It’s Fatherhood Friday over at Dad Blogs so be sure to click on over and check out all of the talented moms and dads over there. Also, as you can tell Nate worked hard to find a new look for the Daddy Files site. Let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions to improve the new look.
“Rush to get work done so I’m not late to pick Will up at daycare. Pick him up, hear about his day. Strap him in the car seat, head home. Shit! I forgot to pick up milk and kitty litter. Go to the store, free him from his car seat, pick up items. Strap him back in car seat. Listen to him scream from being placed in and taken out of his car seat. Head home. Somehow carry baby, diaper bag, milk and kitty litter up the hill to the house. Open door. Fend off super excited golden retriever. Clean up the remnants of the animal crackers Houdini dog somehow got into. Put away groceries, get out the stuff I need to make dinner and take dog (and baby) for a walk. Come back inside, cook dinner, feed baby. Play time with mommy and daddy, bath, pajamas, bed.”
You may not have the exact same routine, but if you’re a parent I’m sure you know that feeling. Shit needs to get done. Food doesn’t cook itself, chores don’t magically get taken care of and unless you’re super rich and blessed with a maid or housekeeper, no one is going to do this stuff for you.
But it’s the grind of it all that really wears you down. Taking care of a child, yourself and the household is a daily challenge that can envelope you and suffocate you if you let it. Kid, work, kid, dinner, kid, sleep. Rinse lather repeat. And since there aren’t enough hours in the day, it all needs to be done NOW. Right now. Possibly yesterday.
I was in “get it done” mode yesterday — like most days — and all the things I still had to do were running through my mind. I had come from work, picked Will up and the two of us were out walking the dog. I didn’t have the stroller with me so I had to carry him or have him walk. It was a fairly nice evening but I was too busy to notice. And I was rapidly becoming frustrated with Will for not keeping up.
When we got to the hill near our condo he stopped in his tracks. We had hit the rock path. Will stared down at the rocks — eyes wide — and started to bend down to play with the rocks. I felt I had already wasted too much time on the walk as it was, so I brushed the rocks out of his hand, picked him up and started toward the door. And that’s when a funny thing happened.
He started to scream initially, but then he stopped. Instead of wailing, he just looked at me with these sad eyes and this completely disheartened look on his face. It stopped me dead in my tracks. We sat there in silence for a good 10-15 seconds just looking at each other. Neither one of us said anything but the conversation (in my head) went like this:
Dad: “What? I have to blog cook dinner, do the dishes and finish folding the laundry.”
Will: “Dude. Seriously?”
Dad: “Yeah. Stuff needs to get done. It’s important.”
Will: “Wake up moron. You’re smarter than this. Aren’t you?”
And you know what? He was absolutely right. What the hell is wrong with me? All the kid wants to do is play with rocks. And why not? Rocks are brand new to him. I walk on them everyday and pay them no attention, but to Will those may be the most amazing discoveries he makes on that given day. The rocks were all kinds of different shapes, color and texture. In hindsight, I’m the wackjob for NOT wanting to play with rocks.
They’re so cool. You can hold them in your hand, dig them out of the dirt and throw them around. Rocks are AWESOME! And as a dad, it’s my responsibility to remember that. It’s my job to always remember how fresh and exciting the world is to Will. It’s my duty to wriggle out of all the negativity that’s built up over nearly 30 years of being desensitized and unimpressed by all the little miracles, and put myself in my son’s shoes.
I need to constantly imagine a world where some of the most commonplace things in life are still amazing, because he’s never seen them before. Because soon — too soon — Will is going to be too old for this stuff. His eyes won’t go wide as saucers when someone gives him a ball. He won’t chirp those uber-excited little screams when he sees a squirrel or a bird in the yard. Instead of being one of life’s wondrous mysteries, those rocks in our yard will simply be things he walks on on his way to the car.
That’s bound to happen, and it’s natural. But I can tell you one thing that won’t happen anymore: I will never take away from Will’s enjoyment and discovery just because the laundry needs to get done. The clothes will wait. Dinner can be a few minutes late. The blogging bills can be put on hold. Our kids should always come first.
Remember to always stop and smell the rocks.