Thursday, April 18, 2013

Born With It

Preparing for childbirth has been an educational experience, to say the least. It has also been a time of quiet reflection…frequently interrupted by grizzly bear sounds emanating from the mound of pillows festooning the port side of the bed.

Too often men slide through life failing to reflect on how far they have come and what it took to get there. Not me - I know. I have not come a long way and getting here has not been hard at all. I just kind of wandered around in the desert then, Hey, look! There’s a water fountain! And I have been standing here ever since.

Despite lately finding myself married to a complete stranger; one who has been desperately smuggling a full aquarium around under her skin for 8 months - I number among the fortunate few who rarely, if ever, come under substantial spousal flack regarding my many outdoor pursuits. As a single person I guess I assumed that was part of life and the time and ability to do these things was just part of being me.

I now know: that is a terrible lie.

When I consider the time I spent as a child traveling around the state hunting and fishing and whatnot - I am amazed. I did something terribly fun and dangerous nearly every weekend, generally with Dad, and if not – then with an infinitely less responsible Uncle. I also realize now that those Uncles genuinely were not the least bit worried about me, my safety, or possibly dying. Back then I assumed all adults were bound to keep their nephews safe as a matter of course. In retrospect: I actually had that thought as a 6-yr-old while riding through the woods perched on the hood of a tractor like a chubby hood ornament with Uncle Buster’s admonition “Don’t grab that exhaust pipe – it is 800 degrees” ringing in my ears.

Mom was right to worry.

At the same time all that was going on, Dad raised two other kids, stayed married, kept a job, paid for a house and cars and got us all through expensive private colleges that we probably did not deserve.

Now, with the impending specter of fatherhood looming over me; it all makes sense: I didn't get to hunt, fish, and act like a Wild Boy on the weekends because I was born with it; I got to act like a Wild Boy because Dad was born with it - and more importantly; born with the ability to stay efficient during the week. If the water heater had still been out of commission at 5PM on Friday – nobody would have been going deer hunting. If Mom couldn't wash her hair – everything stopped.

Last week I considered my list of mandatory to-do’s for the week and this thought went through my brain: “I could just stay here and deck the attic on Saturday instead of going fishing” and in my mind, in that instant, that option actually sounded plausible.

It was a terrifying moment, so I immediately retreated into my workshop to sulk.

As I sat there at my Fishing Stuff Bench, sulking, it hit me that now, finally, I realize what it means to be a Dad; mostly because: I've turned into mine.

So, instead, of decking the attic and painting the hallway on the weekend, I wore myself out all week doing it at night, then I went hunting on Saturday at 4AM, got my truck stuck, found a deer skull in the woods, got covered in ticks even though I know about Lyme disease, heard 5 turkeys gobble, got soaking wet, got covered in mud, then came home feeling very pleased with myself.

Maybe you can also learn to be a Do-It-Yourself-er (see below) and a Lifelong Wild Boy; but I can tell you one thing: it is definitely hereditary.

Thanks Dad. 


Beck Gambill said...

I'm a Morton and I've always observed with a good bit of awe the Slocumb family doings. You've got all kinds of family goodness going on it seems. Congratulations on becoming a Dad. I like to come by for an anonymous read whenever I need a good laugh!

Anonymous said...

I have known your father for many years and I can truthfully say, he is a great father. He may like to hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors but first and foremost his was always a husband and father. If you are turning into your father, you are lucky and have every right to be proud.