My author, Valerie Comer, asked me to share my parenting journey with you today. So, uh, here I am, not that I’m an expert. She says my story is in the book Give Me Another Chance, Cowboy, but I don’t see how it could be, not with that title, because that would be Dakota speaking, right? And she doesn’t want another chance. All she does is snarl at me.
See, we met when we were kids and hung around at the fairgrounds a lot as teens. Gymkhana practices and such. Oh, you don’t know what a gymkhana is? It’s like the minor leagues of rodeo, mostly for fun, with local kids competing against each other.
Anyway, we dated on and off for a few years and then got serious and — okay, this is the part I’m not real proud of, okay? — and then she got pregnant. I suggested getting married but she said no, and I didn’t much care, because it’s not like most of our friends were going all formal and legal, either.
Probably a good thing because our son, Toby, was just a few months old when we had a big blow-up and Dakota left, bawling her eyes out. She took the baby and her stuff and moved off the ranch. She hadn’t given up her duplex; she’d been going back and forth from town to my cabin on the ranch. I guess that was good?
So here’s the thing. My parents fought all the time when I was a kid. Yelling, cursing, throwing things, the whole nine yards. And then my mom left. She just walked away from her husband and three sons and filed for divorce. It was a lot quieter in the house, that’s for sure, but what kind of mother does that? I was devastated.
So when Dakota moved out, that just reminded me I wasn’t the kind of guy someone could love. Obviously, I wasn’t worth sticking around for. And, yeah, that hurts, but what can you do?
But I made sure my kid wasn’t going to grow up without both parents in the picture. We agreed I’d get Toby every weekend. Boy, I tell you, those first few months were brutal. Lack of sleep, diapers, whoa. But I did it all, because my kid? He’s worth it. Things got better after he was potty trained. I hated following Dakota’s directions on that, but I guess she knew what she was talking about. Don’t tell her I admitted it.
Looking back, I can see I’ve got a temper like Declan — that’s my dad — but also I love the ranch like he does. We clash a lot, but I wouldn’t give up working the land for anything. Give me a horse between my knees, and I can handle just about anything else.
God’s been working on me. I’ve been going to church and reading my Bible daily. Doing a men’s devotional thing. It’s hard, though. I don’t feel like God really hears me when I pray. Maybe I’m not good enough for God to love, either.
My stepmother likes Toby okay, and my two half-sisters, who’re thirteen, love to hang out with him. Also, the ranch has a cook so I don’t have to fend for myself. Cook spoils Toby on the weekends, so that’s a plus. It’s not a bad arrangement.
Someone asked me why I don’t try to make up with Dakota and be a real family. Are you kidding me? What if we tried and it didn’t work out? Toby’s good right now. This business of coming up to the ranch on Friday afternoon and back to his mom’s in town on Sunday afternoon is normal to him. But if I tried to fix things with Dakota — not saying I want to — then he might get his hopes up. He’d be crushed if things fell apart again. What do I mean, if? That’s crazy. When things fell apart again is more like it.
Besides, Dakota would never go for it. She’s not the kind to beg for a second chance, and neither am I, so let’s just leave well enough alone, shall we?
That book cover and title, though… that would be so amazing.
On weekdays, Travis Cavanagh is just a cowboy, but on weekends, he’s daddy and hero to his young son. If only he’d done things differently back then — yanked the chip out of his shoulder, for starters — maybe they’d actually be a family.
Dakota Erickson’s biggest mistake is also her biggest blessing, but seeing Toby’s dad when they trade the boy back and forth every weekend nearly guts her. She’s never stopped loving Travis, but the reasons she walked out on him still stand.
Like it or not, for Toby’s sake, the two must find a way to work together. How will they forgive each other for the past and fight for a second chance at love?
Give Me Another Chance, Cowboy releases February 9 on Amazon. It’s currently on pre-order at 25% off its regular price.