Archive | October, 2011

Too Much To Ask.

14 Oct

addy, come play with me! Daddy, where are you?! Daddy, what are you doing? Daddy, are you done in the potty yet?!”

OK, so I don’t work Fridays, and that’s an increduble luxury. It gives me all sorts of wonderful opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I get to wake up when the kids wake up. I get to walk my daughter to school in the morning, volunteer in her classroom during the day, and pick her up again in the afternoon. I get to take my son along to run errands, go to the comic book shop, or just play on the swings in the backyard. We usually get to take the kids on some sort of outing in the afternoon, and we always order pizza and snuggle down together for Friday night movie-night. I’m incredibly lucky. Other dads would kill to have what I have. But do you notice the common thread there?

My daughter’s typical pattern on a Friday is once we get home from school she gets some food in her tummy and then she heads off into her room, puts the (metaphorical) “do not disturb” sign on the doorknob, shuts the door and walls herself off from the rest of the world for an hour or more. She needs that time, that quiet time, that time to herself where she can be alone, unmolested, with her own uninterrupted thoughts. She plays by herself and sheads off the accumulated stress from the week. When she finally emerges she’s a happier girl.

Have I mentioned how my daughter and I are cut out of the same cloth?

I understand why she does it. I need that time too. Here’s the catch. My daughter doesn’t have 2.5 kids, a dental practice and a Daddy-worshiping 3-year-old son to manage. I do.

Even the Man of Steel needs down-time.

This is not a complaint. It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted, my entire life. I’ve got it and I feel lucky beyond my station because of it. But the reality is I’m a small business owner, a husband and a father — and that means there are people in my life who’s needs are more important than my own. Like Michael Keaton said in “Multiplicity”, I feel like my work comes first, my family is a close second and I’m a distant third. My being home on Fridays is such a luxury, my family takes full advantage (as they should). As much as I love it, it’s FRACKING CONSTANT.

“daddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddy”

For Pete’s sake, even driving in the car from one errand to another, forget focusing on an interesting story on NPR; my 3-year-old is in the back seat, “Daddy, look at this. Daddy, is this a reptile? Daddy, where are we going? Daddy, I see a stopsign. Daddy…” There is absolutely ZERO time to accomplish anything non-kid related these days (have you noticed the drop-off in blog post frequency? That’s the daddy-worshiping 3-year-old guarding my free time very jealously.)

All I need is an hour to myself, in my soundproofed mancave where I can’t hear my kids pounding outside the locked door, demanding my attention (I also need a soundproofed mancave, but that’s a blog post for another time).

But that’s not going to happen.

I look at how hard my wife works at it all week. She’s got both of them all day, every day — and most nights too. She’s got to juggle their extra curricular schedules, their lack of naps, their meals, their squabbles and every other incidental. I can’t justify heading out on my mountain bike for an hour or two of zen on my Friday off of work when my wife hasn’t been able to go to the bathroom with the door closed the entire week. In all honesty I believe kids deserve everything you can put into them, and if that means every single solitary spare second of free time, that’s what it means. I am NOT going to spend an hour playing online video games (my gaming friends have all but given up on me) when my son wants me to go out and make mudpies in the backyard with him… which is always. My wife, bless her heart, sees when it’s getting to me. The signs are all there. My shoulders creap up towards my ears. I use fewer and fewer words in my sentences and when my son calls out “Daddy!” I respond with “Son!”. When she offers to take the boy with her to Target so I can have some time to myself I clench my jaw and lie through my teeth. “No, no. Go. We’ll be fine” I say, because I know that she’s had even less her-time than I have all week, and I can’t imagine a scenario where she doesn’t need to be alone with her thoughts more than I do.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Of course I’ve heard it. “You have to take time for yourself once in a while, for your sake AND your family’s”. Whatever. Maybe my “me-time” needs are unreasonably excessive. Whether or not that’s the case, I can tell you that they’re profoundly unrealistic. But that doesn’t change the fact that that I still have them.

It’s a minor problem that, like everything else in the parenting world, will likely change abruptly before I realize it. For now, through my clenched jaw and pulsing temple I will keep reminding myself that it’s a good problem to have. File this one in the “parenting is not for the weak” folder.

