Parenting Blog

In Not Being There For My Kids This Summer, My Greatest Dad Fear Was Realized

I had been up for hours already.

Threadbare was my body, fueled incompletely throughout the long dark and lonely night by soft serve twists and by ice cold chocolate milk from stainless steels troughs surrounded by the clamoring masses desperately seeking reams of thick cut bacon and other greasy breakfast meats from the morning buffet.

My daughters were still sleeping, happily I hoped, in the bunk bed so wonderfully dressed and crisply turned down by our 4th deck cabin’s steward.

The Carnival crew take such fine care of their guests. I only wished there was something in their pushcarts that could’ve helped me.

The middle of the night was the only time of day I could be sure of exactly what my daughters were doing, and where. The remainder of the hours that made up the six days on board the Carnival Legend? I don’t know, I barely saw them. I trusted that my kids were safe — they are, after all, incredibly smart and healthily cynical young women — and that they were having a literal boat load of fun together.

Not being there for my kids, mentally, emotional or physically, is my greatest dad fear and it became partially realized this summer as we cruised to Alaska, as I suffered terribly.

For months leading up to our sprawling summer vacation, and for the first half of it, I was physically present in my daughters’ lives but that is about the extent of my being there for them. The nerve pain I endured for months shoved spoonfuls of misery down my throat, giving me an unwanted taste of my very worst nightmare: a world in which my two daughters grow up without me, and me without them.

The first day of school has just come a-knockin’ at our front door. As its rapping got louder and louder it became damn near impossible to ignore what was waiting for us. We three are did our best to stay low to the floor, to stay out of its peering view through the sheer flowery curtains for as long as we could, but we couldn’t ignore the reality that we needed to stand up, slip on some shoes, and head out into the late summer sun.

I know where my two daughters are each school day and they know that I will be there for them at the end of those days, to listen, laugh, hold and advise as needed. Anything less than all that isn’t something I can live with for one day longer than I was forced to this summer.

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