Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Some Cats Catch More Mice

I wanted to start with, “It doesn’t really matter who you are.” Actually, that’s not true. It does matter who you are. It does matter who you are when your child is sick in the middle of the night.

You’re a father who doesn’t have a partner. You create a safe and comfortable space where your children can study, play, and thrive. You manage the finances so your children have roof over their heads, so there is milk and jam in the refrigerator, bread and peanut butter in the cupboard, and a frozen pizza in the freezer, so your children go to the popular place to have a birthday party, so your children have the cool logo on their shoes or on their hoodie or on their on their tee-shirt. You fold laundry, load the dishwasher and vacuum. You work so you have a responsibility to answer either directly to your customers or to your supervisor. These are people you also need to care for because they sign your check. You work try to care for yourself and stay healthy because you’re the gosling making the golden, (or at least bronze, copper, brass, or maybe even tin) egg and because no one else can do it for you. You do the grocery shopping, try to eat right, and exercise when you can. Like your own efficiency consultant, you excavate a little time for yourself to blow-off steam with your buddies or even, perhaps, spend quality time a lady friend. You’re a skilled time manager because you have to be, so you prioritize. Your children always come first and that means something comes second, something comes third, and something comes last.

Tom and Jerry.
A friend tells you, “I don’t know how you do what you do.”

“A fish swims. A bird flies. A cat meows,” you answer. “I do what I do because I am what I am.”

“Yeah,” your friend tepidly agrees. “But, some cats catch more mice than others.”

Your child is sick in the middle of the night. You’ll wake up and take a moment to get your bearings. If the situation calls for it, you’ll clean the mess.  If the situation calls for it again, you’ll clean the mess again. You’ll provide comfort and encouragement and empathy and a hope your child will feel better soon. If circumstances require it, you’ll drive to the emergency room. You won’t sleep again that night or, if you do, you won’t sleep well or sleep much. You wonder which of your priorities will drop from your list the next day. You call the sitter. Before you go to work, you stop at the convenience store for ginger ale, Gatorade, and saltines and bring them home for your now peacefully sleeping child. You go to work.

You wish you could say and you wish you could believe, “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” but you would. Given the circumstances, you don’t have that choice. It does matter who you are.