Bad Dad Strikes Again

We’ve been dreading it like cancer — day care for the Peanut.  It finally happened today.  The crying began last night and continued all the way over to the day care center.  The sound of that weeping broke my heart even further than it already was.

The baby, on the other hand, couldn’t care less; she just kept sleeping in the her car seat while the Missus continued her meltdown.

I wasn’t feeling so chipper myself.  Although I tried to console myself with the fact that day care is simply a given for many, if not most, parents these days, I couldn’t help but feel that it was still somehow my fault.  After all, it goes back to that choice I made as a teenager to pursue the movie dream no matter what; that’s great and all, but considering that I’ve gotten to my age and still can’t support my family, well, was it really worth it?  If a mysterious stranger had met us at the door of the day care center today and said to me, “All right, I’ll make you a deal — your wife will get to be a stay-at-home mom and you’ll make enough to provide your family with a comfortable living… but you gotta give up this screenwriting shit,” I would’ve signed that contract faster than you can say “Mephistopheles.”

But alas, there was no mysterious stranger to greet us, so into day care the Peanut went.  And — surprise, surprise — everything turned out to be fine; nobody beat her up or gave her a tattoo or turned her to a life of crime (yet).  The Missus felt better when she picked up our little girl at the end of the day.  Maybe it’s not the end of the world after all.

Still, this whole day care thing bugs me.  A lot.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a Cosby-esque nuclear family with Mom at home and Dad this elusive figure I’d catch a glimpse of at night and on weekends; I hate the notion that my daughter would be deprived of that kind of traditional home life.  I even suggested that I give up my own job to become Mr. Mom, but the Missus would hear none of it, insisting that I wouldn’t have time to write; as she pointed out, the possibility that I could win the lottery with a spec sale or big assignment is really our only chance for her to become a stay-at-home mommy.  Sad but true.  And although I have about as much chance of striking rich that way as I do getting hit in the head by a meteorite, it’s a shred of hope that we’ll just cling to for as long as we can.

In the meantime, I’ll keep hoping the Peanut doesn’t learn how to make a shank out of a used diaper.

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10 Comments on “Bad Dad Strikes Again”

  1. WhatACard Says:

    Wow, big day! You’re doing great. I know it must suck, though. Thinking of you and the Missus…

  2. WriterDad Says:

    Thanks! Nah, it’s not ideal — but on the plus side, at least we can actually afford day care…

  3. Susan Says:

    Don’t call it daycare call it school!

  4. Alex Says:

    “If a mysterious stranger had met us at the door of the day care center today and said to me, “All right, I’ll make you a deal — your wife will get to be a stay-at-home mom and you’ll make enough to provide your family with a comfortable living… but you gotta give up this screenwriting shit,” I would’ve signed that contract faster than you can say “Mephistopheles.””

    Not saying this to be snarky at all, just another writer who’s really curious about your answer – if a mysterious stranger showed up at the day care center and said “I can see the future and you’ll never have a screenwriting career,” what would you do? Do you have a fallback plan? Another career you could pursue? Is there a point where you say “okay, what else can I do to make a living?”

  5. WriterDad Says:

    Susan — “I’m taking her to school… I’m taking her to school…” Maybe I can convince myself…:)

    Alex — your question sort of sums up the last ten years of my life. There’s no real fallback plan; I’ll always be able to find a day job — I’ve been an admin assistant for a decade now — but that’s not exactly a career. I’m not ready to actually throw in the towel; it’s just that moments like those make me painfully aware of the gulf between my goals and my reality. But the Missus is incredible supportive — she doesn’t want me to consider packing it in for another five years, which would put me within spitting distance of 40… hopefully things won’t come to that.

  6. WriterDad Says:

    Two things — first, if this mysterious stranger actually did say I had no future as a screenwriter, well… I would have thought he was full of shit anyway. 🙂

    And if you’re wondering what I’d decide to do for a living if I had to remake myself in middle age, that’s another good question. My wife is still a fan of this option:

  7. cvcobb01 Says:

    Been there.

    The horror story I’ll share is that I have a beautiful, happy, well-adjusted and far too socially adept child to show for it. I thought ONLY my wife and I could help her achieve that, but the jerks at daycare/school popped that bubble. Hate ’em.

    Things to watch out for: they usually grow up a bit faster, talk sooner, and learn how to throw a punch the way you only do in the kind of family I grew up in (5 boys, 4 within a 6 year span).

    The first day is the hardest. But the kid actually thrives on it.

  8. WriterDad Says:

    cvcobb01 — thanks for the comment. Given what social retards the Missus and I are, I suppose our kid needs all the help she can get on that front; she ain’t gonna get it from us, that’s for sure. 🙂 My wife also read your note about your family and groaned, imagining a house that full of testosterone… Thanks for stopping by!

  9. William Says:

    I’m alright and you’ll be alright. Really. Here’s the thing, the two days I get to write never feel like they’re enough. I think you said you have one day right?

    You have to act like you don’t have a child or a wife on that one day. I’m serious. Some weeks that just won’t be an attainable goal but the weeks where it is, live that day like you are single with all that time and dedication to your craft. Then when they come through that door at the end of the day you can be daddy all over again.

    It’s a mental game you need to play on yourself.

  10. WriterDad Says:

    William — yeah, I’ve got Fridays off. (Usually, anyway — today was an exception and I had to go to into the office.) Funny you should mention it; the Missus expressly ordered me to keep from springing the kid next week so I could actually get some work done. I’m definitely going to have to learn the mental game you suggest…

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