Chapter 5: Watching My Child with his Father
I was leaving my bedroom this morning, planning what I would put in my morning green juice when I doubled over in pain. A type of pain almost every parent has experienced. The pain of stepping on a Lego with bare feet. I picked up the lonely Lego Minion, not in the basement where he belongs, and went to return him to Henry’s collection.
The basement of our home has been completely taken over by Legos. In one corner of the room are the remaining moving boxes we still have to unpack but the rest is Henry’s playroom. And the only thing he wants to play with is Legos. I walked down the basement stairs listening to Henry and my husband Tom debating the best place to build a new Lego bridge. It’s part of a massive city they have built across the entire floor. I laughed quietly to myself at how seriously they were discussing it and arrived at the bottom to find my two boys in pajamas, one of them with very sleep-tousled hair (Tom). I returned the minion to his friends and Tom asked if I could make them breakfast to eat in the basement while they worked. Henry gave me pleading puppy dog eyes no mum can resist, so I agreed.
I started making eggs, happy to give them a few more moments together. Because of Tom’s demanding work schedule sometimes that’s all the family time he has on weekdays. He’s usually working until the evening so he misses post-school snack time and more often than not dinner and bedtime. While Tom was never an early bird, he realized morning was the only time they could consistently spend together every day so he’s woken up early ever since Henry was born. Starting when Henry was just a baby they had breakfast together every morning. Tom would feed Henry his morning bottle while I enjoyed a few more precious minutes of sleep. Now that Henry’s older they’ve found a common interest, maybe an obsession, with Legos.
I can build a Lego house that any child would approve of but for Tom it’s different. The youngest of 6 kids, he never had new toys as a child and still remembers the frustration of hand-me-down Lego sets that were always missing a few pieces. Playing Legos with Henry delights his inner child and his enthusiasm matches our 4-year-old. Together they research and discuss new Lego sets they want to buy. Somehow I have become the bad guy gently reminding Tom that Henry doesn’t even like Star Wars so the 7,500-piece-Millennium Falcon spaceship doesn’t seem necessary for his recent birthday. We bought him a Paw Patrol fire truck and police cruiser instead that now keep the peace in the Lego city they are creating.
It makes my heart burst with happiness seeing what an amazing dad Tom is. I wish he were able to spend more time with us but I know how important his job is to him. I think it’s probably a result of his childhood. He grew up happy but there was never enough for everyone. I think this is what motivates him to put in so many hours at the office. Our new house is gorgeous, and I know Tom would be happy to fill it with the love and chaos that he grew up with. I’m currently taking a doctor-recommended break from the IVF treatments after our 3rd failed attempt. But I hope one day this house will be loud with the sound of running feet, the marble countertop sticky with small hand prints, the pristine floorboards worn down by race car crashes, and the bathroom counter permanently marked from a little girl learning how to paint her nails.
Hopefully one day there will be new little architects building the Lego city with Henry and Tom. For now, our home is still full of love even if it is a little quiet. Tom will be turning 35 next month and I know exactly what to get him. The Millennium Falcon is already wrapped and patiently waiting in the upstairs closet.