Fullness and Emptiness: Parenting

Once again, I’m en route to the Pilbara to make a few bucks and earn some time off. The hardest part of the swing is either the early morning of fly-out day, when I say my farewells to two (three) sleeping beauties, or bedtime with Eden the night before, when I know I’m getting my last cuddle for 10 days.

Like many situations in life, I think a key to happy parenting is focusing on the positive aspects. Fortunately, when your kids are as young and cute as mine, there is an almost continuous barrage of smile- or laugh-inducing moments; however, they are often countered by a nearly equivalent number of moments that make me want to throw myself on the floor in a Kate-like tantrum (which is surprisingly satisfying).

For example, last night during supper Eden expressed an interest in going fit a bike ride. It actually went like this:

Eden: daddy, we went on a bike ride yesterday!
Me: yes, we did
Eden: mommy, daddy says we can go on a bike ride after supper!
Me: eh…? Well, ok!

So we went for a bike ride, her on her little seat in the back, chattering away and noticing all kinds of details to report to mommy upon our return. If there’s something really exciting, like a dog barking, she’ll squeal her delight loud enough that I can hear her over the windy ride, but mostly it’s just a muffled stream of quiet musings that reaches my ears.

When we got home, and after the detailed report to mommy, I got straight into the bedtime routine, feeling absolutely buoyant after our lovely sunset ride. Within minutes, after multiple demands to change jammies, one unproductive (requested by her) potty session, and numerous requests to hush since Katie was already asleep, I found myself lying face down on the carpet, exasperated by the volatility of my little terror. In those moments, I have to admit that I look forward to my swing away.

I always feel guilty about this of course, because I know that if I’m not dealing with this, it just means Kathryn is getting more than her share. But almost always, within seconds of wishing myself away, I recall the latest fun times, which are never far behind us. In doing so, I realise that these are much more significant that the petty frustrations of the day.

If there had to be one word to describe the change I feel since becoming a parent, I’d have to pick “exhausted” (perpetually exhausted if that was allowed). If I could pick two, however, I’d add “delighted” to the list (perpetually!). I’m always delighted in the accomplishments, character, and simply the existence of my daughters. It’s easier for the exhaustion to take precedence, to manifest itself in short-tempered reactions and heavy sighs, but the delight is deeper and steadier, and what I meditate on while I’m away.

Time to board my plane, 550am. Wish me bon voyage!