You know I’m gonna be like you

You know how happy it makes me when someone gets the song reference in my title, so please, someone do.


            My husband has always been committed to coming home in time to give his children a bath.  I then collect the freshly-laundered progeny and do book time before we tuck them into bed.  J wants to be a part of this process because he knows how much his own father missed when he was a boy.

            My father-in-law was involved as much as he could be, but he worked hard and often had long stretches when he saw his sons very little.  J wants to avoid his father’s regrets, and so he has long had a policy of making it home for bath unless he is traveling.

            But then, he is often traveling.  And then there are the nights he needs to stay late.  And the client needs something by tomorrow morning.  And why bother even coming home when it is an hour drive from the client and he is working till 10:00 and starting again at 6:00 the next morning?  And, then it becomes easier to just assume he won’t be home.

            And, suddenly, since moving here, the regular time to get home is no time at all.

            I am used to it.  When we lived in Philadelphia, he traveled a lot, and I held down the fort on my own.  It is my job to support the family in my way just as it is his to support the family in his way, and we’re doing the best we can.

            But, this week, things are slow, and J is going to be home every evening for bath, which nowadays looks like a luxury instead of a standard practice.

            “Daddy is reading books tonight,” Zachary announced for the second night in a row last night. 

            “Honey, I want to read books.  How about if Daddy does one and I do one?”

            “OK, Mommy.  The reason I want Daddy to read books is because he isn’t home very much in the nighttime and so I want him to read to me.”

            “That makes sense, Zach.”

            “I don’t know why I got to see him so much in London but I don’t get to see him so much in Los Angeles,” the boy continued.

            And, as I gathered him into my lap to try to explain, I could hear the click of the circle coming full. 

28 responses to “You know I’m gonna be like you

  1. you know that I am terrible at song references….

    As much as it is hard to be the mom, sometimes I do have to sympathize with the dads that want to be a part, and yet, the corporate environment does nothing to foster family relationships. I hope your circle changes.

  2. J might want to try “special time” with the boys. It works wonders. Details here…

  3. I don’t know the song. Sorry.

    As I spend time analyzing (overanalyzing) my marriage issues I see my father in law and mother in law in my husband. I see my parents in me. I look at how I act and consider if I’d really want my girls to mimic that behavior. And when I look at what I allow people to do to me I wonder if I’d want my girls to tolerate such things. But it’s hard to change patterns isn’t it? It’s hard to stop us from coming full circle. Hang in there.

  4. That is a very expressive boy you have there. Wow! How wonderful that he is able to tell you what he is feeling so honestly.

  5. Cats in the Cradle.

    I do hope J is able to be around more in the future.. when things settle down.

  6. ah, Chani beat me to it. lol.
    I dunno how you do it, Emily. wow.

  7. Cat’s in the Cradle always makes me all sniffly.

    Thinking of you guys as you muddle through the latest round of changes and challenges.

  8. Youth ministry comes with similar pitfalls. (((HUGS)))

  9. A friend and I were just having the Cat’s in the Cradle discussion–because her husband’s dad was never around and now wants his son to be there for him. Only it doesn’t work like that, does it? Except that I’m not sure it works like that even if you get it all right as a parent, if such a thing is even possible. We raise our children to grow into their own beings, who will need in varying amounts, depending on their personalities.

    The single parenting thing can be tough (I know, since I do it a lot), but what I find harder is integrating the hub back into the mix when he’s back. And then I feel guilty for being so totally fine in his absence. Another circle, eh?

  10. Chani beat me to the song title…oh well.

    It’s hard. I cry sometimes when I think the Little Mister is going 15 months without daddy time. But we get through it. The webcam and phone help, although it certainly isn’t the same..

  11. My husband’s father never spent time with the kids either (there were 8 of them) His mother pretty much raised them on her own (saint) His father regretted it later when the kids were grown up.

    Joe had chances to take jobs closer to home that paid more, but the trade off was that the kids would never see him.

    We are in debt because of the economy and me not working full-time, but in the end we are making it. The commute, thankfully has gotton much smaller too.

    My neighbor’s husband is a big time lawyer who see his children in one month the same my husband see’s ours in a week. (it might be less actually)

    I’ll take poverty over that.

