I Signed Up for This?

2_25_11.jpgThat’s what my son likes to remind me, usually when he’s gripping a leg and pulling, while his sister is gripping an arm and pulling, and the dog is looking like he’d like to grip something…if only he had thumbs.

“…just remember Papa, you signed up for this…” 

Funny, I don’t remember the widower, single parent, caregiver, dog catcher clause in the plethora of forms I’ve signed over the years. Certainly my marriage license didn’t have an expiration date on it. I’m sure I would have noticed. My kid’s birth certificates said nothing about parenting without a partner. They say all you need to know, you learned in kindergarten. Well I was gypped. My early reading primers taught me “See Dick run.” They never included the phrase, “change your father’s diaper” something I did again this weekend. 

Every time my son says those words “you signed up for this…,” and lately he’s been doing it a lot, I’m taken back. My usual banter is gone. I just don’t know how to respond. 

Because maybe when I looked my bride in the eyes and before God, family and friends promised to love her in sickness and in health, till death do us part; when I held up my then newborns and promised them I’d love them unconditionally and raise them in the “nurture and admonition” of the Lord; when I rushed back from Afghanistan, held my wife’s hand in ICU and whispered to her, I’m here now, you can rest; maybe when I realized I now had the opportunity to "honor my father and my mother" and to return just a portion of the decades of love and service my parents extended to me…maybe I did sign up for this. 

I’m not telling my son he’s right…not yet. Wild animals can sense fear you know!

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