Friday, January 31, 2014

There I am happy.

My house seems to have fallen victim to some new and creative biological weapon (and with the use of that phrase, I welcome all my new readers from the NSA), or a biblical plague, or maybe just bad luck.  Whatever the case, the stars have aligned, and they're not in my favor.

Over the course of the last seven days, the children have taken turns with sore throats, fevers, medications, hallucinations, allergic reactions, side effects, and projectile vomit.  Even the dog got sick.  Which means the parents haven't slept in a week.  We are dangerously close to reaching the exhaustion equivalent of a nuclear meltdown. 

My clothes smell like bleach.  I have barf on my favorite boots.  I'm spitefully jealous of my husband, because even though he only closed his eyes for 20 minutes last night, he gets to go to work today.  At this point, I am using almost all my energy not to turn into 120 pounds of pure hate. 

This is the side of motherhood that they don't put in the brochures.  This is the sweatpants, unbrushed hair, bad lighting, no Photoshop side of motherhood.  We all experience it at some point.  It sucks, but there's not much to be done about it.  We just keep our heads down, buy Gatorade and Clorox in bulk, and stumble our way through. 

Whenever I have a week like this...or whenever someone barfs on my favorite boots, I remember Friar Laurence from Romeo and Juliet.  (The secret is out.  I really am that much of a nerd.)  When Romeo thinks his life is over because he's been banished, Friar Laurence reminds him of all the ways he is lucky.  Basically, he tells Romeo to suck it up, quit whining, and stop acting like an idiot. 

I am big on silver linings, and sometimes I too need to be reminded to suck it up, quit whining, and stop acting like an idiot.

There are some silver linings to my forced, week-long confinement:  My kitchen is cleaner than it has ever been;  I have successfully managed to watch everything on my Netflix instant streaming list;  I finally finished crocheting the matching scarves for my little lady and her American Girl doll that I have been working on (blissfully ignoring) for months;  I've changed the color of my nail polish every day.  Fresh nail polish really compliments the sweatpants and unbrushed hair look.

But the ultimate silver lining is the quality time I've gotten to spend with each of my monsters.  I am all too aware that very soon they won't want me hanging around.  So if I have to exploit their sickness to snuggle up and watch hours of Doctor Who with my son, or to read every chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban out loud "in the funny voices" with my daughter, exploit I will.  I'm not above it.

I love my kids.  Love them.  Completely.  Their sticky, little, germy fingers have a vice-like grip on my heart.  I cherish every second I get to spend with them.  Even when they barf on my favorite boots.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Dads: It's All Part of the Job

I'm tired all the time.  I am constantly multitasking.  Cooking, cleaning, brushing hair, fighting the "Eat Your Vegetables" wars, volunteering in classrooms, and making time to be the wife my husband married.  They're all important tasks, but they're really no big deal.  I'm not special.  I'm just doing my job.  And nobody is surprised by this, because I'm a mom.

However, my husband is no different.  He's tired too.  He works all day, helps around the house, kills spiders, gives each child his undivided attention, shows them both a level of patience that I am personally not capable of, and spends time with me every evening.  It can't be easy for him.  But he does it.  And I don't think that's any big surprise either, because it's his job.

Recently a picture of a dad with his two daughters (one in a carrier, one getting her hair styled by dear ol' dad) has made it's way around the internet.  It has gone viral, been passed around everywhere, has a crazy amount of shares, likes, and favorites on social media sites.  What I truly do not understand about it is this:  There is not one remarkable thing about this picture.  (Or at least there shouldn't be.)  This guy is just doing his job.

The man who took the photo agrees with me completely.  This is the title of his blog post, "I have a Dream:  That People Will View a Picture Like This and Not Think It's a Big Deal."  He gets it.

I cannot believe the amount of support...and hate...this guy has received. 

At any given moment during my childhood, my dad could've taken this picture.  Only he had twice as many daughters.  He taught us how to braid hair.  He painted fingernails.  He dressed us for school and dance class.  He cooked us (sometimes rather unorthodox) meals.  He pretended to be Daddy Warbucks and danced with me down the steps of City Hall.  Though he may not remember this, he bought me a tube of crazy bright purplish lipstick, so I could look "just like The Pointer Sisters."  He did things like that all the time.  Because he was our dad.  And that was his job.

He also loved our mom.  Still does.  Unconditionally.  And he let us know it.  We knew exactly where we ranked, and it was not first.  Mom had an ally.  There was no divide and conquer.  They were a united front.  (I'll admit, that bit was sometimes completely infuriating.  Especially when we wanted to stay up to watch the end of The Cosby Show.)  Showing us that our mom was something to be cherished was his job too. 

Those things weren't special to me as a kid.  And I'm incredibly thankful for that.

I am glad I thought that a father actually parenting his kids was commonplace.  I'm glad I thought having an active dad was a normal thing.  I recognize now that not everyone had that experience.  

My dad's relationship with his daughters helped me in ways I cannot describe.  Even though at times I'm certain he thought he was raising a giant group of idiots, he never detached.  He was there.  All the time.  Even when he had the misfortune of being the dad of four PMSing once.

Of course he watched football in the recliner.  But, we were right next to him on the couch.  Of course he spent time with the guys he worked with.  But they became our family too.  Of course he enjoys a good beer.  And, now he and mom meet my sisters for a drink on Friday nights.  He did all the manly dad stuff.  But we were the priority.  And we knew it.  Because that was his job.

So I speak from experience to the dad behind the photo:  Keep doing your job.  Even if I don't think it's that special or remarkable.  Keep doing it even when it involves an infant puking down your back, or explaining something to a curious daughter for the 9283793485956th time, or doing that chore your wife hates just to make her happy.  Do it even if your girls don't want you to.

They may not think it's anything out of the ordinary now, but some day they'll thank you for it.  Because of the example you set, your daughters are likely to marry men just like you.  So your grandchildren will thank you too.