I had hoped to cross the finish line of the Charlottesville Men's Four-Miler at about 8:20 this morning, but instead I was sluggishly trying to turn the television on for my children. This is what I do every other Sunday when my American offspring are with me.
For weeks, I had trained and planned and tried my best to speed up so I could run a good race. I had hoped to try to run those four miles through the University of Virginia and its immediate suburbs of academic denizens. I had somehow thought that I would find someone who could look after my children at the finish line.
However, as a single father who hasn't been in a relationship for several years, it's very hard to even imagine asking someone to help out. It's me and they, the three of us forming a family unit that is unlike what I had thought I would be in when I was growing up.
Yet, I type these words without any sadness or regret. I didn't run the race, but I adjusted and have ended up having a great day with my children thus far here at our house. We're not doing much of anything but relaxing. I've moved them into their own room now that I no longer have housemates, and they're happily playing with their toys, completely content to be children in this place that I go to work to pay for, to keep a roof over their heads for about 12 days a month.
This place is so empty the other 18 days of the month, and I spend most of my time looking forward to them being back here. Everything in my life these days has something to do with this role I have in their two lives. I want to help make this world a better place, for them, even if that just means writing a few things about transparency and how I think local government is supposed to work. I'm hoping that at some point I can do something more meaningful.
For now, I just preside over a portion of their childhood. Right now they have invented a game in which they race marbles in the lid of a frying pan. The marbles are race cars and they are naming each one, and my daughter is narrating the whole thing as if she is a sportscaster. They are using their imagination, relaxing, and generally having the kind of childhood I think they deserve.
Meanwhile, I'm having an adulthood that I didn't expect, but that I am adjusting to. As I approach 40, I see myself in a time of life that will remain solitary. After work there's not much room for anything else, and I'm not very good at relationships anyway. I'm pretty good at being a dad, I guess, constantly monitoring to make sure that they play well together.
So, another Father's Day that's remarkably like every other Sunday I have with them. I would have liked to have taken them somewhere on an adventure, but they're perfectly happy to play and be kids. And I'm perfectly happy to be their father listening to their imagination blossom.