This adult thing isn’t too easy.
Don’t get me wrong. I like it. I enjoy being able to buy anything that’s being sold. No one is denying me grown-up beverages or betting pools. Even though I don’t really indulge in either, it’s good to know that the options exist. Society has deemed me worthy of all its most naughty endeavors simply by living past a certain number of years. Vape away.
So that’s cool, I guess. It is, however, a small reward for the whole forced-to-grow-up thing. That part can be pretty intense.
There is a level of exhaustion that I have been introduced to in recent years that I hadn’t experienced in my younger days. Prior to the last few birthdays, I never would nod off during a movie or TV show. Now? I do it sitting up in a dining room chair at three in the afternoon.
Keep in mind, I exercise and try to stay fairly active. Still, I feel ancient as I watch a TV show about a happy family out for a vacation that suddenly becomes a bizarre tale of me being locked outside a shed at night with kids I went to camp with in 1986. One kid keeps asking me if I brought the cake. It’s trippy with swirling lights and confusing pictures. That’s when my daughter’s melodic screeching voice rings out.
I’m up. I’m totally up. What? I’m not sleeping.
Yes, you are.
No. Ask me anything. The guy in the show went to like a train station, right? He was like “Oh, is this a train station” or something? See? I’m awake.
That was an airport and that was two episodes ago.
Oh really? Damn.
I don’t know why I pretend to be awake when I get called out on it. It’s not like I win anything. Still, I feel bad. I feel bad for her, but I feel even worse for me.
When you’re an adult, no one cares about your genuine excuses for being functionally asleep. I have a laundry list of issues that may have contributed to my current state. It’s wasted words. None of it matters. No one cares.
I worked a full day today. Your brother had me up at 4:30 this morning. I spent an hour on the phone with customer service. I drove you back and forth to lessons and playdates. I have a pinched nerve in my back. My pillow went on fire. My arm fell off.
No one cares.
Previously, I touched upon the tired-dad situation in my writings and wrapped it all up for you with a silver lining. To me, at the time, being so tired showed that I had handled a lot of responsibilities. Responsibilities make you important. Therefore, look at me. I’m important.
That’s all well and good and it still holds true. I feel very important. Great. What I’m talking about now, however, isn’t that.
What I’m referring to is a level of tired that I have never seen. It’s as if Mr. Sandman went to ninja school. A little masked man in a sleep cap sneaks up when you least expect it… and knocks your ass out with pixie dust.
It’s not all that unexpected, though. The reason for this shocking slumber is because I spend the day with my head down pushing forward. It’s all about getting myself to the next step so I can get to the one after. Eventually, I will be done and the day will be complete.
When I get like that, the world moves a little faster. I put music on in the background and scratch things off my list. Whether housework, work work, or parenting stuff, we hit the target and move on down the line.
By the time I sit on that couch, I feel like I changed the world. That’s when it happens.
As I collapse down against the cushions, they curve along to the exact contour of my body. Every muscle I have lets out a tiny groan. I spent the day moving so much that I didn’t realize each part of me was aching. I let out a dad-noise as I bend at the knees.
My 14-year-old daughter never makes that noise. She just sits on the couch like a human being. My son too. There aren’t any weird caveman sounds coming out of teenagers simply because they sat down.
Yet, there I am. Captain Caveman takes his place and within minutes…I’m out cold.
Sometimes people try to give advice on how to “fix” this issue. They’re the ones who don’t get it. The problem here isn’t that I’m exhausted for no reason. I very much have very many reasons. I live on this Earth and I‘m playing the same game as everyone else. I have to keep the lights on. I have to keep the roof up. I have to prevent my kids from growing up to become monsters.
It’s part of the whole three-point plan of life. I’m not even factoring in having a non-verbal child or any other personalized difference. Sure, I can easily make this one about the plight of a special needs father and how hard it is but, to be fair, this problem affects us all. We’re all exhausted – every parent, every adult, every squirrel hoarding a nut. We all fall asleep during Law and Order.
This is the part where I tell you that I see you. You know those memes, right? They’re the ones with sad drawings that say, “I see you, tired mama, pushing your cart at the A&P.” Well, that’s not this. I don’t see you. In those moments, I see nothing but the next task to check off the list. I walk in and out of supermarkets like a zombie, hoping to shave off three minutes from the drive home so I can sit down for two of them.
I might not see you, but I get you. I get how tired you are. Same. We’re in this together. Reach for the stars. All that jazz. At the end of the day, though, be proud. You’re doing it. I am too. Go us.