07 February 2013

Worst. Friend. Ever.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years it is this: Becoming a parent (possibly even a good one) turns you into a terrible person.

This realization dawned on me one day this week (the first week of February) right after it dawned on me that an old friend I’d tried to meet up with over the holidays—more than a month ago now—called me to talk during the last week of December, I believe on the day after Christmas. And as of now, I just realized, I haven’t called him back.

Because I’m an a-hole. Wait, no. That’s not it. It’s because I’m a parent.

Who also happens to be an a-hole.

So, this raises the question, which came first? Did becoming a parent turn me into a jerk store? Or was I a latent jerk store before and parenting just brought it out of me?

Some of you may be aware that I made this mea culpa before, in my HIMYM-swiping post, “Eight or Higher, Bro.” But perhaps I just feel the need to further make amends. And explain my jerk store behavior. Perhaps my guilt cannot be overstated.

On a semi-related note, we have a friend getting married on the other side of the country in a few months. We are desperate to attend this wedding for a variety of reasons. I mean, sure, we want to see our friend tie the knot, that’s exciting and all, but at the same time, it represents an opportunity to get away from our kids for an entire weekend and act like real grown-ups again. Which is why it was hilarious when our friend tentatively—sheepishly—informed me that they were hoping their wedding would be an adults-only affair and he felt incredibly guilty about this, in light of the fact that we have two small kids and he hoped this would not deter us from trying to attend.

We laughed. Correction. We laughed hysterically.

We have no intention of bringing our kids across the country for somebody’s wedding. Why would we do such a thing? But again, there is obviously this disconnect between people with kids and those without. And sometimes it works in strange ways. As parents, collectively, we must be projecting the image that we are somehow inseparable from our kids. I mean, I get it, I would certainly imagine it could seem that way. This same friend and I will often lose touch, for months at a time, simply because my life is so kid-centric all the time (and shit, they’re not even into organized sports yet) that things like emails and phone calls—real, lengthy, talk-about-life-and-all-that-shit phone calls—just kinda disappear from your life. It’s sad. But we appear to be powerless to stop it.

There’s this guy that I work with and for the past few weeks his primary concern in life is acquiring Pearl Jam tickets at Wrigley Field this summer, as if he’s a character out of Dazed and Confused. (“Now me and my loser friends are gonna head out to buy Aerosmith tickets. Top priority of the summer.”). I have been watching this unfold with a strange mixture of immense confusion and outright jealousy.

Again, I can only imagine what this parent thing looks like from the outside. I mean, here I am, I don’t answer your emails or your phone calls, sometimes for months, and yet there I am, posting something on Facebook about some funny thing my kid did. If I saw that, I’d be like, “Geez, what a dick.”

Plus, I’ve got a lot of stuff on the DVR. These episodes of New Girl and Justified and Bill Maher are not going to watch themselves, are they?

When it was time to make New Year’s resolutions this year (you know, those grandiose ideas you have in early January that fade to specks of nothing, usually by the end of February, right, those), I thought, I should try to stay connected to people more. My friends are scattered all over the country, I rarely get to see anybody, the least I can do is keep up an active bit of online communication. It’s not that I don’t care or that I’m uninterested or think that my life with my kids is so amazing that I have lost interest in anything that occurs beyond the four walls of my home. Not at all.

It’s just that, these kids (all kids, I’m certain, but I’ve already got my hands full with these two) require a lot of attention. Sometimes that’s great, sometimes I can get lost in time just by being with them, watching them, listening to them. Playing I Spy and making up nonsensical knock-knock jokes and dancing around the living room to the 900th spin of “Pump It Up.” Constructing the Trio block Bat Cave or learning the names of obscure Star Wars characters or just watching the little one take an extra step away from the coffee table or bouncing on his knees on the floor and clapping along when “Pump It Up” comes on for the 901st time. All of that is great.

And then it’s time for them to go to bed and after work and dinner and baths and books and pinning one or more of them down to try and extract snot from their nose with the use of that medieval torture device, I mean, bulbous rubber suction thing, it feels as though I have lost many brain cells and copious amounts of energy and for a few joyous moments, we are alone and there is silence in the house and there is a bottle of wine open and I finally got that Mike Birbiglia movie from Netflix since it only played at art theaters last summer and only then for a very short period of time and who has the time or ability to get out to see everything you want to see, especially if it is not playing on several multiplex screens for many, many weeks in a row?

And then it’s time to try and get some sleep and prepare to do it all over again tomorrow.

Tomorrow. Which is exactly when I will call/email/text/Facebook you back. I promise. No, really. For real this time. I promise.

Maybe the next day.

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