Turning the Page

Thinking back on my favorite books, what I sometimes remember most are specific chapters. Beginnings and endings intermingled into the grander story are so often the moments that provide depth and meaning to the bigger picture. Direction lost and found. The wonder of it all encapsulated in the transitions. As one chapter closes the intensity builds and you may find clarity in the progression – a clarity that until then was escaping you. And the story comes to a reasonable stopping point, one that leads not to a conclusion but to another starting point. You are left with a deeper understanding of the path you are on.

And then you turn the page.

This morning my wife and I took both of our daughters to school for their first day. In new dresses and with fancy clips and headbands in their hair, they walked into to school together for the first time. We all held hands and we all knew that today was a new beginning.

Last year Bug started preschool, going only in the mornings, but Lemon (who has told me she doesn’t want to be called “Lemon” anymore, but for the sake of continuity – as if there has been some on this blog lately – that name will remain here for now) stayed home with me. It felt like a transition year, breaking us all in slowly to this new life. Bug ventured out on her own, but just a little. Lemon saw what it was like to not have to share the attention. And I was a stay at home dad to just one daughter again, if for only a couple hours.

We all grew last year and learned a little from our new perspectives. But I think we all found an ease in the sameness of it all. You’re not really swimming yet when you are just dipping your toes in.

Today was a big deal, though.

Today I find myself alone in the house for the first time in what seems like a lifetime. Today I have a surreal consciousness of the moment I turn the page to a new chapter. New stages in our lives are often upon us so quickly that we fail to fully appreciate them until we are settled into a new one and have the chance to look back.

Today, though, is a day that has been clearly on the horizon and one that I have been greatly looking forward to in some ways. Being a stay at home parent is hard. It is something that I have struggled with, especially this summer. I have struggled to find my own happiness and to find the joy in being a parent. In a lot of ways, this chapter that I am finishing has not been a very happy one.

That said, I am incredibly thankful that it is part of my story. I have learned more than I ever could have had it not been written the way it was. I am proud of the man that I have become and, more importantly, I am proud of the father that I am to my children. I am far from perfect and I am far from the selfless, ever-patient, forever positive father that I would have like to have been for my girls during these years of our lives.

But I did my best. I loved them with everything that I had and I tried to learn from my many mistakes.

And now I turn the page.

The new chapter will look a lot like the last one – it’s not like we’re sending them off to boarding school. I’ll still be here, still cooking and cleaning and only occasionally showering. The new chapter, though, begins the part of the story where this odd but lovable protagonist will start creating his own path again. And what seems like a short amount of time each day will afford me a perspective on it all that I think I have been lacking.

So, in this strangely quiet house, it’s time to go to work. I’m excited to see how this chapter turns out, for all of us. I’m sure, though, I’ll want to go back and re-read the last one soon – it was hard, but it was sweet.

And I wonder if I’ll cry everyday like I did today.

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About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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10 Responses to Turning the Page

  1. Jared Karol says:

    Good to read your words again, old friend. And, congratulations on your new chapter. I look forward to reading it, and all the chapters that come after it – the beginnings, middles, and ends. . .

  2. Meka says:

    This is beautiful. These years really are chapters aren’t they? That makes it a little easier to get through the day. You should be proud of yourself. Lemon and Bug are two of the most amazing little people I know. I listen to you speak to them and I wish I had those words of wisdom and soft nature for my own kids. I am looking forward to reading about the next chapter and the next and the next….

    • Thanks, sister. They sometimes seem like damn long chapters, don’t they? Amazing, though, that the time for the girls to go to school has come already. Thank you for your kind words, Meka – you know they mean the world to me.

  3. Those days seem so far away to me now as we prepare to send off a new high schooler and a new middle schooler. But I still remember crying the first day we sent our daughter (the older one) to school. Yours will do wonderfully and you’ll be there to greet them when they return home, to talk about what they learned and to absorb their excitement! These are good times and your kids will become so much more fascinating and interesting over this next stage, at least that was my experience! Good luck and looking forward to hearing about the adventure!

    • It’s hard to imagine that the days of high school and all of that isn’t too far off. Then again, it seems like my girls were just born a few minutes ago, so…. I’m so excited to see all that comes of this next chapter, and all that come after that one. Thanks for taking the time, Steve.

  4. Brother Father,
    Congratulations, you are doing it all very well and should be somewhat proud of yourself, as you are of your lovely daughters. Tears of happiness and immense joy are our reward. I picked up Alyse at the airport last week after her 2 month adventure to Malasia, China and Japan and as soon as we saw each other in the airport we each broke into such tears. We then promptly proceeded to move her back to Tampa to complete her final semester at USF to receive her degrees there. It has, and continues to be, a wonderful ride and experience… the best. To twist an old saying a bit… if you like what you are getting, keep on doing what you are doing. Glad to read your writings again.
    Brother Father.

    • Thank you for your kind words, Brother Father. It’s hard to imagine that such experiences aren’t that far off from where I am standing, but I know it will all fly by (and has). I’m glad Alyse made it home safe and sound – what a wonderful opportunity. Thanks for sharing and thanks for taking the time, my friend.

  5. Seattledad says:

    Nice post Mitchell. We turn our own page over the next couple of weeks with Lukas going off to kindergarten too. The more I think of it, the more it makes me emotional. It’s a change. It’s them growing up, and moving on in a way. It’s a presage of things to come, and it is carries a lot of emotions around with it. Good luck on your new chapter.

    • Thanks so much, James. As much as I am a pretty emotional guy, I have been surprised at just how emotional the last 24 hours have been watching my girls begin this part of their journey. It’s exciting, too, the possibilities in front of me. Good times, these. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment, sir.

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