All Because the Gift of Three Boys


My oldest and youngest climb a hill in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

I am probably the most unlikely parent in the world. As a third child, I had never been around a baby until my oldest son was born — and boy did it show. I was terrified. Terrified that somehow I’d break him. But I soon learned, the quickest way to break a child is to keep your distance.

My hidden terror annoyed my wife, too.  None of my boys (I have three of them now) ever slept as babies. Sleep deprivation and the perception that I wasn’t helping out enough was like pouring sand in the crankcase of our marriage. It’s one of the few things I wish I could do over — I’d be a more hands on father in the early years.  It’s one of my deepest regrets.

Of course, I had melanoma when my son was one. I freaked out and that caused a wave of anxiety that I can’t even explain today. How could I bring a  child into this world and then potentially leave him?  Like a rock in a tumbler, that experience polished off my rough edges. By the time my second son came along, I was much more comfortable as a father.

By the time my third son was born, I thought I knew what I was doing. But Son #3 threw us a curve ball. He has never done things the way he is “supposed” to do them.  One of the greatest joys of my life is watching him prove people much smarter than me wrong.  He keeps us on our toes and is our little miracle. I joke that every 46-year-old needs a six year old. Well, I need him. I can see God in his blue eyes.

Today I am three different fathers for three different boys. All look so much like their mother — and that is a good thing.  Even when she’s mad at me, Amy is beautiful.  I can see God in her blue eyes, too.  I love being their father. I love the challenges the job brings. And as they get older, I love spending more and more time with them. Because really, that’s what it is all about, right? Time. Time is the oil that permeates their life’s canvas.

I see my oldest son grow more handsome by the day. He’s smart, thoughtful and at times funny with a very dry sense of humor. I have already seen him excel beyond me in math. He shows signs of being a great writer.  And his discipline has made him a good student and musician.

My second son amazes me with his creativity. He’s brilliant and has the sharpest sense of humor I have ever encountered. He’s a natural musician and a natural story teller. He sometimes lacks focus (much like his father) but still manages to be exceptional. Like his brother, he’s a good student.

My third son fascinates me daily. He sees the world differently than I do and at times shows signs of brilliance. He’s stubborn and challenging and makes me a better man.  He’s incredibly loving. I live for him and cheer him on when he proves his doubters wrong. And he does that often. Of the three, he looks the most like his mother. He’s a beautiful child who will grow up to be a handsome man.

There is a golden thread that runs through all three boys: Their mom.  No matter what, I will never doubt her brilliance as a mother.  She feeds them, studies with them, wrestles with them, disciplines them and is always there for them. I knew she had the “right stuff” before we even got married. I knew she would be able to shape a child.  She’s a builder of men. And my sons are living proof.

Parenthood is a gift.  It cured me of terminal selfishness.  Like comedian Craig Ferguson wisely said, “I think when you become a parent you go from being a star in the movie of your own life to the supporting player in the movie of someone else’s.”   I’m proud to be in the my sons’ movies. It has forever changed how I see the world for the better.

I’m flawed as a father. But I’m a better man for it. All because of the gift of three boys.


About Marshall Ramsey