Monday, February 20, 2006

To The GTWD

I just got home from a gathering with Heather's family. Miles and I snuck out early. And in an almost startling way, I realized when he & I got in the car that I was just absolutely thrilled to get some time alone with him. I have had a really rough February. By February 17, I had billed my hours for the month. For those not familiar with life in a big law firm, what that means is that I've been working my ass off. And although I finally found some breathing room this past weekend, we've been inundated with family and friends for Miles's first birthday (which explains why we haven't posted in a few days). So, I've really been missing my Monkeypie.

I've been wanting to write a post about being a working father for some time now. In truth, I'm not sure if I have it in me tonight to do the topic justice, but I'm going to try.

SAHM's get a good amount of attention these days, and sympathy. It is much deserved, as they've earned it - and from time to time I've been right there with the rest of the left-leaning tree-huggers patting my wife on the back. And, lately, SAHD's are even getting their 15 minutes, and they deserve it, too. But this here, this is my little shout out to the guy who loves the shit out of his family, and who works his ass off for them. In other words, this one goes out to all the Go To Work Dads.

Go To Work Moms deserve their tribute, too. But the very fact that I feel compelled to mention them really speaks to the plight of the GTWD: it's not supposed to be about us. I mean, sure, I get some sympathy from the creepy, workaholic, woman-hating set who, from time to time, say things to me like, "hard as shit to get any sleep these days, huh?" But to get sympathy in the context of child-rearing from those whose sympathy I would want and value - from women, or other metrosexual (the new euphamism for "sensitive") child-loving men, it seems like you either need to have a vagina, like SAHM's and GTWM's; or you need to be filling traditionally-vaginaed shoes, like SAHD's. We GTWD's aren't really supposed to have a voice in this parenting thing - not a pay-some-attention-to-me voice, anyway.

Indeed, as a GTWD writing here, bitching if you will about my "plight," I feel like one of those white guys bitching about how the multicultural and feminist movements have rendered white men a minority that can't even have its own club without causing controversy. I feel sort of guilty, and kind of sheepish, like a bunch of people reading this are going to be like, oh, please, it must be SO HARD to have someone cook and clean for you, and make you breakfast, and watch your child all day, all so you can be a big shot with a career.

But you know what - it is. It is because I love Miles so goddamn much. Because no matter what I accomplish at work, it will always pale in comparison to the ability to be here sitting on the couch blogging when I randomly check the video monitor and see his legs sticking out from under the crib bumper, between two slats of the crib while he sleeps (gasp), and get up and tiptoe to his room and carefully tuck his legs into the crib and sneak out without even waking him. And because no matter what I accomplish at work, it will always pale in comparison to the ability to be here sitting on the couch blogging when it turns out that my gentle tucking of his legs actually did wake him up and cause him to start screaming, and to then be able to go into his room and hold him and rock him and rub my big jew nose in his soft hair and breathe him in and pat him to sleep. I will never quite be able to provide anything like that to anyone in the office (the few times I've tried rubbing my nose in my bosses' hair have not gone well). And so, there is this lingering sense that, no matter what I accomplish at work, I'm not where I could be the most valuable.

Between Heather and two of our very good female friends who, like Heather, were lawyers and had babies around the same time as us, I've lived vicariously through the trauma of being a career-track woman faced with the tractor-beam pull of childlove. I don't envy those women. But at the same time I feel like somewhere along the way the collective We decided that men don't feel that pull. And I guess I just wanted to write down somewhere that I do.

On a typical day - especially a typical day this month - I get up when Miles first wakes at 5 a.m. I go get Miles, bring him to Heather, and she gives him a boob or two in bed. When he's done - usually around 5:30 - I port him back to his crib, where he falls back to sleep. I then get in the shower, dress, and leave for work. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I'll stay at work as long as I need to - until anywhere from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. or beyond. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have promised to come home by 6 p.m. - i.e., Miles's bath time. I come home, bathe with Miles (there is nothing better), diaper and jammy him, read to him, and put him to bed. Monday through Friday, that's really the sum total of the time that I get to see him.

I wish I could find words to tell you how incredible Miles is. I guess maybe if I could, you'd get what I'm trying to say - you'd understand that I'm not just being a drama queen - a successful guy wanting to take away from my wife some of the deserved sympathy-inducing drama of raising a child, and steal it for myself. If you knew how awesome he is to be with; how huge his smile is; how his eyes beam like beacons when he sees me accross the room and points to me (at which point the pointing game ensues, where I say, "no, you da man," and he laughs and takes his hand to his chest, then thrusts it at me, finger pointing, and I say, "no, no, YOU da man"...); if you knew these things, you'd know that it is not easy going to work every day, knowing that I might not see him, not even once, awake, smiling, pointing, walking like frankenstein.

I don't take anything away from Heather or all the work she does. And in truth, I don't want to trade places with her, either. I'm not programmed to be a SAHD. But a little love for the GTWD - not a lot, just every now and then - would be real nice. So, if you've got a GTWD in your life - the kind who busts his ass all week and, from time to time, still takes the kid(s) to the park on weekend mornings so you can sleep in - do me a favor and give him a hug today, and tell him it's from me.

Okay, just give him a hug, and skip that part about me.

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