This week, I remember falling asleep with Atlas in my arms. Holding him closely, I had a thought hit me that halted me. “Did my Dad love me the way I love Atlas?” I thought.
I thought of the way I love Atlas, and how much I adore everything about him, watching him grow up, learn how to speak and develop as a toddler. I thought of the way he warms my heart when I look into his eyes, hear his laugh or spend time with him. In many ways, he is my world, and I don’t know how it’s possible for my heart to love a human being with the love I have for him.
I realized that my Father must have felt the same way about me, and that brought tears to my eyes when I realized all of the moments I gave him less than the love he had for me. I thought of the moments where I disrespected him, called him names, or the fateful day I yelled “F*CK YOU” to him.
That’s when my heart broke, and I wished I could have gone back to my teenage self and made things right with him.
“Dad…if you can hear me, I’m sorry.” I prayed.
While this admission isn’t something I’m proud to write about, I think it’s important that I get it off of my chest and share the thoughts I have.
I’ve said before that ‘parenting is a lifetime of goodbyes’ as you perpetually say goodbye to moments, memories and times spent with your children. From ‘goodbye’ to the days where Atlas could only crawl, to the night he first slept in his crib, I’ve had to come face to face with the painful reality that comes with parenting; watching your child grow up.
I remember the first night I put him to sleep in his crib, rather than sleeping next to me in my bed. That moment broke my heart a bit, because I realized how quickly the time had gone, and how soon he would be sleeping in the room down the hall…even further. As he fell asleep that night, I reached down to hold his hand, while doing my best to hold back the tears that streamed down my face.
It goes fast. All of it.
In that moment, I wanted Atlas to be little forever. I wanted time to stop and somehow be able to cling to all of the moments I’ve grown to love as his Dad. However, time does’t stop for anybody, and I have to accept the fleeting nature of it.
As I split custody of Atlas, I feel this amplified even further, because I don’t have the time with him that I would like – which is waking up with him every single day and never having to say ‘see you soon’. However, that isn’t my reality and it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to face in my life.
There are many moments where I wish I had a break, or somebody to help me change his diapers. These moments lead to exhaustion, but ultimately I have come to treasure every precious second I’m able to share with him, until it’s once again time to say ‘see you soon’, and the cycle starts all over again.
As time goes by, I realize how much I crave what many parents enjoy; a family that’s together, rather than apart.
When I go to the park with Atlas, I often look at parents holding hands and spending time with their children, and imagine what it must be like to have that experience. A loving household, where every member of it feels loved, respected and wanted. Those moments feel like a million spotlights are shining at me, pointing out the fact that I am a single Dad, taking Atlas to the park by myself, instead of having the traditional family experience.
It hurts. A l lot. A lot more than I know how to say with words, despite being proficient with them.
There are so many little moments that happen when you’re a parent that they can be missed if you stop paying attention for even a small second. Atlas is full of these little moments, and I treasure every one of them. They’re the times where he does something unexpected, makes a funny noise or does any of the countless things that show his personality. They’re the hugs he gives, the way he holds hands, plays with his puppets or reads books…the list could go on endlessly.
There are few things stronger than the love a parent has for their children – fewer still are the things that hurt more than a parent when they’re away from their children whom they love.
Hello sunrise, What’s in for me today?
I thought We wouldn’t meet again
Hello sunrise, More faithful everyday
Shine through Every cloud and the rain
Hello sunrise, Guide my every way
Teach me to see you Through the pain
Hello storm clouds, I knew that you would come
You water the flowers All the same
Hello darkness, What do you have for me?
Teach me to close my Eyes and see
Goodbye sorrows, I knew you’d fade away
Wash my tears down With the rain
Hello moonlight, Are you shining for my love?
Guide her heart, Lead her my way
Hello midnight, The hour’s finally come
Rest my head, I start to pray (for the sun)
It’s good to see you again.