This is probably the right time to let you in on a little secret. My entire life I’ve always been a morning person. I can wake up at 5:00 without batting an eye, but it’s not because I need a long time to get ready. I can be up and out of the door in 20 minutes if I have to. I love getting up and standing outside to watch the sun rise and listen to the sound of stillness — that, and it’s the ONLY time of the day when nobody is demanding my attention, and I can be alone with my own thoughts.

Now please excuse me. My son is desperately trying to get me to make “soup” with him in the backyard (whatever that means) and I’ve been putting him off for far too long to write this post.

-Dork Dad

It’s a boy.

5 Oct

o we’re having a boy. The ultrasound was yesterday and aside from the ultrasound-tech saying “there’s a little foot, there’s a little leg, and there’s a little penis” (Really? The poor guy isn’t even born yet. Why you gotta’ do him like that?) everything is progressing perfectly. All the measurements are optimal, no warning klaxons are going off, and my wife looks absolutely resplendent in all of her pregnant glory.

Now that we’ve already got a boy and a girl, people seem to take a little more pleasure asking our gender preference. Of course all we really wanted was “healthy”, but when that little (ahem) bait and tackle showed itself on the ultrasound, and we knew we were having another boy, I found it interesting that the primary emotion I felt was – relief.

Pointing out any and all similarities between me and Mr. Incredible is not appreciated.

Let me be clear here, I don’t have any antiquated chauvinistic need to pass on my lineage by siring as many sons as I can. I don’t value boys any more than girls. But as the gender-determination appointment approached there were a few thoughts that kept repeating over and over in my mind which seemed to sway my preference more in the XY direction. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • It just strikes me that things are infinitely more convenient if the two youngest siblings are the same gender. Sharing toys, sharing clothes, sharing a bedroom… it’s all a lot less complicated with 3.5 years difference, as opposed to 6. That’s 1 point for Team-XY.
  • A boy would, no doubt, bring my wife and daughter closer. My wife has a special thing with her mother. They just get each other – instinctively. They are very close. I know my wife was looking forward to having that sort of relationship with her daughter. Alas, the daughter we had, for all intents and purposes, is a clone of HER father. She and I just get each other – instinctively. We are very close. My wife and daughter are also close, but not in the effortless, instinctive way my wife had hoped for. Their relationship will not develop effortlessly. They will both have to work at it. With the addition of another boy in the house, the girls will officially be outnumbered. They will have to grow closer in the name of self-preservation. That can’t be anything but a good thing for both of them. Score one more point for Team-XY.
  • A boy would give my son someone ELSE to hang out with. This will prove more valuable as my daughter moves from “tween” to pre-teen, to teenager. Very likely her younger brothers will distract each other, minimize the riff-raff from getting all up in her business. When she’s all about talking to her girlfriends on the phone, her brothers will likely be building lego fortresses together, rather than eavesdropping on their big sister. Another point for Team-XY.
  • Here’s another cold, hard fact. Whether or not we should, daddies just worry about their daughters a lot more. Obviously I’m all about raising a self-assured, self-confident, self-reliant young woman. My job is to prepare her to deal with life of her own volition. But that still doesn’t change things for me. I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating, there’s nothing rational about being the father of a daughter. Putting a daughter into the world makes me feel vulnerable, exposed – almost helpless. There is a measureable amount of panic with the idea of someday letting your daughter leave the nest and venture off into the big, bad world. If the new baby was a girl of course I’d find the strength somewhere, but from where I sit now I can’t imagine doubling all that exposed, vulnerable, helpless panic. Yet one more point for Team-XY.
  • One of my favorite parts of having a daughter is making her feel special. I LIKE putting her on a pedestal. I like telling her that she’s “my princess, my favorite little girl in the whole wide world, forever and ever.” In my heart of hearts I didn’t want to lose that. I want to be able to snuggle with my daughter as she falls asleep and let her know that there is nobody in the entire world that will ever share the part of my heart that she lives in. She is Daddy’s little girl, and that’s the way I like it. Team-XY scores one more point.
  • Then, of course there’s finally the opportunity to build the Star Wars bedroom I’ve always dreamed of. Team-XY, final point.

 

 

Whether it was a boy or a girl, I would have loved the child with all my heart either way. But equation is changing. I’m glad we found out. I’ve got about 5 more months to dork-out and get all my Star Wars decorations out of mothballs. Good thing Pottery Barn is going to make it easy for me both here and here.

-Dork Dad

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