February 3, 2010

What Parenting Is

We put Mia to bed which was a challenge since her breathing treatments, antibiotics and steroids give her the shakes and make her manic. An hour later we went into her room, hooked up her nebulizer and delivered her next treatment while she slept. We repeated this at 1:00 in the morning. And again at 5:00.

This is what parenting is.

Yesterday, Owen wore his Thomas the Tank Engine button-down pajama top most of the day. Even when he went out. Last night he wore his gorilla jammies. He loves his gorilla jammies. He couldn't decide between the two gorilla shirts so he insisted on both. And because he loves his monkey socks and we can only find one monkey sock, he wore the monkey sock along with a hippo sock.

This is what parenting is.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work. On the little conveyor belt: ice cream, two bottles of wine, a six pack of beer, and Pop Tarts. I'm pretty sure it was a shopping trip that screamed dad of two sick kids.

This is what parenting is.

Over the weekend I sat at home watching Owen sleep while his sister and mother sat in a hospital room trying to breathe. I felt absolutely helpless. And scared. I walked past Mia's room, turned on the lights, and cleaned up her room despite the fact that I knew she wouldn't be home that night. I toyed with the idea of turning down her bed but that seemed too desperate. I didn't like going to bed without Mia in the house. I said as much out loud to myself and anyone else who'd listen.

This is what parenting is.

When I pull into the garage after a long day at work, I usually end up sitting in my car for a few seconds. I just kind of mentally prepare myself for what's going to happen, kind of like a diver surfacing slowly to avoid the bends. Before I even crack my car door, I can hear the future. I hear two voices screaming and they're screaming daddy! daddy! daddy! so I grab my backpack, sling it over my shoulder, close the car door and open the back door. I am swarmed and cheered and sometimes nearly physically taken down before I make it into the kitchen because I am daddy and I am home. I am a high point of someone's day.

This is what parenting is. And it is hard, and completely not glamorous and most assuredly exhausting. And I love it.

Posted by Chris at February 3, 2010 6:50 AM

There should be MORE Dad's like you out there.
So many people just don't give a shit about parenting anymore. Good for you for being awesome!
How's Mia feeling today so far?

Posted by: Rose at February 3, 2010 7:19 AM

I had all sorts of lovely words typed to you and the computer ate it. The short version? You are a fantastic dad, life does get better, lots of us are in your shoes. You are not alone. :) Beer is good.

Posted by: Christy at February 3, 2010 7:25 AM

So true. Parenting is not easy, but the payback is more than worth it as you pointed out.

Posted by: Carolyn at February 3, 2010 7:44 AM

Crap. Can you do a funny one tomorrow so that I start the day with a laugh instead of tears? Happy tears, but still! Well said. Hope kids feel better soon.

Posted by: Teresa at February 3, 2010 8:33 AM

isn't that what makes it all worth it. being the high point of someone's day? having someone so happy to see you that they could burst.
right now it's the recognizing smile on my little one's face that melts away the stresses of the day and the commute.

Posted by: Beth at February 3, 2010 8:40 AM

So amazing, to be the high point of somebody's day! I love this, Chris.

Posted by: Sam at February 3, 2010 8:49 AM

Beautiful post. And I can totally relate.

Posted by: Tracy H at February 3, 2010 9:13 AM

I love the cries of joy when I get home too! I don't get to experience it as often as my husband does, but when I do, it is awesome.

Hope Mia is doing better today.

Posted by: Elizabeth at February 3, 2010 9:17 AM

"I am the high point of someone's day." It's so simple and obvious, and yet I've never thought of it that way. I love the way you phrase it.

Posted by: Jenn at February 3, 2010 9:24 AM

I guess all those conflicting feelings are how you know you're doing it right. Glad Mia's doing better. I know how kids can get on those breathing treatments; my nephew used to have to have them.

Posted by: Fraulein N at February 3, 2010 9:28 AM

This brought a little tear to my eye. You're a good dad :)

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at February 3, 2010 9:30 AM

Damn Chris, stop it. Tearing up over here. That is so sweet and so true.

Posted by: Jess at February 3, 2010 9:53 AM

Damn, Chris. You got me teary.

