The first thing I did after Kate left was call my job. As much as I could taste my dream of being top in the culinary career (pun totally not intended), I knew that the first stages of a child's life were really important. I didn't like the thought of leaving little man with a baby sitter. I knew I could call Kate when I worked and she'd be right there, but with the separation just settled I wanted to give her time to get into her new home and new life as a single woman. Something told me that wouldn't be hard for Kate, but at the same time I didn't feel right asking her to come back when she had just left.
Thankfully, work was very understanding. I was worried that, with my luck, they not only would refuse my time off, but they would fire me too. I was so grateful that they gave me the time I needed to spend with my son, though. Even if that time was unpaid, it was a lot better than no job at all.
I planned to go right back to work once Little Man got a little older, but I wanted to be home with him and teach him all the skills he needed to be a great guy one day.
He was already showing signs of taking after me, especially my virtuoso trait. I love music, but just as a hobby. Cooking is truly my passion. Little Man seems to really enjoy music, though. The way he coos and giggles in his crib is almost melodic. He goes to sleep much easier when I sing to him, too. Though, I'm not sure if that's because I'm singing or because the awkward tension in the house is finally gone and we're both seeing a little peace.
In my time off of work, I found I really LOVED my Little Man. I mean, I did love him before, but I didn't know how much joy could come from being a dad. Just from holding him or feeding him. I even delighted in changing his diapers, as stinky as they were.
Little Murphy Junior needed lots of social interactions to keep him happy. I was worried for a little bit that he might be too needy, but that was my guy brain thinking. I didn't have Kate, or any other woman around, to tell me that of course he's needy. He's a baby.
I just kind of figured it out on myself. I knew I would be doing a lot of that as a single parent- learning by experience and not instinct. I don't think that makes me a worse parent than having two parents at once, I'm just a different kind of parent. I need to learn as I go.
Three cries and a squeal means I'm hungry. Got it!
It was hard, but there wasn't a thing I hated about being a parent- that is, except for that time moves really fast.
I was used to long work days and coming home and sleeping. Being with Murphy Jr., the hours just seemed to fly right by. Days melted together and before I knew it it was time for Little Man to grow up.
I'm not sure if I was excited about it or if I was dreading it. I wanted to see the kind of toddler my son would be, but at the same time a part of me wanted to keep him small forever. I felt like those mother's who get upset when their kids are leaving the nest. What will happen when Murphy Jr. doesn't need me any more?
Of course, that time was far, far off and as much as I wanted to I couldn't keep Little Man little forever.
The morning of Little Man's birthday I woke up early and crept into his nursery. I was definitely going to have to redo that room, and maybe some of the house, after he grew up a little. Give the kid room to grow.
He was sleeping so peacefully, I didn't want to wake him. I kissed him on his forehead and went to get ready for the party.
I know it's kind of silly to throw a party for a baby, because they probably won't remember it anyway, but our lives as a family hadn't been easy for the most part. Now that things were finally going good for us, it was definitely a cause for celebration.
After I cooked breakfast for myself (delicious waffles- but they always come out uneven.), I got Murphy's cake out and set it on the table.
Then I set about decorating. I was going to go all out for this party, even if just one of us would know it happened. I got balloons, I got some tables to set outside for the guests. There was a buffet line with fresh food. It was going to be perfect.
When I got around to calling the guests, I must have invited everyone I knew. I guess I was a little over-excited, but I couldn't help it. It was such a big deal that this went perfectly. Even people I had just met or talked to only a few times got an invitation to Little Man's big day.
It felt good to be inviting them to a real home, too. I remember my humble beginnings: having to shower in the gym, surviving on toast. I didn't have much now, true, but I could give my child so much more than I ever had.
I made sure to invite Kate. We had talked a couple times, but she hadn't come around yet. This would be the first time since she saw her son since we ended it, and I was hoping things wouldn't be awkward. On the phone, she sounded happy to come, almost excited as I was. I wanted to sigh in relief, but I knew I had a tendency to not see things for what they really were. As happy as I was a single man, I rushed into things and had to rush out of them for the sake of my family. I hated myself for it sometimes, but I did still love Kate even if it wasn't as much as I had before. She could cloud my vision and make me think we could work out.
Maybe it wasn't love, maybe it was just attraction because she was so beautiful, because as a person, we didn't mesh together. I had to remember that.
Everyone I called showed up, which meant my little home got really crowded really quickly. Everyone was really eager to see the Birthday Boy. I wanted to hold Jr. and bring him to his cake, but I had to wait for my guests to finish passing him around and congratulating him. Even Kate, who had managed to steer clear of me for the party, took her turn with her son. I watched her eyes get misty and she smiled.
It was unspoken, but I knew that she was sure we had made the right choice.
Eventually Murphy got back to me and I cradled him in my arms. I was ready to make my baby into a toddler.
I approached the cake with him in my arms and took a deep breath. I knew he was too young to understand the concept of Birthday Cakes and wishes, so I decided to make a wish for him. I looked down into his deep eyes and thought hard of the perfect wish to ensure his bright future.
I wish..you all the luck in the world, Murphy.
I blew hard, and the candle went out. Noise-makers went off and sparkles surrounded my vision as I felt Little Man transition.
I expected him to grow some hair as a toddler, but that could always come later. He was perfect, and I loved him.
After Murphy transitioned from baby to toddler, the party fizzled out. Everyone came up to me to tell me congratulations on a wonderfully grown boy and to say they had a good time.
Kate was one of the last to leave, lingering behind the other guests.
“You're doing a good job here, Murphy.” She said as she stood next to me. “Though, the lady bug shirt isn't exactly manly.”
We laughed together.
“But, we should really- I should stop by more. I miss this little guy. I missed out on his baby years. I want to be there for him.” She looked away from me. “I'll call you, okay?”
“Yeah.” I replied. “Please do. Things don't have to be awkward Kate. You're welcome anytime.”
She nodded and then left with the rest of the last guests.
Kate's departure gave my heart a familiar tug, but I ignored it. After all, I had a toddler on my hands now. I had a lot more to deal with then a broken heart.