About two months ago (already!) Steve started a new job. I didn't write about it then because it happened so quickly that we just kind of jumped in with heads spinning and didn't know how it was really going to all shake out.
Well, it's shaken out nicely. Steve has always been a very involved father, as much as his job allowed. Unfortunately, with his commute and the ever increasing job responsibilities not much time was allowed. Basically, he was super involved on the weekends but there were many, many weeks when he was never home while the girls were out of bed. He had to leave before they woke up and didn't make it home through traffic until long after they were in bed, often after they were asleep.
The girls didn't know life any other way so weekend bonding with Daddy was the normal way things happened. I was used to being the sole care-giver during the week and anticipating the craze of the weekend when excitement from spending time with Daddy resulted in over-stimulation and exhaustion...
Then, suddenly, he started showing up more and it's been a transition. A good one, but a transition nonetheless. I think we knew that him not being around was stressful, but now, after two months of having him home in the mornings to help with breakfast and in the evenings with time for a quick bike ride outside before bed and singing our good night song, we're really seeing and feeling the change for the better. The Princess gets to sit down and tell him about her day, they spend a 1/2 hour in the evenings lying on the floor together, talking, reading and just winding down before bedtime; father-daughter time that I know they'll both cherish for years to come. Sweetpea won't even remember a time when she didn't see Daddy and get to cuddle with him before bed.
And me, well my first thought was "oh no, I'm going to have to figure out how to make family dinners!" This hasn't happened...the girls are so trained to eat at 4:30pm that it's been a slow, cajoling negotiation to get them to survive until 5pm for dinner. In fact, meals have completely fallen apart with the addition of all the new Daddy activities and the first couple of weeks he and I didn't manage to eat dinner until 8:30 at the earliest each night! It'll happen, but I'm not stressing about it right now. Beyond the dinners though, it's been a slow loosening of the tension for us too.
Those witching hours 4pm until bedtime. They were the biggest challenges of the day for me - a mental hurdle that I had to pull myself over and complete by myself every night. 4:00 would hit and I would feel this utter doom, wondering how I could survive on my own until bedtime. Not that the girls were difficult - rarely. It was the knowledge that I still had so many hours to survive on my own, no relief in sight, no adult to tag team with.
Those hours are still there but I get to share them now and I can't believe the difference I feel about my entire day. Sharing that last hour with someone else changes the tone of the entire day and helps me power through. It's a mental thing more than anything but the relief is huge. Steve's availability to be the father he wants to be makes me a better mother.
And Steve now gets to share stories about the girls with me. Little conversations and observations that are his own, not borrowed and gleaned from texts, emails and short catch-up conversations. He's involved in the day-to-day activities that can be tedious and mundane but are also where the little gems of connection occur and the foundations of relationships solidify. All because he took stock and decided where his time would be most well spent.
Thank you for choosing us, Steve. Happy Father's Day.