These days I am either at work or at home. Moments spent shopping are mere interludes between work and home. I enjoy the precious time I spend with my wife and my son, and I enjoy the challenges of work; that being said, it is at once easy and difficult to adjust to this new pattern of behavior.
Obligation makes it easy. I am committed to my family and I understand the responsibility entailed. When my wife needs assistance, I do my best to help. When my son cries, I do my best to alleviate the complaint. These are clear roles I can play. Easy.
Memory makes it difficult. Mere months ago I would spend time shopping, would go out with friends, go to the movies, go to restaurants without a diaper in sight. This is no longer the case. Amazon Mom has become a crutch with their free two-day shipping. I haven't gone out to the movies since my son was born. My wife and I have been out exactly once without our son - we went about six blocks away and had dinner while my parents-in-law babysat - we were gone maybe 90 minutes.
For Father's Day we went to the S&S Restaurant with my parents, my parents-in-law, and my grandparents. This was an expedition for us. We packed a bottle, diapers, wet and dry wipes, car seat, and Father's Day Cards for the dads in the group. We remembered to bring our son as well. He was well behaved during lunch (easy) and cried during the rest of the day (difficult).
Sometimes it seems like the joys and frustrations balance out evenly; for every smile there is a frown, for every burp of relief there is a cry - but there is no parental accounting. There is no way to add up good and bad, to quantify dirty diaper deficits or the sleep traded for feeding. Joy should not be offset; it can exist in memory without context as a snapshot of happiness.
As I was finishing my day at work, one of the cleaning women with whom I am friendly came in my office. "How is your son?" she asked. I've seen her looking at the pictures on my wall on occasion - that's why I have them up. I shared with her a picture I took just yesterday. "He is so beautiful!" she exclaimed. We talked briefly; her emotion lifted me up and I appreciated our conversation. As we exchanged words my pride created another memory, another recollection of joy. That, at least, was easy.