Raising kids can be hard. There are moments when the demands on your time seem to be so much greater than your actual available time, especially when they're small. You go from carrying a baby around everywhere to chasing a toddler through the house, hoping they don't fall and hurt themselves. Then school comes with its parent-teacher meetings, PTO, plays, etc.
But there comes a time in the life of a father, especially for a father of girls, when demands slow significantly. My theory is that when girls acquire a certain article of clothing that they have to wear on a regular basis, Dad becomes an alien and is no longer useful for anything but money. I've learned that they do come back partially, but Mom is much more their "go-to" from that point forward. I'm not resentful, I'm just saying that's what I've observed.
I used to tell bedtime stories to the girls when they were little. Stupid stories. Stories where their stuffed animals came to life when the girls went to sleep. One of their favorite story-times was when Pinky the elephant came to visit. We're not really sure where Pinky came from, he just showed up. No one ever remembers buying Pinky, winning Pinky, or stealing Pinky from someone else. One day he wasn't there, the next day he was.
Monday night was bunco night for the bride. Sara and I said goodbye to her as she left, knowing she'd be a different person when she got home: in a really good mood if she won, or in a really bad mood if she lost. (I pretend to have fallen asleep when she gets home so she won't beat me in case she loses. It works most of the time.) Sara finished her homework and we played Mario Kart. She got ready for bed and I went to tuck her in. We talked a little about school and other things. I asked her what else she wanted to talk about, and she reached under her bed and pulled out Pinky. And for the first time in a good while, Sara got a Pinky story.
Although there was an almost-14-year-old beside me, I looked over and saw the 3-year-old Sara with the curls and the sneaky smile on her face. Good times.....