As silly as it may sound, I believe in love.
After ten years of being hounded by our parents, my wife and I finally decided that we were ready to have children. We took the birds’ and bees’ advice, and now we have two children. Jacob, the older, commonly known as His Highness the Cruise Ship Director, is nearly three, and Jessie (The Princess Crawler) is nine months old.
The two of them are such joys in my life that I often wonder why we waited so long. I’d like to think that I’ve just simply forgotten the years spent without kids, but the truth is my wife is bipolar, and I am mentally depressed, and we spent a lot of time trying to get stable enough to keep ourselves going, much less raise children.
Depression robs a person of joy. Every feeling good or bad is tempered with an admittedly irrational cloud that paints your soul in shades of gray. You have to work to stay stable and involved in life, and even now, there are still mornings where withdrawing from the world seems the safest thing to do.
However, Jacob needs his breakfast. Jessie needs a new diaper. There isn’t time to give up. Jacob is currently testing the limits we put on him, and nearly any perceived slight can cause a tantrum. Jessie can be perfectly content with me until my wife walks by. At that point, I’m as unnecessary as aiming a flashlight at the sun. My goal of not being held hostage by terrorists or two year-olds gets tested in ways large and small. “No, daddy, I want my water in the red cup, not the blue one. No, daddy, you must sit here. No, daddy, you don’t play with that. That’s my toy.”
There are some fights, especially when both kids are overtired, that make me want to fall back into that numbing comfort of not caring about anything, just going along for the ride. But these two little helpless creatures depend on me. I go to work to have a roof over our heads. I change diapers because they’ll get rashes if I don’t. I hold my son and feel his little body burn as his temperature spikes up to one hundred and four, wiping his head with a cool washcloth, doing what I can, because he and his sister are pieces of me that I’ve freely given away. And even when circumstances get me down, there are still moments of joy, like when Jacob finally gets his fingers arranged to say “I love you” in sign language, or when Jessie giggles after having raspberries blown on her stomach.
These remarkable children who love me unconditionally don’t know what depression is. They run, they laugh, they play, they cry. They smile and pout. They fall asleep in my arms. And I love them and my wife with all my heart and soul because even if I don’t know myself, they love me anyway. And that’s why I believe in love.
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