Being a parent is hard. The life of a parent is filled with meeting other people's needs, and neglecting many of his or her own.
It seems I cannot go a morning where at least one of the girls doesn't have a major meltdown. On the surface getting ready in the morning would appear to be a routinely trivial task. The reality is that every morning is drama. The hard thing for me to accept is that I have no control over this.
I try to make it as easy as I can. I put Aurora and Athena in my bed, put on an episode of Pink Panther and completely dress the girls myself, and do their hair. Pink Panther gives them a reason to open their eyes and stay awake as I dress them. By the time I am done each girl is completely awake and dressed. They have only two tasks to prepare for the day, brush their teeth and put on their shoes.
Without fail at least one girl will throw a major fit over at least one of these tasks. Usually more than one task involves a fit. This morning it was Aurora and her shoes, and Athena had a slight problem with brushing her teeth. Every morning Arianna has a big fit about us brushing her teeth. Since I do everything else for all the girls, I make Arianna's teeth Kim's task.
On the way to drop Arianna off at daycare a lady did not break in time and had to pull to the right of me to prevent from rear-ending me. By the time she came to a complete stop half of her SUV was beside my van, effectively putting her nose in Arianna's back had she not stopped. Then when the traffic started back up she pulled forward real fast and cut in front of me. This lady just about put my baby in serious physical danger, and then used it as an opportunity to cut me off. It's times like this I have to use mental will-power to not let road rage get the best of me.
Aurora has tennis practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 - 6. I don't get off work until 4:30, and practice is on the other side of town, so Kim takes her almost all the time. Today Kim called me and asked if I would do it. I agreed, and she said she'd meet me at day care to give me the tennis racket from her car.
Not paying attention to the fact that Aurora needs to be there at 5:00 I get a call from Kim at 4:50 as I'm shutting down my computer reminding me that I completely messed up tennis practice for the day. Aurora really looks forward to tennis practice and has been pretty upset in the past when we've had to miss it.
I felt really bad and wanted to make it up. I was going to take her to the park but when I looked outside I realized it's that time of year when it begins getting dark really early. Instead I headed up to Publix and bought some ice cream.
It turned out Aurora was not as upset as usual, but she was happy to see that ice cream would be following dinner.
As soon as I placed the ice cream in the freezer I made dinner, with only a little bit of room in between serving everyone I had a quick chance to actually eat myself.
While I was eating Aurora had a major melt down because she's hates having to actually put work into doing homework (she is spoiled because pretty much everything tailored to someone her age is completely below her abiliites and is finished without effort.) In stead of working hard she completely broke down yelling at people, being nasty to Kim, and slouching down kicking everything around her.
Next Judith called. When Aurora spoke to her Judith told her that she should visit the Smithsonian Kids website, so we did that after dinner to help her calm down from homework.
Afterwards it was back to homework, which she finally finished and I knocked out the kitchen while Kim tended to the other two girls. After the kitchen was done, and Arianna's lunch was packed, I read Arianna two books and put her to bed. Kim, worn out and half asleep by this time read the other two girls their books while I took a shower.
Once out of the shower Kim was asleep with the two girls crawling all over her. I then put them to bed, a process which takes about ten minutes as I talk to them and tuck them in. Then Arianna declares she needs to go potty.
When it was all said and done I woke up at 6:45am, it is now 9:00pm and I finally have a moment to myself.
And such is my daily life. Very little of my day was spent for me, and none of my day had any time for my wife. It is no wonder so many parents do such a poor job. It is so tempting to take shortcuts, like giving my children empty-calorie TV dinners, packing lunchables for lunch, yelling at them in stead of effectively working things out (actually there is more yelling going on at times than I'd like to admit), sitting them in front of a TV all afternoon, etc.