Sometimes, I imagine being a dad. I imagine society's lower standards for my parenting skills and bask in the latitude that gives me.
I work five (or more) days of the week away from the kids, so in the few hours I see them each day they rarely annoy me. I don't have to enforce too many rules, because the kids don't test their boundaries as much with me, or needle me all day - they're just happy to see me. And when actually faced with the need to discipline, I wrestle with internal guilt. When I'm away so many hours of the day, why come down hard on any of the kids? Ah, I'll leave discipline up to the mom. I'll be a fun daddy. It's easier that way.
I get applauded for spending a couple hours with the kids without the mom around. No one expects it, of course, so doing it is reason for thanks and hey, I sure get lots of positive attention in public.
I don't cook, except for every once in a while when I feel like it. And I certainly don't do any extensive meal planning or grocery shopping.
The kids know I ignore them sometimes, and they accept it. They let me make phone calls without interruptions sometimes. They let me ignore the non-stop chatter. And I don't feel any guilt ignoring it. I don't worry about missing teachable moments.
I never have to plan kid events, find classes, camps, programs, or schools. The mom takes care of all that. And doctor's appointments? I only do those on occasion, and they have to be the after-hours visits - I don't change my work schedule for sick or well-kid appointments. I've never even scheduled a doctor's appointment for the kids.
And when kids are sick? I do a great job of blocking out all the crying. It barely registers on my radar screen, and when it does, it doesn't make me anxious. In fact, very little about raising kids causes me anxiety - I don't stay up nights worrying for their safety, or their happiness, or their health. When a kid bumps her head, I don't wake up hourly to check her. I assume everything will be OK (and besides, it seems the mom is getting up every hour anyways).
I don't live every day with this strange mix of fear, anxiety, and hopefulness for each child. I'm just happy for the two or three hours I see them once I get home from work, and once they are in bed and tucked away, my mind gravitates toward other subjects. The kids are not all consuming to me.
And in this way, I am able to be freer, and more spontaneous and fun, and I have this special bond with my girls who love their daddy, and who always will no matter what I do or don't do for them. I get a free pass - from them, and from society.
Sometimes, I want to be a dad.