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This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful That I Haven’t Sold My Kids on eBay

SergeThanksgiving

Oh, I get it, alright.

I get this whole parenting thing and I dig it and I dig my kids and blahdy-blah-blah. But with all due respect, Thanksgiving or no Thanksgiving, I’m not quite ready to crawl all the way out on your Parental Blessings Branch just yet, folks. For me, sometimes the jury is still out on a lot of this 24/7 parenting crap. You can act all aghast if you want to, but I know I’m not alone.

Here’s what’s up.

Most kids start out as a split-second of lusty, semi-spiritualized fist-pump glory. You have relations and hopefully it’s a blast. Afterwards you eat a bowl of ice cream, maybe drink a cold beer. Then you sleep it off and nine months later that “blessing” gets born and in so many ways life gets better. At the same time though, the life you always dreamed of for yourself, even down to being able to wrestle an hour or two of “me time” out of your day, well, fuggedaboutit.

Parents like me (the honest ones) we adore our kids, but that isn’t always enough. We struggle a lot too, you see. Parenting is harder than hell and kids, even at their best, are mental. So a little levity comes in handy now and then. Especially when the world seems to be celebrating the tiny angles of greatness that define, oh, I dunno, maybe ten percent of parenting. We need to be realistic this time of year. We can’t just go around pretending that everything about being a parent is some kind of regenerative chocolate-covered blessing or whatever. It’s not fair and it ain’t right.

Hey, I want and need to be “thankful” too; I deserve to feel that way. We all do. But I can’t stand the fakery and I can’t take the lies and make-believe that seem to pop up out of the sentimental mist that the holidays seem to seep. Look, I love my kids and I’m like 65% sure they love me back, too. Yet this year I really feel like I need to be up front with the almighty universe before I can house my three or four plates of bone-dry turkey and bitter cranberries in a raging fit of gratitude.

So.

This year:

After all of the snot-nosed tantrums on grocery store floors …

After all the meals I prepare that no one touches only to ask me for ice cream half an hour later …

After all the thankless pukes and chocolate milk catastrophes …

After I hear “I hate you, Dad” when I’m trying to convince a child that brushing our teeth is just a good idea …

After so much time spent being ignored …

After 50,000 epic messes …

After “someone” touches the remote control and screws up the TV even after I told him fifty times not to …

After I’ve finally figured out that I will never have any free time ever again for the rest of my life …

After finding acorns in the toilet bow (again) …

After intense fighting to get sauce/syrup/snot-crusted bodies into the tub

After all the coloring in library books …

After endless nights when no one will sleep because they have to keep playing games with a hundred stuffed animals on the bed turns to screaming and crying when I’m trying to make myself a frozen pizza and watch like ninety seconds of television …

After all the poop and the pee have more or less seeped into my blood stream so that at this point in my life I am a 42-year-old man whose physical make-up must be at least 25% kid dung …

And after all the toddler appearances in the living room even after I’ve already carried him up and tucked him into bed at least 24 times …

This year, my year … after all of the soul-crunching and mind-shattering has been said and done, and what’s left is this strange and twisted love story between a single, divorced daddy and his three kids, a love story which must be addressed in our time of Thanksgiving, let me just go out with this one, okay?

I’ve never known true love to be anything even close to easy and I’ve never pretended that I did either. To that end, this year I’ve had true love dancing all over the house, at the most unexpected times, all decked out in the most ridiculous get-ups. Despite my best, unintentional attempts at losing my mind in the wake of divorce, I’ve noticed big powerful love. And funny enough, I’ve noticed it ignoring me in the most beautiful ways, like only the young and the living can really do. The struggle to be a good dad has been hard, I have to admit that. It’s been so hard at times that there were days when I doubted I could maintain my end of the flesh and blood bargain.

Yet, things shake down after a while. And lately, as the long year comes to her inevitable end, I think I see my thankfulness rising up out of the smoldering wreckage of a bowl of toddler-dumped soup.

I’m thankful that I understand that I really really tried my best. I really friggin’ did, you gotta believe me. And moreover, I am damn grateful to have continued to learn the thing I’ve been learning all along, since my Violet was born into my eyes almost six years ago. That true parenting lives down in the specks, and down in the cracks of the grimiest details. Deep in the shadows of the midnight pee-pee diapers, when everything is quiet and still, that’s where you’ll find me. Standing there, bleary-eyed and mumbling curses at the taillight of a damn fine tired daddy dream: I’m always showing up as gentle as a dove, wrapping a new diaper around one of my little brats, standing alone in the warm and dreamy breath.

That’s exactly when I get it, too, just when I almost forgot it. This roaring river of their peaceful sleep hammering at me with a reminder that, tomorrow, when all hell breaks loose again, I’ll be so thankful that I can crawl up inside the memory of the night before, back to a fleeting moment when no one was talking or playing or crying or trying to convince me that I’ve lost more than I have gained since the moment I first knew that they would call me dad.

 

 

 

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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