words: Stoney Stamper
Images: courtesy April and Stoney Stamper
The last time I was on time for something would’ve been in August of 2011. You may wonder how I remember that month so clearly, but it’s really pretty simple. It’s because right after that is when I got married. My days of simply taking a quick five-minute shower, getting dressed in three minutes and getting out the door in ten minutes flat were over. I was hypothetically stepping off the high dive into the deep end of the pool. I didn’t have a life jacket or an inner tube. Heck, I didn’t even have any floaties. And let me tell you something, I dang sure didn’t know how to swim.
I was drowning. But not in water. I was drowning in a sea of estrogen. I had married a woman who had two daughters. And let me tell you, I didn’t have the best track record with even one woman, much less with three at the same time. So to say that I was completely out of my element would be a monumental understatement. This dude was lost.
My family and friends thought it was hilarious. I had always been a meticulously put together fellow. My home and truck were clean, and I was never late. Never. To anything. But all of that changed when I became a husband and ad. My ten-minute routine was thrown into a downward spiral that I have never recovered from.
Even though I’d heard stories from my friends who had daughters, I didn’t fully appreciate them until I had daughters of my own. The clothes, the makeup, the hair products, the hair bows, and the nail polish. And the bobby pins, oh my gosh, the bobby pins! Bobby pins are like small magical paper clips that can take a ratty case of bed-head and turn it into a delightful little swept-back look in a matter of moments. Swept-back look! I’m pretty proud of myself right now for even knowing what that is.
Anyway, they had a lot of stuff. And all of it would inevitably end up scattered across the countertops and floors in the bathroom, and maybe even in the sinks and bathtubs. Not to mention the complete jungle of intertwined electric cords for the curling iron, flat iron and hair dryer. It would have taken an entire group of Eagle Scouts to undo that knot; I can guarantee you.
The first time I knew that I was in way over my head was one morning before school. April and I weren’t even married yet. In a desperate attempt to connect with the girls, I offered to take Abby and Emma to school for the first time. How hard could that be? Simple, right? All I had to do was get two girls loaded into the truck, drive to the school and drop them off. Easy peasy.
No. That was not correct. First, getting them to the truck was similar to herding cats. Especially in the morning. It was mass chaos. Little girls running around with one shoe on, screaming at each other. Trying on clothes, then changing clothes and trying on different clothes. Then Abby told Emma, “Emma, that doesn’t match!” Then Emma said, “Yes it does, Abby!” Then Emma came running out of her room. She said, “Stoney, Abby says this doesn’t match, but it does. Doesn’t it?” She was staring at me with those big blue eyes, and I just didn’t have the heart to tell her. It didn’t match. It didn’t match at all. And in normal Emma flair, the colors weren’t bland. It was pink pants and a red shirt. But I wouldn’t have hurt her feelings for any amount of money. So I just smiled and said, “Sure, you look great.” She smiled a big, smug smile and said, “I told you, Abby!” Abby was eleven years old and hadn’t decided if she liked me. In fact, she was determined not to like me. With a roll of her eyes and a sideways glance, she said, “He’s just a guy. He doesn’t know if you match or not.”
With that little jab, I said “OK, girls, we’re running late. We’ve got to go!” We rushed out the door and headed for my truck. Abby never uttered another word to me, and Emma didn’t stop talking all the way to school. I dropped Abby off right as the bell was ringing, but Emma was a few minutes late. Right then and there, my immaculate record of promptness came to an end. I called April and told her, a tad disappointed in myself. She laughed and said, “Don’t worry about it. It won’t be the last time.” And how true that statement turned out to be.
Being on time is now just a figment of my imagination. Just a distant memory of a faraway time.
Being on time is now just a figment of my imagination. Just a distant memory of a faraway time. Abby is sixteen now, Emma is twelve, and we added another little girl named Gracee in 2013. And of course I’ve got their mama April, and I won’t tell how old she is. With the four of them, things that were once so simple, like going out to dinner, are now much more complicated endeavors. Even the most casual settings call for a fresh change of clothes, makeup, fixing hair, and most likely, changing clothes.
There’s lots of screaming, even occasional crying, and one heck of a big pile of laundry. And usually one of them, if not all four, can’t find their shoes. But these days, instead of getting too stressed out about it, I just laugh as I watch them run through the house.
And now when Emma says, “Stoney, do I match?” I tell her the truth. “No, honey. You don’t match at all.” But she doesn’t really care because she’s going to wear it anyway. Because I’m just a guy. And guys don’t know if you match or not. At least that’s what my girls tell me.
Stoney Stamper is the author of the popular parenting blog, The Daddy Diaries. He and his wife April have three daughters: Abby, Emma and Gracee. Originally from northeast Oklahoma, the Stampers now live in Tyler, Texas. For your daily dose of The Daddy Diaries, visit Stoney on Facebook or on his website, thedaddydiaries.net.