I was 34 years old…again…and visiting my grandmother for a Thanksgiving dinner. As I was helping her set the table, the two of us were having an enjoyable conversation. Then, the atmosphere in the room suddenly took a dark turn. My grandmother’s demeanor became firm as she began telling me how much I had broken her heart and how she always had higher hopes and expectations for me in life. She didn’t understand why I was still single, living in an apartment and working a dead end job. She reassured me that she still loved me more than anything. She just wanted to see me happy. My grandmother then left the room….that was the last I saw of her.
I stood in her dining room alone, completely thrown off. Not only did I not see that curveball coming, I always thought I was happy…my mind started racing. I didn’t realize how much time had gone by in my life. I WAS in my mid 30’s. I WAS still single. I WAS still working a dead end job. What did I have to show for myself? What did my grandmother have to be proud of? I stood there, with a dish towel hung over my shoulder, my mind and stomach slowly becoming overwhelmed by a sudden panic attack. I then slowly blacked out.
When I awoke I was staring at the filing cabinet next to my bed. My stomach was still turning from the haunting reality that my grandmother had just presented to me. I began to squirm, wondering what was going on, trying to get a grasp on everything. I then felt something warm on my shoulder and heard the soothing sound of breathing next to my ear. I turned my head to see my three year old son David sleeping next to me, his head resting on my shoulder. My feet were finally back on the ground. It was just a dream…a nightmare.
My mind hasn’t deceived me like that in years. It was all so vivid that I honestly had to take a few minutes to walk it off. As the day went on, I couldn’t stop thinking about my boys. I was feeling thankful for everything in my life, good or bad. Despite how exhausting being a parent can be, I felt guilty about ever complaining about a single thing. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Taking care of Jen and our three amazing boys is a high that I will hold on to for eternity. The more I thought about it though, the more I feared the future.
David is less than two years away from elementary school…a time when a child’s day is mostly spent learning in the social atmosphere of classmates and teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hectic run around life of Evan and Rylan being active between school events and sports…But what happens after David joins that world? The real years of “daddy daycare” will officially be over. My days of watching the boys walk for the first time, potty training, changing diapers, naptimes, singing nursery rhymes, teaching them punk rock, breaking open the band-aid’s, trips to the park, wrestling in every room of the house, watching kid movies, teaching them how to ride bikes and cutting up bananas will be nothing but a memory. Evan, Rylan and David have been my best friends over the past 6 years, they’ve been my everything. It’s going to be hard, I already know.
I’ll still be taking care of the boys and pretty much continuing all of the house chores, while picking up more hours at work, if not also picking up a second job, and I’m fine with that. I just fear that moment when it all becomes a reality. The thought of bringing up the laundry basket from the basement and seeing an empty living room frightens me. I’ve had days when I’d be so wrapped up with chores that one of the boys would play themselves to sleep. I’d find them passed out on the living room floor with a toy still in their hand. Instead of taking advantage of that free time, I’d almost always stop working, pick them up, walk them over to the sofa and sit down with their head on my shoulder and just listen to them sleep. Other days, I would let myself fall behind in my housework, and instead, spend every waking moment of the day playing with them until we’d pass out together. I can’t imagine not having that in my life anymore. Moments like those are the best feelings in the world.
Time goes by fast. It feels like it was just yesterday when I made my “take this job and shove it” statement at work, went part time and became primary care giver for my family. That was almost 6 years ago. My little blond blue eyed Evan was only 2 years old. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was getting myself into…but to this day…it was still one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Things have been stressful and frustrating over the past few weeks, with all of the boys being sick on and off…frustrating to the point that I think I was beginning to lose sight of things. Thanks for that reality check dream Grandma. I always knew you were keeping an eye on me.
Whether times are good or bad….savor each and every moment Moms & Dads…they are our everything.