I write this late on a Friday night. A cool March breeze is wafting through the open window, bringing with it the smell of fresh cut grass and green spring leaves. The creek outside gurgles, mixing with the songs of frogs and crickets. I imagine them lullabies, and it’s working. Because between you and me, I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired in my life.
Why you ask? Easy. My son had a birthday party this evening. Seven eight-year-old boys gathered together on this small plot of earth, mouths rambling, bodies jittery, their little minds propelled by youth and cupcakes. And me, one tired man who trudged home after a long day at work, tasked with keeping them all both occupied and out of trouble.
So we played kickball. We played dodgeball. We threw acorns in the creek, wrestled, raced, taunted, ate, belched, laughed, and pondered the eternal mystery that is the opposite sex. And when all of that was done, the entire party devolved into one ginormous water gun fight.
To this thirty-nine-year-old who works two jobs and had beaten the sun out of bed this morning, the whole thing was a little bit of heaven with an equal measure of hell.
But I did it anyway, and without complaint. Because this was my boy. This was my buddy.
This was my son.
It’s funny what kids do to you. A lot of people say you change when you become a parent, but I don’t think that’s completely true. I think children just show you who you really were all along, deep down, past all the pretense we tend to pile upon ourselves.
I think that’s what happened with me, anyway. That’s what my son did. He became a mirror that I hold up to myself every day. He’s shown me who I really am.
Before him, I never knew I was so small. I never paused to consider just how many things I did not know, things like what makes the sun shine and how the moon got there and where yesterday goes when today comes. Until he came along, I thought there was nothing in the world that could scare me or leave me worrying. Before him, I thought I was mere steps below Superman.
But then he came, and I realized I was a lot less than I believed myself to be. I was not perfect. I was not smart. And I most certainly was nowhere close to Superman.
And you know what? That’s okay. Because my son hasn’t just shown me how small I am. He’s shown me how big I am, too.
Without him I would have never known that I could heal scrapes with a simple kiss. Or that my talents with Legos could appear as genius. I would have never guessed that a simple bedtime story could inspire imagination.
I had no idea that I could be someone’s hero.
And yet that’s what he’s done, every minute of every day, for eight beautiful years.
So yes, I’m tired. It’s been a long evening.
A wonderful long evening.