So true. It's an emotional roller coaster, but luckily there are more fun parts than scary ones.

Posted by: Brad at February 3, 2010 9:54 AM

Truth be told Cactus, you're often the high point of a lot of people's days. Write on.

Posted by: Marshall Karp at February 3, 2010 10:02 AM

Hope your kids get to feeling better asap <3 But hey, at least it sounds like you're well stocked in the liquor department ;)

Posted by: Heather at February 3, 2010 10:05 AM

I second Marshall's comment -- keep writing, and keep reflecting on the experiences of parenting. I often find inspiration from what I read on this blog.

Posted by: pvz at February 3, 2010 10:34 AM

more proof that you're doing it right. high five.

Posted by: kati at February 3, 2010 11:02 AM

Gee, I wonder why the majority of your readership is female?

Posted by: alektra at February 3, 2010 11:21 AM

when my husband gets home at nite and my daughter runs to him like your kids run to you, it warms me because i know that makes him feel like a billion bucks. i can imagine how sweet that is!

Posted by: stephD at February 3, 2010 11:22 AM

Wonderful, moving post. I third Marshall.

I often wonder what it would be like to be the highlight of someone's day.

Posted by: debb at February 3, 2010 11:27 AM

Dude, you made me cry! You are EXACTLY right! ;-)

Posted by: cyndy at February 3, 2010 11:29 AM

Exactly right- poignant and honest. And if you haven't tried the beer and pop tarts combo yourself, I highly recommend it. Why should our kids have all the sugary fun?

Posted by: rebecca at February 3, 2010 12:19 PM

Well put...only that is not just what "parenting is" - it's what GOOD PARENTING is!

Posted by: Tricia at February 3, 2010 12:29 PM

All so true, and very beautifully written. Later Mia or Own will call you from college and tell you their latest woes or come home and drop into a chair near you and look defeated. And you'll talk to them and hug them and pick them up and put them back onto their feet, loving them more than you thought was ever possible! Even if they are 33.

Posted by: Maribeth at February 3, 2010 12:44 PM

Yes, yes, yes, to all of it. I similarly sit in the car for a second when I arrive at my daughter's preschool to pick her up after work, knowing that no sooner will I open the door than be fairly flattened by a 38-pound projectile missle screaming "mama!" "mama!" "mama!" It is the BEST. You're a great dad.

Posted by: reen at February 3, 2010 2:45 PM

You made me cry.


Posted by: Mindy at February 3, 2010 3:15 PM

dude, you totally just made me cry.

love this.

Posted by: mingaling at February 3, 2010 3:31 PM

you are an amazing dad. your kids and beth are very lucky to have you. you see the whole thing... that's very important. I hope Mia is doing better... having a child in the hospital is something that no amount of warning can prepare you for, to trust that a stranger is going to be able to take care of your baby and make them better. there just aren't words to describe what that feels like.

Posted by: jen at February 3, 2010 3:33 PM

Pass the tissues... exactly.

Posted by: Nat at February 3, 2010 4:23 PM

Hugs to you and your sick little ones!

Posted by: Hope at February 3, 2010 6:38 PM


Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at February 3, 2010 7:04 PM

Great post Chris.

I hope Mia and Owen are doing netter today.

Posted by: SciFi Dad at February 3, 2010 7:27 PM

My kids want to know what I am doing when I sit in the car. I tell them that I am listening to an important story on the news.

But I really am taking that last quiet breath before all hell breaks loose. I love it.

Posted by: Jack at February 3, 2010 7:32 PM

I love this. We have an almost six-month old, and while nothing in my life has been as hard as being a parent, nothing has ever felt as good as him beaming at me.

I hope your kids get better fast!

Posted by: Lemon Gloria at February 4, 2010 3:29 PM

Oh shit chris, I am behind on blog reading because I got really busy at work...I hope Mia is ok!!! So sorry to hear about this. :(

Posted by: jessica at February 4, 2010 3:34 PM

I strictly recommend not to wait until you get big sum of money to buy different goods! You can just get the loans or just term loan and feel yourself fine

Posted by: ConcepcionCRANE at May 28, 2010 6:39 AM