Before I became a parent, I got several warnings about how hard it was going to be from other parents. They told tales of sleepless nights and of isolation. Now, those things are true, but they get better within the first year (or at least did for me). There was one difficult facet of parenting, however, that I was not warned about.
It’s a very real, very painful, but very necessary part of the parenting process. For instance…yesterday I spend 45 minutes watching my daughter repeatedly try to put on pants.
Yes…I spent the average running time of an episode of The Walking Dead on the floor with her, as she continually put two legs into one leg hole. She would fail, say “oops-i-see” and then remove her pants to try again.
Now, I’ve told stories like that to the uninitiated (i.e. non-parents) before and the reaction is often the same. “Awww, that sounds adorable! I bet it was such a sweet moment!”
No…no it was not. Sure, it was cute for the first three minutes or so, but as it dragged on into minute ten and beyond, it got painful. In those moments, you hear the siren song of higher forms of entertainment. The weight of your phone in your pocket becomes heavier and heavier as you feel your tumblr updates growing in number. Just one little peek wouldn’t hurt, right?
Maybe…but I refuse to abandon my daughter’s excited efforts. Do you know why? Today, she kinda-sorta-almost put on her pants by herself correctly. They were backwards, and she couldn’t pull them up past her bum, but by God it was closer than yesterday!
As a father, that is the service I provide my daughter. While her mother reads to her and teaches her to become a Nobel-prize-winning-novelist-astronaut, I suffer through throngs of boredom while clapping encouragement and smiling so she’ll try putting on her pants again. It will all be worth it, for in the future as she walks up on stage to receive her accolades for curing cancer, I’ll be in the applauding crowd blinking back tears of pride.
Because she’ll be wearing pants.