A little family

When I was in college, the theatre department put on a production of Six Characters in Search of an Author. The script called for a very young girl to play the part of The Child. Luckily, we had one handy. James, the auditorium manager, and Professor Jane, the costume designer, had three beautiful children: two boys and a girl. The girl, Nia, was six years old at the time, or thereabouts, and she was perfect.

I was in my early 20s at that time, and I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I did not want children of my own.

I don’t remember having anything to do with Six Characters. I probably worked on the electrics crew or something. But I happened to catch the tail end of an evening dress rehearsal one night. James was there too, waiting to pick up his daughter. When the stage manager dismissed the actors, Nia spotted her father. She jumped off the stage and went tearing up the aisle, screaming, “Daddeeeeee!” She leaped into his arms and he spun her around into a big hug, The Child’s ghostly white dress fluttering behind her.

That instant of pure joy stabbed me right in the heart. That was the first moment in my life when I thought, “Maybe having kids wouldn’t be so bad.”

When Sarah and I started dating, we were in our late 20s. Sarah let me know early on that she wanted kids, and I knew that if I wanted to keep her around, I would have to get on board with that. When I met her nieces, all my resistance crumbled. I fell in love with them immediately. Watching Sarah with them, watching myself with them, I finally admitted that we would be good parents.

Taking care of a newborn is exhausting work. Being a single parent is exhausting work. Being Nate’s dad is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but there are a lot of nights when I am just tired, and I have a hard time being the sparky, energetic father he deserves. Some nights, when I go to pick him up at school, he is delighted to see me, but I am too tired and cranky to appreciate it fully. And other nights, when I am delighted to see him, he is busy playing or coloring and would really prefer if I just went away. Sometimes, he knows he’s been naughty at school, and is dreading my arrival. But in the back of my mind, I remember Nia and James, and I know that one of these days we will both be happy to see each other at the same time.

Sandy’s lease is up tomorrow. She packed up her apartment and moved in with me and Nate on Wednesday. She drove in to work with me on Thursday and spent the day cleaning the old apartment. We drove home together, and together we went to pick up Nate at school.

And Nate saw us across the crowded room.

And his face lit up, and he ran across the room, and he ran right by me and threw himself into Sandy’s arms, hugging her with all his might.

And I thought, Oh—that’s what I’ve been waiting for.

Welcome home, Sandy.

10 Responses to “A little family”

  1. EmmaC Says:

    Yay! So happy for all of you. :)

  2. Jon Says:

    Beautiful, Dave.

  3. Mari Says:

    Yea! I am so happy for you three!

  4. MaryB Says:

    So happy for your little family!

  5. Dana Says:

    Oh! I have James and Ben asleep in my bed with me, and now I want to go get Max, too.
    Happy Days, Dave’s Family.

  6. Dad Says:

    Ooh that’s a sweet story about Nia and her dad. I’m so glad it nudged you along the path to having Nate. And I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that Sandy has moved in with you. I’m delighted that Nate gave Sandy such a warm welcome at school, but I’m not surprised. After all, whenever we’ve all been together at Nate’s bedtime, he’s always chosen Sandy to read him his bedtime stories.

  7. Shilo Says:

    That’s a great story Dave!

    - Shilo

  8. Paul Says:

    This made me well up with tears. Sincerely. Beautiful. I’m so happy for you,

  9. Dave's Mom Says:

    That’s a wonderful story, but I’m not surprised either. I remember last summer, probably on the Vineyard, where we were about to cross a street. You had your hands full, so you told Nate to “take someone’s hand.” Immediately, Vee, Sandy, and I all put out our hands. Nate hesitated only a heartbeat, and then took Sandy’s hand. And I knew that you were a whole family again, and that this was right.

  10. LisaD Says:

    I had a similar reaction to the sight of Nia in that theater. This was before I met her family and developed a better understanding of how one grows a kid into someone that spectacular. Things went the opposite way for me on the wanting kids front, but I never tire of hearing that people I adore are succeeding at building families.

Leave a Reply