Halfway through the year and a good time to take stock of goals for the year. I’m more than halfway through the next book. It’s a bit of a mess but that’s normal. The pie baking goal went out the window with the fitness challenge but that’s okay. Goals can be flexible. I’ll conquer that dough fear eventually. Work is still taking place in the living room with the occasional trombone lesson getting airtime on conference calls.
But what about parenting? How do we measure that?
Parenting often feels like saving for retirement. It’s so big and the timeframe so long that you’re not really going to know how you’re doing until its over. The best you can do is contribute steadily and not panic. Through that lens, I think we’re doing okay. We’re showing up, we’re dealing with the eye rolls, they seem mildly embarrassed by us most times, but still return at the end of the day and ask what’s for dinner. I’m giving myself a check.
I made good on a four year promise this week when I took Cecilia to Six Flags as part of her twelfth birthday. Be very careful what you casually say when they are eight. Kids remember everything.
We planned, we plotted, we watched the weather, we figured out the best routes and the best deals. And things mostly worked out. We had a great day. I hope we had a memorable day but I don’t really get to choose.
Despite all the planning and stress, what I’ve heard her mention most to others afterward wasn’t the coasters or wild rides but the M&M design on the park’s entrance steps, the various tattoos on the people in line, the frappuccino she got at Starbucks on the way, and the Nutella pizza the restaurant had on the menu.
We can stress about perfect summer vacations or special birthdays but mostly its the little ordinary moments that stick. Big or little, I’m happy she will at least remember who else was there with her.
I say “Lesson learned” a lot. Just ask Cecilia. If I was a 90s live-action Disney Dad the writers would turn it into my catchphrase. Each episode would end on a freeze frame of me shrugging off my terrible absent parenting with a sigh and a ‘Lesson learned.’
In reality (or what counts as reality in 2020) it drives Cece crazy but I’m not going to stop. Dripping water will eventually wear through concrete and part of my job as a Dad is to keep planting seeds. Some will never take, some will wilt and die, but some will flourish. So I’ll keep saying it.
The other night the kids and I were watching a cooking show (an actual cooking show not the weird competition shows that the Food Network has devolved into – a rant for another day) and as the guy was chopping up vegetables for a stew and discarding large chunks, Cecilia said, ‘He should really try to use more of that for stock, or like compost, or whatever, leaf to stem, right Dad?’ I might have passed out.
A passing comment here. A lesson learned there. Wonderful things can eventually happen. Maybe they’ll even plug in the vacuum one day. Continue Reading
We received another email survey about school re-opening from the superintendent this week. I dutifully opened it, read it, and then just as quickly closed it. My brain just shut down. Michelle and I have been debating our answers for the last four days. There’s no simple, easy, or right answer to the school question.
It was a stark reminder that being a parent is the hardest job. No training. No pay. Responsibilities that are never easily defined and always changing. So what do you do? I have no idea and that’s also parenting. The best you can do is be adaptable. Be ready to respond to a an unending, ever-changing flow of complicated circumstances. And keep the wine fridge stocked. Continue Reading
A month or so late, but we finally made it to the Cape. And the girls immediately set about trying to cram in all that missed time into eight hours. You’ve probably had these days with your kids where the time flew by as you hop, skipped, and jumped from one activity to the next. A day where you didn’t think about work, or your phone, or maybe even the virus for a bit. It’s wonderful…and completely exhausting. Continue Reading
The girls started back to school this week and I’m feeling…stressed and anxious? Probably not completely uncommon but I realized after a little tiff with Cecilia over homework on Day 2 that I really prefer Summer/Camp Dad to School Year Dad.
Not that Summer Dad never gets upset he just seems to listen a little more and snap a little less. I don’t want the one time I’m really present and focused on my kids for the next six months to be only about homework. I might learn a lot about base-10 number systems but maybe not so much about my child.
So, as we talked about the new school year, expectations and goals over dinner this week, I set one of my own: to let go of some of that anxiety and frustration and try to be more like Summer Dad all year long.
Just without all the sunscreen each morning. I won’t miss the sunscreen. Continue Reading