| This is the 553rd story of Our Life Logs® |
I have never seen anything or even imagined anything as unconventional as COVID-19. Who has? And like so many others, this plague has drastically affected my life in so many ways. But as I look back over my life, I can truly look at this pandemic as a blessing in disguise. I can truly say that this mess is now a part of my story. The one I want to share with you.
I was born on a hot summer day on July 28, 1993. The oldest of six siblings, my parents raised us in Las Vegas, Nevada, and our house was always chaos. We had a nice little three-bedroom in the city, but it was not big enough for a family of eight. Babies were always crying and the stench of dirty diapers always filled the house. There was not a moment when two kids weren’t fighting about TV or a game. My mama was the primary breadwinner because my father faced his own demons and was in and out of jail. When he was once locked up for a year, I had to step up and become the man of the house. I was only 12.
When Mama was working, I was helping my siblings with homework, cooking, and cleaning the house. I felt more like a live-in nanny than a son. The absence of my dad destroyed me on the inside, but I kept a smile on the outside. My mother never acknowledged the fact that I unwillingly sacrificed my childhood and she never gave me credit for helping her out, so I grew up feeling resentful of my parents. How could I be expected to grow up so fast? All I wanted was a normal family and to be a kid. But there was no time for that. Some nights, I would get so frustrated that I would cry myself to sleep.
I used to dream of having a small, quiet, and happy family—far different from mine. As I became an adult and forged a path of my own, I grew apart from my parents because their pride was deeper than their guilt. I made my way through high school and tried some college, but inevitably, I fell into the hospitality and food business, a booming area of work in Las Vegas thanks to the influx of tourists.
Thankfully, I really enjoyed working as a waiter. The restaurants were always full of out-of-towners who would share stories of their little parts of the world, there was always a birthday or bachelorette party full of happy faces, and everyone on staff was always on their toes. I guess the busy atmosphere felt familiar. Or maybe, the tips felt deserved! Some weekends, I would make over $350 in tips alone. It was the best place in America to be a waiter.
As I built up my career, I fell in love with the woman I’d been dating for years. She had beautiful brown eyes, long black hair, and a warm and friendly personality. She was gentle and kind, and I loved that about her. She filled a void in me that I didn’t even know I had.
I started to think about the dream I had as a child and I knew I could make it a reality with her. I was so happy when she agreed. We welcomed our son into the world on August 1, 2019, and it was one of the happiest days of my life.
I told myself that I wouldn’t be like my parents. I feared that with having to work to provide for our son that I too wouldn’t get to spend quality time with him. But what could I do? I guiltily picked up shifts and waved goodbye to my little family as I left for work. We always needed more money. We always needed to be more secure, more financially stable. I told myself that I’d slow down eventually.
Four months later, COVID-19 hit.
Happy hour became sad hour. The restaurant closed for several weeks, and so many restrictions made work feel so surreal. Eventually, we reopened but the seating was so limited that our capacity was cut in half, and so were my tips. I was lucky to make $50 on a “great” night. The usual was even less. And with wages cut in half, our budget for diapers was slashed too. We were struggling to afford necessities for our son. I had not been this frustrated in a long time. Even the little things were stripped away. With a stay-at-home order issued, we could not celebrate our son’s first birthday. No friends. No family. No smashed cake.
My whole life, I practiced being a father, and I was more than ready to show off my skills. but I never imagined that my fatherhood would be stifled by a pandemic. No, not in 2020. Not when I’d worked so hard just to have everything crumble away for a reason that had nothing to do with me or my actions.
I was home with my family more than I had been since my son was born. Unfortunately, home was the only place we really felt safe. I could not take our son to the library, to the store, or any other public place where so many people left their masks tucked under their noses. This made the days boring. If life were normal, I would take him to museums and libraries and all the places where he could socialize with other kids. You know, learn how to play and share and get a sense of all the different faces in the world. But not these days. A major part of his formative years was being tampered with—and I knew it! I had read the parenting articles while preparing to be the best father I could.
With my son, 2020.
I did feel that it was safe enough to take my son to the park across the street, the one that now felt abandoned. Because it was the only place outside of the house where we could go, I began to really cherish our time there. And, I’ll be honest, it was nice to be there alone. It was nice not to have to be on high-alert around unfamiliar faces.
As I watched my son get dirt on his clothes and static from the slide in his hair, I realized something important. Here I was, so worried about not having time for my son, and then I was handed a forced-isolation. I hear how that can sound bad, but it really gifted me much more time to spend time with my son. And yeah, things are different, but I got my dream. My little family. A peaceful life where I can give quality time to my son.
So, maybe I was making pennies at my job and I was at-risk each day, but I also was given an opportunity to be with my son as much as I wanted. That was a blessing from this cursed fate.
Now, this realization didn’t just come by itself. No. I also realized just how hard being a parent can be. You’re always worried about if you’re doing things right, but even when you try your best, you can still get things wrong. Or, the world can get things wrong. It made me see that holding grudges against my parents wasn’t completely fair. Yes, I had to become a parent at 12, but life is hard for all of us. My dad had his demons, and my mom was trying her best to make money on her own. You see perspective as you get older.
Now that I cannot see my family, I wish I could see them more than ever. Yes, my life growing up was chaos, but family is blood, and I wish they were allowed to be around to see my son grow up.
I’m trying to get used to this new normal. If one park is all you have ever known, it’s hard to miss anything else. And as long as my partner and I are happy, so is my son. Kids are special like that. They can sense your emotions and model theirs off them. In the end, we are all going through this together. So many people feel all alone right now because they are isolated from their families, but we are all in the same boat. None of us are used to this and the only thing we can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other and taking one step at a time. We are all just doing the best we can. So, let’s see the light in each other and be the light for each other. Because no matter how tall the mountain is, it cannot block the sun.
This is the story of Glosston Coleman
Glosston now spends his days being a stay-at-home dad which was his hidden dream. He appreciates this time that he would normally be at work and uses it to build a bond with his son that he never had. He plans on getting married after the pandemic, and he remains close with all his siblings.
This story first touched our hearts on December 1, 2020
Writer: Melodie Hunter | Editor: Kristen Petronio; Colleen Walker