Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Father's Day Present I Really Need

I'm going to schedule this post to magically appear on Father's Day, since I'm not going to be online today.

See, I love to give myself excuses. It's OK to look at my phone while I'm in the playground, because my kids are having fun! And come on, it's the one time they really don't need me! And it's OK to be on the computer at home, because my kids play so nicely with each other!

I'm not judging the people who do these things, myself included. Parenthood, especially for stay-at-home parents, can be as mind-numbing as tracking the flying patterns of fruit flies, and sometimes using a smartphone is the only thing that makes us feel like ourselves. When we look at Facebook and Twitter, we don't simply look for ways to waste time until our kids go to sleep so we can get our slightly-less-interrupted hour and a half to be ourselves. See, doing these things makes us feel relevant, or even just normal. It's important for us to know what's going on in the world, or else we have nothing but our identities as parents. And with all due respect to the kids and to the roles we've taken upon ourselves with open hearts and with sound-ish minds, we sometimes need our phones to keep ourselves from falling apart. We're parents, but sometimes we let that part of our personalities take over. We need to remember that we're also friends, sons, and daughters, and we're political activists, and music lovers, and Star Wars fans, and sometimes, just because we can and because we're sick of having to find excuses every time we take a freakin' break from parenting, we like to crush candies on our phones, dammit.

But not today.

Leading up to Father's Day, I've been receiving dozens of emails every day, filled with potential product reviews especially relevant for Father's Day (although frankly, the connection at times has been rather forced). They all start the same way: Dad has had enough of receiving ties! This Father's Day, give him what he really wants, a ___!

Overwhelmed by these emails and underwhelmed by my desire for any of these items, I decided to not have a Father's Day shopping list or giveaway or any other "What Dad Really Wants For Father's Day" post. This Father's Day, I'm calling myself out. This Father's Day is not a celebration, but a reminder. This Father's Day, I'm giving myself the gift of my kids, uninterrupted.

My kids will survive an afternoon with a distracted parent. They'll survive an entire childhood like that. But they notice.

My kids will survive a lifetime with a parent obsessed with his non-parent identity, but will I? 20 years from now, hell--a year from now, when I look back at the only time in my life I've had a 5-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl, will there be regrets? What will seem more important, looking back: going over my Facebook notifications, or finishing that LEGO set with my kids?

Happy Father's Day to all the dads here, and a Happy Father's Day to me too. It's not always easy, but watching these cool kids grow is always and forever the greatest thrill and the greatest honor of my life.

The Father's Day Present I Really Need

The Father's Day Present I Really Need

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