The Byford Files

What It’s Like

It’s hard to describe. Make no mistake, I love this little girl. And my lovely wife is doing a beastly job holding it down around the house. The reason I never wanted to hear “just wait until” is because it cheapens the experience of finding out for yourself. It’s like telling me what happens at the end of the movie. I like just finding out my own damned self. Ellison can just melt you when she looks you in the eye. She was gazing at me the other day as I sat her down on my belly. I swear I could’ve stayed in that moment forever, but you can’t. And, reality is, she can’t. She’s a growing girl. She fusses. She kicks. She swings. Yeah, if you get to witness that, that’s some awesome stuff. But in that moment that she looks at you steadily for five minutes, you swear that you’ve arrived in heaven. I don’t get to see her much except for in the evenings and, even still, like a moron, I make myself too busy to enjoy it. Last night, I went out for a five-mile jog at 8:30 and thought while I was out that I’m kinda a crummy father. I mean, you have an opportunity to chill with your little baby and here you are running around the neighborhood like an idiot. I do it to relax. It’s my “trash out” in the “trash in/trash out” operation. It gives me a chance to pray. To hurt. To sting. To use every volume inch of my lungs. To almost crap my pants (seriously, last night…almost happened). It balances my work life. When you stare at a computer all day no where near a window or skylight, breathing even the cold air is like bathing in the fountain of youth. In the spring, it’ll be something I share with Ellison as she’ll be old enough to enjoy the jogs with me and it’ll be warmer. Only the hour or less jogs, though. I’ll be training for a marathon in February and I’m going to do everything in my power to not let that take me away from my daughter.

I was thinking the other day when Ellison was screaming at me as I tried to get ready for work that, at that moment, I could think of about ten friends that would completely buckle under those circumstances. They’d just break down and wet their pants. They wouldn’t have a clue as to what to do next. Of course, I was probably thought of as one of those people as my friends were busy having kids. They made it. We’re making it. It’s kinda like the roller coaster that’s broken and doesn’t stop. You don’t have the chance to jump off. The first couple of times, you’re enjoying it, but then you just want a chance to jump off and get your bearings. No chance. Sometimes, it’s like a thirteen-round fight and she’s gonna win every time. That’s just a simple fact. Somedays, you feel like you don’t deserve such a beautiful baby. I took her out to run some errands the other day and someone leaned into me to look at her as she slept. “Oh my gosh, she’s the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen! Congratulations.” I was thinking, at first, “Oh, the hyperboles!” They all say that. I’ve said that even about ugly babies in the past. But then, I thought, that lady was right. She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It’s totally possible that someone else would feel the same. How do I deserve such a beautiful baby? It’s like starting a new job. It’s exciting. Scary. You fear screwing up. Seeing the pediatrician is like going to meet with your boss as she evaluates your work. It’s like the first time you made it off the block on your bike without falling off or making it down the mountain on skis without face planting. It might’ve been a fluke, but you sincerely hope it’s just you getting better at what you do. I look at my dogs who sleep next to me out in the sunroom. I wonder what they would say it’s like. It’s like having a new roommate that gets her own room while you still share a mattress on the floor in the basement with another guy. They probably miss the good ol’ days when we treated them better. Or treated them at all. They’re getting a day at the salon today. Partly because they need it. Also because they deserve it. And also because we just wanna get them out of the house for a few hours. Jax has turned on the family. He’s ready to leave. Tucker would leave but he’s too much of a sap to make it one house down the block. He’d start crying and come back. Not sure about Jax, though. Jax came in last night from the backyard and had mud so badly clumped on his paws that it appeared he was wearing shoes. And it wasn’t just mud. It was mud and leaves and small sticks and grass and probably his own feces and hair and some sort of twine. It was like he was saying to me, “Forget about me?”

It’s like taking a third of your house and just chopping it off. You lose space in the closets, you lose counter tops, you lose space in the cabinets, you lose floor space. For such a small little child, she sure takes up a lot of room. It’s equal parts fear and fun. She starts reinforcing you by smile, laughing. The fear starts morphing into fun. You start saying to yourself, “I got this.” And you do. It takes a while for that to happen. But you know when it does.

It’s like becoming security for the freaking president. I’m so careful about everything now. I’m leery of the world. Not so much that I keep her locked up, but I’m watching around corners, under cars. No one comes between me and my little Ellison. Except for my lovely wife, of course. You’ll see me sometimes contemplating a setting or scenario and it’s like I’m busy securing the perimeter. Making sure there’s no breach. Make sure that every zipper’s zipped, every button’s buttoned, every buckle’s buckled and every snap’s snapped.

It’s like they say. It’s life changing. No doubt. And even if you spend nine months watching your lovely wife’s belly growing to enormous proportions, you still would’ve never seen it coming. And it’s probably better that you didn’t. Because you probably would’ve freaked out. Better not knowing and then living with it. Than knowing and living with the anxiety. That’s how I normally see things. I don’t wanna know. Just let me figure it out for myself. I don’t fear failure. I don’t back down from challenges. I love this little baby. I love my lovely wife and I love being here. But it’s like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

Girls are Cool coming later. Gotta get the boys to the salon and then stare down the board up at work and tell ’em what I’ve been up to for the last three months. Besides having a kid and all.


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