An Honest List Of Thanks

November 24, 2010 in Fatherhood Insights  

An Honest List Of Thanks

It’s thanksgiving… our first with Aiden as a dood — before he was just a bean, now he’s a dood. (And a dud often enough! yuck yuck!) And after all the learning and trauma that comes with an infant, our family life has settled into a rhythm now — enough of a rhythm to take some internal inventory about my life… might as well do it out loud… in front of a million people… on the internet. :)

The Un-Split

I think about my life this past year, how I’m finding myself in a raging, grinding day to day battle with my own selfishness — all the things I have to give up to father my son, all the things I don’t get to do and build and buy just to stay married, all the ways my life can’t be the way I’d like it to be.

Yes, I can be that self absorbed. I can be that disrespectful and angry and petulant and hollow… I can all but abandon my family in my work and leave my wife feeling isolated… I have a real knack for emotional aloofness, it runs in the family.

Chase & Mellisa ReevesBut my wife is still with me, barely, mostly. We’ve had scares, but she’s still here, taking my shit, trusting that I’ll be “better when I’m older,” that next month I’ll be a little less aloof, a little more natural and engaged at home… that next month she’ll feel a little less like she’s raising Aiden alone.

Of course she fights back and beats me a bit — leaning into me and leaving some marks, letting me know where I end and she begins. I’m happy she’s still with me. I’m happy I’m still with her. I’m thankful we didn’t part ways and try to parent our son together apart.

I’m thankful for that. That’s some real-life shit, almost splitting up, then going through a process of choosing each other again. I’m thankful we were able to regroup, get alone, get honest and try again.

The Remaining Elasticity

There’s so much sacrifice and monotony and garbage days and dish-cleaning and un-sexiness in regular life, it can really break you up inside. It’s like, there’s life, and then there’s that day when you wake up and realize, “this is not the life I want!” And then you have to figure out what you do from there… and that’s life too.

I think this is pretty common for men, for dads… and we’re all just hoping that it’s worth it, that the small shit, the long days, the exhaustion, the giving up of things, the r’trded petulant 2 year old with his incessant unhappiness and brief (ever so brief) moments of beauty that flash across his face and then are gone like so many dreams of a once vibrant father, that all this stuff we’re doing to build a family will be worth it, that, the tough shit won’t last and over time we’ll develop a special bond with each other, with our family, a rapport, a friendship, an easy relationship.

Being worn out as a dadThere’s still a little hope in me for that, which I’m thankful for. I still have a little elasticity in my soul, not yet entirely dried up and crackly and stiff like old, cheap leather. That elasticity keeps me in the game on those days when I wake up saying “this is not the life I want” — not that I don’t get whiny and petulant, but at least I stick around. That’s something to be thankful for.

The WW2 Voice

I know we’re supposed to “enjoy the journey”… well, there’s “enjoying” and there’s “enjoying.” There’s some shit that we’re just not going to like, isn’t there; stuff that you have to just take on the chin and roll with… let’s be realistic about that. You’re going to have some shit happen in your life that you just don’t like. Hell, you may even have a lot of regularly occurring shit in your life that you don’t like — grown up shit, shit that’s gotta get done.

Well there’s often a voice in us men, a tribute to our grandparents and men in ages past — an earthy and heavy and strong and ruddy voice — and when we talk too much about all the “sacrifice” we’re making, all the things we have to give up, and dreams deflated and empty energy tanks… when we go on and on about the tough shit in our lives as dads, this voice responds:

“Tough shit, pal. We all want it easier, but the field won’t plow and till itself. So get your shit together and quit asking the world to pay attention to you; it was here first.”

I’m thankful I still have that voice in tact, keeping me from being an utter and complete pssy… And I’m also thankful I’ve got enough pssy in me to at least whine intelligently about the hard shit so I can figure out what the hell I’m frustrated about! …Thanks mom! ;)

The Below The Surface Love

When the shit is hard, when you’re exhausted and empty, there’s these moments with your kid, these fleeting, fluttery, hopeful moments, like glimpsing a unicorn through dense tree and hilly dale. One of these moments can fill you up real good, like when your 2 year old, the one who’s been wining and shitty all day, crawls up to lean against you on the couch while he tries to put the back-end of a mechanical pencil back into it’s right place — sitting there with his little profile, his little fingers and thumbs working so patiently and engaged, like you can see the primary color thoughts going on in his little 2 year old brain.

Deep wells of love for your kidNot only do these moments remind you of how stupid your kid is (you really should lower your expectations), but you also get to feel that love stuff rise up inside of you and break the surface, that deep down rumble, a vibration in your gut… building something out of nothing, like it’s unending, like you’ve got this perpetual love machine churning out so much energy and compassion right underneath the surface of your consciousness, and you always forget about it because it so rarely erupts onto the scene.

In your world full of decay and exhaustion, to feel that swell of the good stuff can fill your tanks right up… it can also make you puke and faint from the sheer vastness of it!

I’m thankful for those moments, I’m thankful for that love that breaks through the surface. Those moments remind me not only that my son is lovely, but that I’m OK, and I’ll be able to keep fathering him a bit longer without completely giving up…

Conclusion

Pretty bleak stuff, huh? Yes and no. This is real life stuff — at least for me it is. And my “thank you’s” from within this real life stuff are a hell-of-a-lot more heavy and true than they used to be when I was all elasticity and ideals.

I hope you’re sticking around your life, friend. I hope this thanksgiving is real and ruddy and hopeful, that you take it for what it is and put a little energy behind empathy, compassion, and a solid joke or two. CHEERS!

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

~ Meister Eckhart

photos courtesy of SkyTruth, ani!

