After dropping Cherise and Iris off at the airport Friday morning, the day was like any other day. I stayed at work a little longer than I might normally on a Friday, but eventually checked out and drove home. I stopped off to go shopping as I usually don’t have much time to shop (not counting Amazon.com). Perhaps I should worry about my masculinity when my first instinct for my temporary bachelorhood was to go shopping. When I got home, I popped open a beer and watched the Orioles game on Tivo (ahh, feeling the testosterone flowing back into the system). It was nice to just sit back, relax, and think of nothing but the game. After the game, I even watched an episode of the Sopranos, something usually reserved for my Zune on my commute because it’s not exactly good for impressionable children or squemish wives (ahh, there we go–masculinity fully restored). Later, I hopped on the PC to do e-mail and catch up with a few friends. I lost track of time and went to bed at 2am. After all, I wouldn’t need to deal with any 6am toddler wake-up call.
Saturday, I woke up and realized I longed for my 6am toddler wake-up call. Don’t get me wrong–I love the extra sleep, but I guess I’ve gotten used to the pouty face of the little munchkin that was crabby until she got her morning milk (much like her dad and his morning coffee). With no kid to entertain, I hopped on the PC and took care of a bunch of bills while listening to Linkin Park’s new album. Not only could I crank it up, but I could listen to the "Explicit Lyrics" version since I wasn’t a parent this weekend. Meanwhile, I had my list of ToDos. Get in a 7-mile run. Get the car’s oil changed. Find an external hard drive for my PC. Hit the batting cages. Teach myself a new computer programming language. The usual stuff for a wild & crazy bachelor. It was nice to take care of these things and do so in peace. Plus, the house has never been cleaner (no toys strewn about), I can leave the toilet seat up (who knew how much I’d miss that?), and I don’t have to worry about leaving a stray glass of wine or beer on a table (you NEVER do that when Iris is around). But everywhere were reminders of my little munchkin. I’d see a child stumbling along while holding her mom’s hand and think of Iris. I’d hear a cry of "daddy" and turn around looking for Iris. I’d even keep extra quiet around the house at times, a second nature reaction to assuming Iris is sleeping when things are quiet. A year ago, I think I would’ve really enjoyed this time as she was so exhausting and the special moments that provided positive validation were spread out much more. But nowadays, she’s got so much personality and the new things (like multi-sylabble words and random new games) come so fast and furious that I mark the days by her progress. I also miss Cherise, not only as a wonderful companion, but also watching her interact with Iris. It’s amazing how much I rely on that teamwork and effort to raise a child as providing meaning for my life. That used to be my career. Not any more.
So, I look forward to seeing Cherise and Iris. I watch the Mother’s Day video to remind me of what I’m missing. By the way, that was made in the hours of midnight-2am over a few nights in the week before Mother’s Day while Cherise was asleep and I confess I nearly broke down in tears of joy several times while putting it together. I really do have a beautiful family. I’m practicing my "BeekBoo" (Peek-a-boo) and exercising my back (she’s getting to be a big girl and I’m getting really sore). It’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’ve still never done anything as exhausting as spending time with my daughter, but I’ve come to realize she gives me more than I give her and I expect the deficit to only grow as the years go on. Farewell loud Linkin Park and big screen Sopranos. Papa’s got a brand new bag.