So Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is all over the social news today because wife, Kristin Cavallari, lit him up on Instagram for not being able to handle the rigors of parenthood.
Cutler was alone with his two sons (a 2 year old and an 8 month old) for some period of time while Cavallari was out of town, and as she announced her arrival (“the eagle has landed”), she faced a barrage of panic (that you can see above), ending in “I’m about to leave”. And hey, it might have been a joke, who knows.
But all I’m here to say – to you dear readers, and to Jay Cutler – is: I get it.
Parenthood is hard, and let’s never, never, never ever ever EVER pretend that it’s not. Every single parent out there has moments where they break down, can’t cope, can’t handle it, and want to “leave.”
And holy crap, people, a lot of them do, unfortunately, leave.
To Jay Cutler (and any other dad that needs to hear it),
The hardest part for young parents (who haven’t gotten to the teenage “I hate you mom/dad” years) is the transition. You’re transitioning from being an independent person – who can do whatever they want whenever they want – to someone that can’t so much as go to the bathroom without a tiny person freaking out because they don’t have a sense of object permanence yet and they think you just orphaned them in their own living room.
The first time I was alone with my son for a weekend, I was really excited about it. I wanted to have that alone time with my son that I missed while I was at work every day. I’d had plenty of days when my wife was out and busy and I was home with my son, or I went out and did some errands with him. No problem. But having it be me alone from the time I woke up (or really, the time my son woke up) until the time I fell asleep was terrifying. I remember that I had a not-terrible Saturday with my son, but still sat on the couch after I put him to sleep and I cried.
Not a couple of little tears that I wiped away with my forefinger and wiped on my sleeve. I mean that I wept, people. WEPT. And I don’t know why. The closest thing I could figure out was that I was so forced to hold it together all day long, that by the time I put my son to bed, all of that emotion had to go somewhere. And, yeah, I felt better and we did it all again the next day, minus my tears.
For that one little moment while I uncontrollably cried on the couch, I wanted to leave. I wanted to open the front door, run into the night, jump into my car and drive up the coast, doing whatever I wanted to do along the way. Every parent – moms and dads alike – feels this way at least once.
So, Jay Cutler, I get it.
Jay, don’t let anyone take away that feeling you had where you just wanted to drop the improvised airplane you made out of a sandwich mid-flight from your hand to your son’s pursed-closed mouth and run. Don’t let anyone take away that feeling you had as you finally, finallllllly laid your other son down for his nap, and you just felt like calling a buddy and getting the hell out of there.
Don’t let anyone take away that feeling you had where you wanted to just wanted to leave. Because even though you felt like you wanted to, you didn’t leave.
That’s important, and that’s what separates the men from the boys. You didn’t leave.
If you do need some likeminded friends who have been there, and who will always be there for a long wifeless weekend, you should check out the Chicago Dads Group. That’s over 300 fathers in your area that will meet you anywhere in the city so your kids can play together while you guys bond over fatherhood (and I can only imagine, football). For you non-Chicago folks, find your closest group on the City Dads Group site.
But please remember guys – you’re not alone. We’ve all had moments where we wanted to sprout wings and fly away from fatherhood. It’s natural. But the important thing is that you stay and you learn from it. And if you need a support system to help you not “leave”, please use the links above to find one.