Saturday, November 03, 2007

Calling In Fatherhood

The train was rocking gently as we roll through the black of an Ontario November night.

The seafood dinner was actually good, and the white whine served mini round glasses had put me in a very relaxed state.

Heading home. Finally.

It had been a very long two weeks. The first of training, the second chock full of tedius interviews with our Toronto office as part of a large scale requirements gathering study.

I didn’t find out about the second week of travel until midway through the first week.

I had kept touch with home frequently with my handy dandy cell phone. And things were not going all that great. And it sounded like things were getting worse.

One of the two Grandmas was staying with Darlene to give her a hand. The Grandma would get the kids ready for school each morning and take them. I think that is the toughest part of my day, waking up and getting the girls to school. So I certainly appreciated the Grandma’s frustration.

“Hello?”, would answer the grandma as I called each evening.

“How is it going Grandma?” I would ask.

“Who is this?” would say the Grandma.

“It’s me, Fred” I would say.

“Oh Fred, what a day ….” The Grandma would start. And I would hear the long list of all the day’s frustrations, why my girls are horrible little monsters, and her apology for having to break such news to me.

Finally Darlene would come on the phone. The frustration clearly in her voice.

“The girls miss you … ”, she would state unnecessarily during the conversation.

“Grandma was crying … ”, was also commonly mentioned.

“Tell them you’re never traveling again …” would be expressed at the end of the conversation.

So I would hang up the phone feeling pretty powerless.

Some people travel much more frequently than I do. I remember my Dad for stretches of time, only being home for the weekend. I don’t know how he did it.

Perhaps this is a cell-phone accessibility problem? In the old days, one would simply make a single call from the phone in their hotel room.

I carved the Halloween pumpkin with the girls last Sunday morning, just before leaving for the second week. Leaving after spending only the Saturday at home.

Alannah and Ashley-Rae drew the face on the front of the pumpkin. Mean eyes with big fanged teeth growling at you. The finished product was declared to be “beautiful” as we packed up our tools.

Then I left by train for a second week away from home.

I thought of that face all week while I was away. “Were they painting a portrait?” I thought. “Of the faces they see on adults?”

I hope not. But maybe?

I have to travel back to Toronto the first week of December.

I have had a week of celebration and good-byes this week. As I transition from a team now departing to a new team just starting a new type of project, I am excited. And I need for everything to go right.

But these phone calls home just don’t help.

Maybe I should just get a Blackberry.

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