Sometimes a good story falls right into my lap … or in this case, jumps into my lap. Before I tell my story, though, I want to share the reasons why I write. First, it’s a way to earn income, while keeping a flexible schedule (I’m typing this at 2:30 a.m.). Second, it feels great to brighten someone’s day, even if it’s just by giving a few minutes of enjoyable reading. I love when readers respond to my column by sharing happy memories of their own. Third, time flies by. Mattie, my wife, recently asked, “Do you realize our baby is already halfway to eighteen?”
As I remind readers to “cherish the moments,” I’m prompting myself to do the same with my daughter during life’s hectic days. Last, and most importantly, my writings create a permanent record of the incredible love I hold for Jessie. When she reads the stories in years to come, she’ll remember the great times and know how much her parents treasured her. It’s time for one of those stories, but be forewarned, one part would not be classified as “great,” especially from a male perspective.
Bump in The Night
I’m a light sleeper. If Jessie calls me from her bedroom on the other side of the house, I’ll wake up about 90% of the time. Recently, however, one of those 10% times occurred. Jessie had a bad dream and called, “Daddy!” When daddy didn’t show up, Jessie decided to run to her parents’ bedroom. She brought along her stuffed animals, Eeyore, the donkey, and Sam, short for Samantha, her brown monkey. To summarize, at a few minutes after 1 a.m., an 83 lb., frightened girl, toting a monkey and a donkey, ran frantically into the master bedroom and made a flying leap onto her daddy. Still groggy, I tried to calm Jessie.
“Calm down, calm down. It’s okay. Calm down before somebody gets hurt!” About three seconds later, that somebody was me, as Jessie’s knee landed … well, let’s just say that had I known this was coming, I would have gone to bed wearing the protective cup I used during my church-softball-playing days. This is the “not great” part of the story to which I referred earlier.
When Jessie calmed down, she snuggled in between Mattie and me, with one arm around Eeyore and Sam, and fell asleep. Once I’m awake, though, I have a tough time falling back to sleep, especially after being awakened by 83 pounds of blunt force trauma, followed by a swift knee in the groin. I turned over on my side, hoping to catch a few winks. However, instead of finding sleep, I was goosed … by a cow. I erred when I thought Jessie only brought Eeyore and Sam. She had also carried her cow, Cuddles. Thank goodness it wasn’t the Unicorn.
I knew I wouldn’t be falling back to sleep anytime soon, so I left Jessie in bed with Mattie and went to the living room to read and soon drifted off in my recliner. Later, I moved to the sofa and slept there before getting up to take the dog for her morning walk.
Memories full of Thanks
After a brisk walk, a yawning dad went to wake Jessie for school. As I looked down at my sleeping family, one word came to mind – thankful (okay, “tired” would have worked, too). Jessie had maintained her position in the middle of the bed with Mattie on one side, and Eeyore, Sam, and Cuddles on the other. The three stuffed animals were resting comfortably on my favorite pillow. Cuddles and Sam looked up at me with their stitched smiles. I smiled back.
Sure, Mattie and I had been deprived of a little sleep. However, we had received an opportunity to show Jessie that we are always there for her, to protect, comfort, and love her. Jessie’s flying leap reminded me to be thankful for the opportunities I have to make a difference as a dad (though I’d prefer future ones to be pain-free).
This leads me to one final reason why I write. Writing is therapeutic for this sleep-deprived father.
It helps me to remember to cherish the moments, even if I’m awakened by a bony-kneed kid, goosed by a cow, and surrender my favorite pillow to a group of stuffed mammals. Happy Thanksgiving!
Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting, and auditing before he became a father at age 44.
He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad, and writer.
Follow Patrick at www.facebook.com/patricklhempfing and on Twitter @PatrickHempfing.