Yesterday was Father’s Day and I blew it.
I will be honest and say that I didn’t muster up the energy and creativity that is usually required for making a person feel special.
I woke up tired and grouchy, I messed up the meal I had in mind, and I didn’t plan ahead. I went by the liquor store to pick up J’s favorite drink, only to find I was too late and it was closed. Don’t even ask me about the gift I bought because that didn’t happen.
I will admit that I spent most of the day defensive, telling myself that we are “so over” these holidays, and because our budget is tight we had no options. I will say, however, that if we had skipped over Mother’s Day, I would have felt hurt and my job as a mother would have felt even more thankless than it often does.
These holidays are stupid, yes, but sometimes when you’re as lame as I am, you need public, nationwide shaming to make you stop being a jerk. Here goes.
Watching J army-crawl his way through the experience of becoming a father has been absolutely humbling. We started our journey of parenthood blindsided by fear, overwhelmed by change. The weeks and months following Finn’s birth are nothing for me but a blur of ugly, painful, mascara tears (just kidding, I definitely wasn’t together enough to be wearing mascara then). I get anxiety just recalling those memories. I felt swallowed whole by the experience. And yet, while I was adjusting to the demands of motherhood, J was adjusting to the demands of fatherhood and an extremely rigorous graduate school program simultaneously. The amount of pressure he had to perform under was inscrutable. And perform, he did.
For this summer season, J is staying home with Finn while I work. I am familiar with the rhythms of his days at home, having experienced them for most of Finn’s life. They feel mostly slow and frustrating, with little bursts of pride, excitement, and maddening, deep love. Your spouse comes home tired, feeling overworked, and guilty about time spent away. You want nothing more than the small thrill of an adult conversation, a task completed start to finish, and to replenish the energy that somehow a day at home has drained. I can’t imagine anything better for a parenthood partnership than for your typical roles to be reversed for a time. I am so grateful to find myself in a position that allows me to better empathize with the demands of the working parent and my appreciation for J has only deepened and my pride in him has completely soared.
J, when I think about where we started as parents and where we are today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the ways in which you’ve grown, as painful as those experiences have been for us. You have stretched through these growing pains in a way that I admire and you have developed into a father that even a control freak like me can’t help but learn from. I would tell Finn how lucky he is to have you, but I know there is no need. I can tell he already knows that by the way I see him look at you every single day.