Me, Myself, and Sigh

Last night, I came home from work and was met with a surprisingly unfamiliar sound. Silence. There were no screaming toddlers running down the stairs or screaming babies getting their diapers changed or screaming mothers who are being peed on by screaming babies. There was utter and absolute quiet. My beautiful wife took the kids to get some bulk crap from Costco and was soon returning. This meant that I had approximately 15 minutes of what I would affectionately call “me” time. On most days, “me” time is relegated to the five minutes that I have to sit on the toilet and read small sections of Entertainment Weekly. And now, the entire house, which had a faint smell of diapers still wafting through the corridors, was all mine.

“Me” time used to consist of obsessively playing a video game or watching reruns of The X-Files or sitting and enjoying the few pages of a book I could read before falling asleep. I think back on those days with a nostalgia similar to how a recently convicted felon might of his withering freedom. And there I was, standing at my back door, allowed 15 minutes of parole on “the outside”. What would I do first?

What I did first was go to the bathroom as I have trained myself to use the facilities only once a day at the time that I get home. As much as I wanted to put it off for later, biology is inevitable. After that, I ran and got some tools. In a matter of fifteen minutes, I fixed a stair that had been broken for two weeks, adjusted some burnt-out Christmas lights in the front yard, wiped off the kitchen counters, picked up blankets and pillows strewn across the floor, took out the overflowing bucket full of dirty diapers, took out the kitchen trash, and ate a slice of American Cheese. I was overwhelmed with a rewarding sense of accomplishment when my wife called my phone, informing me that she was in the garage and that I would need to extract both of our children from the car.

I did so, and immediately, my youngest, Isaac, began to cry. I brought in my other son and then slowly began to extradite the infant from his car seat and ridiculous bunny suit that will keep him from getting too cold in the car. I bounced up and down with him, but to no avail. I walked laps in the family room. I found his pacifier. I changed his diaper. I sang to him the soothing sounds of Neil Diamond. I fed him turkey and red wine. I injected him with a potent horse tranquilizer. All of this, and he still cried.

Crying is bad enough on its own, believe me. My child though, having apparently been spawned by some sort of swamp monster, cries tears of mucus. The doctor says it has something to do with a sinus infection, but I am banking on the swamp monster. These mucusy secretions come out of his tear ducts instead of tears. When they harden, they crystallize and resemble an interesting application of eye-liner, David Bowie Aladdin Sane era. They also cause an overwhelming urge for whoever is holding him to pick them out, no matter what state the baby is in or will be in after the extraction.

So, while I held a crying child who sounded increasingly like a rabid ferret, I turned to a technique that is as tried as it is true—the hairdryer. I turn the dryer on high and snuggle the baby in my arms. With the soothing whirring sound, he suddenly stopped crying, closed his eyes, and nestled in for a long winter’s nap. Relieved, I began walking downstairs until the light hit his encrusted eyelids and, with an over exaggerated wince, he began crying again. We made our way to the darkened bathroom for another date with the hairdryer.

To ensure that he stayed asleep, I laid down on the bed with him resting on my arm. I flipped open the portable DVD player, which next to our two children and one of our cars is the most expensive thing that we own, and settled in to watch The X-Files movie. Two hours later, I was able to lay the child down, pop my shoulder back into socket, and get ready for bed. I shoved some Cheez-Its into my mouth which served as a great compliment to the previous course of my meal, the processed cheese slice which I consumed three hours earlier. I brushed my teeth, and collapsed into bed while my wife dutifully worked on whatever hot-gluing she had to do to fulfill her church calling. I fell asleep with the knowledge that in a few short hours, I would be awake, holding my son, praying for a continuance of sleep, watching MTV’s Next with the volume muted.

Fatherhood, to me, is a joy. I feel an immense gratification as I see my two boys smile, play, and grow. However, fatherhood is also a sacrifice. Speaking to the Indian National Army who were under oppressive British rule, Subhas Chandra Bose said, “You have voluntarily accepted a mission that is the noblest that the human mind can conceive of. For the fulfillment of such a mission no sacrifice is too great.” This mission, of course, refers to fatherhood. I easily give up video games to spend time with my family. Going to see a movie in the theater more frequently than a lunar eclipse is easy to trade for a constant stream of The Wiggles episodes on our TV at home. Surrendering my favorite clothes to irreparable spit-up stains and gross undersizing as a result of stress-related weight gain is something that I can do. The only thing that I hope for in giving this sacrifice is that I can raise two wonderful and upstanding children who will one day become fathers themselves. And only two. If I ever have to go through this again, I am going to need a lot more “me” time than 15 minutes on a Wednesday evening. It might involve a leather reclining couch in someone’s office. It might involving following Bose's lead and donning a robe and living out the rest of my life incognito as a monk in northern India. Now that would be some serious "me" time.


Marsha said...

You are such a great Daddy! However, give me a week with the baby and I could get him trained to sleep in his bed and make it for more than 4 hours.I'm just saying . . .

Rob & Michelle Eberly Family said...

Hillarious as usual . . .you never fail to disappoint. Hope you get some more "me" time real soon.

teddi said...

Michelle told me I had to read your blog. I'm glad I did. I have now had some much needed LOL time--some of the best ways to spend the precious "me" time we have.

mh said...

Oh! How I get your want of "me time"! I get that all too well. The funny thing is, during my "me time -the few moments I have while my own little Lucy naps,- well, I am spending my "Me time" reading about your want of your own! Thanks for making me smile! and thanks for your sacrifice in being a daddy to those cute boys!