Prepare yourself some tired clichés and gigantic understatements. Fatherhood is the best thing that can happen to a man, it’s also the most challenging. Fatherhood, and motherhood, is a lot of work, it’s messy, disgusting at times and can test the patience of Mother Teresa. But it’s all good, it’s great. From the lowest lows to the highest highs a father swings in minutes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Had I known how great it is, I would have done it years ago.
It’s new territory, it’s the unknown and no amount of reading or advise can prepare you for it. You just have to decide, or not in some cases, to do it and then do it. Take the plunge.
I obviously took the plunge and recent events have given me more time to spend with my sons, as in all day, every day. During the few minutes I have gotten to myself, when I have retreated to my reflection chamber/bathroom, I have left my cell phone and magazines behind so that I might actually sit and form a thought before there is banging on the door, which is always locked.
Reflection time is my time, abbreviated as it may be now.
A recent morning’s reflection time brought me to a conclusion. And that is; being a stay at home dad is like pledging a damn fraternity. I am the pledge and two bros under the age of 4 are the actives, and their demands can be just as demeaning and absurd.
While pledging a fraternity and parenting there is inevitably a point that you stop and ask yourself;
“What in the hell did I get myself into, and why did I volunteer for it?”
There is a big difference between the 18 year old boy that signed up for pledging and the 36 year old man that wanted kids, so I thought. I’m still getting pushed around by kids that act like they are 4 year olds and that want everything, and they want it now. I still live in a communal house in which the floors are usually covered by toys that don't belong to me but I still get to pick them up. And, I'm still cooking meals for picky eaters that will through the food on the floor if it doesn't meet their satisfaction.
Recently I was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping coffee, reading the news and enjoying a relaxing morning when I heard the bedroom door creak open and then two pairs of wee little feet stampede into the kitchen.
“Dobro jutro Tata!” (good morning, dad), is shouted almost in unison.
“Ja sam gladan”, (I am hungry) again almost in unison.
Almost all of the Serbian I have learned revolves around food, and asking for food, and preparing food, and being asked for food and getting food. And, food. Food.
So, it begins. Pledge Tata is now on the clock catering to the actives.
“Ja ocu cereal, (I want cereal)”
I dutifully scurry off to the kitchen to fetch the actives their cereal, knowing full well that minutes after I set it on the table they will decide they don’t really want cereal, but eggs instead. Off I run again to scramble eggs that will be thrown on floor a bit at a time until they decide that they really wanted toast and jam. Not really the toast so much either, more so the jam. They will sit and lick the toast of all the jam, leaving two soggy, licked, disgusting pieces of toast and me with a decision to make; eat the toast or throw it in the trash.
Trash that jazz. I’ll clean a plate of unwanted food, but I draw the line at lick toast.
While writing this, I managed to piss off Pledge Master V. He was kneeling on a chair at the kitchen table across from me when peering over the top of the screen he demanded;
As he jabbed a pretzel stick at the laptop he said;
“Look at this”
I immediately see what he wanted. He looked at me from the side of his eye, annoyed because it happened AGAIN DAMMIT! His view of the screen had been obscured and then his entertainment had been interrupted, and God help you if his entertainment is interrupted pledge! You will get hazed and hazed until he is tired of hazing you unless you get rid of the damn Norton Anti-virus pop up on the flippin’ screen on the flippin’ laptop!
GAWD!! It's blocking damn Garfield pledge! How many times do you have to be told??
As quickly as I could I stopped the scan and order was restored. Dodged a bullet right there.
On it goes day after day. The only plus of joining a frat over having kids is that you know the hazing will only last a semester. The hazing from my kids will last a lifetime.