Resurfacing

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Bath time means I catch up on my
e-mail. I’m about four weeks behind.

My life has again undergone one of those major changes that makes you re-sort every priority. And all I can think about is the laundry.

Becoming a stay-at-home dad to Boo three years ago was major, sure, but for all that, I still spent a lot of time sipping coffee and reading the newspaper. Nap time is really nap time when there’s only one kid.

Back then, the life-shift was one part practical, nine parts emotional. I’d always hung out with kids a lot and I stay up late anyway, so my child care skills were sufficient. The hardest part of it was wrapping my head and my lips around the word “father,” as in “I am a father. This is my daughter.” The fatherhood concept, over 35 years in coming, didn’t settle into my consciousness right away.

Now, though, I’m suddenly home with a baby and a three-year old, and my life is consumed by the mundane. I can’t turn around without discovering yet another toy stash exploded over the floor like a popped-open all-natural kiln-dried organic pimple. Every cookie-decorating or glitter-gluing project I engineer means another half-hour of cleanup, longer if I try to get Boo to help.

Laundry piles up. Trash cans need emptying. And my “real” household projects? The slide grandpa got us for Christmas remains uninstalled, flat in the backyard. Accumulated junk accumulates still. I sew not. The neighbor across the street scowls at me and my neglected yard daily.

But I can handle all that. If I keep myself going for fourteen hours a day, I can cover the domestic business. That’s not the problem. Nor do I mourn the loss of real personal time, since I’m sure that it will come back. Eventually, I will again write every day, hike a couple of times a week, go out occasionally with a friend — all that stuff is just on hold.

No, what I really pine for is the essential intangibles. I simply don’t know how to work back into my life time to solidify my emotional connection with my kids when I’m buried under a sea of what-needs-to-get-done. And these aren’t even the “optionals” — we’re talking waste management, laundry, grocery shopping, and, of course, feeding and cleaning my ladies. (Well, the two of them, anyway — I don’t clean my wife anymore.)

Parenting number two is way different from parenting number one: the best parts seem to fall by the wayside.

The other activity that’s clearly fallen by the wayside is editing what I write, for which I apologize. I promise: brevity by 2010!