Life As A Single Dad (exhibition match)

Let’s get to know me a little bit better. I’m in my mid-30’s, live in the DFW area and have been blissfully married for almost 12 years. The fruits of my marriage come in the forms of Benjamin (6) and Aaron (2). Most people use terms like “blissfully” with some level of sarcasm, but I mean it. And I attribute my appreciation for what I have to my lovely wife, Emily. Marriage is hard work, but she makes it so worthwhile. I thank God every day for pairing us up. Kinda like Hart to Hart.

After Benjamin was born we made the decision to scale back on some things so that she could stay at home while I worked. And then right when we were really getting into a groove with one child, of course we’re like “Hey, let’s add another one! How hard can it be?!” Well, it’s hard. Tons of other people have 2+ kids and thrive; nonetheless two sweet/rambunctious boys can take you from zero-to-cuss pretty quickly. Not out loud, under your breath.

Emily does an amazing job at being a wife and mother and fellow improviser (we perform together with Pavlov’s Dogs in Dallas). But Emily had a recent realization that she was the caretaker for at least one kid for 6 years straight, with only the occasional 1-2 day couple’s trip here and there. She just wanted to get away. Like, “see ya, mommy will be back in a week” kind of getaway. A chance to rest, a chance to think, visit, shop, eat, shower, whatever without someone tugging on a sleeve or saying, “mommy… mommy… mommy… momma…. Mom, mom, mom… hey you!”

I tried to help make this a reality for her last week during spring break – she would stay in a hotel from Sunday to Sunday and do as she please(s) and I would take off work to stay home with the boys. Not the spring break brochure that most people opt for, but I really wanted to give back to her what she gives back to us every week. Plus, what could go wrong, right? Right!?

The short answer is that everyone survived. Emily came back refreshed with the vigor to stand atop the ramparts of motherhood for another tour of duty. And I came away with a new appreciation for what she (and all other single moms) deal with on a daily basis.

Here are some of my miscellaneous tidbits from the week of being a single dad:

-  Day 1 was very similar to jumping into a pool of cold water. It is a shock, it’s not the way you want it to feel, but after awhile you get used to it. The water is still cold and you just want to get out, but then you acclimate.

-  Murphy’s Law was in full effect. On a school day, it is a hair-pulling endeavor to get the 6 year old up and at’em. During spring break he got up on his own at 6:30am. Sweet.

-  I’m actually pretty okay at cooking when I have the time and raw materials to do it (Paleo Cowboy Hash anyone?) Without a recipe, however, I am a dead man.

-  I did feel like I was living the military motto of “we do more before you wake up then you do in your day.” I would get done with breakfast, clean up dishes, clean up the boys, start some laundry and dress the boys only to look at my watch to see “8:12am.”

-  Spring break was the week in Dallas where it was 80º one day and 40º the next day. Nice weather days were great and went by real quickly. Indoor days felt like a watched pot that never boiled.

-  Keeping up with 2 high-energy boys, I found myself making more random noises when I would get down on the floor to play, or hop up to play chase: sighs, low level groans, grunts. My factory warranty might be running out.

-  I embarked on a father/son ritual with Benjamin (6) – viewing of the original Star Wars trilogy. He had been asking questions like, “so when do the Storm Troopers work for ‘Yodah’ and when do they work for ‘Darth Bader’” Oblivious of his Pandora’s Box-like question, I decided it was time for him to learn things for himself. So each day while his brother napped, we cuddled up and watched a galactic story from a long time ago. Major highlight.

-  The first day of the break I issued about 30 “time outs” under my zero-tolerance policy. I was pleased to see it decrease every day to around 3 at the end of the week. See, prisons CAN work!

-  My favorite time of the day? 8:31pm. The boys’ day was done. They were nice and clean, tucked into their beds and I could finally have the “waiting to exhale” moment. Before the break I contemplated accepted a freelance job, thinking I could just bang it out at night. Nope. I was incapable of a single cogent or creative thought by the end of the day. Even the plots of sitcoms I watched were making my brain sweat.

In conclusion, I’m thankful that I was able to give my wife a well-deserved break from her caregiving routine, because quite frankly it is hard job. The one upside to a job like this is you do get to experience those small little moments with your kids that you miss as a working parent. Peeking into their room to see them play together nicely, or talking to themselves in the mirror with a wacky voice, or when they run up to hug your leg for no real reason. Most relaxing spring break ever? No. Most rewarding spring break ever? My body says “no”, my brain says “yes.”
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