3 Bloody Marys and a Nap is the New 2 Turntables and a Microphone

THE TAO OF DAD

I awoke on that last Sunday afternoon of summer at 3:20, feeling that shaky, disoriented and slightly sweaty deal that happens after the best of naps.  Cotton mouthed on a green lounge chair, I slowly turned my stiff neck to the left to see my sleeping wife on the matching lounger next to me.  Between us were the culprits: Two tall tumblers, each sporting a tired slice of lime and an inch or so of pinkish ice remnants at the bottom.  Even the tumblers were sweating.

Beck was playing in the background.  About 90 minutes earlier, I had dialed him up on my iPod and set it for All Songs (I have a lot of Beck on my iPod).

Bottles and cans, and just clap your hands, and just clap your hands

We were lounging on the porch of my aunt’s summer bungalow up in Westchester County.  The place is a true throwback to the 1960’s.  An homage to the Borscht Belt, where the same families had been coming, summer after summer for years, to swim, play tennis, lounge around, play cards, and drink.  About an hour drive from the city, you really feel like you are getting away.

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We had headed up to the country on Friday, with the idea that a weekend away was just what the doctor ordered.  In our mind’s eye, my wife and I saw relaxation, yummy dinners, and late nights filled with wine, song and romance.

We hadn’t factored in the stresses of leaving work early (have you ever noticed that in order to take off 4 measly hours, you have to work 8 hours of overtime?), and packing and loading the car (my wife Beth did an amazing job at packing for the kids, but in her haste, forgot to pack adequately for herself).  By the time we left the house, filled the tank and got on the road, we were 2 hours behind schedule and my nerves were stretched thin.  Still, the open road held the promise of the 3-day weekend ahead, and I finally started to relax a little.

We were making great time.  The 495, the Cross Island Parkway and the Whitestone Bridge were smooth sailing all the way, and we looked to be well on our way for a no-hassle trip.  “We are totally lucking out with the traffic”, said I, immediately realizing that my words would jinx us.   Within 2 minutes of my rookie-move proclamation, we hit the inevitable wall of traffic that I had conjured up.

As we slowed to a crawl, my precious 2-year old daughter Ruby began to let us know – in no uncertain terms – that she was ready for the drive to be over.  She had torn through the snacks we had brought along, had no interest in any of her toys, and the music that normally soothes her usually gentle soul was having no affect whatsoever.  We had no cards left to play, other than to Deal With It.

Nothing can make you feel more like a crappy parent than listening to your child howl and not being able to do a thing about it.

After 20 minutes of this torture (felt more like 200 minutes), the road finally opened for us once again, and it was not long before we pulled up to the bungalow.

Where It’s At…

  • Unload the Jeep
  • Haul the stuff to the bungalow
  • Unpack

I forgot to pack for myself!!

  • Put away the groceries
  • Make dinner for the kiddies
  • Set up the Pack ‘n Play
  • Make the beds
  • More stress
  • Cabin fever
  • Can’t find the DVDs

Can’t find the DVDs!!

“I’m bored”, said the 5-year old lad.

We hadn’t been there for an hour, and my kids were already going stir crazy.

“Don’t touch that!” I yelped, as another of my aunt’s little Tchotchkes bit the dust.

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If you don’t have any Beck in your iTunes library, I recommend that you get some.  He is an incredible musician, and his music is not only amazing, but also extremely versatile.  You can crank it up at a party or tone it down for cool ambiance during cocktails or dinner.  It also happens to be great sex music. Some days, like that Sunday, it’s the perfect soundtrack for a good ol’ naparoo.

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That Was a Good Drum Break

As my head cleared, I began to hear beyond the Beck.  From inside the bungalow, I could hear the peaceful refrains of Phineas and Ferb keeping Ryan occupied and zombie-like, while I continued to enjoy the peaceful post-Bloody-Mary-nap space I was in.  The fact is, a mere 24 hours earlier I had assured Ryan that “We have not come all the way to the county so you can watch TV.”  Now, I would have been happy to add additional Cablevision services in exchange for another 40 minutes of Z-z-z-z’s.

I then began to hear the first sounds of Ruby coming out of her nap as well.  She had been sleeping soundly in the bedroom, just on the other side of the wall behind Beth and me.  As she began to stir in her Pack n’ Play, my wife’s Super Mom Hearing kicked in, letting her know that Ruby was awake.  I could feel Beth getting ready to move from the lounge next to me.

