Being Dad

When WordPress asked me to pick a category for this post it was a no-brainier: “Daily Life”, because that’s all we do these days! We live day-to-day, overcoming the tears and tantrums, celebrating the early and uncontested bedtimes, grinding away the weeks (or being ground away by them, as Newton’s Third Law suggests).

Parenting is hard, even when the kids are good. I (Tim) don’t even get a full dose of it, since I spend so many days either away in the Pilbara or in the Perth office. I come back from a swing (8 days) having had no tantrums to deal with – other than from drillers or fieldies – and relatively little emotional volatility inflicted upon me. Sometimes I’m a bit physically worn out from the cumulative 100 or so hours of work, but I always miss my kids and can’t wait to be with them.

Still, when the first one rocks up to the bed at 630 AM after my first night back and begins our much-anticipated reunion with a kick in the head or a completely irrational weeping session, it doesn’t take long for the tension to build. I go from feeling utterly refreshed and full of adoration to clenching my fists and breathing deeply just to maintain control.

But it’s not controlling anger that’s the biggest challenge for me, it’s maintaining attention. There are so many things my kids want me to do all the time when I’m home that I just do not want to do.

I like to lay on the sofa and read the local newspaper, but Kate thinks it’s funnier to jump on my head and squash my face into the paper. “Look, it’s all bended!” she squeals delightedly, referring to either my nose or the paper.

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I like cruising on my bike. I love the wind on my face and hammering my legs up a big hill, constantly challenging myself to maintain my top speed. Almost every time I go cycling these days I’ve got Kate on the back and Eden alongside on her balance bike, with me constantly reminding (i.e. yelling at) her to stay close to the curb, to look up, to keep chugging along… all at a slow to moderate walking pace.

I love playing my guitar, but unless I instantly want my pick hijacked and two girls fighting over who gets to use it, it’s best left hidden until nightfall.

I like to play Words With Friends, a scrabble-like app, with old friends from around the world. Eden also likes “the letter game”, although she just shifts the tiles around randomly and makes nonsense words. It’s fun for 30 seconds, but then I want to play my game for real! When she gets bored of it, it’s never “Daddy, you can resume your leisure activity now”… Haha, more likely than not I’ll be asked to be a prince and get married (mostly involves dancing), be a horsey and give rides on laminate flooring, or be a student and learn ballet (or be a teacher and teach it), etc. To be honest, surprisingly(?), I don’t very much enjoy any of these things. I really don’t.

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But I’m so ridiculously in love with these little terrors that I just suck it up and do it. I play along even when the longing of my heart is to turn on the TV and go back to my paper, phone, game, whatever. This is so much of parenting for me: letting go of what I want most and doing what I believe is best for these girls. I may not like dancing in circles, but I live for those laughs and smiles. I must be addicted, because I keep putting myself through torture for another dose of them.

Sometimes I hit this point where I’m so filled with adoration that it makes me afraid of losing them. I think, “What if something happens while I’m up north? I need to get out of this…” But then I realise that I’ll never be able to be with them all the time, and the older we all get the more independent they’ll become. Oh, generations of humanity, how have you pulled through this exhausting, heart-wrenching process? And my oldest is only 4!

I don’t know if there is a theme to this post, but I felt like it was overdue and I needed a good rant. Thanks mom and dad for doing the hard yards and raising me to know what it’s like to be loved and to show love. God help us all to do it again, and let’s help each out too eh?

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