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When A Father Attacks: The Setup

I am a Libra. I am an only child. I am a father.

My Libra friends tell me us Libras are slow to be impressed, don’t excited by much and lose interest quickly. We also are sensitive, giving souls to a fault. We give people around us enough rope to hang themselves and we preside over these hangings gleefully, without regret, without remorse.

As an only child who was ruled with an iron fist I enjoy the luxury of being able to bask in solitude, draw strength from it and recharge in it. As a married man, solitude is a commodity I value as much as gold, wheat and corn in today's economy. I can appreciate an empty house, I enjoy moments without music or the white noise of always-on television --- mindlessly watched, and always on. Being an only child has its downsides, as do most things. I am prone to moodiness, insistent on space that many times doesn’t exist when living together (and not living in a mansion) and when angered, become uber-independent and ice-cold to those closest to me or those whom I view as hurtful or a threat.

I enjoy being a father. Learning to become the father of my wife’s son was a rocky and challenging experience for a variety of reasons, some of which had to do with not only the changing of my thinking from only child’s, but a single man’s to that of one who is a lot more selfless. My wife didn’t make things easy either. She saw something in me that I didn’t know was there and her impatience, in my humble opinion, overpowered her opportunity to teach me the ways and means and ins and outs of parenting.

Additionally, as many men will attest to, the paternalistic nature that most women seem to be born with doesn’t kick in for men until they bear a child of their own.

When my daughter was born, fatherhood just “clicked”. Like my first kiss, it all came very easily. The fear that, in the beginning, kept me up most nights wondering if I could pull it off, became the motivation I needed to pull it off. And now 8 years since I met my wife, with a 13 year-old and a 2.5 year-old, being dad is something I draw strength from and something that is invaluable to me in a world where not too much truly matters (to me). I enjoy being a father. Sometimes, it’s the one thing I look forward to at the end of long days and weeks.

By Wednesday of this week I will be without children for a month. Free to do whatever I want. Wanton in purpose and weakened with no source of strength.

For Father’s Day I was given a trip to New Orleans taking place this Fourth of July. Unknown to me, my wife was planning the trip for weeks and I love her for it. Unknown to me, my wife was planning to have my parents take my 2.5 year old daughter off our hands for the month of July.

My parents live in Chicago.

When she finally shared the full scope of her plans with me, I was less than happy. When I asked my wife why she would do this without consulting me she quickly announced, “Because I knew you would say no.” She argued that our son goes away every year. He's thirteen. He began going to sleep-away camp when he was roughly six years old. She was a basket case when it first happened. I was there to console and reassure her that he would be fine.

My daughter is two. Her argument fell flat.

Immediately, I knew she meant well, wanting to spend quality time together, in an effort to experience that newlywed love anew that being parents doesn't allow time for. But meaning well and doing well are two completely different things. My wife didn’t know it at the time, but she had a serious problem on her hands that was getting ready to balloon out of control. It takes two words to name it and one word to describe it and two more words to explain its cause:

The name: Eric Payne.

The description: Father.

The cause: Her actions.

For what happens next, check in tomorrow for When A Father Attacks: The Catch-22...part two of this four-part series running through July 3.

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