Dad Guilt Sets In

It was bound to happen.

At some point during this solo journey to New York City, I was inevitably going to feel a sense of guilt for leaving my wife and kids at home while I’m out enjoying the sights and sounds of the Big Apple and taking in 3 concerts from jam-rock legends, Phish. I just didn’t think it was going to happen so soon. 

I left the house this morning at around 7:30am, excited to hop aboard the 9:45 train from Westwood to New York City. After months of anticipation, it was finally time to embark upon a much-needed adventure that I’m hoping will be nothing short of soul refreshing. My expectation is that, come Monday, I will be reenergized and ready to perform my duties as a husband, father, and middle school teacher with a level of zeal unseen from me in quite some time. I’ll admit that these last couple of months have seen my level of vitality dwindle rapidly.  This weekend is an opportunity to have “me time” for the first time in a long time. 

With that said, something strange happened to me at around 9:15am while waiting for the train to arrive. I began thinking about the greeting that I received from my five year old son bright and early this morning. How he kissed the palm of my hand so gently, closing my fist, and asking me to bring that kiss with me. I thought about his laughter as I very carefully performed his favorite wrestling move, “The Rock Botom,” tossing him into a sea of pillows. I thought about my three year old daughter, jolted awake from the ruckus, and screaming for her turn to be next. How she then wound her arms so tightly around my neck, not wanting to let go. She told me that she wanted me to stay forever. 

At that moment, in the middle of the Amtrak lobby, I grinned from ear to ear only to suddenly notice the slight quivering of my lower lip. The levees that had fought valiantly to keep the tears at bay began to break. I retreated quickly to the nearest restroom, doused my face in cold water, and attempted to settle the internal conflict that arrived swiftly and with vigor.

What are you doing, man? You’re leaving your family for a couple of concerts and some tourist attractions? Your kids need you. Your wife needs you. Hell, your mother-in-law down the street, coping with her husband’s ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s, needs you. It’s time to grow up and tackle adulthood. The time for traveling to concerts performed by a band who couldn’t care less if you were in attendance has come to an end.  Turn around and go home. 

I almost did.

But here I am. Typing this post as the train continues to barrel down the Northeast Corridor, heading straight to New York’s Penn Station. I can’t say for sure why I chose to continue the trip, but I know there’s a reason. It just hasn’t hit me yet. 

Until next time,

Ryan

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