By 8:30, on a typical Monday morning, I am in my office, in my squeaky brown dress shoes and pleated pants, evaluating the dilemmas and the deadlines of the week ahead. It’s not the low point in my week (for some reason, I dislike Tuesdays more than Mondays) but it’s about as far as you can get from quitting time on a Friday.
But not so this Monday morning; this one was different.
8:30 this Monday finds me at home, in jeans and a t-shirt, staring into the toothless grin of my 11 week-old daughter. Her chin glistens from the slobber she’s been able to manufacture since I first plucked her from her crib two minutes ago and her cheeks are so chubby that it must make holding her head up even more difficult.
Anyway, this Monday, and most of the next three weeks to follow, are going to be filled by such moments. After all, during that time I will be the “stay at home” Dad and primary caregiver for a rambunctious 3 year old and her baby sister (the aforementioned baby girl).
Despite my disdain of Monday and Tuesday mornings in the office, I am certainly appreciative of a job that allows me Mondays like this one too. With the wife headed off to her job for the first time in three months, I now step into the role of the paternal parent on maternity leave (sort of) to change diapers, fix bottles, cook lunch, wipe noses, dry tears, and do the laundry for this precious three-week stretch.
Monday morning starts well and things continue on that way through much of the day. There was that especially unpleasant diaper change for baby girl accompanied by the 3 year old’s comments that nearly ruin cheese dip for me (you do the math) but beyond that, most every out-of-the-ordinary task on day one is handled with ordinary ease.
I am grateful for that; grateful that it goes well but even more grateful that it goes at all. Just four short years ago, our little family of three appeared complete, although our prayers to expand that family had not ceased. The fact that, today, I am home with two of my three children may not mean much to you, but that statement – “two of my three” – was foreign to our lives for so many years.
Things change. At age 41 I am again snapping an infant carrier into the car, just as I did at age 26 and again at 37. I am singing a new verse of an old lullaby; one I first sang 14 years ago.
I hope when the 3 year old is 41 she will remember this time at home with Dad. I hope she will share the memories and tell the stories to the baby girl who, even though she won’t remember, may get to relive the time through her big sister’s stories and recollections.
So, day one of “just me and the girls” goes pretty well. No injuries, no extended crying, no delays, no dilemmas (except for that one diaper incident) and most of all, no regrets on my part for being right where I was today and where I will be tomorrow.