Friday, January 18, 2013

Fatigue and Cheerios

By Blake Friis

Anyone who has been in great shape, only to cease working out for several weeks, understands the fragile nature of human conditioning.

Months of weekends alone with our baby should have prepared me for my wife’s three-night vacation. Summer attended clinical nurse training at the hospital every weekend throughout the fall. My confidence as a parent grew. I became completely comfortable bathing a baby and never missed a feeding, regardless of how much great football was on television.

When my in-laws invited Summer to join them for a weekend in Reno it seemed like a no-brainer. Of course I could man the fort while she was gone. I’d done it 12 consecutive weekends. You’re dealing with a pro here.

Have you ever jogged on a treadmill after a period of laziness?

You approach it like nothing has changed, until you look down and see you’ve run just .24 miles and question the machine’s ability to gauge distance. And are these the same shoes you ran in last? And for Christ’s sake, why can’t you find the right song on your iPod? Better step to the side rails and scroll through your library.

With Summer home for the holidays, our routine has been broken and my independent parent swagger has been shelved. I am only as responsible and ambitious as circumstances dictate. Give me the opportunity to kick my feet up and where do my feet go without hesitation? Up.

Dad, I'm trapped. Call Mom.
When Gabe and I took Summer to the airport – I drove, he just sat there and didn’t even offer a dollar for the toll – I realized my parenting legs had grown a little heavier than I thought over winter break.

I narrowly avoided an accident on the way home from the airport, a classic Dallas highway encounter. One driver slams on the brakes causing a chain reaction that ends with a speeding truck skidding toward me before swerving into the median to avoid a pile-up. I attempt to sooth Gabe, who woke up amidst the commotion. He cried for the remaining 30 minutes of our drive, making it feel like two hours.

Summer hadn’t made it through airport security and I was already counting down the hours until her return.

The first workout after a layoff can be brutal, but it doesn’t take long for your body to wake up and get back in the groove. I found my rhythm in the cereal aisle.

Growing up with three brothers, all cereal enthusiasts with healthy appetites, I became all too familiar with generic cereal. It hurts my heart to see my son learning to eat solid food with Toasted O’s, even if it makes economic sense and he doesn’t know the difference. I threw down an extra $0.79 for Cheerios and set the tone for the rest of the weekend. We may miss the occasional bath when Dad is in charge, but we smile like idiots and eat like kings.

By the time Summer returned I was in such great parenting shape I could have easily handled another couple days. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a little conditioning and name brand cereal.

Never going back to Toasted O's