Friday, July 31, 2009

Father's Day

Father's Day was over a month ago, and though it might seem to be a bit belated to post about it, it isn't, for reasons you will see.

The picture at the top was not actually taken on Father's Day, but about a week later. it is one of my favorite pictures of my kids-- it includes their friend Alexandra. We'd finished eating food I'd cooked on the Weber, and they were toasting marshmallows.

This summer has been a ball-buster for me. I made the decision to take one of the courses I needed for the nursing program, Anatomy 2, one of the harder ones, in summer school. I took it for a number of reasons-- among them, that I wanted to have it out of the way, so that I wasn't taking it while I was juggling time with my kids, preparing for nursing school and work

Work has become interesting. When I was a teacher, I worked as a waiter because it was the perfect second job-- you walked out of the place with cash in your hands, no lesson plans to worry about, no politics to worry about-- it was a great part-time job-- and it was fun-- you had a couple of drinks at the end of the night and chatted with co-workers.

Now it's a different reality. It's my only source of income now. I like most of the customers and most of my co-workers, but the fact is that at 48, I am doing this at an age I had never planned to be doing this. While it helps keeps me in good physical shape, it also kicks my ass physically.

My school and work schedule has also cost me time with my wife and my kids. With Kim, my consolation is that she and I will have the rest of our lives together. Becoming a nurse will give us a financial stability that we've craved for a long time. The time I miss with my kids is harder. I have only a few years with Adam until he's an adult, and a few years with Mel after that.

Both of my kids have survived the end of their parents' relationships. They've survived my and Kim's financially difficult single days. They've survived blending two families into one. And thrived. They're friends. And, as people have noted, they think of one another as a brother and sister. I couldn't be prouder of them.

Today, I had a full plate; I had to get up early and take a CPR course this morning that is a requirement for my program. I had worked last night, and so was really exhausted this morning, and the rest of the day. But I try to keep my eye on the ball. I try to remember what this is going to mean-- that my kids will be able to go to college and come out of it without crippling debt. They'll be able to study whatever they want and do whatever they want afterward without worrying about paying off $100,000 in college debt. It's important to me.

But tonight, we weren't worried about college. We went and played putt-putt golf and had fun. We got home and the kids got out the "Settlers of Cataan" game. They're happily playing it right now with their friend Arleigh. They've got the Beatles playing on Itunes, and I can tell from the noise level that they're having a great time. And so am I. I'm brain-dead from my busy day, and am unwinding with a glass of wine, enjoying watching "When We Left The Earth," a dvd that Skyler's Dad was kind enough to send me.

Because of the joint custody agreement I have, my son is frequently not here. Last weekend, he wasn't here because I'd allowed my ex to have him last weekend for an event that was important to her. I realized that I was pretty irritable all week. And I realized that it was because I'd had to go too long without seeing my son. Tonight, I'm happy to have both my kids here, happy to hear them with their friend having a great time.

The other day, I overheard my stepdaughter and my wife having a discussion. My stepdaughter told my wife that she'd observed that I always made time for she and her step-brother, and for what was important to them, no matter how crazy my schedule has gotten. And she's right. And I always will.

When my son was a baby, my father gave me some great advice. He told me as daunting as it may seem, looking across the chasm of the next 18 years, it was going to be, believe it or not, a tiny, tiny moment of life-- of yours and theirs. You only get them for this moment, and then they are adults.

It's funny how much smarter your parents get as you get older. He was absolutely right, and I'm happy to say that I've always kept his advice in mind.

So on Father's Day, I had a wonderful day. Not only was I surrounded by my lovely wife and my wonderful kids, but Bubs and his family. But it isn't just that day.

I've had some great successes in my life, and some stunning failures. I'm about to start one more career and it scares me to death. I hope I'll be able to add it to the success column. But as I hear my two bright, kind and happy kids playing together, I know that I can put one thing into the success column. I've raised two kids who are going to be ready to take on the world. They're confident, curious and competent. They make me happy realizing that despite my greatest fears, I've done my job. I love being a parent. Father's Day is not just the third Sunday every June. To me, it's every day.


Erik Donald France said...

I know it ain't easy -- a salute to you and your family! You do good work, no question.

Some Guy said...

Great post, JY!

SkylersDad said...

Your love for your family always comes through in your posts JY, they are very lucky to have you!

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Dude, you're getting so wistfully sweet in your old age. ;0)

Bubs said...

Great post.

It was a little jarring, seeing that photo--it seems like that was taken about 6 months ago, instead of 6 weeks ago. One of the things I really like about visiting with you guys is watching you two interact with your kids, and another is the fact that your kids are fully-formed individuals with interests and opinions, who do a good job of holding conversations with adults.

We don't get to spend much time any more as a 4 person family, so we've taken to doing things in 2's and 3's as schedules allow. I got my trip to LA with Nora in April, Mizbubs and I leave for camping Monday, then Hannah and I have a road trip back east next weekend.

You do what you can, as you know.

Again, great post.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What a lovely post. You really do have your eye on the prize and with your determination and the support of your family, you cannot help but succeed. You are doing the right thing. But you know that already.

JR's Thumbprints said...

If only more parents thought this way, there'd be less bitterness in the world.

lulu said...

Sorry I didn't get a chance to see you Friday night, but I totally understand.

I love the way you write about your kids, it's my favorite part of your blog.


Distributorcap said...

what a great post and what a great dead....

your story telling is just so warm

Freida Bee, MD said...

These are my favorite of your posts, too. I don't comment too often here, but I do appreciate hearing you write about your blended family and putting them (and yourself) through your going back to school. It's not always easy, but it is worth it in many ways. The example you're setting for your children is great. My mom got her PhD at 50. Very inspiring.

randomgal said...

One of my favorite posts ever

Churlita said...

What a nice post and what a great dad you are.