Hey guys, Noah here.
I often ask myself, what do I know about fatherhood?
The closer I get to the door the more I realize I don’t know a damn thing, and there is this uncertainty whenever I breach the subject.
Fathering a child from prison can be a daunting task, some kids allow it and other don’t. Over the years I haven’t really had to, because my daughters only complaint has been not enough screen time. This has allowed me to focus my time on getting to know her through phone calls and visits, and not stress about the day to day activities of raising a child. You can summarize the majority of my knowledge about fatherhood up into 22 months, because that’s how long I was physically present in my daughter’s life.
My daughter was born February 16th, 2011 and I was there for the birth, physically anyways.
Mentally, I was somewhere else, wrapping up a life of crime and putting the finishing touches on my indictment, which was coming in May of 2012. However, it didn’t take me that long to come around. In November of 2011 I had enough and moved from Minneapolis to live with my daughter and her Grandparents in East Grand Forks. For the next 22 months I was there, being a father, until I self-surrendered to my 120 prison sentence in September of 2013.
So what did I learn in those 22 months? First, I learned I will never again watch a baby being born. I will stay up top, holder her hand, and do whatever she asks me to do. I know what it’s like to get pooped and peed on, because I changed a lot of diapers. I learned not to throw diapers in the kitchen trash, and I know what a Diaper Jeanie smells like after a week.
Grandma’s are there to spoil your child and to potty train them, at least the first one, thanks mom! A kid doesn’t care about your OCD tendencies and will continue to wipe their dirty hands on your cloths and stomp on your boots and shoes. Also, when entering a house, they don’t take their shoes off, even when full of mud.
Kids hat locked doors and will beat on them relentlessly until they are let in. Children are resourceful and will learn how to climb onto counters and take down safety gages way faster than they should. Also, they don’t care if you are hung over, they still want you to keep them entertained for 12 hours straight, or until they nap or simply pass out on the living room floor.
Watching your child take their first steps is the most amazing thing in the world. Number two is the fact that “Dad” is way easier to say than “Mama.” I was very fortunate that Melrose typically slept through the night. However, she was an early riser, but it helped that she was so damn cute.
A friend of mine burst my bubble the other day when I was telling him how lucky I am to have such a special girl that I am going home to. He asked me, “Don’t you think you just feel so strongly about the situation because you have been gone for so long and miss her so much?” He continued to tell me that it’s going to be totally different once I go home. What if she starts yelling at you, telling you she hates you, and that she wants to go to her moms? He wanted to know how I would handle these types of situations. As he continued to talk, my heart rate speedup and I realized I was clinching my fists, and then it hit me. What is he’s right? I don’t know a thing about parenting.
Everything I knew about fatherhood started to come into question, now that I have been gone for so long. I started to ask myself, what do I actually know? What if my presence becomes more of a distraction than a compliment to her life? What if we end up resenting one another? Will she struggle with trusting men her entire life, because of the way I was? Will she have abandonment issues because I was gone for so long? Or am I getting back just in time, to be present for all of the things?
To be honest, I try to block it out, but I can’t. Because the more I think about it the more I realize that; I have a nine year old daughter, who really doesn’t know me.
She doesn’t remember the times I spent with her before I turned myself in. She sees pictures and therefore knows the time existed but there are no memories. She doesn’t know what it’s like to live with me, what irritates me, or what’s irritating about me, music I like, shows I watch, or if I can cook.
She knows I can’t dance or sing, but love to do it anyways. She knows I love snuggling, from our time in the visiting room. She knows I am obsessed with the Packers (if you are a Vikings fan, please keep reading). She knows that I love golf and hockey and can’t shoot a basketball to save my life.
Now, finding things out about her have been much more difficult because phone calls have not been her strong suit, in regards to opening up about her life. For the first five years I didn’t know what to ay and most of our calls were filled with awkward silence until Grandma would get on the phone.
Once she turned seven the phone calls got better but it’s just not the same as being there. Watching her grow, listening to her read or try to use new words, like “Epic,” then you have the poses that have evolved over the years, from sassy to this young lady. I witness these in pictures but it’s not like seeing her strike them in real life.
Many times she doesn’t know what to say to me and therefor doesn’t ask any inquisitive questions. This has been a double edge word. One on hand she doesn’t ask difficult questions like, “When are you coming home?” And then on the other hand she doesn’t ask the important questions, “Where did Aaron Rodger play college football?”
I try to keep up with her the best that I can but, who can keep up with a nine year old? Every year something changes… her favorite color, the things she watches, and the music she listens to. Forever her favorite color would jump back and forth between pink and purple, so that was easy. Now the other day I was on the phone with her and she informs me that her favorite color is black, and I said, “I thought it was pink and purple.” She tells me, “Dad, pink is my third favorite colors after white; it goes black, white, pink and then purple is probably my least favorite color.” Well when did this change? “It changed when my favorite emoji went from a unicorn to a panda bear.” Well that makes perfect sense.
I’m not going to sit here and say I am a perfect dad, because I am in prison and I have revealed too much of my past for that lie to be even mildly effective. So, I am going to settle for I am doing the best I can with the situation I am currently in. This task I have ahead of me is going to be hard.
It’s going to be difficult, but it’s also going to be fun and exciting. I love my daughter and my daughter loves me, and we can figure the rest out as it happens. Also, it sounds like everybody in Melrose’s life is ready for me to come home. “Here you go dad, you have a 9 year old who is going to be going through puberty soon, have fun!”
This will probably be the true test, where I find out just how much I know about fatherhood and the love that comes with it, but I look forward to it.
Thanks for listening,