As the summer began to fade away from us, I reached my hand out for hers and whispered, “Five more minutes…”

And in those five lovely minutes lies The Balance.

Thank God It’s Monday

THE TAO OF DAD

Chapter 2

A couple of friends of mine have this running joke: “Thank God it’s Monday”, they say. They are of course alluding to the sadly funny fact that, since we became DAD, weekends are freaking complicated and stressful. We long for that order (predictability?) that comes with the workweek. Remember when weekends were a license to party? To stay up late and sleep even later! Hung over? Of course! That’s what diners are for! The prospect of Monday was so suckey that we even began to feel the tightness on Sunday night…

Not so anymore. The Little Gym is early. Swimming is early. Hockey is really, really early. There is a birthday party at a jumpy castle place at 10:30, followed by another at 1:00 at Chuck E. Cheese, and a play date at the park at 4. (Funny, I don’t remember being that busy as a kid on the weekends. I played Pop Warner, I ran track, and was on a basketball team, but I have absolutely zero recollection of my parents rushing me from one event to another to another. EVER. Nor do I remember any non-bar-mitzvah kid’s birthday being at any place other than a house.)

My wife and I have an arrangement on weekends that one of us wakes up with the kids on Saturday, and the other on Sunday. Seems fair, and it really is. Except that I usually end up with Sunday morning, which happens to come right after Saturday night – generally the night I like to stay up way too late drinking way too much Red Zin. And unfortunately, my kids don’t give a rat’s ass that I stayed up late. In fact, I feel there may even be some inverse equation that states: (The More We Have to Drink) x (The Later We Stay Up) = (The Earlier They Wake Up)
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I am a night owl. I have always been a night owl, even as a kid. I like staying up late. I like the quiet. I like being the only one awake in the house. No matter how tired I am during the day, I always seem to get a second wind at about 11. This is when I like to write, and this is when I am at my most creative. I am pretty sure that every single song I ever wrote was written at night. I remember those perfect nights when the song was complete just as the sun was coming up. I loved the chill that came with dawn…
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I get where the “Thank God It’s Monday” guys are coming from. I get it, but I am not THAT GUY. Every day is a Balancing Act. We balance home and family and business and friends, and doing for our kids each and every day. My wife and I both work hard, and we do the best we can to give our children that which will nourish their bodies and minds.

While I may no longer stay up all night trying to write “The Greatest Song Ever Written”, I still need that creative “alone time”. The trick is making it all work within the Balancing Act. Ipso facto, I am writing this at half past midnight on a school night. So thank God tomorrow’s Friday. Whatever that means.

What about you? Are you able to find time for you within your own balancing act?

Hello world!

THE TAO OF DAD

Chapter 1

Taoism the the ancient Chinese philosophy of Balance and Harmony with Nature.  It is based on the premise that all phenomena in the Universe come from the same origin- the Tao (or the Way).”  (http://taoistpath.com/)

The concept of BALANCE is the key building block that I plan to build this blog with.  As time goes by, that may change, but for now, balance it is.

I find myself constantly in some sort of balancing act.  The roles and duties of husband, father, businessperson, friend, son, brother; these do not always fit easily in iCal, nor do they leave much room for SELF.  I remember THAT guy…

I accept the possibility that I may have been a fairly selfish person back in the day.  In fact, I’d say that I used to embrace my selfishness, and figured that my path was going to be all about SELF:  Self-fulfilling, self-discovering, soul-searching, and self-contained.  The inner me; what lay beneath the surface.  THAT is the place where all the songs were buried, just waiting to be written. I thought for sure that I never wanted to get married or have children.  I was responsible to and for nobody but mySELF.

Self-Actualization, Level 7.  That’s where I was headed. But a funny thing happened to me on my way to Level 7…

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So now I’m 50.  Wow.  I’ve never written that out before.  (I still fit in the same age demo box on surveys).  Looks big in numeric form.  Let’s try it in written word form:  So now I’m fifty.

Ok, now we know.  The number 50 looks better than the word form “fifty”.  (Maybe fifty looks too much like filthy?)  But I digress…

I’m a dad now. Have been so for 5 and a half years.  DAD.  At first, that word seemed hokey.  Dada or daddy, but DAD?  But somehow I seem to have grown into it, just as my son Ryan has grown into using it.  Sometimes it sounds funny when he says it, but I guess we’ll both get used to it.  In time.