With the passing of Labor Day, summer is now in our rearview mirror, and that can only mean one thing. School is back in session. We spent the first two weeks trying to get our morning routine down. It's still a work in progress, but we're getting there. This year brought some big changes. Monkey is in Kindergarten which means she now has to be at school 20 minutes EARLIER than last year. Adding to the morning chaos is Lil Tank now going to school with her big sis! Trying to get out the door with the girls looking presentable and making sure they have their lunch, snacks and any important papers is quite a chore. Now factor in that my crazy schedule has me working 3 p.m. to 12 a.m. the night before and it is a challenge, but one that I look forward to each day. Keep reading... I'll tell you why.
As many of you know I work in TV news, so with that comes the not-so-typical 8-to-5 work hours. Television news doesn't take the weekends or holidays off. Someone is always working at your local TV station, bringing you the news happening in your area. I am one of those people who works the weekend shift, so while many of you are enjoying time with family, friends or whatever fun activity you do on those "regular" days off, I am trying to put together a news story that many of you won't see, because seriously, how many of us actually watch the news on the weekends? Anyway, I digress...
Because I work until midnight, I have trouble going to sleep before 1 or 2 in the morning. That makes it rough when my alarm goes off at 6:30 to get the girls up and ready for school. I usually hit snooze until 7, but then we are racing around to get out the door by 7:30. I do it, though because I love my girls and if I didn't do it, I wouldn't see them. Three days a week, I only get to see them in the morning during the chaos and then again after school when I pick them up to take them to Lola's house (that's what they call Aileen's mom). On those three days, I see them for about 1.5 hours TOTAL each day. Most of that time is spent trying to get them ready for school. Then we get in the car and I can talk to them, but we are usually fighting the morning commute, so it isn't completely enjoyable. I go back home for "Daddy" time (hey, moms have "Mommy" time so this is no different) before picking them up in the afternoon. I enjoy hearing about their day, but then the inevitable question pops up. "Daddy, do you have to work today?" When I say yes, it is followed by a groan from both of them. It is the saddest part of my day.
Ever since we've had the girls, I've had special daddy-daughter time with each of them. When Monkey first came into our lives, Aileen and I worked opposite shifts. I worked the morning newscast so I could spend the whole afternoon and early evening with her and I loved every minute of it. When Lil Tank came along, I worked alternating day and night shifts allowing me a few nights to be home for bedtime. Aileen loved her weekend-only schedule so she could be with them during the week. But when we moved to Florida, everything changed. Aileen started working full-time again. And my schedule switched to NIGHTS ONLY. While I had precious one-on-one time with Lil Tank every morning before work, I had NO time with Monkey because she was in school full-time. Now, they're both in school five days a week.
I thought I was going to like being free during the day when school started this fall, but I dread the alone time. I wish I had a more traditional work schedule, so I would be around to help my wife take care of the girls at night and be the dad I always wanted to be. I wish I didn't work weekends so we could enjoy our family time together the way we want to enjoy it. Instead, I feel like we are on some sort of deadline for "family time" and rigorous schedule for "family fun activities" each Saturday and Sunday morning. Because we are. But, we also try to do fun activities on Monday and Tuesday nights when we are all together, like having a living room picnic while watching a Disney movie before bed. We try to make the most of it because that's all we can do at this point.
While I'm excited about what the future holds for our girls, I miss the time I shared with them, knowing I will never get it back... but wishing I still could.