Not permanent freedom, he told me. He worked very hard to be, in fact, very tied down.
He wants freedom for an afternoon, a few hours, to drive and think and explore without making peanut butter sandwiches and packing snacks in little baggies. Without filling any sippy cups or water bottles, without charging a tablet or packing a car bag with enough diapers and wipes.
He wants to drive without thinking about anyone else’s bladder but his own.
He is an adventurer, the wonderful man I chose to have children with. He has put a baby in a backpack and hiked slowly behind a toddler more times than I can count. I’ve seen him change a diaper and fix binoculars at the same time. Next to his fishing rod in the garage is a smaller, plastic, bright colored fishing pole.
This guy mows the lawn while his 18 month little girl pushes her stroller beside him, pretending that she too is mowing the lawn – her presence making the job take at least twice as long.
He makes a point to gather himself on the way home from work everyday so that when he walks in the door, he can open his arms wide for his three little monkeys to jump on him, scream in his ear and wrestle until someone cries.
It is no wonder that, just for a moment, he wants time and space. He wants to just glance at a map and then start driving. He wants to try to find that one spot someone mentioned to him, or get lost and find something else. He wants to forget, for just a moment, what time it is and whether anyone has taken a nap that day.
He used to do this all the time, before his life grew full of owies and I’m hungries. He would jump in his car and explore. He’d drive up a winding road and pull over when things looked interesting. He would think and breathe and not even realize how rare the moment to do so would one day be.
He’s alright with it, the incessant needs that stream from the kids that we are trying to keep alive, he tells me. He loves being a father, he wouldn’t change it for the world. But, he does miss seeing the world just a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, we still see the world, just very, very slowly. Someday, he knows, the pace will pick up and the kids will probably be dragging him along and for now, he tries his best to keep some perspective.
You’ve got to admit though, he said to me with a half smile, a little peace and quiet never hurt anyone.
An afternoon off, he says, just unaccounted, disconnected, un-tethered time, is just what his heart desires on the day we have designated to honor him. To drive and think and stretch his legs. Clearing his head and thinking of nothing except keeping his eyes out for wildlife will fill him up.
He is going to put some distance between himself and his responsibilities on Father’s Day. He’ll stand on an overlook and breathe in the freedom, considering his life and, inevitably, thinking about how much his kids are going to love that same view when he brings them back there to see it.