Michael Carrasco and his wife of 14 years, Mandy, live in Plano with their two daughters Amri, 12, and Hava, 6. Michael is a lighting designer by day and a musician and aspiring novelist/poet by night.
4:59PM My life begins at 5pm on Friday and ends at 7:30am Monday morning. The rest of the hours in my week are dedicated to the unrecognized and under-appreciated aspects of fatherhood. The hours where the bacon is harvested; the sacrifices are made; the rock stardom is put on a 20-something-year hiatus; the hair-thinning, gut-growing, brain-splitting tedium of achieving a semblance of success that my children will only understand once it is much too late for their accolades to be worth it. But for some reason, it is. Totally. Worth it.
5PM My kids are old enough now that I haven’t been peed on for at least the last four years. It’s a nice place to be. I am in a kind of fatherly bliss-like state where my decisions aren’t anywhere close to being as life-or-death as they used to be, and my everyday conversations with my daughters are starting to approach coherence. I only have a few years to enjoy this I’m told, so I’m soaking up as much as I can with what little time that I have.
5:20 PM My wife works on Friday nights, so my weekends start off as a trio instead of a quartet. But, as any 30-something ex-punk-rocker knows, a three-piece can be just as hardcore as a four. Even if what you call hardcore is hitting up your neighborhood Half Price Books to find bargains on books about insects or Greek mythology. My girls are homeschooled and have no idea that this little trip is a “school” event.
6PM After making our final selections, Amri and Hava realize that they haven’t eaten in over 30 minutes and are practically starving to death. I always give them the opportunity to decide where we should eat, but we all know it’s a ruse. I’m certain that they are going to pick different restaurants and that’s when I make my move. Thanks to their inability to conspire against me, I get to pick whatever restaurant I want. It’s one of the greatest things about being a father — that, and the daddy-tax. The daddy-tax affords me the privilege, nay, the right, to take a bite (or two or three) of whatever food is in my eyeline.
6:30 PM I use our car rides for in-depth, age-appropriate conversations. As they’ve gotten older we have graduated from singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider ad nauseam to having deep discussions about politics and philosophy. I relish the opportunity to see their little minds think critically and abstractly. We’ve come a long way from questions like, “Dad, what is a turkey made of?” Although, to be perfectly honest, that question is pretty thought-provoking.
7:30PM We continue our waxing over dinner and then it’s back to the house for a little downtime as we anticipate being dragged all over the planet by my wife. Saturdays are busy. Because it is the one day a week that we get to spend the entire day doing whatever we want as a family, we cram as much action into twelve hours as we possibly can.
8PM My girls are best friends and — even with a nearly six-year age difference — get along famously. While the two of them play “Dragon-Motel” (it’s exactly what it sounds like) I try desperately to muster the concentration that it takes to get in an hour or so of reading. It’s tough, but it’s not my-baby-is-hungry-now-her-diaper’s-dirty-oh-dear-she-just-ate-a-LEGO tough. These are smooth waters and I am grateful for them.
9PM The waters are so smooth that my oldest daughter, who is 10 times more responsible and mature than I was at her age (maybe more than I am now), is capable of babysitting her little sister. For those of you not there yet: Yes, it is just as awesome as it sounds. It’s like having another mini adult around the house. This is advantageous for so many reasons, but the most luxurious is that Friday nights can be reserved as date night.
10PM We find ourselves sitting at an all-night diner, trying to cram all the adult conversation that we can into two short hours. Several times over the course of the meal I am interrupted by the vibrating of my phone. “Can we each have a piece of candy?” the little screen asks me. We still have Halloween candy and my kids are texting to ask me if they can eat it, rather than just going hog wild in a maelstrom of sugar and fat. Pride overtakes me.
12AM My wife’s days are packed, so when we get home she crams in her fitness regimen before bed. I texted the girls to wind down and that it would be time for bed as soon as we got home. I wouldn’t necessarily call them ignoring me disobedience, since it’s totally my fault that they have learned not to take my “strict” bedtime policy very seriously.
12:30AM Instead of going straight to bed, they participate in yoga with their mom. I say participate. What I really mean is that they flop around on the floor like suffocating fish. I use this time to lie in bed, fighting off the desperate need for sleep, and read.
1AM Before they finally go to sleep, I get roped in to some of their favorite games. They don’t have to beg because I enjoy them as much as they do. In one that they call “Rat-Trap” they try to dive underneath my raised leg before it hammers down on top of them, crushing them between my leg and the mattress. They never make it through. I guess that’s the point. All the while, my wife covers her face and pleads with me not to kill the children. So far, I haven’t lost a one.
1:30 AM They share a room; so when they finally get tucked into their beds, I fall asleep to the symphony of their incessant giggling. It calandos and crescendos and I consider going in to tell them to keep quiet, but then I realize that their bedroom is more analogous to a sleepover than to bedtime. It would be unreasonable of me to expect them to be able to fall right to sleep. If it wasn’t such a beautiful racket, it might just be annoying.
Diaries are penned by moms (and dads) in the Dallas area. The authors volunteer to share a day of their choosing and are not paid or endorsed by DallasChild. Send your diary to firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions are subject to editing and may be cut for space.
Published June 2014