I lost it.
My coworkers wanted answers that I didn’t have time to track down. My wife wanted and deserved help around the house. My daughter wanted her daddy to recognize all the great things that she had learned that day. And my newborn son needed everything that a five-month old baby needs, love, food, security, and a hug to boot.
Everyone seemed to want something from me and, unfortunately, I had nothing left to give. I was exhausted. I hadn’t gotten a full night’s sleep in weeks. My clothes hung off me because I hadn’t had a chance to eat right. My car had left me stranded on my way home from work. My nerves were frazzled. I was at my breaking point.
So when our beat-up dishwasher decided to surprise me by going kaput in the midst of everything else that was happening, the world seemed to be closing in on me. I swore out loud and, to my wife’s amazement, I gave the dishwasher a series of kicks. One, two, three, four, take that. “Damn you, damn you, damn you, dishwasher.”
Of course, I ended up hurting my foot than doing any real damage to the dishwasher. My world that I thought had been organized with everything in it’s place had been thrown every which way and gone upside down on me.
Order from chaos
When you’re in the moment, it’s hard for young parents to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to see that one day those toddlers will grow into mature, independent adults, but in time it comes.
For me, it feels like that time has come all too quickly. One of my kids will get to vote in the Presidential Election later in the Fall. How did that happen? Two of my kids are now nearly grown. My influence on them is waning. Friends and outside factors have way more sway over them now than I ever could. And while my third child is still relatively young, the crazy days of toddlerhood and everything that comes with that are long, long gone.
They have grown-up in the blink of any eye.
While I certainly miss the days when Daddy coming through the door at the end of a long day ranked second in my house only to the sound of the Mister Softee Ice Cream truck coming up the block, I’ve found that this point of my parenting life has a lot to offer too. Dare I say it . . . that it’s fun?
–Cries of “read to me, read to me daddy” have been replaced with deep, rambling philosophical and political questions. “So Dad, I read an awesome academic piece the other day that compared and contrasted the role of actresses in 70s and 80s movies compared to lead actresses today in movies like the updated Ghostbusters and Mad Max movies. What do you think about the strides that women have made?” Umm, let me get back to you on that one.
–Simple homework math problems like 2 + 2 have been replaced by complex word problems that I can’t even begin to tackle on my own. “Let’s just see what Google has to say about this problem.”
–Groans about family dinner time, because it interrupted their free time on the TV or gaming system have been replaced with long, winding dinners where they bring up their concerns about possible college choices or the cost of a college education or even their thoughts on the Democratic and Republican nominations.
–Excited challenges of “tag you’re it, daddy. Your turn to catch me” have been replaced with “dad, I have to get a speed workout in today, there’s no way you’re catching me.”
–Long deep hugs goodnight from my kids and worries about unseen, but ever-present monsters in the closet have been replaced by “bro-nods,” fist bumps and “catch you tomorrow” goodnights.
The parenting experience has certainly changed over the years, but there is one thing that is as good today as it was in the beginning: one of my kids coming up to me and saying, “I love you dad.”