  12. I had to read the post to get the reference.

    I know full well how much just being there and putting in the time means with young kids, but there are other ways of being important in someone’s life. The fact that J is conscious of it is step one.

  13. I’m phenomenal at getting references, Em, but I didn’t catch this one. Be it good or bad, Daver is almost never home and the kids are almost always in bed before he gets here.

    It’s harder on me than them, I think.

  14. Its hard for Dads, I think. They feel torn between family and the American work ethic.

    For many years, we were privileged to be in a situation where Husband had a lot of time with the boys. After a recent promotion, things got a little out of hand, and I told him I’d rather go back to his programmer’s salary and see him five nights a week than continue to live that way.

    He’s made some changes and we are back to our old standard of family togetherness. I consider our boys very lucky, and I realize not everybody has the kind of time that we do with our kids.

  15. Making sure he’d be home for dinner more often than not was a deciding factor in the new position my husband just accepted… an alternate position was over an hour’s commute away… he’d never have seen then.

  16. little boy blue and the man in the moon.

    that song shatters me. and i’d imagine, you too.

  17. My kids have learned to get by on little spells of time with their dad (though he was in town for almost a solid month this last time). It’s hard. Not all the time, but when it hits them, it hits them hard.

    We’re trying to improve the situation, but there’s only so much we can do. One of us has to make a living for the family, and the ways he can do that control how much time he’s home.

    So, I know how it feels, though I imagine that doesn’t help so much. Enjoy the week.

  18. I completely missed the song reference–I’m really not that cool! 🙂

    But I do completely see how much my little one misses his Daddy.

    Every morning when the husband leaves he says, “Daddy, you’re going to work AGAIN??”

  19. Of course I’m not pointing fingers within your household, but I think everyone knows that for a lot of people (men and women), staying late at the office is often easier than coming home to the chaos that a household with kids can be. My husband has always been strict about keeping to a schedule and being home to help with homework, but I know that I have always had a tendency to delay leaving the office rather thab face the really hard work at home.

    Which means that in the morning I’d be fibbing to my boss about being stuck in traffic (when really I was getting the kids to school) and in the evening I’d be fibbing to my husband about being stuck in traffic when really I was indulging in another half hour of peace and quiet at work.

    So that I spent most of my time feeling quilty on both counts. The worst was when I’d get home late and someone would sympathise with me about being so busy at work. Well, I was, but I knew that I could have left earlier if I really wanted to.

    So since then, I’ve always had my suspicions about people “unable” to spend time with family because they were “so busy” at work.

    I can hardly be unique in this!

  20. I knew the Cat’s in the Cradle, by the way. This is my first time to your blog, and I’m super glad I found it. This was a beautiful post. I do a lot of “single parenting”, especially during the week, so I understand this more than I would like, I guess. Beautiful post.

  21. andrealudwig

    Hi. Thanks for sharing your heart with us in such a poignant, unassuming way.

  22. Cats in the Cradle, of course. We actually sang that in church a few weeks ago, when we talked about the importance of taking time with your family

  23. They miss him until the day when instead they say to him “it was so peaceful when you were gone” when he comes back …

  24. Love me some Harry Chapin music.
    That one definitely makes me cry– Right up there with “Flowers are Red.” Hope that Daddy bath time will go back to being standard for all of you once life settles down in Cali.

  25. I got the song reference! I love that song! I may not have as much money as my friends whose husbands work until 9:00 at night but my husband is home before dinner every night to play with our baby and spend quality time with me. I’ll take that over expensive new clothes any day! Plus I’ve decided to work only part time right now in order to be with my daughter as much as possible, making money tight but time with my baby plentiful. You are lucky you have a job that allows you to work at home on your own schedule because you get to be there for your boys, and it sounds like you’re doing a great job!

  26. Love that song, too.

    But this post… oh, this made me sad for what you’re going through. This sounds really hard.

  27. You take what you can get. And it’s hard sometimes. And I feel for you. (Especially since you’re pregnant.) But you have a level head about what is necessary.

    And the most important thing is that it seems your kids “get it” at least to some degree. They know their daddy wants to be home. Sometimes that’s enough.