Hey … guess what five words anger my kids. Like, instantly.
- Your game has been canceled
- Your sister’s wearing your pants
- We’re all out of cheese
Actually, all of those could be considered true statements.
(If she finds out her game’s been cancelled while her sister’s wearing her pants and we’re out of cheese? Well, ever kicked a hornet’s nest?) No, the five-word string I mutter at times that nearly 100% sets them through the roof like bull sharks after tourists is:
I’ll just have an omelet.
When I’ve made delicious food, it gets scarce quickly. I’m still cleaning up and a kid will come for seconds. Or, the serving spoon gets moving like a hummingbird’s wings on Red Bull, and … you know, a dad should take care of his kids first.
Only, when I say it, they get mad.
You’re not having an omelet, dad, they bark back, and pass (at least momentarily) on that second stack of pancakes. What’s meant as a simple statement of sacrifice – one I’m happy to make – upsets them, and for so long, I had no idea why.
My gesture of self-care actually comes off as self-centered.
Our natural desire to take care of those we love isn’t a weakness. We can’t wear it as a badge of righteousness, though, a subliminal gripe sent into the universe. Sacrifice works best silently, and more important, self-care must become a priority.
If I empty my tank to give my girls the last enchiladas, I’m cutting myself off at the knees.
I’m also denying them the very virtue I believe I’m living out – compassion. What if I could give them that gift? Allowing them to put me first, to empathize? They do it on their own, anyway, even before I resign myself to skipping what I’ve made for dinner.
Have you eaten, dad? they’ll ask, and they mean it. They’re looking out for me.
Out with the trash
What do we model to our kids when we’re willing to throw ourselves down every volcano? After a while, it looks a lot less like unconditional love, and much more like a self-degradation of our own value. We’re putting ourselves out with the trash.
I nearly skipped meditation service on Sunday.
Camdyn queued up The Office on Netflix. That’s tough to turn down, even if Jenna Fischer doesn’t have a huge role in the episode. I’m going to service, lovey, I told her. We can watch it when I get back. I’ll get pizza and we’ll watch Chile vs. Germany, too.
We saw The Office episode, and it seems like 42 others. (Judge if you want – yes, my 12-year-old watches The Office.)
We talked, and we laughed. We cooked and played, and went our separate ways, me folding laundry, her flipping through Instagram on her tablet. I even annoyed her a few times. (I’m not perfect.) But I had experiences in that time away from being dad …
Experiences that further restored that energy I need to be my best dad. Or hell, best guy.
It’s not like I never play the omelet card, though. Dad has to take one for the team. He just can’t pass up the opportunity. I did it on a night that it actually wouldn’t have worked. If we were out of dinner, I couldn’t have just settled for an omelet.
We were having omelets for dinner.
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