December 4, 2012

My Daughters Have a Crap Dad

I am an amazing father!  Truly, it's inspiring!

I am dedicated, loving, patient, creative, and fun!

All of the above is true under the following conditions:
1) The children are not hungry
2) The children are not eating
3) The children are not playing with playdough, markers, crayons, pretzels, crackers, etc.
4) One of the children is asleep or elsewhere
5) Sara is not home
6) No one else is around
7) The children are not tired
8) The children are not overly stimulated
9) The children want to read a book or play at the playground
10) The children are strapped into a moving stroller or carseat

When those things are true, I am a rockstar dad!!

(To clarify number 5, this is because when Sara is home, the girls stick to her like glue and I might as well not be there.  She asks me to take one to give her a little bit of breathing room, but unless I strap them down, they shoot right back to her like iron filings to a magnet.  It's only when she's not around that they care about me in any way.)

It's incredibly hard to be a good dad when you're as selfish as I am.  I spend way too much time and energy trying to make myself happy and not enough trying to make my family happy.  I recognize this and I am making efforts to change it.  I could blame my job for my lack of patience with my kids, but in reality, I know it's all me.

Luckily for me, I have two things going that help.

The first is that my kids are way too cute to abandon at a truck stop.  Just when I think I'm completely about to lose my patience, I watch them interact in a way that just melts my heart. The other day, I walked into the living room to find B wearing a pull-up like a hat, staring into space, pulling it on and off her head, as if trying to find the perfect fit.

"Much better!"
During a bath, H got a hold of her rubber duck and began singing over and over.  She picked the skit from Sesame Street where the jazz owl explains that if Ernie wants to play the sax, he is going to have to make the choice to put his rubber ducky down.

All cares disappear and I have to hug and kiss them until they punch me in the throat, or give out a high-pitched scream that threatens to shatter my windows.
No parental abandonment THIS week

The second is that Sara is an amazing role model for me about what a kind, loving, patient parent should be.  I watch how she interacts with the girls and I am not only baffled by how well she does it, but also confused by her enjoyment, even when they are being difficult.  She seems to have endless patience, not just with their destructive antics, but also with my seeming inability to control my kids.  I keep telling her that I'm awesome when she's not around.  I can sit and read with the girls for hours.  They help me make dinner with not TOO much of a mess.  They help me clean up toys and, in nice weather, we have great time at the park!

But when she's around, I might as well be a cardboard cutout for all the good I am at child-wrangling.  I try to help by doing non-child related things, like making and cleaning up from dinner, doing laundry, picking up toys, etc.  I know that from the moment she walks in the door until when I put B down for night, I will get minimal interaction with my children.  And I don't blame them.

No matter how good the burger may taste, you'll always choose the filet when it's available.

The one consolation is that their aversion to me is so great that I am amazing at putting them down for the night, or for naps.  They would rather sleep than be held by me any longer than necessary.

So after a whole weekend apart, it was mom climbed in between the car seats and was dog-piled by crying children while dad unloaded the car.

In addition to working on my patience for their behavior, or lack-there-of, I am working on my patience for their dismissal of me when Sara is around.  It's not personal, but I need to work on remembering that.

H and I had a great daddy-daughter day a few weeks ago and, in spite of their face, which I swear is entirely due to them being too cold, I had a great daddy-daughters day with both of them.  The key seems to be getting them out of the house...

...where they can't break my things.

Halloween was fun as well



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