[Emotion alert: reading this post may cause slight irritation in the eyes, lumps in the throat and sniffing in the nose. If you are prone to melting away in romantic movies, please bring the tissue box before you continue reading]
Whether we like it or not, parents are human beings. What can we do?
So sometimes, we have bad days. Sometimes, we need something to be proud of, because otherwise, we would feel pretty bad about ourselves. Sometimes, we just need reassurance that things will get better, preferably thanks to us. This is why we have kids.
If you are working a full time job, fostering aspirations of promotion and glory, you may be spending much of your time at work, or at least being preoccupied with it. When you come home, you are not in the best of moods, your head is filled with things that still need to be done, by you, for which the due date has not moved, despite the sad fact you have not done them today.
Or perhaps you spend your time operating a business, trying to control every little thing that goes on around you, while worrying about cash flow, shipments, giving good customer service even when the customer is not as right as they could be… By the time you come home, your nerves are so tight, you could play guitar on them.
And if you have been taking care of home all by yourself, or maybe with a baby in your arms, running errands all day, dropping off, picking up, paying bills, cleaning, dusting, washing, folding, ironing and all the rest of it, at the end of the day, you have had enough, and all you want is for your partner to take over and let you pick your feet up for a little while and close your eyes.
Into this “lovely” family atmosphere also come the kids, who have had a full day in kindergarten, at school and in various afternoon activities. Sure, they are exhausted, but they are excited and they want to tell you all about their day and how the teacher said they were great (or not) and how their best friend said she wasn’t their friend anymore, because they talked to someone else.
So obviously, it can be very difficult to relax, take a load off, listen attentively and at the same time play enthusiastically. What might happen instead is a display of impatience on your part, received by a choir of high-pitched voices making yet another load of demands on your overstretched abilities.
OK, so some days are better, but you get the drift, right?
Are there any parents out there who do not know what I am talking about?
The next bit is dinner, assuming everyone arrives on time for dinner, which may not be true in every family. Then, the kids take a shower or a bath, with the parents maybe alternating herding them in the right direction. Then, the kids need to go to bed, but this can be a bit of a struggle all by itself, just in case anyone needed any more stress. Finally, the little ones fall asleep.
[Deep breath. Haaahhh]
Now, it is time to wrap up the day, clean up after dinner and games, look at the mail (“Another bill, Hon”) and plan the following day.
After that, it is dark outside and quiet in the house. Maybe you watch your favorite show on television, maybe you read a book and maybe you spend some time talking to your partner. However, that feeling of pressure, of dreading being sucked into the same routine tomorrow, is still there.
So here is what I do every night, just before I go to bed, which helps me change everything for the better. I go to my kids’ room and I look at them sleeping for a while.
There they are, my little angels, just the way I would want them to be all the time – peaceful, relaxed, warm and snug. Not a worry in the world, just dreams of playing and riding and having fun.
This makes me feel good, because after all, they are my kids. They are living in the house that I worked hard to afford, sleeping in the beds I helped to buy, and they are safe and sound, which means I have done a good job taking care of them.
I look at them and go over their words and actions in my mind – “Hi Daddy [big cuddle], wanna see what I made at school today?”, “Good night, Daddy”, “I love you, Daddy. See you tomorrow!” And I remember that, no matter how hard my job is, no matter what my boss might say, no matter how late I am in my current project (or two, or…), no matter how much I disappoint myself (even if my expectations are unrealistic), to my kids, I am still the fountain of certainty, the pillar of strength and a source of comfort and love every single day.
So I tuck them in just a little more snuggly, run my fingers gently through their soft, fragrant hair, and say to them quietly, “Thank you, my angels, for being there for Daddy and making him feel good even when you are asleep”.
And as I look at my sleeping children, my little bear cubs, I send them all my love and all my good intentions, because I know they will weave them into their dreams and they will feel them in the air around them.
Don’t let the bed bugs bite.
Daddy was here
while you were sleeping.
Thank you for being.
“Talk” to you next Wednesday,