When it comes to parenting, working Dads get screwed, as do working Moms. Now that I think about it, Stay At Home Parents can possibly be getting screwed too. So I guess I should have named this post “Everyone Gets Screwed”, but then it would have sounded like a porno entry and that’s not exactly the first thought you want in your head when coming to a Daddy Blog. Therefore, since I’m a working Dad, we’ll just keep it at how us working Dads get screwed out of quality time with our kids.
One day last week while going through my normal routine to leave for work, something strange happened. Usually, Fefe and the kids are still sleep when I head out the door, but every now and then the boys will wake up super early and they’ll already be downstairs before I leave out. This was one of those times, I like these times, because at least I get to catch a glimpse of the people who matter most to me before heading out for over half of the day. Well on this day, as I’m saying my goodbyes, (here comes the strange part) I tell Tre that I have to go to work and I’ll see him later. As he hears my words, his little bottom lip starts to tremble and he says “Dada, you bye-bye?” I respond telling him that I have to go to work because that’s what Daddy does and before I could finish my sentence he just burst into tears. It was both heartwarming and saddening at the same time. Knowing that my little guy loves me enough to cry at the thought of me leaving for the day made me feel like the most important person in the world. It also made me sad and a bit angry! Why do I have to leave my wife and kids everyday, why don’t I get to spend more time with them? I know why, but those little tears on that innocent face made me question it all.
Then it got me thinking, I know that he doesn’t understand the concept of work, so what does he think when I leave every morning, or when he wakes up and I’m not there? Does my son feel that Daddy abandons him everyday and Mommy is the hero that stays by his side to rescue him? I honestly don’t believe that is the case, because I see hurt in his eyes when I leave, but so much joy when I walk through the door to return. You wouldn’t be so happy to see someone who abandons you everyday would you? Maybe he just thinks that’s the way the world works and there’s nothing he can do about it; so he just accepts it and waits for me to come back. Even still, it’s not fair to him, beacause by the time I get home, I only get a few hours with the boys before they head to bed. Those hours aren’t the highest quality hours either; because by that time, they’ve both had pretty full days and although their energy levels remain high, they’re struggling to keep it together. Tre gets cranky when he’s tired, Ty gets beyond silly. Since tired little boys are hardheaded, a fraction of the time is spent disciplining them in between and during the little bit of play time we get.
All in all, we still have a great time during the few hours that we have together. I get the privilege of participating in wrestling, and playing chase, and all those other high energy activities to make sure they’re good and tired before bed, but it never occurs to anyone that I’m already good and tired after a long day. Some days I’d rather spend time teaching them numbers and letters, but during the hours we have together their little attention spans are so shot, that we hardly ever make much progress.
So is this the function of a working Dad? Get a possible glimpse of your children in the morning before work, leave for the majority of the day, return home tired but still ready to enjoy the few hours with you kids before bed, but be restricted to physical roughhousing because the prime time for learning has already passed?
When I was single, I thought I knew the meaning of the phrase “Living for the weekend”, but now as a parent, it means so much more! It means I get to spend those quality hours with my kids; I get to make up for the 40-50 hours that I lost with them during the week. This past Saturday, Ty definitely put the phrase into perspective for me. When I woke up and went to his room, he saw that I wasn’t dressed for work and asked if I was off today. Once I told him yes, his eyes lit up and his mouth started moving a mile a minute; just shooting off all the many activities that he wanted to do with me today since I didn’t have to go to work. So we hurried up and got started. You see, for most people, the weekend is a time to relax and recuperate from the stresses of work, but for me the weekend is the boys’ time to recuperate from the stress of me being at work.