The first thing becoming a parent teaches you, as we’ve talked about before, is that idea of “unavoidable reality.” Each new father, David Brooks once explained, suddenly discovers that they’re not in control anymore.
The kids are. Or rather, the reality of having kids is. You don’t decide how things go anymore. This new life you’re in does.
It’s humbling. It’s also freeing. Because now you can simply be. You can sit in the car while you wait for dance practice to wrap up. You can sit by their bedside, soothing them back to sleep while they’re sick. You can endure the endless stories that never go anywhere, you can watch the shows they want to watch. And you can actually, somehow, enjoy this. Because you’ve assented. This is what your life is these days.
Good. Now don’t forget this. Because it’s never changing. Even when they graduate from school, it’s still your life. It’s your job to be around for phone calls…to answer the phone whenever it rings. To be on call. Even when they have families of their own. It’s your job to fly to their house and do the dishes and laundry so they can have a break. It’s your job to make all the same trips to Disneyland and the park and wait for nap time to be over… all over again.
You are not in control. No dad is. Obama, in the White House, wasn’t… and even as an ex-president multi-millionaire, never will be again. And neither will you. Welcome to this unavoidable reality. Go with it.