Pay Back Tour…

July 6, 2008

My name is Shane and I’m 38-years old. In the past 38-years, I have held many titles. I’ve been known as son, brother, husband, friend and Marine, but my preferred title is simply Dad. I have been a Dad for over 8-yrs now. My first boy, Mackinley, was born in June of 2000 in Quantico, Virginia while I was attending The Basic Officers Course. My youngest son, Cayden, followed a short 26-months later while we were stationed at Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. I have been having a blast ever since.

My kids are as physically different as they could possibly be. Mackinley (Mack) has brown, curly hair, brown eyes and is tall and muscular. Cayden is a peanut- slight of build with blond hair and big blue eyes. They both have terrific imaginations, senses of humor and are smart as whips. They are also polite, caring and compassionate. At the end of the day, I can honestly say without bias that I have two great guys.

I started writing about my experiences as a father when I returned from Iraq in July of 2003. When I was deployed I thought a lot about my sons and about what kind of father I wanted to be. In fact, I kept a picture of Cayden inside of my helmet the entire time I was deployed. I didn’t allow myself to look at it often, but I did study it thoroughly at least once. The first time my vehicle crossed the border into Iraq, I pulled off my helmet, stared at Cayden’s picture and asked myself one very simple question: “If my boys never see me again, will they be proud of me and what I am about to do?” The answer was as simple as the question. Of course they would; Connie would make sure of that. My part of the equation was easy to define as well, namely to get home and make them proud of me in person.

If you’re wondering why I only had Cayden’s picture in my helmet, I can explain. Cayden was 4-months old when I went to war and we simply did not have the time to develop a relationship like Mack and I had. Keeping his picture in my helmet was my way of honoring him, giving him a special place in lieu of time spent together. I figured Mack would understand.

I came home in July and the Groahs were once again complete. Mack and Cayden adjusted to having Dad home quite well. In fact, Cayden took to me the first night I got home. It was 2 a.m. when I finally made it back to our house and Connie and I decided to have a glass of wine. Both of the boys were asleep, so I grudgingly agreed to wait until morning to see them. Just as we sat down, Cayden started to cry. I immediately jumped up to answer the call when Connie put her hand on my arm and said that maybe she should take care of it, “Cayden doesn’t like men much”. In true Shane fashion, I disregarded her warning and took off to investigate.

Cayden’s toy aquarium affixed to his crib railing threw just enough light for me to see him standing in his crib. Standing. When I left he couldn’t even crawl. He was still crying when I entered the room so I started to speak to him softly. The minute I began to speak he calmed down. I continued to soothe him with my voice as I moved closer to his crib. When I reached the side of his crib, he quit crying all together, looked at me, and then reached out to be held. I wrapped my arms around my youngest son, sat in his rocker and wept. Seven months of anxiety swept away by a simple display of trust. Dad was home.

Since that day I have made every effort to be the best father that I could possibly be. I never want to be in a position again where I have to wonder if my boys know these simple truths: I love them more than life itself, I will always be proud of them and that they are my greatest accomplishments. These concepts are not cheap- they are built over time with acts of love, forgiveness, compassion and trust; the same traits that I believe define fatherhood.

I began writing this as an introduction so that people (Pammy) who read my blog could understand a little about the author. I also felt it was necessary to provide some background so that my sarcasm and odd sense of humor were not mistaken for bitterness. The fact is, I find nothing more fulfilling than being someone’s Dad. Humor is simply the vehicle I use to put the tough and frustrating portions of parenting, which are many, into perspective. And here is my perspective for general consumption- a lifetime’s worth of frustration can be instantly erased by a single unsolicited “I love you, Dad”. If you haven’t experienced this yet, you will, and when it happens, you’ll understand where I am coming from.

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Pammy posted the following on July 6, 2008 at 11:04 pm.

Gosh what a great explanation. And of course to see my name addressed in this post is quite amusing and flattering as well. You are such a good dad, Shane, and I see it both in your sarcastic witty posts of the past and this heartfelt entry about your time away. Good stuff. Glad to see you posting again.

Sherri Winstead posted the following on July 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm.

Oh I just love reading your blog, but this specific post caused for a COMMENT. What a great story of the love you have for your boys! I knew this with knowing Connie, however, it was still a wonderful read!!

Also, is parenting every easy? For anyone? Really? I don’t think so. If you’re doing it right, it’s just not an easy-everyday-kind-of-thing.

admin posted the following on July 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm.

Pammy/ Sherri, thank you so much for the comments, and here I thought I had one only one person reading my blog (not including Connie of course).

I promise to post some lighter stuff soon. The boys have been hard at work creating plenty of material for me to write about.

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[…] have a sense of humor and an innate understanding of sarcasm.  My favorites from him are Pay Back Tour, Green Peace is Looking for my Kid, and Some Assembly Required.  Way more than you probably want […]


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