July is the month we say goodbye to some regular writers who have aged out or are moving onto other projects. We’re extra thankful for Paul today—he’s been writing with us since June 2014.
I’m sitting here trying to write something for my last post ever. Something meaningful and profound. But I am distracted.
My daughter is right next to me in her rock-n-play, staring at me with her huge, searching eyes. She is sick—ear infection most likely—cough, slight fever, tons of snot, but you wouldn’t know it looking at her. She is so happy, chewing on her toys, gabbling away in her baby talk, and wiggling her toes. She looks at her hand in wonder and then at me as if to say, “Look at this thing! This is amazing!”
* * *
I am about to turn thirty. A lot has happened this past decade. Memories blur and fade, but some things still stand out. Eight years ago, I graduated Calvin with no idea what I was going to do next. Four years ago, I married the most amazing lady. Three years ago, I was curled on a bathroom floor shaking from withdrawal, coming to terms with my alcoholism.
November 2016: the last time I drank alcohol.
December 2016: my wife tells me she is pregnant.
January 2017: my wife miscarries.
Father’s Day 2017: we get a second chance when my wife shows me a positive pregnancy test.
February 2018: our beautiful daughter is born.
* * *
My daughter is squirming. Her schedule is all messed up. It is obvious she is tired, but she still has plenty of energy to play. So I put down my pen and start playing peek-a-boo with her. Every time I hide my face, she goes quiet. Every time I say “PEEKABOO!” she smiles and laughs.
My daughter does this thing where she gives me the biggest smile in the world and then turns her head away as though she is embarrassed. It is the cutest thing.
* * *
I regret a lot of things. I regret being a shitty husband for the first few years of my marriage. I regret all the wasted nights spent getting wasted. All the mornings after, spent in a sickened stupor, wandering about in a haze. I regret how selfish and self-centered I have been. All the times I’ve been unkind and cruel. I regret pushing family and friends away by being distant. I regret drifting aimlessly through life for so long.
* * *
She has calmed down now. I plop her on my lap and hold her close. She grabs her stuffed puppy and starts munching on his ear contentedly. Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives is on in the background; Guy Fieri is taking us to Flavortown as the night winds down. My daughter coughs.
It is tough being a parent. There is so much worry. This is the first time my daughter has really been sick, and although she is doing well tonight, the past week has been so draining. A lot of sleepless nights and tears. But it’s worth it.
* * *
I’m hopeful about the future. I’ve been trying to learn from my mistakes and grow as a person. To be more dependable. To be more forgiving. To love more. I try to always let my wife know how much she means to me and how much I love her. I try to be good father.
It isn’t always easy. But I try. And I think I am doing a good job.
* * *
She yawns. She has nestled down in my arms, and her eyes are getting heavy. She does this thing where when she is tired, she folds her hands together and rests them on her stomach. It is so prim and proper and adorable.
* * *
I’ve really enjoyed my time writing at the post calvin. I was never the most consistent or skilled writer. A couple of my posts were just throwaway trash. A lot of mediocre, forgettable articles. And a few ones that I am genuinely proud of. It feels weird to be saying goodbye after four years, but it honestly comes at a good time. I am busier than ever, and I don’t want to hit the point of diminishing returns writing about my personal struggles or putting together mixtapes of songs no one will ever listen to. It feels right to be moving on.
* * *
She is asleep. I look down as I hold her in my arms. Four and a half months old. A tiny nose, big cheeks, a chin shaped just like her mom’s. A mat of hair that can’t decide if it wants to be dark like mom’s or light like dad’s. Her small hand wrapped around my thumb as I carry her to her crib. She stirs as I put her down, but she remains asleep. I crawl into bed and close my eyes.
Goodnight, little goose. I love you.
Paul (’10) lives in Grand Rapids with his wife, Emma (’10), and cat, HandsomeMarcoCat. He loves board games, Babylon 5, and honey-curry chicken. Everything else is negotiable.