This past weekend was Father’s Day. A day filled with new ties, homemade cards, a round of golf for the man of the year, and usually some kind of meat smoking on the bbq. It reminded me of how important that relationship is, and how fortunate I am to have great Dad’s in my life. We often hear in the world of special needs about the moms, and how incredible they are, and what an inspiration they can be. Sometimes we forget that there are dads to go along with the moms.
I have an amazing dad. I am a Daddy’s girl, hands down. He still tells me to “be careful” every time we hang up the phone, still tries to tell me what is best for me, and he is still proud of all that I do. He is also a loving Grandpa. Through changes in life, I also have a great Step-dad, who has taught me about cottage life, making wine, and how gross picked garlic is. He is a loving Papa.
I didn’t think I would every have kids. I was married once before, and he had never wanted children. I always knew deep down that my desire to be a mother would never go away, and so that marriage came to an end. When I met Graham, as hokey as it sounds, I could right away see him as the father of my children, and I knew he would be fantastic Daddy. He has not disappointed.
From the moment our first son Chase was born, we have parented 50/50. Diapers, feedings, baths, books, scraped knees, trick or treating, puking, sleepless nights. We have been partners in everything. He became a Dad, the moment I became a Mom, and he assumed the role with pride and love. We both decided when Chase was about 14 months old, that we would take another ride on the parenting rollercoaster.
When Maclain was born, we were all put to the test. It was a very difficult and emotional time. I was a mess. I am an independent, self sufficient, hard nosed, ” I will do it myself” stubborn person, but this was more than I could bear. Our previous experience as parents almost didn’t seem to apply anymore, and we had to find a new way to do things. I honestly don’t know how I made it through those first few weeks without Graham. He had to make the calls to everyone to tell them what had happened with Braden. He had to handle all of the immediate aftermath of Maclain’s birth, as I struggled to comprehend what had just happened. He took care of all of the arrangements for Braden’s funeral, every detail. It was months later when he told me how scared he had been by all that had happened, and that he feared that something might have happened to me as well. I had never ever stopped to consider the impact on him then, or now. Even today when he has to hear about my emotional breakdowns, constant stress migraines, obsessions over finding therapies, ranting about the system, and general cries of ” I don’t want to get out of bed today”.
He was with me every day for 6 weeks at the hospital, doing all his work at night, until I finally said I was ok to be there by myself for the next few months. He held down the fort at home with Chase, coordinating schedules with the various grandparents, and he also had the task of keeping said grandparents up to date through daily phone calls. He was there to change Maclain’s isolette, do kangaroo care, and fed him his very first bottle. He sat back as I tackled nurses and doctors, challenging everything, and asking millions of questions. I sometimes would envy him as he sat there in his chair at the bedside playing Sudoku puzzles, wondering how he could be so calm. But now I look back and realize that was his way. There was zero point in both of us going off half cocked all the time. He would listen to everything going on, and would be able to re-cap it later for me when I couldn’t remember everything that had been said by the doctor because I usually operating in a shell shocked manner. My ears would start to ring, and my eyes would actually black out with spots while they were talking to me, and so having Graham beside being calm and listening was important. He would also bring unwavering optimism. Sometimes annoying during my times of pity and anger, but always unwavering. Later, when I started to handle all of the doctor appointments, therapy sessions, teacher meetings and other necessary meetings by myself, I would feel angry and frustrated. Why do I have to do all this by myself? But he knew that I had a handle on everything, and that if I needed him there for emotional support, he would be there. I learned that I needed to be in charge when it came to being Maclain’s case manager, and that has become my role. It is my job now. Graham goes to his job, and earns a wage so we can have a house, and vacations, and pay for all the stuff for Maclain and Chase that we need. My job is just a different job, with a pay that isn’t monetary. And to be honest, I prefer to handle these meetings on my own, because then I can say what I want, and now have to worry about getting the stink eye from Graham when I lose my cool, or get a tad bit worked up. The downside is that he needs to wait about a week before I can fill him in on everything, because it takes me that long to actually want to discuss what happened.
It seemed that with every step back, or new diagnosis, nothing could shake him. Was it that he didn’t care? How could he not be upset? How can you stand there and be so calm? ” We can’t change what has happened Bren. We have no control over this. We just need to deal with it, and figure it out.” Plain and simple. For him, this has all just been a part of being a parent. There will be good times and bad times, and worrying about what we can’t change is not going to do any good. He loves his boys for who they are, not what they can or can’t do. I have never seen a moment of disappointment in his eyes when he looks at Maclain, and I hear a very proud Daddy when he talks about all that he has learned to do. When he was diagnosed initially with profound hearing loss, I curled up and wanted to die. Graham said we would just have to learn sign language. When we realized that he was disabled because of a medical error, I screamed and yelled, and pointed fingers of blame, and fought to understand why us? Graham said ” Let’s get a laywer, and fight this”. When Maclain got diagnosed with his CP, I cried in bed for 3 days straight, googling through my tears. I wailed that he would never play hockey. Graham said ” Who cares? He will do something else, and we will be right there cheering him on.”
And he has been cheering him on every since, every step of the way, in everything he does.