And THAT’S What You Remember?

So we just had a fun weekend celebrating Ryder’s third birthday. (Ryder’s mother and I have been dear friends since first grade. Our boys have no choice but to be besties. It was sealed in the family fates.) We went to Vernon, NJ, to accomplish several things: celebrate a 3-year-old birthday, try to have parental fun, swim in a hotel pool and visit a pumpkin patch. We accomplished all of the above. And it was great…in retrospect.

In the moment, why must so many activities be so laborious? Am I alone in finding it hard to relax during activities that that take us a 5-minute walk from our apartment? Creating picture-perfect experiences is just so difficult.

Moreover, I hate that so many moments with the kids make me say, “I’ll feel better when this ordeal is over.”

I should be in the “now”, right?

Admittedly, I was single daddy for the weekend. That’s not going to be a relaxing weekend for anyone. And while there were three adults and three children, I didn’t feel comfortable pawning one of my kids off on the other couple, just because their ratio was smaller. Yet even when my family unit is whole, big outings are stress-inducing.

Instead of being in the “now,” I felt angst about:

My kids pooping in the hotel pool

My kids drowning in the hotel pool, (even though I was holding onto both of them the entire time).

The possibility of running out of diapers and needing to run to the nearest non-24-hr drug store 87 miles away.

Any sign that we were headed to melt-down as we approached nap time and hadn’t had lunch.

Missing the nap window and not being able to have 45 minutes to finish the third season of Boardwalk Empire (I was on vacation, too!)

Ellison provoking fights with Ryder over his birthday presents.

Running out of any of the following: milk, cheddar bunnies, alcohol, patience.

But of COURSE we had a great time. It wasn’t relaxing, but it was a departure from every day life. The boys got along great. Yes, there were tears and tug-o-war over the new toys. But all in all, they were fine.

On the drive home, I asked Ellison, “did you have fun hanging with…”

“Yes, I had fun with Ryder on his birthday.”

Wow. He’s already anticipating my positive-reinforcement manipulation. Pretty sure he rolled his eyes for the first time.

Then I asked, “Can you tell me about this weekend?”

Ellison responded: “I said ‘I don’t like Ryder.’”

“Oh,” I stuttered.

True. During the birthday celebration, Ellison announced that he didn’t like Ryder. Ryder didn’t seem to care.

“And then what?” I continued.

“You gave me a time out.”

Wait, what? THIS is the highlight in your mind? I single handedly drove you and your brother to Northern New Jersey, let you jump on beds and perilously climb up and down a spiral staircase, kept your head dry in a pool (while holding you and your brother simultaneously), let you eat TWO pieces of cake (I had about four), and you remember that I gave you a time out for insulting the birthday boy during his special day?

“Right. But did you have fun?” I asked.

Guess who rolled their eyes, that time?


  1. Bottom line – Ellison’s response to “Did you have fun?” was “Yes.” And so did YOU it sounds like – even amidst the parental angst that coincides with such outings. Well done weekend single dad!


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