Last week, I had the privilege of caring for my kids entirely on my own for a week.
OK, in all honesty, I can’t call the entire time a privilege. I’m being perfectly frank when I say that it was seriously hard work, and there were times where I banged my head against a wall. I am used to waking early, hitting the road to try to drum up sales, interacting with adults of all personalities and moods, and being go-go-go in general.
This was nothing like that. There were exactly two conversations that even bordered on adult-like, and one of them was about bike parts. While there was no true downtime, there were many moments where I found my foot tapping and my patience wearing thin as nothing got done that was supposed to be done. Diapers, pullups and accidents were my fear, food was the bane of my existence, and sleep was a chore in-and-of itself.
At least the interaction with mood variances and waking early didn’t change!
I wish I could provide a timeline of what transpired last week, but every day has bled into one. I don’t know which days I went to Target (it may have been all of them), nor which nights we had grilled cheese. I can’t tell you who wore what on which day. I don’t even know what I wore, or when I worked out. It’s like one giant daddy-kiddo fest in my head. There were a few highlights and memories that stand out, which I wouldn’t trade the world for:
- Getting my oldest daughter her first bike, and seeing the sheer joy on her face as we put it together and readied it to ride.
- Teaching my younger daughter that she can ride the tricycle all by herself. No one needs to push her. The look on her face when she realized she could provide her own locomotion was ecstasy.
- Watching my son light up with happiness when I walked into his room in the morning. If you have kids, you know the look: “OH MY GOSH! IT’S YOU! I DIDN’T EXPECT TO SEE YOU! THIS IS THE GREATEST THING…EVER!”
- Stirring eggs with my girls as we made scrambled eggs.
- Playing tag on the big fort at the park.
- Hugs and kisses every night.
Seeing a pattern here? Every one of those is what parenthood is about. Those are what make the diapers and fighting and worry and crying all worth the effort. I’ve known that, but I just reaffirmed it this past week. Chances are, I will forget it again and be reminded again and forget again and be reminded again until the day comes that I realize they’re not coming back home. Then I will likely sit down and try to remember those moments, both good and bad. I hope I can.
I know I have it easy. My kids are all healthy, I have a loving wife who can stay home with them, and I have “steady” employment. There are a lot of people out there who don’t have all of those. I realize how blessed I am. I try very hard not to take that for granted. I don’t always succeed, but I do always try.
Sometimes, it takes the negative to accentuate the positive. My week last week was the negative. Negative not in the sense of “bad”, but in definition as the opposite of the usual. I got a good sense of what my wife goes through on a daily basis when I’m gone at work. I understand how hard my mother had it in caring for three kids when my dad was on business trips. I have a great appreciation for working single mothers who have to line up everything ahead of time. Most importantly, I have a deeper love for my time with my kids.
They are my blessing. I can survive without my phone. I can survive without being able to post to my blog or check facebook. I can survive without a set workout schedule. I can not survive without their love. There is something about the unfettered, unbounded, unsullied love that a child has for his/her parent that is infectious. I’ve always carried it, but it took the week alone with them for the symptoms to reemerge.