I just sat down here at my desk to get some work done, but as a little girl is chasing the puppy around the living room trying to get her doll back, and a little boy is yelling at me to adjust the shower for him because the water is too hot, and reminding me that he doesn’t have any clean underwear (the other boy is not here, or I’m sure there would be some other saga developing), I’m realizing that work may not get done today. It’s Father’s Day weekend, and my husband is in class all day today, and again all day tomorrow, and then again Tuesday. How am I going to get it all finished? I start to get frustrated. This is not easy. Then I glance over at the picture of Rodney and me with our boys about eight years ago, on a rare weekend when we were all together, and realize that this is not so hard.
When we first started our little family, Rodney worked at a CPA firm, so he worked late hours during tax season for the first two years after our son was born. That made for long days, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel. April 15th meant he would be coming home to have dinners with us. Then, with a two year old and another son very soon to be born, Rodney found out he was losing his job.
He quickly started searching for work, and the best offer he found was one where he’d be traveling internationally. What an opportunity! To see the world at 27. Take it, I said. It will work out.
Soon our second son came along, and I had a few “Oh, crap” moments before Rodney started to travel. But it will get easier, I said. And then, for two or three weeks at a time, with these two tiny people who depended on me, I was alone. Changing two diapers at the same time, or most of the time, changing one and then fifteen minutes later, changing the other. Or trying to nurse one while putting the other on the potty, and trying to put on such a proud face that he tried to make it to the potty in time, when sometimes I wanted to scream out loud “Just keep pooping in your diaper! At least then I can finish what I’m doing!”
Rodney would call at night, or morning, depending on where in the world he was, and I know now that he couldn’t wait to hear our voices. But all I could blurt out was how awful my day had been! I’d been puked on and still hadn’t showered and had eaten nothing but crust off a PBJ, and all I could picture was him going to dinners at fancy restaurants, and laying back in his hotel room watching a movie that involved people other than four grown men who sang silly songs about fruit salad.
I wasn’t totally alone. Thank God I had my parents and other family and friends who saved me from totally losing my sanity. But being the strong-headed lady I am, I wanted to be able to do it all myself. And admitting I couldn’t was hard.
One night, after a couple years of pulling my hair out (boy number two was a lot more to handle than boy number one ever was), Rodney called and I lost it. Completely. I told him he had to find a different job. He loved that job, but because he hated being away from us too, he started looking, and eventually found something closer to home.
Years passed and we (okay I) decided to have another baby. He knew it was a girl but I wanted to be surprised. And it was the best surprise in the world. Adjusting to three kids, however, was another challenge we hadn’t experienced yet. We were no longer one-on-one with our kids. Usually it was him with both of them, and me with her. And while he was trying to manage both of them, he was studying for his CPA, a test that is not easy by any means. He passed and we celebrated. Finally, tough times would be over.
But then, his job changed again and while it was a great opportunity to advance, he was required to enroll in an MBA program that would take two years to complete. Most of the time, it’s one class during the week, and weekend classes a couple times a month. With one year left to go, we’re halfway there. When he’s not in class or watching one of our sons play baseball, he stays late after work to finish homework, because let’s face it, who can get any work done around here with three doting kids who can’t wait to climb on him, play catch with him, or have him download something onto his ipod?
What’s funny, though, as I write this all down, is that I hear all the complaints that I’ve had. But I’ve never heard him complain. Ever.
He’s spent months of his life away from his kids to allow me to stay home with them, as I always dreamed of doing. He sits in an office crunching numbers while we splash around in a pool all summer. And he’s in class all weekend, on “his” weekend, arming himself with the knowledge and skills that will make him successful so he can put these kids through college, so they will be able to choose what they want to be someday.
So even though he’s not with us on Father’s Day, he’s here with us. All day, every day.
All the time.