Tomorrow will not be like today.
Tomorrow I will wake up at 6 a.m. to a quiet house, where I will get ready for work in peace. My beautiful, devout wife and I will not tangle in our too-small bathroom. I will not drape a half-sleeping 9-year-old over my shoulder and carry him down the stairs. He will not throw his skinny, sleepy arms around my neck. I will not plant him on the couch and cover him with a blanket as he catches an extra 10 minutes of sleep. I will not turn around and have to shout at him to get up, to get dressed or to eat his breakfast.
I will not have to find shoes, unknot shoes or tie shoes. I will not have to pack lunches I don’t intend on eating myself.
Tomorrow will not be like today, and this makes my family ecstatic and me a little less so.
Tomorrow, you see, is the first official day of summer vacation. For everybody but me. I will awake and work while they sleep and play.
Sorry. Let me to interrupt this blog for a bit of self-preservation. These next few paragraphs are just for my wife. If you’re not my wife, feel free to skip ahead. Erin, continue reading.
This is my blog and my pity party, so I’ll whine if I want to. I am well aware of the following:
1. I acknowledge that you, as a teacher, work harder than I do. You’ve earned this time off.
2. As a pregnant mother at home with three monsters — fine, two; sorry Grant and Jacob — you will continue to work harder than I do.
3. Unless things get crazy in the OSV offices, you will have to break up infinitely more fights than I will. You will also have to clean more messes.
4. I will never have to hear “I’m bored” from my coworkers; you will hear that phrase hundreds of times.
5. None of this changes the fact that I’ll be at work and you will be at home. If you would like to swap for a day or two, we might be able to work something out, despite your terrible spelling and punctuation.
Anyway, this is a major change for my family and me. This will be my first summer I’m not able to stay at home during the day, swimming and playing and breaking up fights and cleaning messes.
Before I started at OSV four months ago, I worked evenings, generally from 5 until 1 in the morning. With my wife being home for the summer, those were the days I’d get to wake up late, have some brunch, head to the pool, come home and go to work. Rinse and repeat. It was glorious.
But there was a downside. During the school year, I’d rarely get to see my wife or oldest kids. We were ships in the night. My wife would come home and we’d spend 10 minutes catching each other up on our separate lives, then I would leave for work and she’d be a single parent again, dealing with homework and practices and dinner and cleaning up from dinner and bedtime by herself. Rinse and repeat.
But it wasn’t all rainclouds and dead roses.
During the day, before he started preschool, I’d spend the whole day with Jake, the 5-year-old. We’d wake up early, get the big kids off to school and then it would just be the two of us. While we ate breakfast, I’d read the paper and he’d watch “Curious George” or whatever was on PBS Kids. Pretty soon he’d head over to the couch, lay on my chest and stick his little thumb in his little mouth. That was my cue that it was naptime. We’d migrate upstairs, where I’d read him a book and we’d play around and chitchat for a while. When he’d start sucking his thumb again, I’d pull him in and sing him a James Taylor song, usually “Sweet Baby James.” Before fading off myself, I’d watch him sleep, smack in the middle of our bed.
I’ll no doubt find him in the same place each morning this summer (despite the fact that he has his own bed). And before I get up, while the house is still quiet and the messes have not yet been made or cleaned or the fights started or broken up, I’ll watch him sleep again. Then I’ll smile and head to work.
Scott Warden is the associate editor of OSV Newsweekly. Follow him on Twitter @Scott_OSV.
For more of Scott's Confessions of a Catholic Dad, click here.