From Beneath the Rubble: Tales of a Real-Life Dad


Dirt on her face, shoe in hand...  That's our kid.  And we lover her.

Dirt on her face, shoe in hand, an absolutely clashing outfit.  That’s our Clara… And we lover her.

The most obvious thing is that I need a haircut. My lid is looking a lot like it did in 1996 – except a lot more straggly. Like I’m a 40-something slacker, freshly excavated from his parent’s basement.

Look a little closer, and you’ll see that my jackets are all just a little bit dirty, maybe a little bit stained. That scuff on the shoulder? It’s from when I forgot my blazer on the hood of my car and then drove away.

I’ve been trying to identify the stain on the back of my sport coat. I’m guessing baby puke. A few months ago I realized that all mystery stains boil down to baby puke.

A third or fourth glance will reveal my pant-cuffs fraying at the edges and the washed-too-many-times stretched shape of my t-shirts. I look a little like the hand-me-down couch found in a longtime student house: Well-worn. A little lumpy. Some days, I sort of feel that way too.

Shopping was one of the first things to go.

You may notice that my Internet doesn’t work when it rains. Well, you’ll notice it if you’re a client of mine and you’re waiting for an article or story. I’ve taken to sending extremely detailed and descriptive texts. But my thumbs have begun to cramp from the effort.

Tomorrow, I’ll be down to smoke signals. Or tin cans and a string.

If there were just a few minutes available, I could maybe call Bell and finally get that problem fixed. Actually, who’s kidding who? Bell doesn’t really fix things as much as annoy you into submission. Eventually you just give up. And buy more tin cans.

But at least I could try.

What you will notice is the in-need-of-a-goat state of my lawn.


Last week I tried to get through a portion that hadn’t been mowed in at least two months. The official score? Lawn-1, Mower-0. On the plus side, in just a few short passes across my yard, I found a number of things I hadn’t seen in a long, long time. A garden hoe, the dog, my virginity (it’s always the last place you look).

Ok, I exaggerate. The dog was actually inside.

The police called. Apparently the weeds at the front of our house swallowed a neighbourhood child whole. On the plus side, he was kid #4 in the family. And had poor grades. After the tiebreaker, he was deemed expendable. Sorry #4. I hardly knew you.

Now that… that I actually find shocking. Up until now, you see, the weeds had only claimed small rodents. Maybe the odd cat.

And I’ve never really liked cats.

My house looks like an AirBnB that was rented by coke-fiends and hookers. Or like it was lived in by a college rugby team.

The only thing missing are the wall-to-wall empties. I don’t have nearly the drinking time that I used to.

My wife is somewhere in the rubble. I know she is. I’d find her, but we long ago lost the iPhone charging cords. And her battery is long since dead. She last texted me from under a pile of laundry in the front hall.

I’d complain about all of this, but, really, there isn’t much point. Those of you who have had children will just shake your heads and roll your eyes. Yeah, another newbie.

Those who haven’t will realize that I’m writing about babies again, and promptly tune out.

I’d complain, but then there are moments like this morning, when my little two-toothed wonder woke me up with a zillion watt smile and a kiss that’s been too long in coming (she’s been a bit of a mama’s girl of late). There was a cuddle, and a gurgle, and a laugh. She may even have said “Dad-da” – though when you don’t get to see your little carpet-crawler as often as you’d like, every jumble of syllables sounds exactly like your name.

It was a moment that I wish could have lasted forever. And I suppose it will… in my memory. My two favourite people in a heap on the bed. Shared laughter. Sleepy-eyed joy.

It was a moment and then it was gone.  Minutes later, I was in the shower and out the door.

I’m working hard these days. And come home and work some more. I’ll admit it: I’m tired. The work-family balance – as so many of you know – can be an astonishingly steep learning curve.

Krista? She’s holding down the fort and doing the best she can. Mostly, she’s doing one hell of a good job of raising a child. And that’s all that anyone can ever ask.

I’d complain, but I really don’t have a reason to. I love. And feel loved.

And that makes me a pretty damned lucky guy.

Way luckier than child #4, that is.

Way luckier than I ever expected.