Long ago, I thought the way all young men think. Maybe one day I would have a boy with red hair. Maybe he would be a junior. Or maybe we’d have a daughter. Sometimes, my wife and I would even fall asleep talking about it.

I am eating a cheeseburger, sipping beer, looking at a beachside restaurant full of families and kids.

There’s a band playing. They couldn’t be any worse if they detuned their instruments and started making bodily noises over the microphone.

But the children are loving the music. Some are dancing. Others are screaming, “Look, Daddy! Daddy! Look, Daddy! Daddy!”

I love kids.

I have always wondered how people with children enjoy their lives. I look around at a table of my middle-aged friends and I am thinking of this very thing.

These people seem to have more responsibility than the rest of us civilians. I’m fact, they’re so responsible that they can’t even focus on a conversation—at least not fully.

They are too busy looking from the corners of their eyes, waiting for catastrophe, or a screaming toddler.

My friend Billy, for instance, is trying to tell a story, but his sentences are incoherent because he keeps diverting his eyes toward his kids.

“Hey,” he begins. “You remember when we were fifteen…”

Billy turns his head.

“…And there was that water tower….”

Another head turn.

“…With the Hallelujah Chorus and lima beans…”

Then he jerks his head and shouts, “PUT YOUR SISTER DOWN, RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW, I SAID! DON’T MAKE ME COME OVER THERE! I SWEAR, I WILL WHIP YOUR SHINY LITTLE…”

My friend Nathan tells me:

“The thing about kids is, they say ‘Daddy’ about fifteen hundred times per day. It’s enough to make you nuts.”

“Yeah,” another friend says. “And I wish my kids would just let me go pee in peace.”

My friends’ wives sit at the other side of the table, rocking babies, talking. My wife is with them.

My wife and I exchange a glance. We are the only childless couple here tonight. We smile at each other.

She rolls her eyes at me. We make these looks at each other because people with kids talk ONLY about kids. They breathe Playskool and Tonka Trucks. We are outsiders.

Still, I can relate a little. If anyone even mentions the word “dog” I launch into a story about when my bloodhound once found an expired silicone breast implant, then brought it home, placed it upon my bed, and squashed it all over my pillow.

Then I show cellphone pictures.

A little girl comes wandering toward us. She is the daughter of my friend. She wants to be in her daddy’s arms. He holds her against his chest, she falls asleep. She is drooling on him.

I wonder what that’s like.

When my wife and I first got married we thought we would have a kid. Maybe even a few. People in our church kept asking.

“When’re you two gonna put a cinnamon bun in the oven?” Miss Willie would ask, week after week.

And I would only smile. But it wasn’t in the cards. I don’t regret that, but sometimes I think about it.

The truth is, my childhood was not pretty. I’ve never been sure that sharing such dysfunctions with an innocent kid was a good idea. This world is hard enough as it is.

Still, there’s something about watching a child jump into Daddy’s arms.

“Count yourself lucky,” said Billy, “at least you get to wake up at noon if you want.”

“Yep,” said another. “And you don’t have someone shouting, ‘Hey Daddy!’ all day.”

Yeah.

Long ago, I thought the same way all young men think. Maybe one day I would have a kid with red hair. Maybe he would be a junior. Or maybe we’d have a daughter.

Sometimes, my wife and I would fall asleep talking about it.

“What if,” my wife would say, “he has grayish-green eyes like his father.”

“Yeah,” I would add. “Or brown eyes, like her mother.”

“You like the name Rose?”

“Sounds like one of the Golden Girls.”

“I like the name Rose.”

“I like the oldest Golden Girl the best.”

“Not me, I like Blanche.”

“Sophia, that was the oldest one’s name, she was the best Golden Girl. I’d name a kid Sophia.”

“I think you’d make a good father.”

“You’d be the best mother anyone ever saw.”

I would fall asleep thinking about teaching a kid baseball, or showing a boy how to bait a treble hook. And anyway, I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

I am interrupted by a toddler walking toward me. Her name is Marie. Marie has more freckles than I’ve ever seen. She is cuter than a duck in a hat.

“Hey Mister Sean,” comes her high-pitched voice, cutting through the sound of a god-awful rock and roll band. “Can I sit with you? This band’s too loud.”

“Sure,” I say.

Marie crawls into my lap, and she’s asleep in a matter of minutes. Soon, there is drool all over me, and the face of an angel against my chest.

It can’t be all that bad being called Daddy.

