Thursday, June 13, 2013

When you're a dad, no one cares

My first born was a colicky baby. For the first three months of life, he cried from about 8 P.M. until about 2 A.M. every night. There were very few things that would calm him down. Sometimes I would put him in his car seat, lean forward, and swing the 20 pound contraption back and forth between my legs. And that would usually get him to stop crying, but you can only swing a car seat between your legs for so long before you: A) Tip over B) Hit yourself too many times in the leg or C) break your back. Needless to say, those early months were tough. And we were exhausted. I remember showing up at my in laws one night at about 3 A.M. The baby was crying and my wife and I were both crying. I don't think we said a word. We just handed him over and headed down to their basement to sleep and let them deal with him.

Sometime during those early months I got a cold. That terrible kind of cold where your head hurts and your body hurts and your face feels like it it stuffed with ferrets. And one night, as I was swinging the car seat between my knees to the dulcet tones of a screaming newborn, I remember thinking to myself that all I wanted in the world was to curl up in my own bed and go to sleep. And then, very clearly, a thought popped into my head. "It doesn't matter," said the thought, "You're the dad now. What you want is totally irrelevant. This baby could cry for the next 36 hours straight and you would still just have to stand here and swing this baby seat." And that was the moment that I knew that I was a Dad.

Isn't that what Parenthood is all about? All of your hopes and dreams and desires and wants all get swallowed up in the needs and wants of your children? And you do it (mostly) willingly, because you want them to be happy and safe and successful. That's why for the last two nights in a row when I have gotten home from work I set my bag down and played a rousing game of Monopoly: Disney Chanel edition. Not because I want to. I'm tired. And crabby. And hungry. And I have lots of important FB checking and Buzzfeed reading to do. But my daughter says "Please?!" in a really cute voice and suddenly I find myself laying on the floor, my dinner uneaten, paying her $4 because I landed on "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and she owns it. (For the record, I have lost both games. But at least I get to be Zach Efron, and imagine that I have his hair.) It's why my days off are usually spent going to the park, or somebody's baseball game, or to McDonald's for lunch so the kids can play on the play land.

Someday my kids will be grown and I'll be awesome again. And I'll sleep in when I am sick and take naps on Sunday. I'll go to movies on weeknights and won't have to pay someone to sit in my house while my kids sleep. I'll cook amazing meals with weird ingredients, and I won't spend any grocery money on any food shaped like an animal. And my bed won't be full of Frosted Flake crumbs (which, by the way, essentially feel like laying on broken glass.)

But it will probably be kind of sad, too. Because I do, indeed, like McDonald's french fries and it's kind of nice to just get to keep refilling my Diet Coke and reading my kindle while my kids play. And it's pretty cute that my daughter wants to hang out with me and play Monopoly, even if am tired. Even if I do lose.
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