Gone, Daddy, gone

(Las Vegas, Nevada) Yesterday my son jumped into the swimming pool and swam the length of it without stopping. When he finished, he popped his head up out of the water and looked at me. He was waiting to see my reaction. He wanted to see how I, an out-of-shape thirty-something reacted to a not yet five years old kid swimming with such gusto.

I sat there for half a second in utter amazement, then pulled him into my arms and hugged him until he squirmed away. I was barely sure what I was feeling. It took a full five minutes before it hit me.

It was pride.

Since my second son was born, I have taken on a much more active role in the older boy’s life. While my wife tends to the feeding and making-sure-the-infant-stays-alive duties, I have been turning into a different brand of father. I don’t think I realized entirely what being a father was until the last few weeks. That’s sort of embarrassing to say, but if I’m being honest, it’s true.

This morning at 5:30am, I kissed my wife and walked out of our bedroom. The boy was asleep in his room. I did something I’ve never done before. I walked in, kissed him on the forehead, and told him I loved him. He never woke and I didn’t want him to. The moment was just for me. Seven hours later, I was checked into my home away from home for the next three weeks. I’m 53 floors above Las Vegas and already missing home.


I don’t mean to be sappy. What I’m doing is the burden of every traveling father. Even my son understands that to make money to live as we live, I have to go on the road sometimes. What’s more, if I have to travel, circumstances could be much worse. I get to live in a posh hotel and be around a ton of very good friends. I get to do something that I, for the most part, enjoy doing. Not many people can say that.

And it’s not so much that I fear for my wife. She’s a tough little bitch (and would take that description as a compliment) and will be able to hang with two kids as well as she has hung with one while I was on my other trips. I hate that she has to endure the stress, but I know she gets it. Where in the past she might have not quite grasped how much work this actually is, I know she understands now.

No, the only thing that puts a frog in my throat, the thing that makes me want to run home and take a job waiting tables, the thing that makes me want to make more of myself so that I don’t have to leave for so long is the fear that the bond I’ve formed with my boy over the past six week may not be there when I get home. He’s become more than just my kid. He’s become more than simply my son. He’s become my buddy and I don’t want to lose that.


Deep down, I know it will all be fine. I know that the boy will be occupied with camp, his grandparents, and his little brother. I know that it’s only three weeks. I know my buddy will be there when I get back.

I just miss him.


Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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5 Responses

  1. Dr. Chako says:

    I hear you.

    I’m facing the real possibility that I’ll only see my wife and kids for two or three days a week as we transition down to California. That might go on for the next 6-8 months as I await my California license. Being apart sucks, but it sure makes it extra special when you get back together.

    I’ve been stealing those sleep kisses for a while, and I know it’s completely selfish. Got no problem with it.


  2. Human Head says:

    Nice job, sir.

  3. BloodyP says:

    Again, great post.

    My 6 year old and I have had a similar experience since I was laid off.

    Tonight at T-ball he cranked a great hit and stopped a grounder and threw it to the right base without even thinking.


    Those bonds will last forever, man. Don’t worry.

  4. Drizztdj says:

    “Daddy are you writing about poker?”


    “Ok, can you tuck me in later?”

    Amazes me that my son almost understands better than my wife.

  5. Da Goddess says:

    That just put a lump in my throat like you wouldn’t believe. It’s been almost five years of me being out of work with my back injury. In that time, my son and I (and to some extent, my daughter and I) have become incredibly close as friends. I’m still his mom and still have to parent, but damn if this time hasn’t changed how we interact. Sure, some of it is because he’s older, but part of me knows that this is when he’s supposed to drift away and become a sullen tween. It hasn’t happened like that. Instead, we do even more together now than we have in the past. We have more fun. We talk. We laugh. How the hell am I going to maintain this when I finally have to go back to work? What happens then?

    You still have lots of time for your son to worship you. Take advantage of every moment you have and revel in it. And steal as many kisses and hugs as you can along the way.