Guest Post From Shane Nickerson: Routine

Shane Nickerson is a father of three and a TV producer. He occasionally writes at Nickerblog.

“We will miss the crying days,” I mumbled to my wife as she crawled out of bed to accompany our three year old back to her room after a bad dream.  “Someday, we’ll wish we could come back to right here.”  She grunted at me with what I’m sure must have been a, “You’re right honey. You’re the best!” I fell back asleep and woke up several hours later to find her already making the kids’ lunches. Halfway through cup two of coffee, she had a significant head start on Monday. I walked to the coffee cabinet of our kitchen and pulled down a silver bag of Tonx beans. I pulled out a scale, and carefully measured 30g of beans for my 16 oz. cup of morning coffee. I dumped them into the hopper of a burr grinder, pulverized the beans into a grainy pile, then savored the perfect aroma before adding the grounds to the chamber of an AeroPress. The AeroPress is a flawlessly designed re-imagining of the French Press.  It makes a great cup. This is my coffee ritual.

“I’ll miss these days,” I tell myself.

My kids are up by 7:20.  By then, I’m usually checking the news or twitter or stocks or Facebook or Reddit or all of them over and over while I drink my coffee. On the couch. In the same spot every morning. I am a modern version of a parent. My newspaper has been replaced by a Macbook.

Shower, choose a pair of jeans, a pair of Jordans and probably an American Apparel Tri-Blend tee in grey or charcoal, put on a watch and go to work. I am 42, but I dress like I wish I wasn’t. In the car, Howard Stern is mid rant. He has become my driving companion over these last six years. A constant voice drowning out the monotonous short drive down the 101 to the 134 Freeway. It calms me.

Routines creep up on you. For so long I resisted them, desperate to stay fresh and chaotic. Lately, I realize how much I savor them, depend on them, and create them. Calm within the chaos.

Exit Buena Vista and make a left. The construction on the overpass is finally over. They fixed it or moved it or widened it or whatever. I can go left again. My drive is back to normal. Stern hands it over to Robin for the news.

Everyone is alive. My parents are healthy, my siblings are healthy, their families are healthy and mine is healthy. My friends don’t feel old yet (although their grey hair is moving quickly from a few strands towards “the battle is lost”), and most of the people I’ve known for a long time are alive and okay. I will miss these days, my routine mind reminds me. These days are numbered. We’ve always known that.

My last ten years blinked by. All of my years have blinked by. I have lived so many lifetimes, each grouped under a banner. High School. College. Actor. Producer. Father. All of it together. None of it possible.

I arrive home at 7ish. My wife has the thousand yard stare from her day long battle against routine, and I hand her the bottle of pretty good wine I picked up at Ralph’s on the way home (she texted me). My kids are happy to see me, partly because I’m their dad and partly because I’m a new face after a day of the same 4 faces. I hug them. They tell me about Minecraft and what they built and the mods they want. I play their games and chase them and hug them and read them books and catch up and try my best to cram a day into an hour. “I need more time for them,” I think. “Cats in the Cradle,” my brain bleats. “Not fair,” I bleat back. That song is my weakness. A constant warning against making the wrong choices.

They finally get in bed and go to sleep and my wife and I watch an episode of House of Cards. I struggle to keep my eyes open, and it’s only 9:30pm. We are turning into parents. That’s what the parenting books don’t tell you. For ten years, you’re a kid pretending to be a parent. And then suddenly, you’re a parent wishing you were still a kid. The chaos you once thrived upon has been replaced by the deep appreciation for those valuable moments of wonderful and calming routine.

I find my place on the couch and open my computer.

At night, the world stops.

I’ll miss these days.

16 thoughts on “Guest Post From Shane Nickerson: Routine”

  1. And here I was thinking that I needed to get out of mine. Up by 6, breakfast, wake up and change my daughter, get her breakfast, etc. etc. (18 month old)

    1. Spot on! My kids are 13, 10 and 8 and you’ve just described my day even down to the MInecraft summaries…

  2. I was jarred pretty handily from my routine last fall, and you are right – you will miss it. So relish every, every moment.

  3. Good stuff. I have a 3.5 year old, and 3 month old twins. Suddenly, I went from slightly complicated with one child to wildly complicated with three. I’m told I’ll miss this time when they are little and squishy and the toddler can ask questions for D A Y S…. I don’t know. It’s unfair to feel guilted into the fact you should be CHERISHING EVERY MOMENT when she’s just thrown up eggs all over the bathroom, poor baby #1 needs her poopy diaper changed now, and poor baby #2 is patiently waiting for her turn to eat. I’m not sure I’ll miss moments like that.

  4. Well said! Mine is now almost 18 in 4 months! EEK

    I thank my lucky stars every day I have an amazing kid, and STILL hold every second close.

    But, yeah, I miss the quiet moments when he was tiny and we’d nap together or watch one of his shows, or play silly games with our imagination.

  5. Very nicely written. I’ve been wondering lately if my husband and I are both running the rat race and somehow leaving our kids behind… With 2 incomes, 2 kids, the mortgage and the dog… Time is rushing by – barely have time. Thank you for this reminder, that maybe in this hurly burly time of NOW, it’s best to stand still and remember that sometime in the future, we will look back and miss this time. I’ll be hugging my kids later tonight.

  6. Very nice—really captures the experience we all are going through. My son is only 15 and I get sad thinking about the fact that he will leave for college in about 3 and a half years. My 12 year old daughter just three years after that. It’s hard to imagine being a daily part of each other’s lives and to have that suddenly drop to phone calls and holidays. It’s just too brief.

  7. This post reminds me of a Trace Adkins song—You’re Gonna Miss This. I’m not into much country music (mainly just the old school stuff) but this song by Trace kind of describes exactly what your post is about. Look it up.

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