Friday, November 19, 2010

Daddy Who?

During the past couple of weeks, there's been a number of relatively new events occurring in our household: new job (temp position for a few months, at least), entirely new schedule of living, new duties in one chorus, new chorus with new duties, new lesson teaching schedule, new church singing schedule, that sort of thing. It's been a strain on all of us, particularly since I've felt like an absentee father for much of the time. We're not a stranger to odd hours and long stretches of time spent away from home, but this is the first time since moving to Pittsburgh that I've had a stretch of weeks with significant time away from one or both children. Combine that with two insanely busy weekends - one spent in Michigan and one spent with Grandpa - and things start to blur.

I'm not even going to talk - yet - about my entire lack of exercise in the month of November. That'll change. I'm not sure how, yet; but I'll get to the gym two or three days per week as we all adjust to what's going on in our lives. The lack of exercise is starting to hurt, as my asthma issues are starting to creep into various aspects of my life. Kind of like the raw chicken wrapper left in the kitchen trash for a few hours too long: stinky and unwelcome.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about sort-of retreating into the present-in-short-doses model of fatherhood. Back a year ago, I was doing that, but that was an extreme situation brought upon us by a sick child and the needs of a newborn infant. We were in dire need financially, and I did what I had to do: work a full-time job and two singing gigs at night. Right now, thankfully, we're not in those dire straits, even though we'd love to be able to buy a house and re-establish our own lives with alacrity and efficiency. So, why am I doing it? Why am I subjecting myself - and my family - to a crushing schedule of hours and hours of extra work away from the house? Why am I depriving myself of necessary family time, necessary husband-wife time, necessary alone time?

(For instance, look at my television and gaming habits. I haven't turned the Playstation on, at all, in the month of November. As far as my television goes, I have five shows that have at least three episodes backed up on TiVo right now. I've managed to watch two 30 minute shows that are not awful for the kids to se), and five episodes of hour-long dramas. So, some mathematics: that's a total of 8 hours of television in the first 18 days of the month, which is less than a half hour per day of gaming and television, two of my primary means of relaxation. I haven't read any books this month besides two issues of "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," which are anime, and I have two full weeks of comic book store trips sitting unread next to the chair. In other words, not a lot of me-time.)

I gather momentum is a strong motivator. The potential of future payback is a strong motivator. The "I said I would do this, when I didn't have anything happening in my life, so now that I do, I have to follow my promise" factor is strong as well.

It's damn frustrating. It's damn frustrating that our careers have fallen off the edge of a cliff. It's damn frustrating that my career has been derailed by factors generally out of my control (four jobs NOT MY FAULT: schizophrenic boss; 9-11 tragedy in an Arabic-American school; cut program & paternity leave; cancer-related insanity; one job MY FAULT: couldn't keep mouth shut). It's damn frustrating that 7 years of specific, detailed, highly valuable training in teaching music is being flushed down the toilet. It's famn drustrating that my motivation to continue my 25 years of playing the saxophone has been flushed down the toilet.

So, what caused this? A lack of sleep? "Normal" career stress? Stress of dealing with an insane supervisor and idiotic colleague - my fourth such, out of five jobs? I don't know

Last night, at my barbershop rehearsal, the director reminded us all that our verbal presentation is only 1 out of 9 parts (roughly) in any given conversation. With all these other things bouncing around in our lives, is it any shock that I'm sending out a "got too many things going on, don't hire me" vibe?


Johanna S said...

I don't have anything insightful to say. I hope that you can somehow find some balance soon. I know it's much easier said than done. Our lives are not as crazy as yours, but I have an idea. For the past three years, I've been home with Ari and my husband has been taking any job he can to take care of the family. He struggles with the guilt too. You're a kick ass dad. Your kids know that. Just remind yourself of that when you have a bad/feeling absent day. My best wishes to all of you!

Sarah R said...

I am stressed just reading that. I hope you can find some time to catch up with stuff so you can feel a little more "normal".