I’m writing again.
And the desire to self edit to the point of killing a post so that it never sees the light of the internet must be defeated.
When I started this blog seven years ago it served a purpose. Fatherhood was kicking my butt and I needed a way to fight back.
Life is just that kind of a struggle sometimes.
Each night I’d come to my computer, an old HP laptop back then, and think. Sometimes I’d have to think harder than others. But I’d try to end my daily battle with a reflection on what was good, on those joyous moments of being a dad that I was too sure to forget for lack of sleep and new baby anxiety. And you know what? It helped. What began as fifteen minutes of reflection sprouted into an outlook during my entire day.
I need that outlook again.
In some ways I feel like I’m a brand new dad. My kids are entering phases of their life I feel woefully underprepared for. They’re both in school now. The soccer and ballet and cheer and piano have started up with talk of pee wee hip hop. Teeth are falling out instead of coming in and I’m coming apart at the seams.
I sat playing the piano as the kids were getting their own pajamas on and heading up to bed. Erica looked at me from the kitchen and I lifted my hands up from the keys long enough to hear her remind me that I might want to come to one of Ella’s games to watch her cheer. I mean, I did go to one. I came right before halftime, and then half watched her while waiting for the game to be over so I could get back inside from the infernal heat that was setting records that day.
A memory of my own dad flashed into my mind, us sitting at the oval wooden table after dinner, mom asking if I was going to play soccer again next year, him stating somewhat puzzled, “You didn’t play soccer this year, did you?” An innocent slip. I don’t hold it against him. But I do remember how I felt for a long time afterwards because of that comment. Here I was doing practically the same thing with my daughter. She didn’t do cheer this year, did she?
To be fair, I have valid excuses.
We’re moving. Temporarily. Or something like that. We’re not entirely sure what the plan is anymore. Everything changes in an instant sometimes. But in order to move we are going to rent out the house we’re living in now. In order to rent out the house we’re living in now, we have a bagillion-zillion things we need to do. Like install a second floor bathroom. A soul-sucking project for sure. Evenings, weekends, weeknights, days off, all victims of this evil creature. My dad was always working on things around the house, too. Now I understand.
But it all takes its toll.
I sat next to Ella as she lay under her covers ready for bed. I needed to talk with her about a conversation that went down earlier that night. She made a comment, I made a decision, she changed her mind but I wouldn’t listen. “Why were you angry with me earlier?” I asked. “I just wanted you to listen to me when I changed my mind.” Her face changed and it had suddenly gotten difficult for her to talk to me. After talking about what happened, I figured out I could have easily let her do what she had asked. I was just tired, or stressed, or impatient, or stubborn, or…wait, these excuses are turning into character flaws.
“I mean, is it getting easier or harder to talk to me?” I ask.
A long pause.
I bend down to hug her. “I’m learning how to do this dad thing, you know?”
She nodded while I hugged.
“I wasn’t a dad until you came a long.” I let my hug loosen a little so I could look at her. “Just like you’re learning how to be a kid, I’m learning how to be a dad. I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you.”
I hope it is. I hope after all this, you’ll look back and tell me I did OK.