Saturday, November 12, 2011
With my lovely wife on the road this week, I've been in full Mr. Mom mode on the homefront. This, of course, meant my kids and I ordered junk food for dinner this evening and then watched cartoons as we ate our way into early, plus-sized graves.
It's a funny thing being a sometimes-single parent. This has been our norm, off and on, for about 10 years or so. My wife takes regular-ish work trips out of town and I hold down the fort. Back when this all first began, my brats' ages spanned 5-ish to 8-ish. With kids that young, it took effort to be the single Dad: getting up early to get myself and my kids ready for the day, dropoffs/pickups at the sitter's place, planning dinner, playing with the kids until bedtime, etc. etc. etc. By the end of the day, I was be too exhausted to do much more than stare at the television before falling asleep.
I always imagined that as the kids got older and could do more for themselves, the parenting effort would get more manageable. But I was wrong - the effort simply changes. Where there used to be 'doing things' for small people, there is now getting less-small people to 'do things' for themselves (through effective nagging). Where evenings were spent simply hanging out with the toys, now there is pretending to be helpful with homework that is often incomprehensible. In all this, the end of my day still trends towards staring at the television and praying for sleep.
I'm just struck at how quickly the world changes in a few short years. While my wife and I would mostly prefer that she didn't have to travel for her job, I love - and always have loved - the time I get to spend with my kids during her absences. It gives me the opportunity to be better parent, even if I don't always seize the chance. Trite as it may sound, it keeps me grounded. But the hard reality is this phase of parenthood is coming to an end fairly quickly. In the next couple of years, it's quite likely that the kids will be out of the house, hopefully pursuing whatever education they think they need for whatever it is they want to do with their lives.
And when that time comes, I'll be able to focus my parental attention on the cat with laser intensity. Her fur will never be so well brushed, I fear.