The whistling I hear breaks my daydreams and delusions of possibility. The whistling is a personification of the years passing me by – the proverbial winds of change. My babies are growing up – and my window of opportunity is closing.
I remember when I was 22 and a young student teacher. I completed a semester of my student teaching at my alma mater – the halls of the high school that helped mold me into the individual that I am. We had a set of senior twin boys there who talked about their father being a stay-at-home dad for the first five years of their life. I remember thinking that was unique and filed it away for when I became a dad.
Fortune provided me with an opportunity, as a school teacher, to be a seasonal stay-at-home dad. I have every summer, and every break off with the kids – which is more than many moms or dads have the opportunity to do. Yet, in the back of my head, I have always wanted the opportunity to stay home with the kids for the first five years.
‘In a matter of 20 minutes, I am alone’
This year my son started pre-K. He rides with me, and my daughter, to my school. I deposit him in his class, hug him, kiss him and wish him a great day then I drop my daughter off at the bus. In a matter of 20 minutes, I am alone, waving in the wind as it whistles at what could have been in the weeks, months and years preceding.
I don’t know if I would have been a great full-time stay-at-home dad. I don’t know if it would have made a difference. I do know there are days I lament that it never occurred, but that sour feeling is usually met, quickly, with the consolation of the summers, the memories, that we have built. The swims, bike rides, park visits, museum visits, zoo visits, picnics, walks and rainy day veg sessions – all these things stem the feeling of regret. And in that moment, I realize just how blessed I am. There is so much I get to see – so much I get to witness.
Yes, the window is closing, the future and past whistling around me. A new phase in life, fatherhood, childhood is beginning. And I am realizing something pretty important.
Even with the window closed, the view is pretty amazing.
A version of this first ran on Tales from the Poop Deck.