I jogged down the hall toward the twins' room at some small hour of the night; answering the cries of my daughter, Ramona.
"Daddy! Where are you? I'm scared!!"
I ran into the room and knelt down beside her bed. "I'm here, sweetie girl. What's making you scared?"
"I had a bad dream... about frogs... and scary monsters."
"You don't need to be scared, I'd take care of those frogs and monsters if they were real."
"I know you would, Dad." Ramona turned over on her side and grabbed my hands with both of her small hands. "You're not scared of anything are you, Dad?"
"I get scared sometimes."
Ramona lifted her head off of her pillow, "What are you scared of, Dad?"
I had to stop for a minute and smile at my little girl. A dad doesn't admit his "real" fears to his daughter at some small hour of the night. A dad needs to keep his fears to himself; exhibiting a calm confidence.
"I get scared of when Calvin takes the hair dryer apart and I have to plug it in for you."
Ramona nodded her understanding and then pressed her head back into her pillow and closed her eyes. A few minutes later the firm grip she had on my hand slackened and I knew she had fallen back asleep, but I didn't move.
Instead I leaned my forehead onto the edge of her bed, breathing slow and deep breaths. It had been a long night for me, too... lots of thoughts, not letting me rest.
Oh God if she only knew the fears of a Father...
I lifted my head and with my hand I slowly pushed the hair out of her face, then I stood up and pulled the covers over her arms which remained where they had been when she was holding my hands.
It's not until you're a dad that you realize the fears of being a dad. The self-doubt and the moments of fading faith. The dark nights staring up into the darkness of your room while you try to figure out a pressing issue that seems to have no real solution.
I stood there beside my daughter's bed and looked down at her sleeping... the darkness closing back in on me. Slowly, the darkness began replacing my confidence with self-doubt. The darkness told me that maybe I'm not good enough to do this... "You can't mess up, Dad... not even a little... these little guys are depending on you... this is all up to you...are you sure you can do this? What if something happ..."
"I love you, Dad."
I turned around and saw Calvin lying on the bed behind me. He was turned on his side looking at me.
I sat down oh his bed and he sat up and hugged my neck then laid back on his bed and smiled at me.
"I love you, too, Little Dude!"
"Did I tell you about the kid who peed his pants at school today?"
"Nope! That sounds like a great story, though." I slid off his bed and stretched out on the floor next to his bed, using one of his stuffed animals as a pillow. "Tell me about the kid who peed his pants at school today!"
I must have fallen back asleep during his story because I woke up and it was morning. I opened my eyes and the light was squeezing through the slats of the miniblinds.
"... All of my regret will wash away somehow,
but I cannot forget the way I feel right now..."