Needing me

They will always want more and I am thankful for that.

Tonight I had a bitching session inside my head as my two older children called me from the living room. It was like they were taking turns coming up with mundane requests just to aggravate me as I stood in the kitchen washing dishes after making dessert for tomorrow’s Sunday dinner.

First, they wanted to watch a movie. Fine, I thought. I’ll find something on Netflix and return to my duties, which were, at that time, making a cheesecake for Hollie, those kids, my parents, their kids, probably my uncle … basically everyone except me, because I would likely get stuck at work.

“No, I don’t want to watch that one.”

“But I do.”

“Okay, how about this one?”

“Yeah!”

“Noooo … “

Drag that dialogue out for 120 seconds and repeat it four times and you get an idea of what the movie selection was like. As usual, I made an executive decision and told them both to deal with it or go to bed. Then I started the movie and stormed out of the room.

That’ll show them.

“Daddy,” I heard 48 seconds later. I returned to the living room.

“Can we have popcorn or ice cream?”

That came from the night before, when we rented a movie from Redbox and I offered to run by the grocery store for treats to eat. I was in a better mood then.

“No,” I said, turning back toward the kitchen, my voice fading away from the little freeloaders as I made my escape. “Just sit down and watch the movie.”

Two seconds later, I hear it again … the adolescent voice of someone who just isn’t satisfied with what they’ve got.

“Daddy?”

I’d had it. It was a Saturday night. They were already up later than usual with the promise of being up even later because the movie’d just started. I was tired from their infant brother, who’d kept me from a complete sleep cycle for the last four months, getting up at 5:30 that morning for work, helping move furniture the second I got home, helping clean up from dinner, unloading the dishwasher, loading the dishwasher, breaking up fights, spraying air freshener, dodging the rain that’s been going on for 40 days and 4,000 nights, hanging up photos, mounting a power strip near the outlet in the kitchen where my daughter charges her phone because she unplugged the crockpot this afternoon while tonight’s dinner was cooking so she could plug in her phone, making this damn cheesecake (it wasn’t a “damn” cheesecake until just now – up until this point, it was a perfectly delightful experience) and unloading the dishwasher again.

And what do these kids do? Want. Want, want, want. Always more. They had a pleasant day – probably one like people have in pleasant places like England or Wales – frolicking about the house, helping their mother with simple tasks (that were likely also pleasant like England or Wales), getting to eat lunch at my workplace with me and now – after all of this bloody pleasantry – were charged with the simple chore of watching a movie. Yet it wasn’t good enough. Not nearly, apparently.

“What?” I said sharply, marching back into the living room like a lunatic. They looked scared. Even the movie seemed to get quiet. “What could you possibly want now?”

That’ll teach ‘em.

“We were just wondering if you were going to watch the movie with us,” one said quietly.

Oh. That’s it?

Of course. Duh, I thought to myself. They just wanted my time.

Once again I was reminded of all of those Facebook posts that make people feel like bad parents because they have to work. I’m working myself to the bone, planning for Christmas, paying bills, buying them what they need and some of what they want, helping around the house when I’m not at work, etc., etc., etc., but now they want my time.

Nope, I thought. Not going to work. Not going to make me feel bad, kids. Because if I don’t finish this cheesecake – the kind your mother really likes and is really expecting because I told her I’d make it and bought the ingredients after taking Jakob to get a haircut earlier – your mother’s going to make me feel like I don’t care about her. Still, it calmed me down.

“I’m sorry. I can’t right now. But let me get this cheesecake in the oven. Just let me do that – give me 15 minutes – and I’ll come in and watch the movie with you.”

And I did.

All of these old people look at us when we’re out eating or bailing one of the kids out of jail and they just smile. Some older folks who work with me will see us all together when they join me for lunch in the cafeteria and later say, “You’re so blessed.”

I am. I know that. I’ve often thought what it would be like without them. What it’d be like to work 60 hours per week without feeling like I’ve let down a 10- or 5- or not-even-1-year-old. How it’d feel to go to bed exhausted and just roll over and fall asleep without telling a woman who loves me so much for all that is wrong and all that is right about me that I’m thankful to have her in my life. What it’d be like to spend the money I made on myself or not have to worry about adequate housing or paying for electricity or car insurance on two vehicles or making a car payment because it’s important we have vehicles that don’t break down and not the piece of $2,000 crap I’d probably drive if it were just me.

I wonder what it’d be like to be able to buy everything but still have nothing.

That’s how it would feel without my family. This struggle? This constant wonder if what I’m doing is enough? This pressure? It’s all worth it. Every bit of it.

Because I am needed – not by a job or a neighbor or a guy trying to buy drugs from me, but by my family. Four people who depend on me to come through. Four people who ask for more but are happy even if they don’t get it because I give enough every day. I am good enough. What I do is good enough.

Old people whose kids are grown and have lost contact must feel some kind of way. I couldn’t imagine not being needed like this. I feel for them.

I guess that’s why they tell me I’m blessed.

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