Thursday, August 19, 2010

Nights and Weekends

Sometimes I feel like an absentee dad. I sleep in the same home with my wife and kids, but I don't see them very much. In the mornings, there's the bustling about of everyone getting ready for school so my quality time with my family is reduced to frantic conversations regarding lost shoes. "Well, where did you leave them?" "I don't know." "Just hurry up and find them. Time is of the essence." We like that phrase because it rhymes with bioluminescence, the big word that the kids and I love that we know. Thirty minutes of getting ready and they're in the van and off to school and I'm back to bed for part two of my nightly sleep.

Sometimes I get a Saturday or a Sunday off, but those are rare. The hospitality industry needs industrious me the most on the weekends. Happy to be employed and grateful for the health insurance, I obligingly clock in promptly for each and every shift, missing my family but conscious that my time in uniform and nametag is all for them, for us. Still, it smacks hard when I'm aware that my own case of arrested development, doing a job best suited for college kids and retired persons, continues to earn a paltry sum toward this family's modest budget. I appreciate that I've got it better than many, but my kids just know that they miss their dad.

Forgive me. I'm just ruminating tonight that I've got to figure out how to become the man I want to be. My wife and kids would like to see me more often. For them, I'd like to find a job that pays more and has me home at nights and on weekends. This has always been my desire, of course, but it was made especially clear that my absence is having its effects when my five-year-old daughter made a passing comment to me the other evening on a rare evening off. "Daddy," she asked. "Do you sometimes wish you didn't work nights so that your kids wouldn't miss you and be sad?" Oh, the power of a simply asked question. Oh, the guilt. I shared what she said with my Twitter friends and learned that even the 9-5ers have endured similar guilt-inducing moments with their kiddos. We do what we must and we know it's for the greater good. If only it was a tad easier for the kids to understand.

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