Throughout my kids’ lives, I’ve been mostly a homebody. I rarely traveled for my office jobs, and when I worked as a teacher, not only did I never go anywhere, I was home early. And had summers off. Plenty of time for shenanigans with my then-younger children.
Here’s another fun fact: When I realized that my passport had expired last fall, I realized I hadn’t used it to leave the country once. ONCE. For a brief, nauseating moment, I felt like George Bush.
After my marriage cratered, and I had to move out, one stipulation I fought for was that I could come to the apartment every afternoon and hang with the boys until she got home from work. I was grateful she agreed to that, so the kids would know that even though my stuff was gone, I would always be there.
But that was before I got this latest job, as Dad 2.0 Summit-eer. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. A true labor of love, but also a labor. And over the past few weeks, it’s ramped up my plane travel to the point where I’m suddenly Ryan Bingham in the TSA line. And for the first time, I spend days at a time away from my kids.
This was inevitable, of course. I started having more kid-less days when I moved here, and I was no longer on call every afternoon. But even if we were still together, the kids would still get older. They’d get their Michigan legs and start branching out more, hanging out with friends on their own. (I don’t call them “playdates” anymore, because playdates are supervised and structured. Now that we’re no longer in a big city, they’re much more like “hangouts.”)
I know there are a lot of dads (and moms) out there who’ve been doing this a lot longer than I have, and who are gone a whole lot more than they’d like to be. How do you reconcile it? My boys are 9 and 6, the Golden Years, when they’re old enough to dress and clean up after themselves (mostly), but young enough to throw their arms around you when they come home from school.
I want to make the most of these years, before they become all teen-aged and gross. I’ll miss them when they really start to pull away. But I’ll at least have more time to beat the crap out of my next passport.