I’m a dad. I’m a coach. I’m many other things – some happy, some comical, some up for debate – but those two constants, dad and coach, really hold all strings attached to the hands typing this.
Time means something different to me, as a dad. I’m not always in a rush. That’s not to say my schedule isn’t next to impossible or that I’m the only guy in town living this life. It’s not because of hopeless resignation, either.
I’m not always on time, but I’m not always late.
I don’t always have a good excuse, and I don’t always keep my cool, but I’d say I’m ice 85 percent of the time.
Why? Daddy chaos: It centers me.
Maybe I’m a magnet for it. Maybe I create it.
They act like me – and look like mom
I contribute. My three apples – 8, 12 and 15, all girls – aren’t far flung from this tree. They’re sometimes a lot like me and maybe that’s why we get along so well … like little homies who act like me and look like mom.
That’s sometimes great, often times just fine and, every once in a while, bad for the environment and most wildlife.
But we dads know things are going to be fine in the end.
If we’re easily talked into a Pop-tarts purchase or Sprite after soccer practice (not every time), and even if we dads get the kids to bed a little late on a school night (there were stories to tell), things are going to be all right.
It’s beneficial. The kids get a guy who can taxi them around and lift heavy things and play the role of the “mean bear” when it’s time to play, and I get a dose of enlightenment.
The dad I am isn’t too different from the man I am, but I do know that the man that exists from the spot on my own timeline that marked the onset of “dadhood” today is a better version of me than existed before.
Self-imposed deadlines and Wheat Thins
It’s me, 2.0, thanks to all the lessons and rewards and sentences I’ve rendered as dad.
Let’s move back a spot.
My self-imposed deadline for writing this post was a Wednesday, 10 p.m. Best foot forward, right?
A guy like me, journalism background and everything, should settle in with a little Moody Blues or Paul Simon, a bottle of Smart Water and a bowl of wheat thins (whole grain even!) and let words of wisdom begin their march across the page.
It’s 12:39 p.m. that same Wednesday. I’m 10 minutes past my lunch break (I’ll get right on that, boss!), brushing away another time boundary to accommodate another. I’m way past borrowing from Peter to pay Paul in my time-management system. All 12 disciples are ready to toss the I.O.U’s into the shredder and call it even.
This is, as you men recognize, fatherhood. And it’s the best gig around.
Whittling away the drive time
Between now and the completion of this post (I’d better make it by 9:59 – a guy has to know which boundaries to whisk away, and which to hit the brakes for), I’ll have played the I-485 Derby – and survived.
I’ll also have coached up a gaggle of allergy-stricken 9-year-old girls on a wind-swept (and pollen infested) soccer pitch, and raced out of town for an ‘emergency’ meeting of masterminds who run my girls’ recreational soccer league.
I’m the guy who whittles away the drive time thinking about time.
I do this while I crack sunflower seeds in a once-cool Pontiac Grand-Am, pondering how best to capture the essence of this mad dash of a lifelong job called fatherhood that I wouldn’t trade for box seats or a hot rod or even a lifetime supply of double cheeseburgers.
The drive, at least, gives me time to think about – time.
If only I could get a little cosmic intervention. Just one station playing “Time in a Bottle” (can you imagine the price?), “Time Is On My Side” (and on my case), or even “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?” (There’s my theme song).
Fitting it all in
Wasn’t it 21st-century philosopher Jerry Seinfeld who said, “It’s amazing that the amount of news that happens in the world every day always just exactly fits the newspaper.”? That’s how it happens with time in the life of a dad. It’ll all fit. Not always perfectly. Not always prettily. But it’ll fit.
Some things are taken care of (turn a soccer drill into an every-girl-for-herself competition). Others, brushed aside (the car wash), some are just put off (call the eye doctor next week – maybe).
Others come down to the wire. Remember that 10 p.m. deadline? It’s 9:02 Wednesday, I’m home, and I’ve fired up the laptop and the desktop as a backup, tossed cheese on a hoagie and slung it in the microwave (brain food?). Ready to dig in and face the gale winds of the pending deadline with an unfinished post waiting.
(Ever think you’re taking on a bit too much? I’m asked.)
It’s past bedtime. My two bigs are down for the count. I’ll let them sleep. An afternoon nap has my youngest wound up tight. I hug her and see evidence she’s missed me tonight – she’s wrapped herself in one of my roomy T-shirts for bed.
It swallows her whole and turns her into a twisted kid-and-T-shirt pastry by morning.
With no practice tomorrow, no emergency meetings, no deadlines, I can help her pick out something better for bed.