The first day back from a break is always the worst. It's forcing yourself back into those old, stiff clothes when you've felt so free without them. Not that I'm advocating the nudist lifestyle. Lord knows, I would have no friends as a nudist. Hell, I wouldn't even like myself. But I'll save that old bit of self-loathing for my OA meeting.
Laura and Sophie went back to school today. I know their first days back from break are difficult. I've done both of those first days as student and as teacher. And let me tell you, I don't envy them. But first days after break are hard for us house spouses too. The kids are still in break mode - which includes the attention of two parents rather than one. Daddy struggles to bear with their high-octane emotions and their pitiable breakdowns. I struggle to love them as they are, because I am too busy wanting to be who I think I am. In reality, I am simply Daddy. Why don't I get that? Why can't I rest in that? I am no writer-extraordinaire for whom the world breathlessly awaits publication. The world has writers enough. I do not have fans who lap up my words as kittens lap up cream. I am meowed for by no one.
Except, of course, my children. My children meow for me. They cry for me. I am their daddy. I wish I were creamier, but they still don't know any better. They still think I'm double cream.
And yet I continue to struggle with who I am. Because there is something within me that pulls me Elsewhere, something that thinks I need to be Elsewhere. It's difficult resting in the knowledge that you are a stay-at-home dad when you can't escape feeling as if it is by default alone. It's difficult being a failure in a world that so prizes success. After nearly two years, I still can't reconcile who I am into peace. I love being home with my children, but, at the same time, there is something in me that dies every day my wife leaves for work. I've often wished, as Reb Tevya does, for God to smite me with wealth in order to free me from this too-great strain. But he won't. He's too double-cream.
I wish I knew me.
I wish my feet were more calloused for this road.
I wish all my illicit wishing were drowned in peace.
(The high-octane emotions and the pitiable breakdowns? My kids get it honest.)