Battle for a Man

They lay there injured and sagging, alone and useless.

Like a wounded animal, they barely had the strength to cry for help.

Concerts. Game nights, Europe. Traveling.

Their value, their sustenance came from my using them and I hadn’t. They were neglected and rejected.

Golf. Movies. Friends. Yoga.

With each halting breath, they died a little more. Their bodies convulsing, their usefulness beginning to decay.

Tennis. Sleeping in. Dining out. Fantasy football.

Soon, they would be dead. Words that once rolled off the tongue had languished for months like golf clubs gathering dust in the garage or sweat-covered yoga mats stuck carelessly in the closet.

Cigars. Bar-hopping. All-nighters. Immaturity.

Words that once were uttered on tennis courts and in bars now had no audience; they were the MIA’s of language.

They were the vanquished. They were forgotten.

They were the words of the childless man.

As the letters began to wither, suffocate and crumble into a decade of memories, new letters sprang proudly and boldly into focus.

Baby. No sleep. Smiling. Laughter. Giggles.

These words puffed out their chests and strolled into the arena where the others once stood. They claimed the ground and captured it for their forces.

Onesies. Bath time. Lullabies. Naps.

The fresh words burst forth like a dormant volcano. Like the lava cascading down a mountain, the words relentlessly took over every piece of bare earth. They owned the landscape. They owned everything. They owned control.

Hugs. Tiny feet. Toys. Crawling.

Ushering in an era of learning, choices, chaos, growth and joy, the letters combined to create a new man. A man with responsibilities he never considered, demands he could not foresee and a depth of love he did not know existed.

Cribs. Potty training. Diapers. Happiness.

Giving up my childless life — the life I led and cultivated for years — was difficult. It was a battle not for blood, but for identity.

Previously, I had the run of my days. If you couldn’t find me at the gym, check the driving range. If not the yoga studio, try the couch. Sports and movies and long phone calls and nights out were commonplace. Suddenly and with warning, they stopped.

My childless words — my favorite, defining, non-stop, casual, masculine, selfish words — ceased to have the same meaning. They were quickly and totally usurped with words of selflessness and compromise; sacrifice and wonder.

I worried about the loss of self. What I learned was my new self was better, more abundant, more focused, more ready than I imagined to fulfill a role I’d been preparing for my entire life.

Family vacations. Little league. Christmas memories. Unbridled joy.

Those old words still exist. Every once in a while I breath life back into them for a second or two. Soon, they’ll be spoken by little voices to a man craving the chance to teach them what he once knew and enjoyed.

Sports. Politics. Working out. Classic books. Rock-n-roll. Art. Love. Life.

Comments

The Beginning
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Comments

  1. Beautiful, man. Just beautiful. You kind of slipped a key word in at the middle there – selfish. That word always come to mind when I think back on those activities. Or when I, like you said, get to breathe life back into them for a second or two. Checking my cell phone for distress calls on the fairway of the 13th hole after a few/three beers – selfish. Going for a 4th mile when I set out to run 3 – selfish. Spending an extra 15mins after dinner scouring the waiver wire for that WR nobody else is thinking about – selfish.

    It’s a tough balance, but the new words definitely help.

    And then some.

  2. happiestdaddy says:

    Thanks Brad. Your comments always find the heart of the matter. I appreciate the insight.

  3. James Hudyma says:

    The transformation into something more. Excellent.

  4. Thanks James. It’s a continual process…and I’m sure that I will add many new words to the list in the months and years to come. Heck, I might even have to write a sequel!

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