So I managed to remember to send my mother a card for her birthday, but then forgot to get one in the mail for Mother's Day. I got a card off in the mail in time for Father's Day last Sunday, but then I forgot that Dad's birthday is this Wednesday. (If you think that's bad, I forgot that I had already sent a gift to the newborn son of my college roommate and sent a second gift several months later. I'm sure Eva was utterly confused by this, but she was too polite to ask me if I've gone crazy.)
Yes, I do mark my calendar, both the paper and electronic kind, with birthdays and anniversaries so I won't forget them. I just forget to look at the calendars.
In an earlier post I blamed my daughter, in a tongue-in-cheek way, for the forgotten Mother's Day card, but now I've given it some more serious thought. Once, not too long ago, I was a highly organized and efficient person capable of juggling multiple projects both at work and at home. Now, about three years later, I can barely keep enough groceries in the fridge, stay on top of the laundry, and fight off the dust bunnies before they go feral. The house is always a mess, the garden always needs weeding, and I'm always behind on a slew of personal projects.
Did I mention that our daughter Ally is three years old now?
I knew raising a child wouldn't be easy, but I had no idea it would be this hard to keep her clean, fed, warm, and dry, let alone educated and entertained. It's not that wiping Ally's nose and making her lunch is that complicated, but rather this is a constant process that never lets up. Oh sure, she won't need this much attention when she's a little older and she's growing day by day, but seriously....we'll just be exchanging potty training for learning how to read, playing on a swing for riding a bike, and coloring with crayons for using the computer. While the issues and topics of today will very different than the ones we deal with in the future, they're still issues and topics that require patience, attention, and effort. I can see the next fifteen years telescope outward into the future in one, long, seemingly endless tunnel that I know will collapse and pass by in the blink of an eye. Then Ally will most likely leave home for college, but I know child rearing really doesn't stop there.
I am finally beginning to understand the long, continuous slog of parenthood and I've never been more grateful for my parents than before now.
Dad, thank you for letting me eat Spaghetti-Os for breakfast in grade school.
Thanks for all the times you quietly set a fish on the line and then passed the rod over to me "to hold while you got a drink."
Thank you for teaching me how to ride a bike.
Thanks for the times we went sledding, fishing, and skiing.
Thank you for the trips to Disney World, Alaska, and Mexico.
Thank you for letting me pick the college I wanted to attend and then letting me graduate without carrying any student loan debt.
Thank you for teaching me how to invest my money.
Thanks for the cars.
Thank you for letting me move back home and giving me a job at the machine shop.
Thank you for teaching me that any job worth doing is worth doing well.
Thank you for all these things and all the stuff I haven't listed here, too. We both know that I can never repay you, but we both also know that I'll do my best by Ally because of all the things you've done for me.
PS-Ally says come visit soon so we can have birthday cake with frosting and sprinkles.