Here follows a disjointed stream-of-consciousness observation of my fatherhood.
There exists no father who doesn’t feel guilty about the time he fails to spend with his children and where he falls short. I am no exception.
Dmitry has recently had his therapy time ramped up: an evening ABA session with a local college student adds another 3 hours of well-needed therapy for which I (and his mother) are very grateful! He continues to progress in ways that are noticeable to friends and family, despite his still-present need for chaos and destruction.
I’ve spent the last seven years operating a retail business about 40 minutes from home. I leave in the morning before or right after the kids leave for school, and get home in the evening after they’ve gone to bed.
I also love to play games. LOVE it! Computer games especially, but all games are fun! They pass the time effectively at work during downtime, and so usually I will play my own games on my computer as I “unwind” on days off. This is a habit of mine. I don’t hate my work at all, but I am naturally introverted which is not advantageous when my work is in sales. After a time of serving others, I need some time in my head.
I wanted to change things up this weekend by playing another beloved game, bowling, with my kids. Unfortunately, though the boys were excited to begin with, they gradually lost interest, and I feel like I was the only person who really had a good time. Also, it separated me from Dmitry who we had to leave with grandparents while we played. I didn’t feel like it was precisely a waste of family time, but I want the time I spend with my boys to be thrilling and meaningful for them, not spent herding them away from the arcade because they’re up to bowl again. After church we played a rather disorganized beanbag toss, where the 6yo had a fun time but the (probably on the spectrum) 7yo seemed to be more interested in stealing the bags away and arranging them by color in the parsonage driveway.
Now, why “lonely fathers”? I have become so practiced at withdrawing into solo games during the week that it has become my default downtime management during the weekend as well. I have a lot of fun while playing on my own, but when Monday morning rolls around, it’s already time to say goodbye. I then spend the drive to work regretting the lack of time I spent with them. I’m lonely this Monday morning.
And I am not in the position of many fathers who live estranged from their autistic son who has no use for a father in their internal universe, so I need to be appreciative of this and take advantage of his interest in me to bring him into our world when he so allows.
There’s also the matter of how I truly give more attention to Dmitry than to the other boys, regardless of circumstances. He simply needs it. But I need to be extremely aware of how they need me, too. It doesn’t always have to be scheduled activities that cost money. I’m sure a nature walk/hike, zombie hunt or alien invasion would be sufficient.
But it needs to be something. And it needs to start now.