I’d like to reflect on where I’d be without my mother, Karen, and my wife, Andrea, mother to our two daughters. But, don’t quit reading thinking this is some fluff story that’s as sappy as a Nicholas Sparks novel. Even with a houseful of girls, I’ll share my stories and mistakes as to how I’ve struck a balance between being a man, husband, dad, and an outdoorsman, and how moms make it all possible.
As a husband and father, my jobs are to provide for my family, be a positive example for my daughters, work hard, attend school functions, and support my wife emotionally (I think that’s what it’s called). Other duties as assigned include watching Disney’s Frozen 43 times in one week, building a pink play house that took longer to build than the ancient pyramids, and mastering child seats that are more complex than a rubik’s cube.
You thought I was kidding about that playouse, didn’t you?
My duties as a man/outdoorsman consists of fishing, hunting, facial hair growing, ESPN watching, Florida Sportsman reading, grunting, and an annual Mancation to the Bahamas. No women are allowed on Mancation, and we survive off a steady diet of fresh caught snapper, grouper, triggerfish, conch, PBJ’s, and Junkanoo soda. We never make our beds (or couches), wear the same clothes for a week straight, and fish 14 hours a day. It’s glorious.
If it weren’t for Andrea, I’d have one pillow on my bed instead of 26. I’m a simple man. If I were a bachelor I’d live in a 2.5 room house – a kitchen and a living room, equipped with an 85″ 4K Ultra HD TV, and a functional bathroom. Why the .5? I’ve never used a tub, and I’d shower outside with a water hose. I’d be a modern day pirate living on the coast of somewhere with a multi-colored beard straight from Duck Dynasty.
Yet, there’s more to life than fishing and hunting (that feels weird just typing that sentence). I live by the code of the five F’s: faith, family, fishing, food, and friends. All five are tied together tighter than a Bimini Twist knot by the mothers in my life.
Andrea’s first sacrifice as a mother was while she was pregnant with Lilla. She was sick, her belly was growing faster than Shaq in middle school, and we had a fishing trip/vacation planned to the Bahamas. I asked, “Do you care if I still go?” She said “No,” and five minutes later I had my tickets booked. Maybe I was a little insensitive (wouldn’t be the first, or the last time), but the bottom line is she said yes because she knew how much I wanted to go. So, she sucked it up, spent a miserable week solo, and did it all for me and our unborn daughter.
I was the perfect parent. I read Baby Wise (twice). I knew everything about raising kids, and then I had two of my own. It’s not easy, they consume your life, and it’s even more challenging for a modern day working mom. Andrea was determined to breast feed both of our girls, and that meant spending many hours in a closet (or anywhere she could find), pumping breast milk for both Lilla and Molly for the first fifteen months of their lives. Have you ever heard one of those contraptions? It sounds like there’s a garbage truck parked in your house, equipped with an MRI scanner on steroids, attached to the sound system at a Metallica concert. This type of dedication could fill up Delilah’s radio show for a full year.
Andrea is like a master angler in the kitchen, and somehow she’s figured out the right recipe to deal with two daughters that mix like oil and water. Lilla Kate, 8-years-old, has a memory like Rain Man, learned the alphabet and its sounds by 15 months old, is overly sweet and tender-hearted to a fault, and will breakdown if you even whisper the word spanking. Molly Catherine, 4-years-old, who only remembers how to pick child safety locks, could care less about the alphabet, knew how to pick her nose by 15-months-old, is a whirling dervish of spunk, adventure, curiosity, mischievousness, and isn’t afraid of spankings (I think she actually likes them).
She’s either busy working multiple jobs, taking the girls to gymnastics, cooking dinner, making lunch for school the next day, doing laundry, chasing Molly, doctoring Molly, cleaning Molly, or cleaning after Molly. Without her taking care of our daughters, I couldn’t do what I’m able to do. It’s really that simple.
My mother had her own challenges. She had four kids who were all going in different directions. My dad was working, coaching our teams, or fishing in between sports seasons that never ended. So, when we fished, she kept the house under control, and they worked out a compromise. Whatever my dad spent on fishing, my mom had a matching fund that she could buy paint, curtains, or anything that scratched her creativity itch. Everybody won.
I now realize my mother sacrificed everything for the four of us. That may seem dramatic. “Everything”? For the better part of eight years, she was either pregnant, had a kid in diapers, or both. Kids aren’t like an iPod. You can’t just put them on play and walk away; they consume your time, your energy, and your life. Factor in the next 20 years of raising us, always having a meal ready when we got home from practice, or a fishing trip, and there was no time for what she wanted. I’m sure she would have loved to travel the world, painting in Italy, visiting family in Sweden, or simply just getting away for a week. She gave up everything for us, and she never complained.
Both my mom and Andrea make these sacrifices daily – my mom for 37 years, Andrea for eight. Without their dedication, I couldn’t pursue my passion for the outdoors. Without them, this column wouldn’t exist. So, on this Mother’s Day, thank you to all of the mothers out there who allow my fellow outdoorsmen and me to do what we do.