I’m just going to throw this out there – kids can be a giant pain in the ass sometimes. Other people’s kids especially, but even your own. More and more frequently I find myself frustrated by a complete inability to accomplish even the simplest of tasks while my daughter is not at school, constant requests for food and nonstop chatter interrupting any train of thought that I attempt to follow. Yesterday I challenged her to a game of “hide and seek” and took a stack of bills that needed paying out to the garage to write out while she was searching the house for me. They got done but now the beer fridge needs to be refilled and I don’t think she’ll agree to a rematch.
I know that I am partly to blame for the situation. Work keeps me away from her most nights of the week and guilt about this has led me to overcompensate somewhat. We’re always on the go, always doing something. I’m pretty sure that I’ve been to the movies more times in the past year than the previous five or six combined.
So today I ran away for a while, took a break from coloring and kid’s television and my four foot extra appendage. Instead I spent the afternoon having lunch with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while, somebody with older kids but still sympathetic to my plight.
I expected to feel guilty while I was out and I did. I expected her to remind me that there would be a time when I would be begging my daughter to spend time with me, to remind me of our own teenager, no longer living at home. I expected her to talk about her children’s father and how much they wished he had been more involved in their lives.
These conversations all happened and I appreciated every word, needed to hear them, but weren’t what ultimately had the greatest effect, what had me hurrying home so that we could get a few hours in at the arcade.
It was my pictures. Like any parent, whenever I run into somebody that I haven’t seen in a while I immediately pull out my phone and start showing them pictures of my kids. Its something parents have been doing long before smartphones but makes for much thinner wallets than it used to.
There were pictures of her roller skating, pictures of her in front of the vampire snowmen that we made last weekend, a few really stupid looking selfies of the two of us that won’t be making my Instagram feed anytime soon. The typical pictures that anybody would have, that we all begrudgingly look at because we know that next time it will be us showing them, that unspoken agreement to smile and tell each other how cute our kids look.
She didn’t comment on my kid’s cuteness, obviously an oversight given how cute my kid actually is, but said something that meant a lot more, something that reminded me why we do it. Why we sacrifice so much time, money and energy on these ungrateful little turds.
“She looks so happy in all these pictures.”