How Rock Came Between Me and My Baby

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Last week I spent my first days away from my baby girl D for the first time since she was born. I left home at 5:30 a.m. on a Wednesday morning after kissing her while she slept, and I didn't see Little D until late Friday night. That stretch of time apart from my 4-month-old daughter felt like the longest days in my life, and the experience started making me question if I was in the right line of work now that I was a father. I'm an archaeologist. It had been my dream to become one since I was a kid. My wife likes to say, "You never grew out of the sandbox." Archaeologists and rock stars actually have a lot in common. For one, we both appreciate different types of rock: A rock star plays rock and an archaeologist looks for rocks...well, more like stone tools made from rocks. We are both always on the road heading to our next gig and we live out of motel rooms. And like the touring musician, pop culture has depicted the life of the archaeologist as one filled with adventure, excitement and even a little dose of danger. Adventure? Sure. Excitement? Absolutely. During my 10 years as an archaeologist working in the deserts of the American West, I have unearthed Native American villages, a saber-toothed cat and even discovered rock art hidden away in the mountains. And then there are the perks, such as holding an object made by some unknown person who lived more than a thousand years ago. Ask my wife about the time we had a piece of a prehistoric mammoth tusk in the trunk of our car. How many couples can bring that up as dinner conversation? As for danger, if I had a dollar for every time I nearly stepped on a rattlesnake or had an encounter with a crazy old man living in the desert, I would be a rich man. Once, I even spooked a mountain lion. But any rock star or archaeologist who is a father or mother will tell you that there is a lonely side to these lives we live. There are those long road trips away from our families. And for this traveling archaeologist, it is tough. When D was born it was the single most important day in my life. No archaeological find will ever top it. As she grows older I want to be there for every important moment: walking, talking and birthdays. Is it time to hang up my trowel and pick, and trade my desert adventures for a desk closer to home? (No, I don't have a whip.) Perhaps-at least until D is old enough to join me on my adventures back into the Stone Age.

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