Dear Eleanor and Wesley,
Here for your entertainment and argumentative ammo is an admitedly biased reflection on trends I’ve noticed in our life these days. I present to you my top three best and worst times of the week for excellence or awfulness in parenting.
#3 At My Best: 8:30 AM Saturdays
This is a parenting sweet spot. I’ve either slept enough to physically alert or drank enough coffee to fend off a zombie state. If something great is going to happen it is usually right now. Might be a soccer game or a trip to the park. Dad and daughter donut trips are a favorite. Whatever the case, you have no competion for my attention and I’m ready for anything.
#3 At My Worst: 1:00 – 3:00 PM Saturdays.
This is where I come to appreciate the amazing patience of your mother. Reality is that I’ve been with you all morning. The coffee has worn off and I have not had nearly enough sleep to prepare me for what just happened in the last 6 hours. I’m sure it was great, but it was exhausting. Saturday afternoon is a parenting dead zone. I’m tired, you are tired, and I’m pretty sure everyone is a bit sick of each other. Except for Wes. If he could figure out how to stay physically attached in perpetuity to your mother he would have discovered his Nirvana state. Either way, it is a very good thing for all of us that nap time and quiet time exist to push through this lull.
#2 At My Best: 5:00 PM Weekdays.
This is the bread and butter of our little dance these days. I have had a spot of time to officially change into Dad uniform. You have big ideas for what we might accomplish. Usually these involve endless repetitions of mindless, unfettered movement for both of you. Emphasis on the ENDLESS REPETITION. It could be a dance to your favorite song about 100 hundred times, a continual game of duck-duck-goose on repeat, or spinning until we are all too sick for dinner. Toss on a bonus for good weather, which has me giving a limitless supply of underdogs. Either way, life is fun and fun is good.
#2 At My Worst: Deadline O’clock.
There is nothing like lazer focus to destroy all parenting skills. Whether it’s nailing down a song for the show tonight or finishing the finer points of a document for work, I have an uncanny ability to simply dismiss all inputs when I reach a concentrated state. Wes usually would rather be with Mom anyways. On the other hand, Ellie has been known to persist in seeking attention with extreme proximity and repititions into the hundreds. “Dad dad dad dad dad…” She is a worthy counterpart on that front. These moments of willful dismissiveness are examples of a serious parenting shortfall.
#1 At My Best: Random question time.
When you get curious, I get creative. Nothing makes me more happy than when you let your curiousity get the best of you. I’m talking to you Wes when you decide to explore if it is indeed possible to fit your entire body into one tiny bongo drum. Ellie’s simple question of floation properties can turn into an entire science experiment. I even relish the big questions about Uncle/Girlfriend living situations, the deal with old people and their “crackly skin”, or who is listening on the other side of those prayers. Questions are my absolute favorite, and I like to think they bring out my parenting best. Exception: that one time when your Mom left for the weekend and you immediately asked your Uncle: “How do babies come out of mommies?” Have to admit that neither of us were up to the task on that one.
#1 At My Worst: 1:00 – 4:00 AM ALWAYS
You know by now that I am not often one to lose my cool. Other than accidental self-injury or board game defeats, not a whole lot gets under my skin. I thought that, until I discovered life between the hours of 1:00 – 4:00 am. Wes, at the tender age of one, simply screams…every night. Many times there is no solution. There is only screaming, until it stops. Ellie joins in on the ruckus with increasingly loud and pathetic cries. In her case, the solution is simple. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to convince her of the simple fix in her semi-conscious state. In fact, when I try to even get near her I’m often met with a swift series of flailing legs to the jaw. Just go pee like the rest of us and you will fall back asleep. In these early morning moments my patience is miniscule, my demeanor is brusk, and my parenting hits an all time low. It is a miracle that your mom does not hate me. It is a good thing for you that she loves you abundantly. I hope for all of our sakes these encounters become less frequent, but I’ll work to pick up my game in the meantime.
Fortunately we’re family. We take the good with the bad. I am not perfect and you two are definitely not perfect. I imagine it will stay that way. Given the choice, I’d take these highs and lows every single time. Real love relishes in the moments when we are at our best, but is really revealed when we hit our worst. In this family, it’s ok not to be perfect, cause the stuff that sticks us together is bigger than imperfection. At least that better be true, or else we’re clearly all in big trouble.