I know I’ve only been here sporadically. As I’m home with the girls, and additional childcare has been babysitters when I go for residency interviews and for about 10 hours weekly to work (submitting/resubmitting a paper, writing half a dozen others, facilitate a Doctoring course for first years), I’ve struggled more with this balance than others…I think mostly because there’s nothing “acute” (like the work of a clerkship) that must be completed immediately.
But there is also an underlying tension I’m trying so hard to overcome–that caused by wanting so much to move forward while simultaneously grasping at each day, begging that they stop disappearing so quickly. I’m overwhelmingly excited for graduation and *hopefully* the start of residency (assuming I’m offered a position somewhere). I want to get started. But then I also feel this sinking ache of all the moments I’ll miss with my daughters. Thank God they’re young, and their memories are short (not that those are excuses for the hours and days of their youth I’ll miss in residency). And they are so loved, I have no concern that they will feel secure.
In college I remember being unable to not finish a book. Now I can’t remember the last time I finished a book. There are about 8-12 books on my nightstand with old receipts or postcards marking my place 30-70% the way through each. I come back to books of comfort, one of which, comically, has become Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis. There’s a sweet scene that I keep thinking about when I start to feel my anxiety build:
Lewis takes Quinn, his three-year-old daughter, for a night camping in Fairyland. The family is going through a not-so-easy transition after the recent birth of Dixie, and Quinn has been resentful (in the car on the way to school, for example, she glares at her father with”mad intensity” and says curtly, “My daddy is dead”). This camping trip is meant as a night out, just daddy and daughter. The tent is old and decrepit and not water resistant. There are aggressive donkeys that Quinn thinks are llamas, and she barrels towards them. The staff serves a banquet of quintessential toddler favorites, including hot dogs and cupcakes. Multiple late-night activities and readings of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Multiple wake-ups for emergencies like failure to properly spray the child down with bug spray, “I want your sleeping bag,” and finally “An owl is in the tent!” And then…
4:12. “Daddy.” I wake up. This time she’s awake, alarmingly alert and rested. I am not. “What?” I ask. “Daddy, I just want to say how much fun I had with you today,” she says. Actual tears well up in my eyes. “I had fun with you, too,” I say. “Can we go back to sleep?” “Yes, Daddy.” Then she snuggles right up against me for what I assume will be the long haul.
5:00. The f—ing birds are actually chirping. Quinn, of course, awakens with them, turns to me, and begins to sing.
Ugh! Puddle of heart on the floor! Trite, perhaps…it helps to read it in the context of Lewis’s biting humor. It just screams John and Ari, and I’d imagine many of the relationships between father and first born daughter. And it just reminds me that our daughters will be okay.