Family and Parenting

Finding Freedom from Fatherhood

So liberating, when your family takes a vacation without you.

Every once or twice a year, the in-laws plan overseas trips for the family, parents, siblings, children et al. Sometimes I join in, sometimes my work schedule doesn’t allow it. But the wife and I agree that the kids should see the world every chance we can afford, every opportunity they can get.

I get a lot done when the wife and kids aren’t around. I managed to watch Bohemian Rhapsody in a theatre, finish binging on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., do some laundry, pack the house some, start writing again.

You can do a lot of things you want when your family takes a vacation without you.

When the wife and kids aren’t here, I think to myself, I can go anywhere I want, eat anything I want, meet anyone I want, go home any time I want… right after I get off work. Kind of like being single again.

Then right after I get off work, I step outside, and think about where I should go, what I should do.

These last few nights, I ended up just grabbing dinner on the way home, bingeing on Daredevil Season 3, doing some laundry, packing the house some, and writing again.

I used to like the solitude when my family traveled without me in the past, but this time round I find myself more lost than excited at the prospect of knocking off from work, checking my phone for messages from my wife about how the kids are doing, where they’ve gone for the day and how much fun they’re having. No one screaming “Daddy, Daddy!” at me when I open the door, no one to tell me what daytime shenanigans had occurred in the household, and no one to tuck into bed before I go to sleep first (this is something I always tell people when they ask me how I get my children to sleep through the night—I just go to sleep first).

And then I get a video call near midnight from the wife, and she pans the phone camera to my little daughter, who takes one look at me over the call and starts crying. “I miss you, Daddy” is all that she can muster, and then she can’t stop sobbing, can’t stop looking at the screen, and can’t stop trying to reach out to me. I’m told later that she managed to sleep after the call, but after a fair bit of pining.

My wife says it’s always good to be loved by your child like this.

I think it’s hard when your family takes a vacation without you.

And I cannot wait to have them all back home again, to have dinner together after I get off from work, take walks around the mall or push the little one around the supermarket shopping trolley, go through our nightly routines before bed, including telling them 14 times to go to bed, sit and talk to the wife while she’s half-bingeing on some documentary on dogs on Netflix with the washing machine running in the kitchen, watch the house get messier and messier because who has time to pack the house when you’re with the kids all the time, and keep writing about stuff like this.

So good to be with your family, after they come back from vacation and be with you.

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