Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Full-Time Daddy Days Are Like Shnitzengruben

What the hell are shnitzengruben, you may ask? For my cinematically challenged readers, they are the German sausages Lilly Von Schtupp (Madeleine Khan) serves to Sheriff Bart (Cleavon Little) in Blazing Saddles, prompting an exhausted Bart to declare upon his return to the jailhouse, "Them shnitzengrubens can really wipe you out."

So now, you're saying, it all makes sense. Now that your favorite blogger/two-time parent has had a couple of months to get accustomed to this solo daddy routine, he can safely report that it remains one of the most exhausting regimens one can subject himself to. From the earlier-than-usual rising, to the non-stop calls for entertainment, to the lugging the increasingly heavy car seat around, to the frenzied rushes for warmed-up formula bottles as an end-of-his-wits 5-month old screams in the next room, it is a routine that is not for the squeamish among us 44-year-olds. Never mind the fact that I actually try to work on these days, too.

Take yesterday. A seemingly innocuous day, the highlights of which were a visit my the housekeepers, a trip to the park for some swing time, and the nightly effort to get dinner rolling with a pent-up, babbling baby in tow. Sounds pretty manageable, yes? Well, let's not forget about the other things that weave their way into the day--the driving Jackson to/from soccer practice; the scramble to de-clutter the house so the housekeepers can actually clean; a furious string of emails to schedule an interview for a story I'm working on; the attempt to repair a broken leg on one of our dining room chairs; the calls for paperwork to be faxed (and re-faxed) to my real estate agent cousin, who's helping Sarah short-sell her underwater condo; and, of course, the increasingly impatient catcalls of a baby who no longer is content to stand in his circular activity center and fumble with all the colorful built-in toys surrounding him while Daddy handles the aforementioned tasks.

All of which leads me to this familiar refrain: How do hard-working single parents do it? I'm talking about the ones who have few resources, work multiple jobs, rely on childcare they can't afford, and have no option but to put on a happy face for baby at the end of an exhausting, never-ending, blindingly stressful day. These people are the heroes of modern society, and quite often the ones that ass-backwards laws like Arizona's anti-immigrant stance target.

It's a thought that makes me very thankful to be a privileged, educated, middle-class white man who can work from home and handle the demands of parenthood with aplomb. Now excuse me while I get back to balancing Max on my head as I pay bills, plan dinner, keep my clients at bay, and try to squeeze in some quality time with the human breast-milk factory who shares my bedroom.

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