by Jeff Skinner
When Bubba Watson won The Masters he was proclaimed the latest American Folk Hero. His country boy charm and out of this world game was sure to draw many more fans to professional golf.
But this week Bubba elected to pass on The Players Championship choosing to spend some quality time with his wife and newly adopted infant, Caleb.
At first I was surprised that he would miss such a showcase event for the PGA Tour but I figured it was just Bubba being Bubba. Then I realized that most parents that go through a nine month build up to childbirth have all that time to celebrate the pregnancy and ‘get ready’ for their child. And I knew that Bubba and his wife Angie had none of that. So as far as I was concerned Bubba staying home with Caleb was fine with me.
But some of golf’s talking heads, Nick Faldo for one, took Bubba to task for passing on The Players. Now John Feinstein has a piece on Bubba, Angie and Caleb and how they finally did become a family. It turns out that adoptive parents can go through plenty of heartbreak on their anxious trip to parenthood. Feinstein writes about his own adoption experience and the Watson’s. “I say this based on personal experience. I have been fortunate to become a father both biologically and through adoption. The only thing about the two that is identical is the way you feel: there isn’t a shred of difference in how much you love them.
Virtually everything else is different. You do not have nine months to prepare for the baby’s arrival. Sure, once you begin the adoption process you can buy all the requisite baby materials, but if you believe in karma even a little bit, you’re almost scared to do so.
More important, there is no way to prepare for the emotional roller coaster. There are almost always false starts: You think you’re going to get a baby and then, often at the last second, you don’t. Adoption laws have changed through the years to give adoptive parents more rights, but there are still cases where adoptive parents hold a child in their arms, instantly fall in love and then are told, “sorry, this isn’t your child.”
Thank God I never went through that, but I do know people who have. I can promise that every prospective adoptive parent lies awake at night worrying that it might happen to them.
The joy and relief you feel when you do get a baby is about the only thing that gets you through the fear, the exhaustion and the suddenness of it all. Frequently, a call comes and you are told: Come NOW. Not after you get a chance to get organized, to collect your thoughts, to take a deep breath and say, “OK, I’m ready.” No. NOW.
The Watsons said they had two false starts. They had been working on adopting for four years. A couple of weeks before they adopted Caleb, Watson was asked if he thought they were close to getting a baby. “It could be two weeks,” he answered, “or it could be two years.”
He wasn’t being flip. That’s the way it works.
Off the golf course Bubba’s image is one of a fun loving, offbeat, goof ball. And we love him for that. He does things that make us laugh and sometimes question his sanity (see Golf Boys Video). But here he is spot on.
Bubba and Angie’s lives have changed forever now that they have Caleb. Bubba used to be a golfer and Angie used to be his manager but now things have changed. Now they have taken on another role that has priority over every other one. They’re parents now and they will never have a more important responsibility in their life. Bubba and Angie deserve every second they choose to be together with Caleb.
The Watson’s are a family and there’s nothing more important than that.