My job as a father

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As a father, I have multiple jobs, and not all of them are glamorous. Many of them are frustrating, some of them are gross, and a lot of them are boring. I suppose I always assumed being a father would be more glamorous, or at least comical. But the reality is I spend a good amount of time waiting for things to happen and getting pissed off when they don’t. Here are a few examples.

 

Waiting in the car:

 

90% of my time as a father has been spent driving circles in a mall parking lot, a sleeping child in the backseat, while my wife shops. Taking kids into a store is essentially a perfect storm of needing and wanting and whining that makes even the simplest shopping list feel like a trip through hell. So I get it. Sending Mel in to get a few things while I wait in the car is a real time saver. But let me tell you something. If I had 1 day left to live, I’d spend them waiting in the car with my three kids while my wife shops, because it feels like eternity.

 

“Why can’t we go in?”

 

“Is Mom going to get us a treat?”

 

“Stop touching me! Stop touching me!”

 

And I must say, as the father, I am always the one chosen to wait in the car, and I’m not 100% sure why that is. Maybe because I’m almost always the driver, or perhaps because Mel spends all day with our children and she could use a break, I don’t know, but what I do know, is that sometimes I wake up in the night, my body in a cold sweat, screaming, “No! You can’t go in the store!”

 

Squishing bugs:

 

Early in our marriage, probably within the first few months, Mel screamed from the bathroom, “Bug.” It was all very dramatic, and as her new husband, I felt that I needed to do something, so I squashed the sucker. I tried to act all masculine, like handling a bug was no big thing. But in reality, it made me cringe. I must have sold Mel on my bug shushing abilities, or perhaps I was simply the only one available to do the job, because ever since I have been handling all bugs. When we had Tristan, I assumed that he’d take on some of the bug handling responsibilities, but Na! Na! He’s as bad as his mother. I cannot tell you how much time I spend hunched over a spider, feeling like the moments before a blind plunge, then reaching down and grabbing the sucker, half expecting it to turn and attack. Then it gets away, and I spend the next 30 minutes hunting the thing down so Mel can feel safe using the toilet.

 

Checking for intruders:

 

Last week a cat got in our garage and my five-year-old was sure it was an ax-wielding maniac or a bloodthirsty wolf. She was trembling, and wouldn’t leave her room until I checked the garage. I spent a good 45 minutes chasing that stupid cat out from behind our storage shelves, and even then, she didn’t believe me that it wasn’t something dangerous. I’ve been woken in the night to investigate strange creaks only to discover it was the ice machine. Sometimes I feel like I’m on Scooby Doo, looking for a ghost, only to find it’s something harmless. Only I don’t get Scooby Snacks. In fact, to speed things up I often invent a culprit, “Don’t worry, a book fell” or “The faucet was leaking.” Anything to get the family to calm down.

 

Sitting up in the night:

 

Mel and I split the nightly duties. This means that I have spent many a long night holding a squirming child, rocking back and forth, watching some hypnotic lullaby YouTube something or other. There are a few stages that I go through when up in the night. First it’s irritation. Then it’s exhaustion. Then anger and frustration. And finally, once I am fully awake, it’s boredom. It’s a deep hopeless feeling that I am going to be up for a good amount of time and there isn’t shit I can do about it other than sit and watch the minutes tick.

 

Waiting for the next stage:

 

With each stage in parenting, I’ve longed to be in another because I couldn’t function during the day with my baby waking me in the night. Or I was frustrated with fits or tired of fighting during bedtime. I spend a lot of time waiting and enduring, hoping that this or that will pass. And you know what I should’ve done. Stopped waiting for the next thing to happen, and let the moment sink in, enjoyed it, rather than longing for the next stage because I assumed it would be easier.

 

 

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