Getting through the holidays without having to administer some form of antibiotics is tough, especially for our family. When it's all said and done, we travel up and down the eastern seaboard, staying in Philly, DC and Atlanta for almost three weeks. I could follow my kids around 24 hours-a-day wearing a fertilizer backpack sprayer filled with sanitizer and I'd still be powerless against every old dude taking a crap at the interstate rest stop without washing his hands, shuffling on about his business, touching every knob and button on the premises. I couldn't compete with all the dried snot and norovirus smeared throughout the mall and playgrounds.
I'm rapidly approaching my third year as a stay-at-home dad. Before I became a father, I had inherent difficulties with finesse. I moved through life like a bull in the china shop.
Laundry? I didn't have the patience to decipher a 'care label,' lay something flat to dry or turn anything inside out to preserve it's color. Everything got wadded up and plunked into the washer from the foul shot line on the other side of the room. If it survived the spin cycle without turning pink, it lived to be worn another day.
Dishes? I had inherited the lone survivors of several, once-thriving sets of dinnerware from my grandparents. If the dried food looked too hard to get off, I tossed it in the trash or we frisbeed it off the balcony and tried to hit it with the shotgun.
Cleaning? Sure, I knew how to make a bed and wipe off a counter. But was I emptying out the crumb drawer on the toaster before we had a three-alarmer? Nah. Was I wiping down the base of the toilet before it was overrun with pee splash, hair and lint? Nah. Was I reusing vacuum bags after I emptied them? Fer sure.
The point is that I was much further away from the man I am today. I no longer shotgun Schlitz pounders and headbutt a hole in the drywall when I'm done. I'm done ripping street signs out of the ground and recycling my underwear by turning it inside-out.
After I got married and had kids, I became a little more refined -- dare I say that I'm even somewhat of a renaissance man? My wife inspired me to raise my standards and fear of child protective services helped me step up my game with the kids.
Now? I run the house like a 4-star hotel. I cook and clean and even manage to have Jen's clothes looking better than new after the wash is done. I have my own language with the kids, ways to get them to clean up and (sometimes) eat the green stuff (veggies) on their dinner plates. I can squash temper tantrums and soothe their frustration by getting down on their level to analyze the problem. I feel comfortable taking them to the pediatrician and know what questions to ask. I can comfort them when they're sick and use my 'invisible airplane' to get them to take antibiotics into 'the hangar' when necessary.
Recently one Saturday, Jen volunteered to give Charlie his final round of antibiotics for an ear infection. Charlie can be a tough cookie. Sometimes he locks up like he's got rigor mortis and absolutely will not cooperate.
I chose not to say anything, because every mommy knows their kids, as does my wife. She's got her own magical touch with them that I could never replicate.
However, once dainty with the demeanor of an angel, she spends her day delegating responsibility, wrangling reality stars and ramming TV deals through. She's hard-nosed and opinionated with superior negotiation skills, which has undoubtedly contributed to her success. She rarely takes shit from anyone and almost never takes no for an answer.
Perhaps she's bringing her work home with her?
Sometimes, you've gotta do what you've gotta do. In the meantime, I'll have our doctor add this dose of 'mommy's magic' to the journal of pediatric medicine.
This post originally appeared on "Dad Or Alive"