For Valentine's Day (not really, but it's a happy coincidence), I'm sending Megan to the Rochester L'abri conference taking place this weekend "way up nort der in Minnes-O-ta." I'm excited for her to go – certainly for the content and experience, but also for the time away and alone for a long weekend – and mercifully, the weather for Rochester looks to be almost warm for the upper Midwest this time of year (highs in the lower 30s).
Obviously, the implication of Megan being gone Thursday through Sunday is pretty impacting on our family. Since I still have to teach Thursday and have a full day of teacher in-service on Friday, our friends the Sargents and the McMillens have graciously agreed to take our brood in half-day shifts today. On Friday, one of my students is hosting the girls for all the Dance Dance Revolution
they can handle (thanks, Julie). Apart from that, it'll just be the ladies and me, which could be fun…that is, if I don't screw it up.
So far, I've got a few plans in place: half-price shakes at Steak-n-Shake
Friday afternoon; Friday night movies at home with the Back to the Future trilogy
; a field trip or two on Saturday to the Science Center
(we're members) and the Art Museum
(it's free), with some reading time in the afternoon/evening; church and naps on Sunday – in general, more fun than you can shake a stick at.
For those who have kids, you know all this "fun" takes a lot of work. I love my girls, but the energy required to keep up with them – especially after a full week of teaching and this weekend as a single parent – can be difficult to muster. I need to go to bed when they do (which Megan never does), as well as lower my expectations of what else I might get done (which I never do) to really have a shot at making the most of the time.
Though I much prefer having Megan with us, my time alone with the girls is important – it's different from their normal routine and provides opportunity for me to relate with them differently as well. This doesn't mean trying to be both father and mother to them – no one can do that – but it does mean trying to exhibit a fuller essence of fatherhood in the physical absence of motherhood.
Make no mistake: I may be the head of our home, but Megan is the heart of it. "All father, all the time" is not God's best (just as "all mother, all the time" is not either). Still, I think God gives windows of opportunity when time with one or the other parent is concentrated for the purpose of building relationship with that parent, while at the same illustrating the need for the other as well. I want to do my best to build depth into our relationships, but I know in trying to do so, my girls will recognize their father's need for their mother (not to mention their own similar need as well). Thankfully, and by the grace of God, this disequilibrium somehow provides a sense of family stability.
So, we're playing with some big stakes this weekend. And, while some may say I'm making more of everything than I should (when was the last time I ever did that?), I'm convinced that for a father (and a father of daughters especially), the challenge of parenting is overcoming his desire not to do so. Providing for, protecting – we as men get these ideas. But parenting? That requires real men to show up and play, as to play with our kids is sometimes the hardest thing in the world for us to do.