On another day, the reasons I would like to be a dad might include things like using the bathroom by myself and rolling over and going back to sleep knowing that someone else is going to tend to the crying baby at 1am (and 3am and 4:30am). But in this moment, overhearing my two-year old shriek with laughter while playing with his dad, those aren’t the reasons. I want be the parent jumping on the couch right now instead of the one folding laundry in the next room. I want to be a dad.
Dad-Me will always:
When my husband is with the kids, he’s with the kids. When I’m with the kids, I’m also making breakfast, washing dishes, (checking facebook), folding laundry, putting on make-up, making the bed, rehearsing audition sides, (checking facebook), cleaning the house, putting away groceries, running a theatre company, and getting peer pressured into writing a blog (by friends on facebook). I sometimes get so used to being with the kids while ____, that I forget to just be with the kids, period. It’s not that there isn’t value in the kids making a mess of their kitchen while I’m tidying up mine, but I can’t let myself get stuck there on autopilot, mistaking proximity for togetherness. Sometimes I need to say, This can wait, and let the kids be my only “to do” in that moment.
I have very strongly-held beliefs about the importance of child-led play (more on that later, you can bet your bottom dollar). I flatter myself to think that my vigilance about free play has been instrumental in helping my children grow into the creative, independent, problem solvers that they are, but it can also leave me wondering (read: overanalyzing) where I fit in. I find so much of my play tempered with reservations about whether the choices I’m making are limiting the ones my children can. Their dad, on the other hand, doesn’t worry about that sort of thing because he’s too busy being Batman. He doesn’t create scaffolding for play; he just plays. He’s ridiculous and hilarious and everybody’s hero. Especially mine.
MAKE IT COUNT
I am always with my children. Always. (See, above, the first reason I would like to be a dad.) When you spend every waking moment (and many sleeping ones) with someone, it’s easy to tell yourself that there is always more time. Sure, they’re asking to read one more book, but these dishes aren’t going to wash themselves and we will read more books tomorrow (and tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow until I’ve read Brown Bear, Brown Bear so many times that my brain melts.) But there isn’t that much time, really. Overnight, Babygirl has become a toddler and Bug will be starting preschool in the fall. He says, “yeah,” instead of “yes” and has been experimenting with “Mom” instead of “Mommy,” the latter, a soul-crushing blow every time it leaves his lips.
This time is here and then gone. Their dad is acutely aware of that because so much of his is spent away. I have the luxury of believing that I have more than enough. But I don’t. Nobody does. Today, Bug said, “I like neck-a-deens very much,” and I wanted to cry, knowing that, tomorrow, he’ll probably say, “nectarine.” But I am the lucky one that will be with him tomorrow when he does and, if I’m dad enough, I’ll notice.