Saturday, June 16, 2007

Serenity in Small Doses

Yesterday was the kind of day that would have seemed busy five years ago.
I stained the wooden swingset out back, mowed the lawn, ran six miles, worked on an iMovie for a couple hours, watched "Children of Men," did a couple of Pokerworks articles and played some poker.
Saturday Kate took our litter (sorry if that offends twin parents, but I think a toddler and two twin girls equals a litter) down to her parents an hour away for Father's Day. You might think I'm getting hosed on Father's Day, but in fact, an empty house for a couple of days - I couldn't go because I work Sundays - is probably the best present I could get from her. That and a pretty cool "dri-fit" running shirt.
The girls, as I've said, have been easy, but they're still newborns, and there's two of them, and it took one bad afternoon to cause an earthquake-sized rift between us last week.
The worst time of the day for Kate is in the late afternoon, when Jayden needs to be fed and bathed, the twins need to be fed and Kate has to get dinner for herself. It's also the time when the twins start to get a little fussy. One or the other inevitably wants to be held around that time, and at times even the magic swing can't appease her or her.
On Wednesday nights I run intervals with a track group full of friends, and on Thursdays, I have a softball game. Both of these activities take an hour.
When I came home Wednesday from track, my mother watched, tight-lipped, as Kate informed me that I had to give up everything.
After a couple days of wrangling with each other, including probably the first time we've gone to bed pissed off at each other, we've worked out what I think will be some solutions to the age-old argument. Those include bringing Jayden to track with me, finding different hours to work out and, most importantly, getting Kate out of the house as well.
There are many things I value in life, but most of all, other than my kids, Kate and my health, I value serenity
I am an introvert. Oh, don't act so surprised. Most poker players are probably introverts, like most runners and most mountain climbers. That means we get our energy from being alone. Alone time, as you might guess, is pretty hard to come by these days.
Sometimes "alone time" means trying to pitch a softball across a plate or smack it to the outfield fence. Sometimes it means trying to run faster than I should or reaching a summit or playing a pocket pair well.
Other times it means watching a thoughtful movie, reading a probing book or dinking around on one of the kids' movies on iMovie.
It always means time when the only person I have to answer to is me.
It's who I am. Many times I wish it were different. For years I've kept few friends, not made nearly enough business contacts and, in the past, hurt even relationships I trust because of this. And now that I've got three little ones, I've wondered why not even time with them gives me the same energy as being alone does. Maybe it's because I'm constantly trying to prevent Jayden from killing himself (look, Daddy, I can take four stairs at once), but I've felt incredibly guilty over the time I haven't spent with him and now the twins more than proud over the time I have, even when I've made what I think is a good effort to spend hours with them every day and especially on weekends.
This is exactly why for years I hesitated and even dreaded having children. I knew they would be a challenge. There's nothing easy about getting up four times a night, being exposed to gag-inducing diapers and telling a toddler 786 times that day not to do something only to see him do it for the 787th.
My challenge, I knew, would be to ration the energy I needed from my free time and be OK with the fact that it would be many years before I got as much as I needed.
Maybe that's what this weekend was for.
Because, Sunday morning, I woke up later than 8 a.m., went for a bike ride and came home, and I was struck the quiet of the house.
It seemed pretty empty.
An hour later, I went down to grab the first iMovie I ever made, a 65-minute opus about Jayden's first year, complete with songs by the Barenaked Ladies sent to shots of him naked and running through the house, which would probably get me arrested if they weren't so damn funny.
A diaperless 1-year-old boy IS pretty funny, even if that occasionally leads to disaster.
I did it because I wanted to see where we would be in a few weeks and months.
I also did it because I missed my family.
Today I'm at work, and for the first time in weeks, my body does not feel like a truck ripped through it. My body is rested and my mind is clear.
And I can't wait to see them tommorow, when the chaos comes back into my life.
I'm thankful for times of serenity like this weekend.
I'm also thankful I get them in small doses.


Gydyon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gydyon said...

Of course most poker players are introverts -- where else can you have a "social" hobby where it's OK to wear shades and keep your mouth shut for hours with an IPod on?

Glad you are able to make some arrangements. My girl needs to get some time out of the house, but she's not quite ready to leave the little ones for a real long stretch just yet -- I may boot her out one night and lock the doors.

JJ said...

nice set up

i dig it

Stacie said...

I don't think you get to say "litter" until four kids, so...get on that.