In May FDW is hosting a new series on stories from people in all walks of life and their observations of children and what they make us. Click here for more on the series and a list of the contributors. This post was written by a wonderful blogger and writer, Ed Cyzewski.
The minute I say goodnight to our oldest child and close his door with slumping shoulders is also the minute I begin to miss him—at least a little bit. Why does the universe do this to parents?
Each day I run from one task to another, interrupted constantly by demands and negotiations, trying to avoid meltdowns. By the time both children are in bed, I’m exhausted and hardly have time to read or to just sit and think a little. But in that moment when I walk away from their beds as they cuddle their lovies and settle down for the night, I start missing our kids.
Our family isn’t the typical sort where one parent works full time and the other stays home with the kids. We share both the childcare and workload as my wife works on a PhD and I work on convincing people to, most often, buy files over the Internet filled with the words I write. I’m not sure which one of us has it worse.
Most days I take our kids on morning walks on the bike path near our home, and I see sharply dressed professionals riding their fancy bikes into the city, no doubt prepared to do super awesome work and to make big bucks. I sometimes catch myself envying them. When I told my wife about this, she gently noted that I always complain within five minutes of riding a bike.
And the one morning each week that my wife takes the kids to story time at the library and meets up with friends at the park, I find myself sitting in a chilly café missing the warm sun at the playground. Most days at the playground I kick a bouncy ball to my oldest on the tennis court, while his younger brother gamely crawls about in search of rocks and bird poop.
I perpetually struggle with wanting to be where I’m not. I genuinely love my writing work, and I also truly value the many mornings I spend at home with our kids while my wife works.
Most afternoons I divide my time between freelancing for clients and working on my own writing projects. If I do end up spending an entire day writing, say when my wife takes our kids out of town to visit a friend, I feel a huge, gaping hole in my day. Mind you, if I can’t get out of the house (and away from the kids) for a chunk of writing time, I start going stir crazy too.
Perhaps we reminisce based on the best moments from the past, forgetting the parts that are truly hard. For instance, I often remember what it was like to have a regular paycheck at a nonprofit organization, but I need to work a little harder to remember how miserable and unfulfilling that job became. I could envy the professionals riding on the bike trail with their snappy clothes and sleek bikes, but I don’t see the cubicles where they feel trapped, the meetings that go on and on, or the managers who nitpick about faxing the right covers on the TTP reports.
The same could go with the way I see my sleeping children and think back on all of the wonderful games and giggles of the past day. I conveniently forget the meltdowns and the sheer chaos of lunchtime when food ends up everywhere but in their mouths.
Perhaps these selectively idealized moments with our kids are just enough to make me hesitant to change anything about lives. Perhaps there really is too much to love about my up and down writing career and the constant interruptions and chaos of my time with the kids.
About a year ago I was recommended for a writing job at a company. It would have been full time work, but I could work remotely with occasional travel to the mother ship. As I looked at our uncertain monthly finances, I thought this job could really carry us during this season of life. However, as I considered all of the logistics of this new job, I also saw that I would basically miss all of my mornings with the kids and miss quite a few weekends as well along the way.
A regular paycheck suddenly sounded like a terrible trade.
I still applied for the job, but I went into it knowing that I wasn’t the best fit and that, in my heart of hearts, I really didn’t want the position. They chose someone else who was better suited for the job, and I have never been so grateful to be passed over by a company.
I could keep my mornings with the kids, work in a chilly café, and somehow we would continue to make ends meet despite our hectic schedule. And when I put the kids to bed each evening, I still can’t help myself as I think about how blessed we are to have these two beautiful boys. I’m almost tempted to go back to their rooms for just one more hug.
Ed Cyzewski is the author of Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together, A Christian Survival Guide, and Coffeehouse Theology. He writes at www.edcyzewski.com and offers two free eBooks to his newsletter subscribers.