By Sean Smith
It was both the best possible time and the worst possible time for my wife to go out of town.Reilly was six months old, had five teeth alreadyand had an appetite that breastfeeding could nolonger satiate. Similac and the occasional solidmorsel were now on the menu. However, my jobhad me perpetually on the road in Guilford andRandolph Counties. Crises abounded and mydays were long.Jody and I are an effective tag team when itcomes to managing Reilly’s needs, and at that point neither one of us had ever had to go italone with her for so much as a day. Nevertheless Jody was off to a work-relatedtraining in Rocky Mount for a week, and so preparations began for Dad to fly solo. Scenesfrom the 1983 Michael Keaton film
flooded back to me.
Caroline: “Do you want to go over the list onemore time?” Jack: “
No I don't want to go over the list! Okaylet's go over the list.”
In the movie, Keaton (Jack) is a recently laid-off engineer who has to run the household while hiswife Caroline goes to work.Among the differences between Jack and I arethat I am a first-time dad and that I still had towork. For a few hours a day Reilly would be inthe capable hands of a babysitter. The trick would be getting her to—and back from—her trusted caregiver while managing my job. Thenthere was everything else.
Pictured above are the author and his daughter, Reilly Smith
Sunday night I scrubbed, filled and packed mostof the bottles in the cooler. The car seat wasinstalled in my backseat along with the portableDVD player that kept my car-hating child fromscreaming.Reilly had begun sleeping through the night toabout 6 am. I resolved to get up long before her and get ready for work. When she roused I’dalready be caffeinated and waiting to feed her.She awoke at 5 am and she wanted to be held.Into the shower with Daddy she went.There’s nothing like shampooing your hair one-handed while an infant playfully smacks you inthe face. Also, I would have given anything for awall-mounted dryer that morning.