Last night I got home and was completely exhausted, wanting to X myself across my new queen bed while my singleness remains for an unknown period of time. It’s a bittersweet feeling but you know exactly what I’m talking about. Standard protocol upon arrival is to leave a trail of clothing, front door to bedroom. It begins by the loosening my belt, unbuckling my pants, and letting gravity take over while I pull my shirt off. While my pants start to bunch up at the bottom, I can use one foot to slide my heel out of my shoe while pinching my pants against them, pulling them off further. Leg. Lift. Hop. Repeat. Walk. Off. Skivvies!
It didn’t go as planned. I forgot I wore my Dr. Martens, boots that don’t allow for laziness. By the time the tip of my left boot reached the back of my right one, I realized I made a mistake. There is absolutely no way these boots are coming off unless I plan to detach at the knee. Trying to wriggle my shirt off, my pants slipped as far down as my Docs allow, and I’m waddling like a drunken penguin. My vision of sliding into my sheets was smashed. I succumbed to the normal, boring way; eventually making it to the edge of my bed five hundred steps and two walls later, untying the double knots in disappointment, hunched like Eeyore in The House at Pooh Corner.
When I finally laid down, I pulled up a video of my daughter performing at her talent show on my phone. I just wanted to listen and watch, for the umpteenth time, before I called it a night. I remembered a text she sent that morning: TALENT SHOW TODAY!!! I’M NERVOUS. The word NERVOUS reminds me of Eminen’s Lose Yourself lyrics, so I text back a portion, starting with Mom’s spaghetti, she’s nervous, but on the surface she looks calm and ready… and so on. She’s done talent shows before, she’s sang National Anthems in front of thousands, and we’ve done open mic nights, karaoke, and both share a love for creating (or covering) music together.
Though my social media presence announces Full-Time Daddy, the truth of the matter is that I’m just another weekend dad. When I decided to share my experiences as a single parent, I already owned the domain FullTimeDaddy.com, using it to file-share photos with my extended family. It made sense to convert it into a blog. Facebook didn’t exist back then, a time when I actually was a full-time dad and she’d visit her mom every other weekend. The story of how that changed is another blog in itself, maybe even a book about what not to do. But that’s not this particular blog, this one is about something different.
As a full-time dad, we operated like clockwork from morning to night, Monday to Friday.
I wouldn’t have intentionally changed that life for the world but it changed. And becoming a weekend dad forced me into making significant changes to how we spent our time.
Gen had shown a love for music at a young age, and thanks to High School Musical, my motivation to get her into my kind of music grew. Thanks Efron! I’ve played guitar as a hobby since being the notable friendly stoner that’d play at the river parties; always Rivers of Babylon, guaranteed. So while Gen was away, she’d give me songs to learn so when I saw her again, we’d have something to do together; sing and play guitar. Today, it’s probably my favorite thing to do with her next to roller coasters.
Nobody comes out of their momma’s box with raw talent, all of it takes practice. And so we did, sticking to a list of about five songs, over and over and over again. When it came time to play in front of family, she backed out. She became extremely nervous and I didn’t understand it; it was family which meant strangers would be even harder. Olive, my youngest, is about 3-4 years old at this time and she loved going to the park with her social self. So I started bringing my guitar, getting Gen to sing, and all these kids that were Olive’s age would gravitate towards us in a sense of awe and applause. These little minis gave her a slice of confidence needed to eventually eat the whole pie; sweet cherry pie.
We did this for a couple years, got her involved in family night karaoke at a local pizza restaurant, and bing, bang, boom – she’s singing everywhere and in front of anyone. We’ve done live open mics, and we recorded Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire together that landed her an opportunity to sing the Star Spangled Banner at a local hockey game, and then it snowballed into other gigs. Each event, performance, or YouTube video always starts with a little bit of nervousness and I hope it remains for the rest of her life; mostly that she’s putting herself into situations that make her a little nervous to achieve a greater thing.
With both of my daughters, I want to be the dad that encourages them to do the things that make them a little nervous. Those butterflies are a huge part of my growth, and my age doesn’t determine whether they live or die, I do. Someone has to be on stage or there’s no show; someone has to create the content or there’s nothing to read; someone has to paint the picture or there’s nothing to see. I’m sure most of the things we admire, from skyscrapers to Michelangelos, all started with someone being a little nervous.
As she’s about to move hundreds of miles away to another State, less than 15 days from now, I’ll need to figure out new ways for us to maximize the time we have with our new visitation schedule – now being months in between visits instead of days. As much as I carry an overwhelming sense of sadness around the inevitability of her moving, the reality is that I did the best I could with the time I had. We’ve shared many experiences in being a little nervous together. Being nervous is a wonderful experience so long as she’s willing to overcome her self. It tends to be the only thing that has ever held me back; well that and my boots.