Sunday, June 18, 2006

Where's Daddy?

As a little girl, I remember leaping from my Princess bed early in the morning,before the alarm sounded. Actually, the alarm was my mother yelling, “Get up, Pumpkin! It’s time for school.” So, before Mama hollered, I raced to the bathroom, brushed my twenty teeth, then rushed to my parents’ room looking for my daddy. Daddy was coaching then. Between scouting, teaching, and coaching several sports, he frequently came home after my 9 o’clock bed time. Just as often, he was already gone when I awakened in the morning. But if I hurried, every now and then, I would catch him before he left for work. In my parents’ bedroom, I looked for his whistle and watch on the dresser. If they were gone, I skipped down the stairs to the kitchen. Usually, I’d see the sports pages folded neatly on the table next to his empty cup of coffee. I knew it was his cup. No lipstick. Idon’t know why Mama put lipstick on to drink coffee.
Standing in the kitchen, feeling the coolness from the linoleum seep between my toes, I listened for the sounds of my daddy - his voice or his laughter. But, all I heard was my mother humming in the bathroom, applying more lipstick, I suppose. Finally, I would walk to the front door looking for Daddy’s muddy shoes. No shoes. No signs of daddy.
“Mama, is Daddy gone?”
“Yes, Sweetie. He said to have a good day and he left your lunch money by the coffee pot.”
In our neighborhood, daddies worked and they worked hard. Many of them had two jobs or more. If we spotted a dad during the week day, we knew he was either laid off or very, very ill. Weekends were different. Then, we saw fathers everywhere -mowing, playing dominoes, and cooking on the grill. Come Monday, they were all but extinct, leaving only inanimate traces of their existence. Things are different now. We have stay-at-home dads. Men who turn down promotions and positions that require excessive time and travel away from home. I know fathers who have taken maternity leave along with their wives. I think that's awesome Yet, I realize these options are not available for everyone no matter how badly some men might want to be home with their families.
There are mortgages, tuition, and taxes to pay. There are cars and insurance premiums or huge medical bills for families without health insurance. Gifts and uniforms. Fieldtrips and braces.
Oh yes, mothers make these sacrifices too. So do grandparents who should have retired years ago. As an adult, I now realize the world is not as black and white as I once believed. These are complex problems with no immediate solutions for many Americans. Some people want to live luxuriously, but others just want their lights on one more night. They work sun up to sun down simply to make ends meet. When they do, month after month, and year after year, that’s a sure sign of their love and devotion.
Hmmm. That’s all. No moral to this story. Just thinking about my pop and all the hard working daddies out there doing the best they can with their available resources. Hang in there. You are missed, but greatly appreciated. Love ya, Daddy!