I like my kids. Obviously, I love my kids, but I also genuinely like them. They’re funny and intelligent and interesting and caring. And I can say all these things with a straight face because my kids are in bed right now and I like them the absolute most when they’re not actually here.
My wife works long hours, often coming home after bedtime, and when she arrives home I share with her the highlight reel of the day. I tend to give her a very short report on the lowlights and instead spend most of my time telling her about the cool things that they did, showing her some pictures and videos. But that’s because they’re in bed, and I can do that.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and when it comes to my kids, this couldn’t be more accurate.
I was recently in Ottawa on my annual vacation away from the family. When you spend 12 hours a day, 7 days a week with your kids, a vacation is a very important thing. Anyways, I spent 5 days visiting my best friend in Ottawa. I got a private tour of Parliament from my MP, got to see Sidney Crosby play hockey and ate more burgers and burritos than you can shake a stick at. But most of all, I missed my kids.
I don’t know how that came to be. I don’t know how these kids who drive me crazy 7 days a week were the thing that I missed while I was there. I don’t know why I got misty eyed talking to my daughter on Facetime or was sad not to tuck in my son at night and tell him stories.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
And so my wife and I have made a conscious effort to spend some specific time away from our kids. We try to make this time pleasure rather than business, but when you’re both self-employed, that can be very difficult.
But we try.
It’s important that you get some time away from your kids. I spend every Thursday night playing board games with a group of close friends and I try to get to the yoga studio 2-3 times per week. My wife hits the gym a few times a week and spends every Tuesday as a Girl Guide leader. We do this because while we love being mommy and daddy, we both think that it’s incredibly important to try to maintain your personal identity, even when everyone just knows you as “that kid’s dad.”
Parenting can be hard. But, obviously, it’s incredibly rewarding (otherwise we’d probably stop doing it). But it can also be incredibly hard.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting that every moment hanging out with your child isn’t just like seeing a sunset for the first time. Sometimes it’s more like the first time the doctor told you to turn your head and cough.
So, my wife and I try to balance things. We balance time together with time apart, and in doing so, we are able to actually look forward to time with our kids as well as time away from them, guilt free.