Please Comment & Add Your Voice!

Chris Loach November 24, 2010 at 10:29 am

Wow! I love reading open and honest stories even if there was some pain along the way. As a single and childless dude I enjoy reading and learning from your blog Chase. Keep it up!

Reply

Chase November 24, 2010 at 10:46 am

Thanks Chris! I appreciate it.

Kyle November 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

Amazing list of thanks, Chase. Thank you for your honesty. I really resonated with the “The Below the Surface Love” section. Last night was super rough with my son, Sam, who is just 5 weeks. He’s trying to figure out who he is, how he fits into our family, and how to communicate with us. Anyway, I was changing his diaper when, all of a sudden, this fussy, noisy, 9lb-12oz colicky baby looked at me – I’m talking straight into my soul – and shot me the most charming, loving smile I’ve ever seen in my life. My heart melted. The hours of fussiness that led up to that moment disappeared. My frustration with myself for not being able to soothe him, gone. That deep well of love truly exists and it seems no matter how hard the situation it has its own way of creeping up to the surface.

Reply

Chase November 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm

That’s awesome Kyle! Yea, my son had this ability to shoot me one of those smiles right before I drop-kicked him into the next room… left me teary eyed and ready to buy him am Audi or something.

Courtney November 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Well said homie.

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Mellisa November 24, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I’m thankful for the reminders, big and small, of why we choose each other.

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Metroknow November 24, 2010 at 10:15 pm

Primary color thoughts. Brilliant.

I really enjoyed the post, with resonance galore. After arriving at our familial destination by way of an 8-hour drive with my wife and our 3- and 6-yr-old, it was a great reminder to me of why we do this to ourselves, this raising kids and family togetherness thing that is perhaps the hardest thing I’ve had to do to date. And now, as I type this and look at the sweetest, most honest, innocent faces I have ever known sleeping quietly in their fuzzy pajamas, it is so crystal clear why I get up and do it all over again every single day.

Thank you – your honesty did not go unnoticed.

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Chase November 25, 2010 at 8:41 am

Thanks, sir. Is “Resonance Galore” your Bond villain name?

Willie Jackson November 25, 2010 at 7:08 am

This was poetic, raptor-face. Likey.

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Chase November 25, 2010 at 8:43 am

Thx, man!
Sincerely, Reggie
PO box: dead people everywhere
Jurassic Park, Island, 111112

Josh Hall November 25, 2010 at 8:16 am

Well said my friend. I appreciate the vulnerability and honesty of this post. Its a good reminder especially to husbands and dads that were not crazy, or at least not crazy alone. Thankful for you man. Keep on keepin’ on.

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Chase November 25, 2010 at 8:43 am

We are, indeed, not alone in our craziness! Thx Josh.

bunny November 25, 2010 at 8:20 am

loving and grateful for you Chase….glad to hear your heart is winning…..

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Chase November 25, 2010 at 8:44 am

Thanks Bunny!

Mitchell November 25, 2010 at 9:59 am

That was some beautiful, REAL shit. In this time of year that is so wrought with phoniness and superficial bullshit, I appreciate you sharing the dirt, the “ruddy” earth of yourself because it reminds me that the real exists and is vibrant and alive. Thank you so much and Happy Thanksgiving.

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Chase November 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Thanks man, I’m real glad this resonated with you.

AdamBam November 25, 2010 at 10:06 am

I saw a counselor for a spell last year because I was having “frustration issues” . At the time, my daughters were 1 & 2 yrs old – let’s be honest: their incessant sleeplessness, screaming, whining, sniveling was enough to bring Don Draper himself to his knees. Not to mention drive a serious wedge between my wife and me. It’s no wonder that when defenseless little kids are making life miserable 85% of the time, mom & dad end up going toe-to-toe with each other because they’re the only other adult in the room.

During a session, the counselor (who had no kids & no desire to have kids) started editorializing on parenting: “Right, wrong, or indifferent, I think becoming a parent is one of the most selfish things we can do as humans.” With as much tact as I could muster, I told the dude that when it comes to actually showing up as a father, HE COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE MORE WRONG. Aaaaaaand that was the last time I showed up to his office, obviously.

All that to say, this post (& this website concept) is money, Chase. Keep doing what you’re doing.

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Chase November 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Hey man, cheers! thanks Adam. I really appreciate it… now quit being so goddam selfish and stop having babies! lol :)

Adam B November 25, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Dad’s need to have an ‘honesty’ button somewhere in the house that they can press from time to time to let out all the things that are frustrations. But then, the important thing is to come back to the core values of fatherhood: the love and nurture of our children.
My 5 year old was being particularly stubborn the other night, meaning I went all narky. But, to sit with her on her bed cuddled in, telling her that she was loved and was important, helped repair the situation.
Dads need to break out of the stereotypes of stoic silence. And this is a great forum for it: we understand the trials and joys of fatherhood. We want to be better dads, for the benefit of our children, spouse and ourselves.
Gentlemen, keep the love going.

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Chase November 25, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Boom! Good words Adam. Keep breaking the stoic silence.

Chase November 27, 2010 at 7:27 am

Lol! My mom saw this post and emailed me the following wonderful advice… I left all spelling and punctuation in tact from the original communication:

###

“Hey Buddy…. Take a death breath, look at your wife and your son, understand your income…..fucking enjoy……

You have been given “GODS BLESSINGS”……”

###

Lol! Thanks mom… death breathing as we speak. But srsly. Thx.

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Lisa November 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Thanks for writing this Chase. You’re good at what you do.

Reply

Chase November 29, 2010 at 11:57 am

Thx lisa…

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