Three years ago, when Curly Fries was only a month old, I wrote this. A few months later, I wrote this. They feel so sweet and quaint now. Let’s just say that having my little girl visit her ancestors in Tennessee without me has been absolutely wonderful. And if I was a junkie for being a parent, well, now I’m a recovering addict. I have not missed her this week.
There’s a crushingly overwhelming sameness to the day-in-day-out routines of parenthood, particularly with a toddler. Cajoling her to sit still while she eats, or to eat at all. Wrestling her in a tub full of water on bath night. Running up and down the stairs to attend to whatever new obstacle has arisen to sleep. Dressing yourself with one hand in the morning while trying to corral her away cosmetic products in the mornings. And always washing dirty underwear. It’s like that Jackson Browne song: “When the morning comes streaming in / We get up and do it again.”
This week, however, was blissfully free from these responsibilities. We ate dinner as early as we wanted! We went to a real restaurant! No one threw food on the floor! I slept in nearly a half hour every morning! We watched Breaking Bad as loud as we wanted! The house looks just as clean as it did four days ago! I can hardly recognize the luxurious calm of my home life this week.
It’s a vacation, really. If you’ve ever taken a week off from work (lucky you), then you know the feeling. With your job receding in the background, everything you hate about it is in clear view as you taste the beautiful freedom from it on your tongue. Then as the week progresses and you settle into the relaxing break of your routine, you start to let go of all those obnoxious coworkers and mindless tasks and begin to grow reacquainted with how good your life really is. And then, hopefully, when you go back to work, you’re able to slip a little back into these routines with a little more contentment and satisfaction.
Last night, I got a call from my spouse to tell me she’d arrived safely in Tennessee. Mid-sentence, she stopped to say, “Curly Fries wants to talk to you.”
“Hi, Daddy!” came her voice. It sounds so different over the phone; more garbled, but somehow more grown-up.
“Hi, baby! Are you having fun?”
“Yeah. I’m playing a game with Grammy.”
“Really? What game?”
“Old Maid. I have the Old Maid.”
“Oh? That’s no good.”
“I colored you a picture.”
“You did? Thank you!”
“When you come to visit, I will give it to you.”
“Thank you, I can’t wait.”
“Bye, baby! I love you!”
“I love you too, Daddy.”
Then, suddenly, I missed her. So yeah. I'm off the wagon again.