Next Tuesday

Each Tuesday morning I get up early to drop my daughter off at the bus stop. We don’t say much to each other as we wait in the dark for the lights to peer around the corner. When I see the lights, I push the button to open the van’s sliding door. Luca grabs her backpack and cello. I pat her on the head and tell her I love her before watching, what looks like a large cello with small feet,  cross the street to the bus.

I won’t be there when she gets home from school so I rely on Kim to share how her day went. The same goes for our three other children. Monday through Friday I’m a part of their lives in short bursts lasting but a few minutes here and there.

I had no idea how I’d take to fatherhood. In all honestly, I didn’t know if I’d have children. I recall telling my mother a few years into my first marriage that I didn’t need children to be happy. I’m certain my answer was, in many ways, a reflection of how I felt about myself twenty years ago. What I tried to convey to my mother was that I was already happy and having children wouldn’t change that.

What I didn’t realize twenty years ago was how much joy children would bring into my life.

Last night we piled the kids in the van and drove around town without a destination in mind. Lincoln and Anna were reciting lines from Napoleon Dynamite. Kai tried his best to join in while Luca was telling us about the latest book she read. It was pure chaos. I can’t imagine the 20 year old me getting excited about spending a couple hours in a van full of kids driving around Seattle in a rain storm.

Kids have a way of recalibrating my priorities. Balancing my personal hobbies, my career, and my friends occasionally comes at the expense of spending time with my family. I’m blessed to have married a woman who loves being a mom to our children. We’ve both learned to recognize when the other needs a breather and not take it personally.

Most of my friends around my age are watching their kids go off to college. Our oldest won’t head off to middle school till next year. That used to bother me because I was jealous they’d get to travel, purchase smaller cars and do all that fun stuff financial planning commercials tell us empty nesters are doing.  Maybe I’ll feel the same way after my kids hit their teens and begin dating and driving.

But next Tuesday morning those same friends should be jealous of me.