Friday, February 15, 2008

A Dad's Tale

One of the great rewards of making this project is to have so many fantastic people reaching out to us with their thoughts, their stories and their their determination to improve their families and the world. Below is pasted a note we recently received from a dad named Rich. We found it to be inspirational. Thanks for sharing, Rich. Here it is...

A Promise

I used to think I knew everything about myself. I figured I was a fairly simple person that knew where I was and where I was going.

Then I became a dad….not thinking or even knowing what being a dad really meant. The best memory I will most likely ever have is when I heard the doctor say “I see girl parts”. Seeing my daughter for the first time was having all my needs and wants met at the same time. When Ava was born – A switch clicked inside – and I really knew who I was…Ava’s Dad!
Minutes, hours, days, months and even a year and some months have gone by. Every day Ava teaches me things about the world and myself. My profession is a teacher… but I will never be able to teach to others like Ava teaches to me. A look, smile, cry tell me so much.

Feelings never meant so much to me. I want her to be happy, safe, smart…I want her to be everything she wants to be.
Funny thing – this normal every day person was given a tremendous gift. Not sure why I was chosen – but I know I have to nurture, teach and keep safe our precious little girl. Ava is going to grow up and do great things in life.. it is my job to make sure she has every opportunity.

When Ava was born, we figured she would go to daycare and we would return to our normal lives. My wife had 3 months for maternity leave and then I had the summer off. The plan was Ava would go into daycare when she was 5 months old. We visited many daycare or should I say “learning centers” before agreeing on one close to our home. As the day grew closer – I felt something just wasn’t right.

The day before Ava’s first day of school I went out and bought her a new outfit. It then hit me..I am sending my 5 month old baby to stay with strangers during the most important time of day. With this in my mind.. I went to work that day. I called the “learning center” to make sure Ava was doing ok on her first day. The worker informed me Ava was not at the one dropped her off. Honestly, my first feeling was relief, I figured my wife changed her mind. I called my wife to make sure … and was informed that she dropped Ava off about an hour earlier. In a panic I left work and headed to the center – on the way – as I was calling 911 – the center called and said they made a mistake.. Ava was there. I then realized that I had made the mistake. When I picked her up that day I made a single promise to her – I would devote all my energy for the rest of my life to protect and care for her.
We called on all our relatives to take week long shifts to watch Ava. The hope was my wife would be able to leave her job and stay home. Unfortunately, we are not wealthy people and my wife makes the money in the family. So, I left my teaching job and began the most important job I will ever have.

One problem was solved- Ava was no longer in day care. Another problem began – we needed more money. I decided to try and start my own business to make ends meet. After many long nights I decided to start a poop scoop business. It sounds ridiculous now, but I was desperate to make it work. I would go to a vet office and pick up dog poop. The worse part is I was doing it for free – well they would let me advertise in their offices.

The business was not working, money was running short, and my promise was slipping away. Knowing that failure was not an option I kept looking for work. Searching the internet I came across an online teaching job – interviewed and after a part-time stint – I was hired full-time! I usually work when Ava is napping in the afternoon – then stay up until 3-4am in the morning finishing my work. It sounds like a lot but I know I will want these days back when I am older.

Ava and I now spend our days together in our own crazy little world. She loves music… we dance to old records… loves to watch the record go round and round. We go to the record store and search for old “Who”, Neil Young, Tom Petty or Zeppelin records. We go to the beach, zoo, park, playgroups, theme parks, library, Gymboree, baseball, basketball, football games.. we go everywhere.

Funny thing is I feel a lot of guilt. I wish my wife was able to stay home and experience Ava. It seems more natural for the mother to stay home during the day. When we are at the playgroup or playground – and I am the only dad – I can feel out of place. The moms would probably approach my wife and Ava would have more friends.

Since I have been home with Ava I have noticed other dad’s asking a lot of questions. One dad has decided he is going to stay with his daughter. Maybe the single promise I made to Ava can grow to other dads and their daughters….

Thanks for listening.


Bob said...

I know how the guy feels, from the guilt of thinking about placing the child in a daycare and the guilt of wishing the mom could get to experience so much of what my son and I are doing to the happiness at finding online work that allows me to lose sleep and be at home with my son. I'm now homeschooling my little genius, and will continue for at least another couple of years because I feel like the beginning of school is as important a time as the beginning of life and should be given 100 percent devotion--if at all possible.

Dana said...

Thanks for chiming in, Bob. Good luck with your 'little genius.' From talking with young adults and older kids, the devotion you speak of is something they really keep with themselves in their later years.