OK, it’s corny, but sometimes I feel this love for my kids so much, like our hearts are attached by strings and the strings jiggle and jostle my insides when I think about them. During the school year it probably doesn’t help that I can see their elementary school outside my kitchen window and I have an opportunity to daydream about them when I’m sick of my own life. Most days I am happy to have the respite from child rearing when they are at school, but occasionally I am eager and anxious for them to come home.
A recent study found that the most important times for a parent to be there for their child is when they wake up, when they go to sleep, and when they get out of school. Unlike many working parents trying to make enough money to put food on the table, we are blessed to have me working as a stay at home dad so I can be there when the kids get out of school. This is one of the pleasures of working at home. All the parents gather at a nearby corner and wait for the neighborhood children to emerge once the school buses leave. The kids walk out all at once in a slow moving conglomerate of youth and my two boys always seem to end up at the rear of the pack. A few children run out of the noisy mob, older kids racing each other, and a few younger kids racing toward the waiting arms of their parents. My 8 year olddaughter, Adelina, is one of these runners that streaks away from the crowd. Most of the day she has been cooped up in a classroom and no doubt her body exalts in the freedom of dashing down the grassy embankment with her giant backpack bouncing along for the ride. She is the most restless of my three kids and I imagine the constrictions of a desk and a chair must be difficult for her. I can remember how excited I was as a kid when that last school bell rang for dismissal. She’s fast, usually she is the first kid to reach the knot of parents and the gritty determination on her face breaks into a wonderful smile when she crashes into my stomach for a hug. In our embrace my heartstrings slacken and the warmth of fatherhood spreads from the inside out. That is one of the greatest feelings in the world, the feeling I try to remember and recapture during other times when life as a parent is not so rosy.