Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

Quite a few men I know are hoping they’ll be able to catch a cell signal or a few minutes on the sat phone to hear their kids’ voices while they are at sea today. At least one no doubt will be monitoring the SSB, hoping to touch base with a grown son on that man's Gulf shrimp trawler.

Others – too many others this Father’s Day – are home, but up early and worrying, perhaps parsing the household budget one more time, looking for that last tiny piece of fat to trim. They’re thinking about their kids too … wondering how they’ll afford a summer camp, a doctor’s appointment, a birthday party, a new pair of shoes.

The oil patch can be a lavish and exciting mistress, but ultimately she’s a fickle bitch.


Well, I’m still working the plan, which until I head out for a prep course and testing early next month, is all kids all the time. I. Am. So. Tired.

The 2-year-old takes a diaper change to be an invitation to beat some internal five-minute deadline to shit his britches again. The kid is a non-stop poop factory. He’s the sweet (and stinky) one.

The 5-year-old is a blur of tease and whine and questions and cuts and scrapes and bruises. If I had the money, I’d hire not a babysitter, but an umpire, to keep peace between the littles. He’s the smart one.

It’s a good thing they are both cute.

The teen – the inscrutable one, the strong one -- is here this month, and I’m working hard to keep some long-deferred promises to him. We just finished-up our PADI open water certifications as dive buddies … something I’ve wanted to do since I was his age and that we first looked into together when he was 10.

Our check-out dives took place smack-dab in the middle of a tropical storm and flash flood watch. Dive shops don’t use JSAs. Seriously, I was a little surprised there was not some formal risk analysis procedure.

Trying now to figure out how to schedule (and afford) flight lessons for Number One Son, among a dozen other more minor projects.

Sixteen years and three children into this fatherhood thing, here’s what I think I know:
  1. We are all making this up as we go along.
  2. And we’re all doing the best we can with what we have and hoping that passing grades are awarded for effort, nevermind results.
  3. Having a kid takes the paint right off a man, as my friend Jon Dee Graham sings. For more than a decade and a half I’ve experienced at least one brief jolt of terror every single day, usually upon waking. And, at home or at work, thinking about my boys takes up a significant portion of my mental and emotional bandwidth. Every. Single. Day.
  4. There are lots of ways to love your kids, and one of those is to get up and go to work day after day, month after month, especially when your work takes you far away from those for whom you are laboring. My own father taught me that. He’s about the workingest man I’ve ever met. When I was really young, he rarely had less than a 12-hour-day, much less a free one. Now, nearing 70, he has retired twice. His longest retirement lasted three weeks before he was back at work full-time.
  5. That said, money comes and money goes and there’s always more of it out there somewhere. Time … not so much. Now, in my 40s, I can’t remember much of anything my parents bought for me when I was a kid, but I remember well the fishing trips and camping on the national seashore and in the hill country and hanging out with the big ol’ crazy family at the grandparents’.
  6. If you are working 2:1 on the premise that you are making a “better life” possible for your family by stacking all that green, you may need to take another look at what they are missing – and what you are missing – when you are gone two-thirds of each year. Everyone’s circumstances are different, of course, and your mileage may vary. Still ….
  7. Having children might just let you relive the best parts of your own childhood.
  8. Before I had kids, I literally could not (accurately) imagine what that would be like. Now that I have kids, I shudder to think of what life would be like without them.
Anyway, here’s to all you dads out there, doing your best for the small people who may appreciate how hard you tried only long after your labors are done.

Keep on keeping on my brothers. Get some rest when you can.

And Happy Father’s Day.


  1. good reflections. some may even serve as fodder for a manual on fathering, twinned with a manual on mothering, of course. your retirement thoughts are great also, having retired this past 31 may, and worked on some freelance writing projects ever since. i may go back full time if i locate the right job

  2. Great pictures. Remember those single mom's too.