This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
Last night, after we put Will in his crib, MJ and I (and the dogs) settled down into bed. It’s warm out and our air conditioner doesn’t work, so we have all the windows open. Just as we were all drifting off to some much-needed sleep, we heard it: the distinct sound of our screen door opening.
I heard MJ’s breath catch in her throat and my heart started beating out of my chest. You know your home and you know all the sounds in it, especially when you have pets. And to give you some background on the layout of our condo, we are located in a very remote section of the property near the woods. So long story short, there is no reason for anyone to be passing by our door at any time day or night. And this was not the cat, the dogs or the wind. It was the unmistakable sound of our door being opened.
The dogs immediately started barking their furry faces off and I jumped up to put my pants on to check things out. Now as a guy, we’re often asked to look for strange noises, check out shadows and squish spiders. But this was completely different. In my head, this was someone possibly trying to break into my house and harm my family. And I’m not trying to sound like a tough guy (because I’m most decidedly not) but at that moment I felt like Rocky, Hulk Hogan and Mike Tyson rolled into one big ball of fury. I got a feeling inside of me I never even knew existed. I was reduced to my most primal, caveman self. I was in “protector mode” and there was no f—ing way I was going to let anyone — ANYONE — harm my family.
I went outside, looked around, checked the house but didn’t find anything. If it was somebody trying to get in, the dogs probably scared them off. Will never even woke up, and after I checked the whole house I convinced MJ it was safe to go back to bed. She slept closer to me than usual, obviously rattled at the thought of an intruder breaking into our home. I put my arm around her and stroked her hair until she fell asleep, her head on my chest, rising and falling rhythmically with my steady breathing.
I stayed awake for awhile longer. Just listening and watching the shadows for any further sign of trouble. And despite the scare, when I did nod off it was into a deep and peaceful sleep. Because deep down, I always worried that I wouldn’t be able to provide for my son and wife. That I wouldn’t live up to my responsibilities as a husband and father. Namely, I was worried that my own sense of self preservation would prevail. But after last night I’m not worried about that at all. Because even if there had been two or three people at my door last night ready to kick my ass, I would’ve fought them to the death to protect my little boy and MJ. I now know how little I’d have to think about putting myself in harm’s way for my child, or sacrificing myself to ensure his safety. I’d die 10 times if it meant protecting him from even the slightest harm.
With each passing day I learn more and more about what a special kind of love it is to have a child. It’s fierce, it’s deep and it’s forever. He could be 40 years old and I know for a fact I’ll still feel the same way about him as I do right now. This continues to be the most unbelievable experience of my life and while I can get frustrated to no end at times, I’m loving every minute of it.