As a matter of public record, I have passionately stated that there are many aspects of early childhood parenting that I would certainly not miss. Among a few parenting pleasures that include, but not limited to psychologically torturous, sleep-deprived nights and cleaning projectile bodily fluids that require immediate attention, there are numerous memorable daddy moments that have rendered me mentally scarred. Nevertheless, there are memories that make me smile and moments that I will truly miss.
Unfortunately, this heartfelt feeling that makes me smile inside is stronger with my daughter than with my son. The first 2 years of my son’s life has been quite a blur. Seriously. As an infant, I struggle to recall our interaction as father and son. Conversely, with Ava, I can vividly remember many smile-worthy nuances, from the first time she was able to roll from her stomach to back and then reverse the position through the time she first crawled across the carpet for me. With Ava, I would designate random stuffed animals with silly names. Geoffrey the Giraffe. Mitchell the Monkey. Ella the Elephant. Reading books to Ava became Sing-a-Long Story time where I sang the stories to her. My uncanny mimicry (a hidden talent) of certain cartoon characters – to Ava’s delight – was mostly on point. These memories are plentiful.
However, in my experience with Miles, I cannot readily draw such indelible memories. Now, I know if I dutifully grant enough thought and concentration, I would be able to stubbornly retrieve a few from my recollection. It should not be that difficult – but sadly it is. And so, it is with regret and guilt, that I can’t summon as many memories from his first 2 years as I can with Ava. I can distinctly remember balancing, holding Ava on the underside of my forearm as a rubbed her back so she could fall asleep – maybe. I feel I was able to give more of myself to Ava than Miles, and thus the parental connection, sometimes, feels different between the two.
Miles’ birth arrived at a peculiar time in my life. I was a team lead at the time, maybe 9 months into my position, and then suddenly I would be promoted to the role of supervisor months later. On the job training was in session. As I was soon to discover, management is painfully demanding. Every day became a matter of professional survival and maintaining one’s sanity. In addition to supervising standard operations within the team, managing direct reports has proven to be an extraordinary challenge – a severely underestimated one by my calculation. Dealing with a motley blend of personality and emotion, I am a perpetual sponge, as I absorb and absorb the challenges my team offers daily. And so, my work life balance is disproportionate. It’s pretty horrible actually. I absorb and pour out of myself almost everyday. My leadership and decision-making are constantly questioned and criticized. I question myself. And in the end, the burden is mine, and sometimes too much to shoulder.
When my shift is finally over, it feels as if I have no more to give of myself. As a community volunteer & mentor. As a husband. As a father. And now I live with a guilt that I have shortchanged my son in these past 2 years or so. I live with the regret of failing to capitalize on the joyful moments I should have captured with Miles. I think about the missed opportunities and my own personal failings as a father. I simply needed to do better and I faltered. The energy and life I poured over Ava just was not there for Miles. I tried. I tried. But work bled into home life and time became a constraint. I could see all the things I felt I was doing wrong, yet felt powerless to change it. Nevertheless, a gentleman makes time for what he values the most. No excuses. You have to make time. You have to get innovative. You have to create your own opportunity to do better.
Operating in the present day, I realize that there is opportunity in my failure. Although time is not promised, I attempt to comfort myself with the idea that I am a beneficiary of time, and Lord willing, I will have said time to correct my early missteps. And hopefully the memories we forge now and in the future will be meaningful to Miles. I look forward to teaching Miles how to read, write, and count. I look forward to teaching Miles how to knot a necktie. I look forward to teaching Miles how to cook a mean meal. I look forward to teaching Miles how prepare for a job interview, and how to react when he does not get the position. I look forward to teaching Miles how to properly love a woman, and how to respond when that woman possibly does not love him back. Overall, I look forward to being a better man and father to him, strengthening the bond between both of us. It is going to be memorable.