Why you should.
Published in

Why you should.

The Start of Something.

This isn’t how it was supposed to go.

I’m supposed to be your dad, the one that wakes up down the hall from you every day with your mother. We’re supposed to argue and make up about who’s going to get up to get you. Sometimes I’ll pretend to sleep when you wake up just so it’s not me, sometimes she’ll do the same. I’d step on your toys in the hall and laugh at how cliche life really is.

I’d learn to cook you breakfast even though I’m a lousy cook. We’d laugh when I made pancakes and talk about what faces I accidentally made with the batter this time. That’s because you’ll talk by now. You’ll say funny little words and I’ll think every one of them is magic coming out of your mouth. Because you’re a tiny human that I made. A tiny human that looks like me and now even talks like me and hopefully is even funny-ish like me. Maybe you’ll ask me what I’m writing today and I’ll tell you, “stuff about you.” You won’t get at the time that someday you’ll get to read it, but I’ll know that you will and that will make me so happy to be a writer and hopeful that you’ll be one someday, too. I’ll spend this moment marveling at how smart you are already and how smart you’re going to be. Mom will come in and we’ll huck batter at her cheek. We’ll laugh and she’ll take it too seriously, but we’ll know it was funny and that she’ll realize it later. Maybe we’ll even high five, because you’re so smart that you’ve been doing that since you were 7 months old. I tell everyone, even the people at the grocery store, because I’m Jewish and that’s what we do.

We’re supposed to take you to little league practice and laugh because even though you don’t really like it, I force it on you because Bubbie didn’t let me play and for some reason at the age of 40+ I’m still not over that. You’re a good pitcher, you know. You’ll throw a split finger fastball and a decent curve, and you even have a pretty good eye at the plate. Your mom makes treats for everyone at every game, and mostly you just get though the practices and the game to get to that part. I don’t blame you, she’s a hell of a baker, and someday when you’re old enough I’ll tell you what Grandpop Steve said when she came over for dinner the first time (it’s got a swear word in it so maybe when you’re in high school). (Okay, fine, he said “don’t fuck it up” but I did. We did, actually, because we all make mistakes, bud.)

I’m supposed to be the good cop because Mom is, zero question, going to be bad cop. I’ll probably get in trouble with her more than you do, but we’ll laugh because that’s just dad being dad. We’ll struggle with the fact that you smoked pot and drank even when we asked you not to, but we’ll realize that’s just a kid growing up. In fact, discipline is just a parent’s way of trying to stop time, its inevitability. We know this but we pretend we don’t, because Cettie and Bubbie were parents, too, and they did all of this stuff to us. They were bad cops once upon a time, bud. They weren’t always the ones handing you all the good stuff. We’ll sit on a stoop one night when you’re grounded and I’ll tell you all the bad things dad did and you’ll laugh and wonder how I became such a square. We all become squares, bub. It’s just part of life.

This is how it was supposed to go.

And while it won’t go this way entirely, it will still go. And I have to tell you, bub, maybe it’s better that it doesn’t go the way we had planned. If only because we realized how much we love you and we can’t stand the thought of you not getting the fairy tale we’re unable to give. The thing is, we can still give you a fairy tale, it’s just a different story. We have no idea how it ends, but it’s still beautiful and filled with memories we don’t know yet. Maybe it’s better that way. Maybe because it’s not the plan, it’ll be more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.

Maybe it’ll be soccer and not little league. Maybe it’ll be theater. Maybe it’ll be any god damn thing you’ve ever wanted and we just don’t know what you even want yet, because maybe that’s the point.

Maybe it didn’t go as planned because everyone has the same plan but we’re different. Maybe it’s not sad, maybe it’s the start of something special. The start of a family that’s different but the same, filled with love no matter what. Maybe mom and dad don’t wake up down one hall, but they still walk down different ones stepping on toys and cheering the other one on with coparenting pom-poms. Maybe we love each other but in a different way than we thought. Maybe love, like everything else, reinvents itself over time and changes and we were just too naive to understand that life’s unpredictabilities are a gift, not a curse.

This is how it goes, it turns out.

Dad flies into Raleigh on Christmas Eve to be with you and your mother. We are apart, but still together, all of us. This is the start of us changing the narrative. The start of us seeing how the story unfolds and realizing there are two billion chapters left that we haven’t all read together. Dad comes to see you and Mom, to celebrate your life. To teach you about Santa Claus (he’s real, 6 year old Ollie reading this later, don’t even try to backtrack and see if I left clues). To teach you about love and how it never really dies, it just changes. He hugs Cettie and Robert and tells Ford that he’ll always be his brother no matter what. And through it all, we all laugh and cry and smile at how strange and beautiful life is, even if it’s confusing along the way.

Because life, though sometimes hard and not the way you wrote it out in your head, can be whimsical and surprising and filled with magic.

This is the start of our story, Ollie. The start of the part where we parent you together, even if apart. Because you, son, are the love of both of our lives, and we can’t spend a minute without you. And we never will. Because you, son, are our everything. Our faces, our smiles, our good and our bad. You are a gift that we tear open every day, one that has that shiny wrapping paper that only the good one’s have.

This is the start of something, Oliver.

It’s not the way we planned it.

But it’s the start of something. The start of something great.

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There’s a lot of things you should do. There are a lot of reasons why.

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Drew Hoolhorst

Drew Hoolhorst

I have a black belt in feelings.

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