I know, I know. That’s not how the lyrics go. Let’s just leave it at artistic license and move on.
When you have children, one of the things that you inevitably end up sacrificing is the amount of time you actually get to spend with people your own age. Every parent can tell you that there are those friends that they used to hang out with all the time that they almost never see anymore. There’s any number of reasons: inability to find a babysitter, difficulty to get schedules to match up, crushing exhaustion unlike any you’ve ever known, the bar’s unwillingness to allow infants into the establishment, etc. Of course the point could also be made that your childless friends may not necessarily want to spend all their time hanging out with the miniature third wheel you’ve introduced into the equation, either. It’s not that they don’t find them cute or love them to bits, it’s just that unlike you, they actually get to take them in controlled doses.
That’s where the friend I used to miss the absolute most comes into play; Silence.
Oh, Silence. You have no idea how much I’ve missed the time we spent together. You were always there for me, available nearly anytime I felt the need to call. Never too busy for me, giving me hours and hours of your precious time with absolutely no demands in return. You made me feel safe, secure, and didn’t mind at all if all I wanted to do was lay on the couch and pass out for a while. You were the perfect friend.
And then the children came.
In hindsight, I don’t blame you for backing off. I remember how nervous I was when I brought the first one home, completely clueless on what I was supposed to do with this small, wriggly thing that not 2 days before had come out of my wife looking like the little squid baby from “Men in Black”. It seemed like no matter how hard you tried to get to know the little guy, he would always freak out the second you showed up and unleash a wail that would try to make a banshee plug her ears. You tried to pitch in and help, but all that did was make me more nervous as I lay awake in the middle of the night, wondering why the non-stop fuss machine was suddenly so quiet. Was he okay? Was he breathing? Had he been abducted by Nicholas Cage and Holly Hunter? (Aside – never watch “Raising Arizona” when your sleep-deprived with a new infant at home).
Let’s not even talk about the never-ending parade of “gifts” that came in, every one of which made noise so irritating that they must actually have been payback for whatever wrong I had done to others in my life.
So you backed off. I always meant to try to catch back up with you, but the time never seemed right. Every time I thought I would have half-a-minute, the sleeper woke. I see now how I took you for granted. In all of our time together I never imagined a moment where I wouldn’t be able to just drop everything and see you whenever I liked. I see now how wrong that was.
Which doesn’t excuse the way you turned on me, you #####.
The kids got older, and you started coming back around again. I was elated. Finally, we would have the opportunity to catch up on all the time we had lost. There was only one small problem. Hell hath no fury like a metaphorical concept scorned.
Oh, you came back, alright. Unfortunately every time you did, that meant there was mischief afoot. I’d put the kids down to nap, accepting the fact that there would be no less than fifteen minutes of wailing and crocodile tears until they finally gave up the fight and went the #### to sleep. Then you would come in, and I’d think everything was okay. We could take some time to reconnect. Yeah, thanks for lulling me into a false sense of security you wench. We’d get comfortable, you’d take off without any warning, and BAM!, the screeching would begin. The horrors I would walk into would damn near bring me to tears. “Oh look, my two-year old has managed to crawl out of his crib and to the top bunk of his brother’s bed” or, “how in the hell did the child get covered in all this mud that’s all over the place….wait”.
That’s right people. Untidy as the house may be, we don’t have a damn mud pit in the kid’s room. I think you can put two and two together.
This is how it’s been every time you’ve come around, Silence. You’re not an old friend looking in to catch up or help with the kids. Oh, no. You’re a pissed-off shrew who’s getting back at me in a way that would make the psycho lady in “Fatal Attractions” jealous. You will not be ignored. If I try, I will pay dearly. You don’t care how sorry I am. As far as you’re concerned, I can stick my “sorries” where the sun don’t shine.
So that leaves me here, in a place where I can never truly relax, never truly let my guard down. Nicely played, Silence. Okay, I see how it is. It’s cool. I’ve completely given up on us ever having any kind of meaningful relationship again. Joke’s on you, though. All you’ve done is driven me to the company of another old friend that I never get to see enough of anymore:
Yeah, Al is always there for me, ready to help me unwind nearly anytime, anywhere. He’s got no problem just chilling out and waiting for my call. He’s a pal. I just have to remember that like all my other college buddies, I have to make sure not to hang out every night. I’m too old for that ####. I learned my lesson with you. I call on him too much, and he’ll turn on me as surely as you did. Best to show him the respect he deserves. Not too worried about it though, The S.O.B. owes me.
After all, he’s part of the reason I’m in this mess……..
(You can follow “Fatherhood in the Trenches” on Instagram at fatherhood_in_the_trenches and on twitter @jmwilson3055. But only if you want to give meaning to my suffering.)