My mother sent me this card in the mail:
Also, I just started reading this book:
If I wrote a book about parenting (Ha! when would I find the time?) I'd call it Dad Is Sad.
Most dads come home from work (at 5pm or later) and can't wait to play with their kids. I come home at 130pm and can't wait to take a nap. That's why I haven't walked or exercised all spring (that and the constant, unrelenting rain). Having kids brings me joy when I'm able to play with them, create with them, and walk around the block or at a park or run around in the backyard. But that happens with decreasing frequency, and for the weakest reasons.
The Mrs and I operate on different schedules. I'm always tired when they're awake and vice versa. The bad weather ruins half the days and the other half are filled with shopping plans or visits to grandma's house, usually planned without my knowledge while I'm at work. My oldest doesn't draw or paint anymore because the house is too small and cluttered with mess that we're both unable to clean because someone always needs something - a drink, a snack, a diaper change, a book, etc etc. It wears me out mentally more than physically; feels like I only get the hard parts of being a dad and not the fun stuff. And when there is a chance to enjoy being a dad my three year-old doesn't let me.
Yesterday was 'graduation day' at the Little Gym, so the kids could bring both parents, grandparents, uncles, whoever. Most three year-olds are graduating to another class - either one without parental supervision or a specialized dance/gymnastics class - but my little one can't advance because she still hasn't learned how to follow instruction. When the kids sit in a circle she runs away, usually chasing one girl or boy around the room. When the kids line up for tumbling she plays with a ball or bubbles. She's not the only one of course, they're three years old after all. But it just seems like she hasn't made any progress.
At the end of the class the parents and kids sat in a big circle to receive medals. It was my job to take pictures and since my girl was first I hurried into position. When her name was called, she was supposed to stand on a makeshift pedestal out of padded gym mats and smile or raise her arms when the instructor placed a medal around her neck. Which works if you're dealing with olympic athletes. Undisciplined toddlers? Not so much. Melly ran away crying and wanted nothing to do with the medal. She didn't want to be there at all, especially with a room full of adults she's never seen before. As I stood there taking pictures and video I kept saying "Yup, that's my kid." Not because I was disappointed in her but because I know exactly where her social anxiety comes from.
I tried to convince myself that I wasn't a complete failure and that my little one's behavior was common for kids her age, so I watched all the other kids get their medals. One or two of them had similar reactions, but most of them were excited. Perhaps a little too excited; one boy fell off the mat on his way up and two other kids crashed into each other in passing. But most of them received their medals without incident and made their shutterbug parents proud. One mom in particular reminded me of someone I hadn't thought about in a long ass time.
Anyone remember Fantasy Girl?
For those that don't, FG is a girl I met in an online writing class whose preferred genre is, well, fantasy. She is quite attractive, so I suppose the 'Fantasy Girl' moniker could work on two levels. (yeah, like I hadn't thought of that before.)
Anyway, this mom was a little older and a little darker than FG but had a very similar body type. I'd seen her before a time or two, but I hadn't seen her husband. If I had thought about it all (which I had not because I completely forgot this woman existed) I'd assume she'd be married to a tan, built, perfectly-coiffed yuppie. Or since this is New Jersey, maybe someone like this asshole. Instead I was struck by just how average-looking this MILF's husband was.
I know I've been told to be less superficial, and I've made strides in that area. In fact as I watched the guy play with his little boy while his wife smiled and took pictures I tried to ignore the fact that this guy was probably on my level physically: a little stockier, a little older, and a little balder but with a nicer-looking face. [Yes, I creep on dudes too.*]
What was different about us clearly was not visible on the surface. It's the mature, well-adjusted man stuff that separates us: the ability to drive a car or hold down a job or make friends or cook dinner without being crippled by anxiety, the desire to be a capable and attentive husband and father, and the sense to put your family ahead of yourself (only child syndrome be damned). That's how you end up with the hot wife and the confident, obedient child.
[*P.S. If anyone reading this is offended that I notice attractive women and you have something to say about my 'staring', 'ogling' or 'creeping' say it to me. Don't anonymously attack my friends for expressing their opinion. It's fine if you disagree with something I said, but do so like Kazehana: openly and respectfully. It's hard enough to find people who don't automatically criticize everything I say and do, don't chase them away. ]
After the gym class debacle my father in-law took us to a crappy diner for breakfast. I already ate before we left but I didn't want to be a dick and it was almost lunch time anyway. Wasn't sure what drink to get since OJ is so expensive and it was a little early for Coke... but then I saw smoothies on the menu! I've been trying to drink more smoothies but am too lazy to make my own, so I ordered an orange strawberry banana.
The old lady waitress looked at me like I was speaking another language. They don't serve smoothies anymore, and no one in the kitchen would make one for me. Then why is it on the f*cking menu?
I seriously considered not ordering anything (who knows what else they stopped serving?) but again I didn't want to look like a jerk. So I grudgingly ordered my sausage omelette, which the waitress brought 20 mins later... and left it on the table behind us. She served my father-in-law, my wife and kids, and then started to walk away for a minute before finally retreating to bring my food to me. I could have done it myself and saved the tip money, but whatever. I said nothing to her for the rest of the meal. Shit like that infuriates me when I'm already in a mood.
Unfortunately that's been the case more often lately.
I haven't written anything in 2 weeks. I told the Mrs. that I planned to go to the library twice this past week to make up for it. Then the weatherman pissed all over my plans, telling us to prepare for epic rainfall on the exact days that the library stays open late. Now it's been 3 weeks without writing anything. And the one nice day we had this week - Wednesday - was ruined unexpectedly. We were getting the girls ready to go to the park and/or downtown Westfield, a really nice upscale town nearby that has a bunch of shops, restaurants, Trader Joe's, and a kid friendly hot dog/hamburger place. Then my wife's aunt showed up unannounced and stayed for an hour in the heart of the afternoon. By the time she left (after 4:30pm) the girls were cranky and tired.
Another day wasted.
And, as if I didn't have enough things to be upset about....
My sister-in-law is going in for a brain scan this week. She had some serious weakness on her left side and went to the doctor for some blood work. They ruled out MS but not a brain tumor.... yet.
My brother in-law left me a shoebox full of Magic cards to sell. Which is good because I spent almost all the money from the last haul. It's amazing how fast you can blow $1,000 when you're stuck inside and unable to concentrate on writing. Not as fast as a casino, but still. I almost wanted to cry when I realized how fast it was all spent and how unsatisfied I was with some of my purchases.
I'm going back to CT in two weeks for a much-needed sabbatical. My brother from another mother is taking me to Fenway Park again on the Saturday of that weekend, which means I've only got Sunday to visit with family and write. Despite the fact that I love my Red Sox and they are in 1st place in the American League I am much, much less enthused about going this time around. Part of that is the lousy experience I had last year, the rest is just me being less enthused about everything in general.
Despite the fact that I need to step out of my tiny little world for a few days I'm tempted to call my mother at the last minute and cancel because family member X is sick. Then a week later I'll tell her that our car has died and the mechanics can't figure out why so they can't fix it. Then a month later I'll tell her that I'm really, really sick and I'm so sorry but I can't make it to her daughter's first birthday party. But that would be really petty and immature and it isn't her fault that she hasn't been able to come see me. I really, truly believe that it's just been a series of unfortunate coincidences that have forced her to cancel her plans to visit.
So why haven't I bought my train ticket to CT yet?
It's obvious that I've got a lot of issues that need fixing - and soon, before I pass them on to my children. Equally obvious is the fact that I am a mediocre father at best. Fatherhood does not suit me; I need to get over myself and grow into it.