My bad days probably don’t seem that bad from the outside: I bribe Fern with salty snacks to be quiet while I put the baby to bed, I miss a hair-brushing or a book-reading. Big deal, right?
Then there are the worse days, when I’ve stayed up too late and now there’s a writing deadline and it’s a Scooby Doo marathon while I finish my work. I feel all the more neglectful because I’m probably writing up an article about one of my best, most adventuresome days as a dad.
Then on the worst days, Fern has an endless temper tantrum, frequently in the middle of the night and invariably louder than the Moscow metro. (I swear, you can hear her from halfway down the street — I’ve checked.)
And even the worst days are explicable: it’s always food. Fern’s gotten distracted by something compelling like an insatiable need to sing nonsense lyrics to the tune of “Mahna Mahna” and gone off eating again. A couple of hours later, blood sugar plummeting, she goes batshit crazy.
So in the grand scheme of things, the bad, the worse, and the worst days aren’t so horrible. But during the worst of the worst of those days, right around noon, with relief hours away, I’m still prone to a despair unlike any engendered by any of my many previous careers — none of which I was ready for, either.
And that’s nothing to the feeling I get at 11 at night, when the second-guessing starts.