Sometimes I feel like a dad in a bra.

I travel a lot for work and often miss two-weeks’ worth of Lego masterpieces, bathtub confessionals, bedtime tuck-ins and, even, painfully, the occasional milestone.

There’s the attempt to Skype (although I can’t compete with my boys’ fascination with their own image.)

The guilt-ridden airport-shopping for treats.

And always, always a reparative period when they, sometimes hesitantly, let me back into the fold.

On the airplane home from LA last Saturday night, I daydreamed about my Sunday homecoming.  Unfortunately, it rained that day, so our plans were limited to Play-Doh, potion-making, and board games.  But every activity was thwarted by my children’s relentless mission to karate chop each other to death.  I felt frustrated and disappointed. After pining for them every moment of my trip, I now fantasized about retreating back to my hotel room in LA.

After dinner, there was homework of the Sisyphean sort; coaxing Owen into memorizing a lengthy monologue.  My husband wondered (out loud) why the teacher had picked such a lame one and I agreed. I told Owen when I get stuck on something, I try to make it my own.  This led to the idea that a hand puppet should deliver his monologue.

Together, we found a small, yellowed gym sock, and, rifling through the art bin, scored a pair of googly eyes, a large red pompom for a nose and some pink felt for a tongue.  After gluing him together, a peculiar smile lit across Owen’s face.  He named the puppet Creamy, and snap! It was as if the monologue memorized itself.

Later that night, as I was tucking Owen into bed, he told me that making the puppet with me was the greatest thing ever, more fun than movie night. (This coming from the same tough customer who said on the way to see Santa this year, “I mean, what’s the point?  Didn’t we see him last year?”)

It’s humbling to remember as parents that it’s not the fireworks, the magician at the birthday, the fancy vacation…more often than not, it’s the non-moment that is the most meaningful.  It’s showing up and being present.  It’s really listening.  It’s not checking your phone every five minutes (even though you want to.)  It’s turning an old gym sock into a simple hand puppet and suddenly becoming a hero.

Thanks to a sock named Creamy, I was back in.

Lisa Rubisch is a commercial director and writer, based in New York City.

Photo by Christine Ng


You Might Also Like

Lena Corwin
Trend We Like: Off The Grid
Confronting Fear

Comments (5)


  1. I know how she feels. My spouse travels a lot for work and honestly, I give him a hard time. I compound his own guilt by reminding him that he has already missed our daughters first steps, first words – what else are you going to miss? ClearIy, I won’t do that anymore.

  2. Posted by: Christa

    Thank you so much for this honest article today. I am a working / traveling Mom too, can so relate! I live for those small simple moments with my son. You’re so very right, they often come at unexpected times!

  3. Posted by: Teri

    So true. Thanks for sharing such honesty. Always helps to know other moms are going through the same things.

  4. Posted by: Jeni

    I disagree. It’s the consistent, reliable presence that makes us parents. Anyone can show up to the party with a great gift, but it’s the day-to-day companionship that molds children. This is the king of thoughtful essay one writes in justification, not in realization.

  5. Posted by: Daddy Al

    I understand that this essay is not intended to bash Dads, but more as a way to vent your frustrations about being absent.

    I just wanted to point out that there is an inherent false assumption in the first sentence of this piece, that alludes that fathers are absent.

    I think that your essay would have the same strength and poignancy without that first line. I feel your frustrations, as I too am a parent who works a lot and has to make the most of the face-to-face time I have with my kids. It’s apparent that you have a great connection with your kids. This essay gives many parents who are in similar positions, great comfort.

Leave a Reply

Yor email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked *

Sign Up

Email Sign Up
We promise not to bug you -
it'll only be good stuff, pinky swear.