Monday, May 17, 2010
Weekends Without Tarzan and Jane
This morning, as a sit at my computer to write my weekly dadlosophy, I find myself suffering from a bout with writer's block. It's not that my kids suddenly stopped supplying me with material, it's just that I haven't had a moment to think all weekend. When you're a parent, weekends belong to kids' activities. Rare are the Saturdays when you can sleep in or have nothing to do but watch a ball game in the afternoon. If you do watch a sporting event, it's usually because you're sitting along the sidelines of a little league field and cheering your tiny athlete on from the comfort of your fold-out chair. There are birthday parties to attend, soccer games to coach, recitals to be at, and--in the case of this past weekend--Girl Scout ceremonies that demand your parental presence. Once your kids get old enough to become involved in sports, piano lessons, dance, or a barrage of other activities, make no mistake, your weekends are GONE!
Sometimes, when I have a rare moment to fix my mind on something other than trying to figure out who spilled juice on the living room floor, stopped up the toilet with an Incredible Hulk action figure, or left a melting ice cream sandwich in my sock drawer, I'll think back to what weekends were like before I had children. Like an old-timer recalling Sunday afternoons in Mayberry, I'll reminisce about a time when I knew who the players on my favorite sports teams were or could tell you what movies were playing at the nearby theater. I can vaguely recall a time when date night didn't involve leaving the house before six o'clock so that we could be finished and home by 10 p.m. to relieve the babysitter. I remember when Meredith and I used to double-date with other childless couples and conversational topics like baby bowel movements, leaking nipples, and the best ointment to apply to a butt rash never came up. (Except for one really awkward conversation in 2001 that resulted in Meredith and I never going out with that couple again.) And, of course, there was the post-date sex. I can still picture those days when romance and atmosphere mattered. My wife wanted a connnection. She wanted me to sweep her off her feet. Fulfilling sex required feeling and foreplay. Now, foreplay consists of rushing to get your clothes off as fast as possible so that you can finish before a child wakes up and appears at your bedroom door demanding a glass of water.
Yet, for all the ways we parents have had to modify our concept of a weekend, the truth is that most of us wouldn't want to go back. Oh sure, we often look back on our pre-kiddo Saturdays and talk about how nice it would be to have a weekend where all we did is veg, cheer on our team, hit the restaurant of our choice, and perhaps enjoy a little romance that doesn't involve phrases like "Are you almost finished, I think I hear the boys?" and "No, we can't play Tarzan and Jane, it will wake the kids." But like those high school days we often enjoy reliving through old stories or brief reunions with friends, we really don't want to do it again. Not if it means risking never having what we've got today: our spouse, our children... our life!
So I'll gladly sacrifice my weekends to the gods of soccer and Girl Scouts. I'll forego Friday nights having a drink or two and cutting up with childless friends in favor of ones spent getting to know fellow parents over a slice of pizza at a first-grade birthday party. It's all part of this stage of life. It's parenthood. Regardless of how hectic they are, my weekends are exactly what they are supposed to be right now. My advice to other dads who are where I'm at? Take a deep breath, remind yourself how special this time with your kids is, accept the fact that you may have to DVR the big game, and enjoy yourself. And don't worry. One day, maybe you can play Tarzan and Jane again.