29 comments

  1. Karen - March 21, 2019 9:37 am

    I don’t know what to say. I don’t know why this happens. This would be hard. You and Jamie deserve to have this part of your life fulfilled. A child deserves to be loved by you both.
    I am going to pray that God opens a door for you, a different path. I don’t know what that would mean. Maybe it would mean adoption, or fostering children. Maybe it would mean something entirely different. I pray that He would lead you down the right path.

    Reply
  2. Cathi - March 21, 2019 10:43 am

    Sean, I just love your phrase “cuter than a duck in a hat”!

    Reply
  3. Naomi - March 21, 2019 11:46 am

    I had a great father, and I was a daddy’s girl. Unfortunately, my children didn’t have a good father. He walked out on us when our son was 10 and our daughter was 7 because we were standing in the way of his career aspirations. I had to be mother and father. I had to teach my children how to ride a bike (after staying up all nigh on Christmas Eve putting the bike together). I had to teach them how to swim. go to all of their little league games, soccer games (one of them when it was 16 degrees in Atlanta). I had to teach my son how to shave, how to tie a tie, literally everything that was a father’s job. It took me years for my children to be happy again. I think divorce is worse for young children than the death of a parent. Death is final but nothing is worse than knowing that your father is alive and doesn’t care about you. In spite of all of this trauma, when my children got older, they told me that they had a great childhood.

    Reply
    • Chasity Davis Ritter - March 21, 2019 2:11 pm

      God Bless you Naomi. They did have a good childhood. They had a momma that loved them beyond measure!!

      Reply
  4. . Marilyn - March 21, 2019 11:51 am

    We don’t have any children. People called us DINKS…double income, no kids. I don’t regret not having children. I do regret not having grandchildren, now that all my friends are having a blast with theirs. Grandkids look like a lot more fun than kids. You can borrow them for a time and then return them to the rightful owner.

    Reply
  5. Debbie - March 21, 2019 11:57 am

    Sometimes you can just learn from experiences and go on to make life better for your kid. But your heart has to be in it…nobody can make that decision for you. God has a way of making it clear….just listen….

    Reply
  6. Phillip Saunders. - March 21, 2019 12:22 pm

    Karen and Debbie nailed it, Sean.

    Reply
  7. Jamie Byers - March 21, 2019 12:41 pm

    It’s never too late….you’d make an awesome Daddy.

    Reply
  8. Julie Y - March 21, 2019 12:52 pm

    Sending love from Arizona, Sean! Thank you for sharing the hard things in your life. We are all better people, for having read your gentle musings.

    Reply
  9. MermaidGrammy - March 21, 2019 1:14 pm

    Do you have any idea how many babies and children are waiting to climb up in your lap? PLEASE look into adoption!!! Even if you get a baby from another race or culture, believe me, the minute that baby is in your arms, he will be “your own”. So many get hung up on wanting to have “my own “ baby. What we forget is – the child is never ours. Not even if Jamie gave birth to it with your “help”. God loans us these precious people to love, nurture and teach until it’s time to return that child to God and let him or her go out into His world. An older child is even more in need. True – you’ll need to have the guts to be adoptive parents. But you’ll never regret it. Reach for the blessing He had for you. You have so much to share. Don’t be stingy with your love. Adopt!!!

    Reply
  10. Debbie Britt - March 21, 2019 2:05 pm

    You and Jamie WOULD make wonderful parents and I know for a fact there’s a precious adoptive child out there who’s looking for y’all! We have precious friends who “picked” their children thru adoption and are blessed beyond measure!!

    Reply
  11. Cathy Moss - March 21, 2019 2:20 pm

    This makes me tear up. Just because your childhood was not picture perfect does not mean that you can’t be a good parent. I speak from experience. If anything it can motivate you to be the best parent ever. It’s a tough job and it is 24 hrs, 7 days a week. It is the end of putting yourself first for a long time. I respect yours and Jaimie’s decision but oh my gracious, even though I have never met you, I know you and you are selling yourself short, my friend. I am now in the fourth quarter of like and am blessed with 8 grandchildren. They are my trophies for all the hard work I put in raising their parents. I made some mistakes. Every parent does, but I was lucky to have a strong and solid man to stand beside me. Hey, your Mom did something right because , look at you today! Great wife and a happy life. You are a success story in every sense of the word. Don’t forget that and also don’t forget how many people love you and Jaimie . 💕👍🙏🏻

    Reply
  12. Karen Webster - March 21, 2019 2:34 pm

    My son and his wife have a biological daughter and two adopted daughters (sisters). I love them all dearly. So many children in this world without parents. My heart breaks for those who cannot have children, but also for those children without parents. Spreading love is a wonderful thing!

