What Being A Father Is Teaching Me About Myself
I live for parties.
Okay, I don’t live for parties. That makes it sound like all I want to do is party. I love to party, but it’s not like that’s the only thing that matters to me. It matters, but it’s kind of like how snow shoes in a desert matter – certainly they could be of use and be helpful but it’s not like water. That’s a matter of life or death.
But only if you’re in a desert.
Where was I?
Parties. I could be down for some parties.
When I say “parties” I don’t mean the kind of parties that, say, The Beastie Boys fought valiantly for our right to partake in. I like those okay, but I’m more partial to the sort of party where the music isn’t loud, I can hear the other person talking, and there’s a nice spread on the table.
So I guess it’s not “parties”, per se… it’s more “social gatherings”.
Which, from the looks of it, is just one step up from “dinner”. I think it moves up from “dinner” and becomes a “social gathering” once you add an extra beer or two and a board game suddenly appears.
Based on that definition, that means I’ve enjoyed some social gatherings with my wife and daughter.
Sounds about right.
So I really, really have an affection for social gatherings. When I have one on my calendar, I very much look forward to it. It’s even better when it’s a social gathering that myself and my wife get to attend together.
Such was the case this past weekend.
And it wasn’t just one social gathering we’d be attending – it was two!
We were so excited that we put a lot of time and preparation into making sure we wouldn’t miss the fun. I was dressed fantastically; Emily was also dressed; we had a dish prepared; and we had our daughter Addison all set for an overnight babysitter.
You read that right – an overnight babysitter! You know what that means… longer late-night chats with new acquaintances!
Anyway, everything went smoothly – we got Addie to the babysitter, spent about an hour and a half at the first party and arrived at the second one just in time to play some Cards Against Humanity!
We were having a great time laughing, chatting and acquaintancing, when something unexpected happened.
Now, before I proceed, all joking aside, I do really love social gatherings (and parties). I’ve been that way since I was a teenager. I would go so far as to say that’s part of what always attracted me to the rock & roll lifestyle (not the drunken debauchery but the social interaction). Emily and I are both social butterflies that way.
Actually… I’m more of a social moth.
Anyway, that is to say, these kinds of events have always been a big deal to me. I would never let much stand in the way of enjoying them.
With that in mind…
I was just about to determine whether or not “a plunger to the face”, or “not believing in giraffes” was what members of New York City’s social elite were paying thousands of dollars to experience, when Emily got off the phone and whispered…
“Addie’s got a fever. We need to pick her up and go home.”
That wasn’t the unexpected thing.
The unexpected thing was that, rather than be bummed out that I’d never know what other thing besides death was certain in life (“a suitcase of sedated birds”, as it turns out), I was excited to leave the party, pick up my daughter, snuggle up with her and help her get better.
“Well… of course that’s how you’re going to be, Ender – you’re a dad!”
Well… yes… and no.
See, I would expect that I’d want to go pick up my daughter and take care of her. That’s a natural thing for a father to feel.
What I wouldn’t have expected of me is that I would look forward to getting her and also not in any way, shape, or form, be upset that I had to leave a party to do so.
In other words, I wasn’t bummed to be a parent and “have to go home”. Emily and I discussed this all the way to the sitter’s – she felt exactly the same way (and was just as surprised).
Being a father these past few years has been an experience that I never could have expected. In many ways, it’s as bizarre and random as Cards Against Humanity. You never know what’s going to turn up, what card you’re going to be dealt or how seemingly-unrelated things will come together as naturally as anything else.
Or… how you’ll react to it all.
A lot of it may be extremely funny (like the other day, when Addie put me in “time out”… twice)!
Most of it will assuredly be completely absurd (as I learned when I discovered my daughter sleeping soundly in her doorway late one night).
A good portion of it might even be surreal (like the time Addie got pushed down the stairs by one of our dogs).
In any event, I’m finding out things about myself that I just wouldn’t have expected.
And I quite like it.
If you have kids, have you ever had to attend to your child at an extremely inconvenient time? What was it? What happened? What did you learn about yourself?