Nobody's supposed to admit this, but sometimes—just sometimes—I find myself with a thought in my head: I wish I didn't have kids.
As soon as the thought has fully formed, it hits me how absolutely horrible, repulsive, resentful it is. How empty and sad my life would seem, how much it would hurt not to be a Dad. The genie can't go in the bottle: once you're a parent, you're addicted.
The events that make me think that thought are always trivial, meaningless, and yet they become all-encompassing bad spots in my day. Inconsequential incidents that hit at precisely the wrong time to compound into overwhelming frustration. Frustration at them, at myself, at fate.
That's the price of being responsible for people you love.
It's hard, but the best things—the truly meaningful things—take real work and effort. I must remember that this too shall pass: work and effort subside as you get the hang of things. Things that are hard get easier (note: not easy) with time. And one day, they won't be children any more.
And I know that at that point, I'll kill to have just one more day when Jess runs around in her pants singing the theme from My Neighbour Totoro in glee, despite us already being late for nursery, or when Josh comes through from his room for the tenth time since going to bed, despite knowing he has a busy day tomorrow, and assures us with a cheeky smile on his face that he really can't get to sleep, and he's already counted 238 sheep, and it's not his fault, he's really really tired, but can we help and sing him yet another song?
One day I'll realise that they were just being kids, and the trick is to try and make that day today. The alternative is to constantly be irritated by now, and pining for the past. That sounds like a shitty way to live.
Whether it’s parenting or creating or working or simply being, we only get one shot at this. We'll never have to deal with the bad parts of today again, but we'll also never be able to relive the good parts. One is the price of the other, and the worth of the day is the balance.
Step back, look at what you have, and realise that you don't have to wait till it's gone before you can see that today was a good day.
That’s the trick. And it’s not just for parents.