    Reply
  13. Terry L TAYLOR - March 21, 2019 2:36 pm

    Sean, I love your columns, but life is hard. None of us had a perfect childhood. None of us were perfect parents. But, I would trade nothing for the good and bad times with my kids and grand kids…it is part of life. Parenthood is the toughest job in the world and no one would do it if the pay was not so great.

    Reply
  14. Edna B. - March 21, 2019 3:18 pm

    No one ever promised that life would be easy, and it isn’t. But I am so blessed with all my children, grand children and great grandchildren. Now I want to be around to see my great greats. Sean, you have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  15. Carolyn Allen - March 21, 2019 4:31 pm

    Trust in God’s plan for you and Jamie, Sean. No matter what that is will be the BEST for y’all…
    children or not. Ellie Mae bringing home the breast
    implant put me in the floor ‼️ That topped and
    “child” story anyone can tell‼️ 🤣

    Reply
  16. Kathie kerr - March 21, 2019 4:32 pm

    How about adoption? So many kids looking for a great home.

    Reply
  17. Mary - March 21, 2019 4:47 pm

    At 83 my greatest joy is to hear “I love you, mom, Hey, lady, or mommy. Now with 9+ grands an d 9 great grands, the names are different but loved as much..

    Reply
  18. Shelton A. - March 21, 2019 5:06 pm

    No, it’s not all that bad…but there can be pain and hurt, too. It’s not all drooling and “Hey, Daddy”.

    Reply
  19. Janet Mary Lee - March 21, 2019 5:26 pm

    You are a Blessing no matter where your life leads you. Just be true to your heart. God lives there and He is so good at whispering back and forth. Enjoy this marvelous day!!! (hug!)

    Reply
  20. Mike Bone - March 21, 2019 6:48 pm

    It’s the hardest job you will ever love.

    Reply
  21. Pat - March 21, 2019 7:01 pm

    Sean you need to make that (child) happen!

    Reply
  22. Jack Darnell - March 21, 2019 9:43 pm

    Sean, you need another dog, name it Son! Kids are great but some of them become doctors and lawyers but some of the rascals become drug addicts, you can love a doctor or an addict but the daddy doesn’t get to pick the end result, just sayin’.

    Get a dog.
    Love Sherry and jack

    Reply
  23. Robert Chiles - March 22, 2019 1:08 am

    Quote for the day: “It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

    Reply
  24. Robert Chiles - March 22, 2019 1:12 am

    And for the last twenty years, whenever my wife and I see a (screaming) toddler in the Piggly Wiggly, I look at her and she looks at me and together we say “Glad we’re done.”

    Reply
  25. Charaleen Wright - March 22, 2019 5:13 am

    Reply
  26. throughmyeyesusa - March 22, 2019 7:42 pm

    I have to chime in as the devil’s advocate here.
    It’s one thing to see others’ children and wish. But your reticence is also something you should listen to. So is God’s reticence to have made reproduction easy for you and Jamie.
    Our son always adored children. At six he carried a neighbor’s infant around from the moment they trusted him to do so. About the time she was too heavy for him to hoist onto his hip they cooperatively provided him with a second baby to pamper. As an adult he’s been Uncle to every child in his life.
    A tragic accident put our son in a wheelchair in his early twenties. Though he works full time, owns a home, drives and is married, he lives in unimaginable pain much of the time. That same accident prevented him and his wife from having their own family & they can’t adopt. While I mourn his childlessness, I often wonder how he could effectively parent with his burden of pain.

    Perhaps that’s what you are saying as well, Sean; that you’re not certain your burden of remembered pain would not be an encumbrance to effective parenting.

    I pray that God will show you the way, and bring you and Jamie peace in all things…

    Reply
  27. Joanna Spicer - April 18, 2019 2:03 pm

    Have you considered adoption? There are so many children that would love parents like you and Jamie. My husband and I adopted one of our sons 26 years ago when he was seven weeks old. He is now married with a son of his own. I love my son so much and I’m so glad he became ours. He changed our lives. I have several friends who have adopted children both from the US and abroad . They are beautiful families. Those babies turned us into the people you described ….. you know, the ones who are always focused on their children, telling stories about them, and showing pictures. I’m guessing that’s exactly what would happen for you and Jamie.

    Reply
  28. Sam Seetin - April 20, 2019 11:33 pm

    Adopt a kid. Nurture and feel complete. Need to pass on your legacy of humility. Mizpah

    Reply

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