I’m becoming my dad. And not so much in the ways I’d like. I mean, I think it’d be great if I could check the pistons in my car’s engine or plumb a new toilet. But let’s face it, that’s never going to happen. I don’t even know if my car has pistons. Or what they do, for that matter.
No, I’ve discovered that like my father before me, I’ve become completely reliant on the person I married for my basic survival needs.
When I was a kid, one of my buddies’ parents divorced. Although he ended up living with his mom, he told me that the judge had actually consulted him about whom he preferred to live. That made me wonder if I was ever asked to pick, whom would I choose?
Believe it or not, it wasn’t a very easy hypothetical choice for me to make. On the one hand, Mom was the disciplinarian; Dad let me get away with a lot more. On the other hand, Mom could cook; left alone, Dad and I would likely starve to death within a couple of weeks.
And although I’ve got the cooking down, I discovered a couple of weeks ago that the boys and I would certainly have our world turned upside down and inside out without Kelly at the helm of our family’s life.
It all happened when Kelly came down with the flu.
Suddenly, I found myself trying not to panic as I fumbled my way through the kids’ regular routine. There I was, a guy perfectly comfortable navigating the waters of the corporate world, desperately looking for some type of compass as I tried to get two boys ready for bed. It was when I contemplated releasing the guinea pigs into the wild so they’d have a fighting chance of survival that I recognized just how deeply over my head I was.
What really floored me was how completely and totally reliant I am on Kelly to run our household and make our family work — though, to be fair, he’s totally reliant on me to put food on our table and a roof over our heads. And I hate to admit it, but it took his getting the flu for me to really recognize just how lost I would be without him. And not just because he knows where we keep the guinea pigs’ food.
No, I’d be lost without him because he shows his deep love for me in a way that no one else ever has. Other guys have sent me flowers. Other guys have told me they think I’m good looking. Other men have even said they love me. But only Kelly takes care of me. And more importantly, he takes care of my kids. Our kids. I know it’s hard for some people to believe, but there’s nothing anyone could do that I’d find sexier than that.
I hope there are equally mundane things I do for our kids that make Kelly’s heart go pitter pat, too. After all, I did inherit a lot of great parenting skills from my dad. At least to me they were pretty great.
Long before some child psychologist coined the term “quality time,” my dad was making sure that we had fun together — just the two of us. Every night after work we’d do homework or play a game. On Saturdays we’d go “bumming” together — looking around hardware stores or auto part shops, just hanging out. I cherished that time. And now that I’m grown up I take my kids “bumming,” too (No, we don’t spend a lot of time looking for car parts!). I help with homework. And every Friday night, we pop a big bowl of popcorn, hunker down on the couch and watch a movie — just the boys and me.
When I think about it, our house mirrors those of the families we both grew up in. That’s why I find it so ironic that society considers us non-traditional. Yet, we’re actually probably one of the most traditional families you’ll ever run across, which, yeah, is a bit weird.
And I admit, the longer I’m a parent, the more I see my dad in me. In hindsight that makes sense: we learn how to be dads from our own fathers.
I’m just thankful I haven’t started wearing socks with sandals.