Years ago, Ray Romano was a guest on a late-night talk show, and he was asked what it was like having three kids under the age of five and he said, “It’s a lot like living in a fraternity. Everything is broken, no one sleeps, and there’s a lot of throwing up.”
When I eventually became a father of three, within a four-year time span, I always remembered that answer and found it to be apropos on many occasions.
Now, those kids have grown into full-fledged teenagers. The other night, as I was reflecting on how fast time had passed, it occurred to me that my wife and I have moved out of the fraternity house and are now running a small hotel.
Specifically, this thought occurred to me as my middle-aged bladder once again assured that I was not going to sleep through the night. I got out of bed and noticed a light coming from one of the bedrooms and I could faintly hear a conversation coming from another, not at all dissimilar from a walk down the hallway at a hotel.
For a second, I thought about comparing our house to a bed and breakfast, but that comparison doesn’t work because my wife and I are the only ones who get up for breakfast and there is almost no gathering in a centralized place like there is when you actually stay at a B&B. Our lobby (kitchen and family room) is merely a pass through for these guests of ours.
No one keeps the same hours. While they don’t quite come and go as they please, I do still have to make sure that the front desk is manned at hours that aren’t exactly conducive to my schedule or my own need for sleep.
Dishes are left in haphazard places as if the hired help will be by at any time to clean up.
Guests come and go daily. Some are regulars. Some are just passing through.
Also, there should be enough wi-fi speed for everyone, yet connectivity is still sketchy for some reason.
When I think about it, there are very few differences from a hotel.
I guess one difference is that there is no signal for whether the towels and sheets should be washed. Everything is always on the floor, but the laundry is still done on our schedule (because my wife and I are the only ones doing the laundry).
Another big difference is that hotels are eventually monetarily compensated for providing shelter.
When our kids were really little, they believed that everyone in our extended family lived with us and just spent varying degrees of time at our home. If they saw their grandma once a week, they would welcome her home as if she had been working or vacationing somewhere else in between her stops at our house.
Now, it is the other way around. Our kids do really live with us, but it feels like they are just visiting when we do see them.
When I first became a parent, I had a vision of what it might be like when our young children became teenagers. Along the way, I tried to prepare myself and them for that time, but the priority was always to spend as much time together as possible and to have as much fun as we could while doing so.
As important as I believe it is to plan and be prepared for whatever you are going to encounter, I think it is a blessing that the demands of young parenthood keep you focused on the moment. Those demands ensure that you live in the moment and that absolutely adds to the enjoyment of those times. Plus, I eventually learned that there was plenty of details to sweat and situations to worry about once that time arrived so there was certainly no need to think too much about the teenage years while they were still adolescents.
Even though it can be stressful running a hotel while still working a full-time job and tending to all the other aspects of life, I am very aware of how fast time passes and I know that this time is fleeting and precious. So, for now, I am going to enjoy it as much as possible.
Besides, it is not as if they have asked for room service. At least not yet, anyway.
This article is part of Scott Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.