Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ramblings of an Insomniac

It’s 4:15 in the morning.  I’ve been awake for over an hour and I'm not sure why.  I suspect it might have something to do with my pregnant wife’s tossing and turning as well as the dogs snoring in the floor, but who knows.

I’ve been thinking about a blog post for a couple of weeks now.  Ever since fathers day.  It is somewhat of a surreal experience for me, fathers day.  I have my own day.  Not like a birthday, it’s completely different than that.  What is it like.  Well, I struggle to explain that.  I’m sure it is different for every dad out there, and I am supremely confident that my perspective varies drastically from the norm.

I was the youngest member of my immediate family and not far from the youngest of my extended family.  Needless to say, my experience with children was very limited.  I was never comfortable around kids, some would argue that is still the case.  I always imagined getting married and having children, but I didn’t have any frame of reference as to what that would be like.  As a result, the last three years of my life have been a mix of emotions and new experiences.

Even today when I sit and think about the fact that I am a father, it is a difficult concept for me to grasp.  Yes, I have this little creature running around the house calling me daddy but honestly, I don’t feel that much different.  I guess I had some preconceived notion that everything about your life would change when you had children.  Please don’t get me wrong, THINGS CHANGE.  The days of packing a bag and getting away for a weekend are no longer as simple.  Heading off to the lake for a day on the boat is infinitely more work than it used to be.  Let’s not even talk about jumping on a plane and leaving the country, it’s just not feasible any more.  At least it’s not feasible for a raging perfectionist like myself.  However, my identity and internal view of myself has largely remained unchanged. 

My father, from my point of view, was rather strict.  Not overbearing, but he expected things of my brother and I that, at the time, seemed unreasonable and harsh.  I never resented my father for this, but I can say I wished he would lighten up from time to time.  That seemed to happen as I went off to college and definitely was noticeable after I was out on my own making my way.  I didn’t understand why at the time, but it is becoming very clear to me at this point.  I will say this about parenthood, it certainly changes your perspective about your parents, as I’m sure my brother and I did with my father.  When I think about it from my fathers perspective, I’m sure he thought he was being easy on us.  He was raised in a generation where children were only to speak if spoken to.  So while our perspective about our parents change, it is clear that doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to do everything exactly like they did.  Does that mean each generation is somehow better than the previous at guiding our children through life.  Definitely not.  Lord knows I have made countless mistakes with my daughter, and I’m sure there will be many more to come.  It is certain to me however, that the way we raise our children is heavily influenced by our upbringing and I am extremely thankful for mine.  There are far too many people out there who do not have a strong base to draw on for guidance in their parenting skills.  Just read the paper or watch the news to see the atrocities that are committed against children.  And the heartbreaking thing is, it is a vicious cycle that is difficult to break.

I love my daughter.  I know for a fact there are now words to explain how much.  It is gut wrenching love.  I can not imagine my life without her.  I can not even begin to fathom how people feel who loose a child.  When I think about what my mother felt the day my brother was killed in a car wreck, it is almost unbearable for me.  I never knew that I could love one person so much.  That, if nothing else, is the one thing about parenthood hat did not surprise me.  You always hear this from parents, but it is impossible to fully understand until you have them yourself.  I know that is a raging cliché but I don’t know how else to say it.

That being said, sometimes you need a break.  You know, from time to time, you kind of miss those days without children.  I used to think this made me a terrible father and there must be something wrong with me.  I have been able to tell myself recently that this is not the case.  I certainly hope I’m not just justifying my feelings somehow.  No one wants to be a bad parent. 

We were in the car the other day and Cinderella was whining incessantly about needing to go potty.  We were on the turnpike and we couldn’t stop so we explained to her that she would just have to hold it for a few minutes until we could get to a bathroom.  Let me say briefly, logic and reason do not work with a 3 year old.  After about 15 minutes on non stop whining, her mother snapped.  There was a stern reprimand and threat of not very nice things if the WHINING DID NOT STOP.  Things were very quite for just a few seconds and from the back seat came these words…

“You guys aren’t being very nice!”

This is one of those moments when you want to laugh but that’s just not possible.  You have to be resolute and know that what you are telling her is best.  You don’t want her to stop whining just for your benefit, well maybe a little, but for her benefit later in life.  It’s not like you can whine to your boss and get what you want at work.  I wish.

So a couple of weeks ago on fathers day, I started thinking about what I thought it was going to be like to be a father versus the reality of the situation.  In reality, it is better than I ever thought it would be.  My identity as a person is the same.  I still feel like me, like I always have.  I don’t know exactly why I thought that would change but I’m thankful it hasn’t.  Now I have this little miracle running around my house who I love more than anything.  Does she frustrate me from time to time?  That is quite possibly the understatement of the century.  But in the grand scheme of things, it is all worth it.

I picked up Cinderella from day care on the Friday before fathers day.  She greets me as I walk through the door, more excited than usual.  She takes me by the hand and leads me over to her cubby, excitedly rambling something about a card.  She had made me a card for fathers day and was so excited to give it to me she could barely talk.  I opened the card and it was about what you would expect from a three year old.  Some stickers and other scribbles on a folded sheet of paper.   The look on her face was pure elation.  She couldn’t have been more proud of the card that she had made for her daddy and I couldn’t have been more proud of her. 

We came home and went through our normal routine then it was off to bed.  The next morning at 6:15, she is in our bedroom, ready for the day.  She is always much more excited about 6:15 than we are.  In an effort to squeeze a few more minutes of bed time in, we allow her to climb in bed with us.  Sometimes she is still for a few minutes, other times not so much.  Today, not so much. 

She enthusiastically tells me “HAPPY FATHERS DAY!” 

“That’s not until tomorrow sweetie.”

Then she does something completely unexpected.  She wraps her arms around my neck and gives me a big “squeezy hug” and says…

“But I love you SO much daddy.”


1 comment:

  1. omg.....how often we take those times for granted!