I have lots to be thankful for this year. This last weekend was, besides Canadian Thanksgiving, the weekend of my daughter’s first birthday, and mine and my wife’s 2nd anniversary. On top of those wonderful things, my Kickstarter has officially raised enough pledges to be funded—even more than the $600 needed! It took less than 20 days and the average donation was a staggering $50. Suffice to say, I’ve been absolutely blown away by the support.
There have been many times over the last few weeks that I sat down reading the emails on my phone: New Backer Alert! they said. What marvelous words. A friend pledged, a family member pledged, even several complete strangers pledged. New Backer Alert!
If not literally blown away, I was at least winded. I look forward to writing my personalized ‘Thank You’ notes to every single one of them.
This week marks another big thing for the Richard household; this was the first week of my wife returning to work post maternal leave. Our daughter is in daycare full time now and let me tell you, besides the heartache that brings to us fresh parents, we take solace in the care and efforts of one another. It really is a new chapter for us.
From now until further notice my mornings begin at 6:00 AM, six days a week, regardless of whether or not I was working late the night before. In fact, I’ll be getting up at 6:00 AM regardless of any circumstantial offerings of life, like the kind that make sleep scarcer than a Pumpkin Spice latte in July. My wife will be doing our daughter’s bedtime routine often without me now, as I quite regularly work through the evenings. It’s going to take immense teamwork and dedication. All for the love of a little girl, two people give all that they got and then some. I will never cease to be amazed at the tenacity of true love… the terrible, sometimes frightening tenacity. Would I ever do this much to care for my own health and well-being? Would I ever make sure I was getting enough nutrition and sleep? Probably not.
I have such a grandiose sense of self-worth, you know. Sometimes when I am writing these articles I imagine that my children will grow up and someday read them, having these picturesque aha! moments and silent tears as they remember their father lovingly (besides having a grandiose since of self-worth I have a pessimistic view of the length of my own life). So it burdens me somewhat to decide to focus on the positives of my daughter going to daycare and my wife returning to the workforce. I can already hear the thoughts of my daughter in the far off future as she reads this: “Wow. It seemed like dad didn’t even care when I went to daycare! He was just as happy as ever!”
All I can say is, “Sorry, my dear,” and maybe, “What the hell are you doing outside of the Convent?”
See, it would feel cathartic to express how deeply inadequate I feel for not making the kind of wage that allows my wife to stay home and raise our children (even though I’m not entirely sure she would want to, at least not full-time). It would feel almost therapeutic to mar my readership with the pains of not being as present as I would like to my own child. To wallow selfishly in the disgrace of my own failings and sadness that results. But today I’m not going to do that. Today I am going to be strong and think of all the things for which I am grateful.
I am grateful for my wife. Besides popping a 22 inch-long baby outside of her lady parts (I distinctly remember seeing the baby pop her head out, like a Groundhog looking for a shadow, only not like that and I’m so sorry to give you that image), she has dealt with an overbearing and ego-maniacal husband who does nothing but write things and then try to share them at her. She has the fortitude of a Grizzly bear and the benevolence of a soaring Eagle. This is where I stop comparing her to animals because I know better.
I am grateful for my baby girl. This little baby has done to me what nothing else on the planet has so far been capable. She has taken my heart and proceeded carry it around with her since the day she was born. I once heard a speaker addressing a room of men say,”When you become a father, your heart suddenly leaps out of your chest and starts walking around outside of you.” I found it an apt description. Never have I been as vulnerable in my life, but never have I felt such joy. My daughter is the harbinger of that joy.
I am grateful for my family and friends. These people have seen me at my worse and at my not-so-awful, they have been there to catch me when I fall, and sometimes to push me so that I do fall, but only because I’m a lazy ass who needs serious redirecting sometimes. There are odes I could write to these people, and maybe someday I will. For now I know that I am treated far better than I deserve, and for that I am grateful.
I am also grateful for my creativity. This is where that nasty ego of mine starts poking its monstrous little head—but truly, I feel immense gratitude for having my own God-given propensity when it comes to writing and music. That doesn’t mean I’m naturally good at it, getting good at it involves a lot (a lot a lot) of hardwork and dedication. What it does mean is that I am naturally inclined to want to get good at it, and that is a gift in and of itself. I have a desire, regardless of how much I suffocate that desire with other things in my life, like sleep and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Though there is much else, I will end with how grateful I feel about the support others have given me to pursue my creativity. The Kickstarter was a great example of how generous others have been toward me, but there has been much more to which I owe besides monetary pledges.
I owe every person who has heard me blather on religiously about the current project I am on. I owe every person who has ever encouraged me to keep writing despite my project not turning out like I’d hoped. I think of a time when a middle-aged man approached me after I performed two songs for a talent show in Chilliwack. “I really enjoyed your music,” he said. “I really loved it, actually. I wanted to come over here and tell you that.” That someone would be so kind to utter those words (and I have been blessed with more kind utterances than that) leaves me speechless.
So in sum, Thank You. Wanting to share one’s art is kind of like an ongoing disease, a fever that persists in spite of all efforts to stop it from crippling one’s mind. Hearing a kind word is like a cold rag to the forehead, a hot toddy to sooth the throat, a warm blanket to abide the chill…