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.