Sunday, October 5, 2008

Working for the weekend...

It’s Sunday night and as usual, I’m taking some time to jot down my thoughts and insights relating to parenting and all else that seems relevant to the aforementioned topic. Usually I like to write about stuff that makes me laugh or perhaps make some sort of social commentary. But tonight I’m not in the greatest mood.

Most who know me might assume that the reason for my melancholy state of mind would be due to the Mets season ending debacle that now seems to be an annual event. Could it be the anticipation / anxiety of the soon to be approved Federal Bailout of Wall Street and Main Street? Or is it the usual nail-biter of a game by the San Diego Chargers that has become a source of weekly stress for yours truly?

Nope… It’s none of the above.

On this Sunday night I’m not exactly sad or angry. The emotion that I’m wrestling with happens to be Guilt. Good old-fashioned Guilt. I’m not even talking about Mom or Grandma guilt. This runs even deeper than that. You see I work a lot. I put a shit load of time and energy into my career. Even when I get out of the office at a decent hour, I’m still not home early enough to hang with my kids a whole lot. At best, I get to catch the end of the bath and tuck them in to bed. Not a bad thing but hardly enough as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes I’m out so early in the morning and home so late, that I don’t even get to see them at all. It’s always been a tough pill to swallow. My wife has taken time off from her career for each of our two children’s infant and toddler years. This allowed her to spend quality time with each of our daughters and not rush them into daycare or have to hire a Nanny. I know there are plenty of parents out there that have very successful situations with each of those methods but we feel blessed to have had the option. Not to mention, she’s done a wonderful job raising them both.

What all this means, is that in a nutshell, I’m a “Weekend Dad”. No doubt about it. When Friday rolls around, I’m out as soon as humanly possible and running for the train. We usually do the family dinner thing (almost always Sushi. The delivery guy knows us on a first name basis) on Friday and it really is something that I genuinely look forward to. It means a lot to me to be able to have some time with my wife and daughters. It feels great to just relax with them and not have to rush out the door. As far as I’m concerned, the simpler the better. Saturday usually starts with one or both kids waking up before dawn and climbing into bed with us to snuggle and watch TV. Unfortunately these days it’s Cailou that is forever occupying our TV screen. I have nothing against the Canadians. As a matter of fact I’m a Hockey fanatic and love the movie Strange Brew. But they definitely didn’t score points in my book with this incredibly agitating piece of children’s television. The rest of the weekend always seems to fly by. Whether we are lounging around the house, schlepping to the mall or visiting the children’s museum, it’s never enough time to feel fulfilled. As soon as Sunday rolls around, I know I’m back to the grind on Monday and it’s a long haul before I can be that normal Dad once again.

Mah nishtanah ha-lahylah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-layloht? Or in other words, why is this night different from all other nights? (It must be the whole Jewish New Year thing… Just gets me in the mood.) Tonight, I feel guilty because my wife and I went away for the weekend with some friends. We left the kids with the in-laws and now it’s Sunday night. This basically means that I had to try and cram in an entire weekend of Daddy time in just a few hours and it never feels the same. Add to it the Mets game and Chargers game and you have a Dad that was spread way too thin for his own good. On top of that, we had a wedding last weekend and did the same thing. I know in the big picture it all evens out for the most part. It’s also extremely important for the old lady and myself to get some quality alone time to regroup and repair. But I just can’t take it when I don’t see my kids. These weekends have become so important. I already feel terrible that I miss Brownies, hip-hop class, little chefs, gymnastics, music class, the morning walk to school and any of the other things that happen all week long. Wait a second. Maybe that’s too much stuff going on. I’ll have to look into that later. I often get jealous of my friends that come home early or that work close to home. You only live once and rarely get a second chance at this life. Is it worth the sacrifice? Is building a successful business worth the price that I pay in lost days and years of my daughter’s lives?

I’m not sure my kids appreciate how hard I work to provide them with all the things they come to take for granted. I’m not even sure I want them to be concerned with that at all. I don’t suspect they resent me for only being around on the weekends. To them it probably seems pretty normal. The hugs and kisses are still doled out in waves. But I can’t help feeling terrible about this weekend being cut short. It’s time I can’t ever make up. I wonder if it’s normal to feel this way. I always thought that I hated Mondays because it’s the first day back to work after the weekend. But now I realize it has nothing to do with work and everything to do with life. When Sunday night rolls around and I crawl into bed, I can’t help but think about all the things I’ll be missing until Sushi dinner rolls around again on Friday night with the wife and kids. It’s nights like this that have me wishing that I was always Out-Numbered…