By Paul Lane
NORTH TONAWANDA —
The parental saying is so commonly used that it’s almost become cliché: “I would do anything for my children.”
In some ways, this goes without saying. What self-respecting adult would NOT do anything their children needed them to do?
But what they don’t tell you is that, some days, it’s harder than others to fulfill that mantra.
Like the 28th day in a row that your daughter wakes you up before the sun rises. You’ll definitely allow her to drag you out of bed, retrieve her little brother and begin the breakfast proceedings. But it’s not always easy, especially when your eyes won’t open enough to properly negotiate the stairs. Naps definitely help, but the cycle often resets the following day.
Then there’s when you’re sick or hurt. As much as your children might think you’re a superhero, you’re not. You get colds and pull back muscles like everyone else. They don’t care, though, and somewhere in your heart you’ll find the strength to play one more game of Up-Down (which, at least in our house, means levitating Penny and Rigby off the ground while they stand on my feet) and get down on the floor one more time to read a book.
Forget about having a bad day — or at least about bringing one home with you. Your precious little ones had little, if anything, to do with entrenching you in your surly demeanor, so they shouldn’t have it taken out on them. And you often will surprise even yourself with just how much negativity you’re able to swallow to ensure gaiety when you’re with the kids. Children really are the ultimate pick-me-up.
And your own desires? First of all, you’d be amazed at how many of your own TV programs and hobbies you can do without. Secondly, there are at least a few children’s programs that remain somewhat watchable the 43rd time. Thirdly, their desires can often become your own desires (Chuck E. Cheese Skee-Ball is cool). Fourthly, DVR service is fantastic.
There might be moments during which it feels as though you’re tapped of vitality, that there’s nothing left to give. But that’s the funny thing about yourself: There’s always more to give. Strength never really runs out. Fatigue can be overcome. The drudgery of the pending day at work is mitigated by the bright, smiling faces that await your return home.
And days such as a recent Sunday during which Penny told me, “I am so happy that you stayed home with me today” — well, I’m still riding the energy rush from that.
Not that your kids will fail to push you to the point of insanity on occasion. But those moments pass, and even then their intent is innocent (why our little Rigger man thinks every DVD disc needs to be taken from its case and thrown, I’ll never know, but he means no harm in any event and might make for a pretty good discus thrower some day). And if you keep your wits, you can turn it into a learning experience (the need to keep things in working order, or the importance of cleaning up after yourself, or why fingerprints are bad).
I have yet to endure most of parenthood’s potholes, such as the daily grind of a full school week and pleasures of puberty. But from where I sit, a parent really can do anything for their children. Those who don’t lack the desire to do so.
Ultimately, if you fail to do anything and everything in your power to ensure your children’s present and future stability, you fail yourself. This dad is not one for failure.