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After a dizzy night full of Cabernet, I woke up and one thought instantly popped into my mind. I knew this day was coming, I could feel my demeanor splintering. This past week old tendencies tried to resurface, falling in bouts of anger and hatred. Constantly focusing on the past and not fixing my head forward planning for the future that I desire. Rolling over I took my phone off the charger and stared at the date.

October 3, 2020. Amelia's birthday.

I closed my eyes and brought the covers back over my shoulders. In that moment, I contemplated whether to try and call or text then or later. To my knowledge, Amelia's mother, works 3rd shift and if I called around 12:00 pm it may increase my chances of speaking to my daughter. I thought that maybe, since it was Amelia's birthday, that she would let her father scream Happy Birthday!

The compromise, in itself, reminded me of the times where my family and I wouldn't get to see Amelia for a length of time. When she did come, she would cling only to me visibly distancing herself when applicable. Watching the reactions of my family, especially my mother, I felt stuck in sand. Slowly pulling me deeper into the depths of the Earth, I felt there was a need for a compromise because I wanted that same connection with Amelia for my family. I wanted to make my mom happy too, give her the ability to enjoy her first grandchild.

When we would get her for a week at a time, there were days I would stay out longer so that my mom could come home before me and spend time with Amelia. Most days I would come straight home because I already worked so much and the week I get her was never sufficient. Unable to take off work to spend a whole day with her, I felt under a lot of pressure. Mostly self induced, but also of what I believed to be the status quo of fatherhood, something I truly felt I was failing at.

Regardless of the fact that I'm literally blocked from my daughter's life, it doesn't ameliorate the sentiment like how I'm constantly told it's not an accurate reflection of the type of father that I am.

Will Amelia believe that?

Honestly, that matters more than anything. Those days that I went to my apartment to wait an extra hour or two, is when I stared in the mirror the most. The depiction that has been forcibly portrayed seemed to fit like the clothes on my back. I wavered, I cried, I prayed, I knew my mom wouldn't agree with my antics but I wanted them to share this experience with me.

After all, I stay at their house when my kids come into town. They help me out when I have to go to work. My family has been and always will be there for me, and it is pertinent to me that they form their own memories. At the time, I was spending a lot more time with Amelia than my family so I felt justified. While writing, I started to feel vilified by my own words unsure of the validity in my actions.

Uncertain, that as Amelia she grows older and reads this will she agree with my sentiments. Will she ever read it at all?

Laying under the covers with my eyes still closed, the thought rattled in my head like a fuse blown light bulb. I took it a step further and wondered if she will ever read my personal journals before killing the idea and flinging my feet to the floor. I choose now, not to manifest on the negative, a mental process expedited by the losing of my hair.

Even though the day had the potential to cast a dark cloud over me, I knew that my brother was coming home from the Kuwait the same day. I wanted to get ready in a timely manner in order to help with the preparations for his big day. Showering, brushing my teeth and eating a breakfast sandwich, I headed to my parents house in Rolesville, NC. A 30 minute drive.

I spent the ride warring between my ears, capturing distracting thoughts before they manifested. I refused to let my own personal mishaps determine my attitude for the day, especially since the day is supposed to be centered around my brother.

My family was well aware that it was Amelia's birthday and I knew they would have eyes on trying to ascertain how I will act for the day. Personally, I felt like I did a good job from beginning to end only staring off into space a couple times before my brother arrived. Proud of myself and how far I came, I was forced to miss her 3rd birthday as well and my reaction is ten times better this time.

We decided not to have Amara this weekend so that we can focus and prepare for my brothers arrival. I wasn't a fan, but logistically, it made sense. Instead of chasing Amara around I took the free time to clean, straightening up her play area and sanitizing all her toys. Walking into the garage I noticed a new toy chest, a bike, and other toddler gifts for Amelia. It's amazing to me that regardless of our situation surrounding my oldest, my mom still shops for her as if we get her on the regular.

The fact that my daughter remains in the forefront of her mind means the world to me. She helps my faith seeing her never give up, even though I never will, it helps to visually see another individual standing in hope.

Putting on plastic gloves while getting together a bucket mixed with disinfectants and surface cleaners. I shook off the notion that I was pointlessly cleaning taking on the mindset that I used with basketball. Even though I don't see the results currently, I believe that I will eventually obtain my goal.

I first touched the wooden toy chest, and my imagination carried me to a distant future where I envisioned both my daughters pulling toys out and making a mess. I imagined the unadulterated love and happiness ringing in my ears as they screech and scream. Every time I switched to a different side of the chest my mind created a new scenario. I'm not sure how long Narnia lasted, but at this time, my imagination is where I wanted to be.

After cleaning off a slide I got for Amara and a couple other smaller toys, I reached the bike. Amara being only 11 months, it had to be for Amelia my four year old. Still in my own world, I grab the back of the seat as if I were guiding and teaching her to ride a bike. I thought about what I would say to her if she fell off, or would she run to me when she is crying. Will she give up or be persistent until she reaches her goal?

I tried to think on the few times I remember my dad helping us develop our minds and body to be able to ride a bike without training wheels. I prayed I could have a similar experience with my own. Wiping off the handle bars I wondered how big her hands will be, I thought about how tall she had to be. The bike was obviously for ages over four but I wasn't sure if she had already outgrown it. She was tall at 2, I could only imagine.

Wiping off the rest of the bike I lost all bearings, my surroundings became a mere figment. I started to travel down future memories of all the places I will take Amelia while she rides her bike. I thought about having to fix the chain or grabbing the bike out of a ditch. I wondered what rules I would have to put in place so that she will ride safely, will she combat me on wearing a helmet like I did my father?

How many of my own tendencies will I notice in my daughters? I finished and placed the bike neatly in a corner figuring this is where I will tell her to park it each day she rides.

Even though my situation isn't ideal, I'm enduring the process of healing and transformation. Honestly, I like where my mental state is headed and excited for what the future holds pertaining to success and my daughters. Sometimes the days are darker than others, but my faith has yet to waiver. I believe one day after it's all said and done, I needed to go through this so that I can be a better father and man.

It's crazy, because for years I thought I was going to die in the bed that I laid for myself. At one point I figured I deserved it chalking it up to past mistakes. Now, I know it's for my personal growth and I can take the lessons I've learned and teach others and my kids how to do the same thing.

I called Amelia's mother multiple times as well as leaving text that I know she reads. I pocketed the fun and looked through the open garage at the sun. Amidst it all, I smiled, I know my future is bright.

Amelia and Amara, daddy loves you.

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