me a better person. Nuff said.
God bless and thanks for coming along…