This short story is for all dads, who need at least one day of rest!
Meet Dan the Doting Dad
Dan's leaden feet stepped onto the rickety floor of his tiny mobile home. Though these minute, movable abodes spelt convenience and friendliness, they meant more for the odd-job labourer; his mobile unit was a source of security for his family.
Dan represented true fatherhood. The dedicated dad hit the hay at 7:30 nightly and rose, with well-timed precision, at 3:30 a.m. Work at the plant where he was an odd-job labourer began at 5 a.m. sharp. By the time Dan managed to drag his feet there, they were sore from walking. When he finally hit home, it was 2 p.m.
While the rest of his family dealt with the routines of work and school, Dan prepared meals in the kitchen, the furrows on his middle-aged brow painfully obvious. The stress of throwing together balanced meals weighed heavily on the 50-year-old, who struggled with literally putting food on the table daily.
The diligent odd-job labourer's shift began in the wee hours of the morning, which meant that he had to turn in at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Consequently, he had to arrive at work at precisely five in the morning.
Of course, raising forklifts was arduous, and Dan was getting on in years. Having to prepare meals for his University-going children and the loving missus did little to relieve his stress. With having to turn in early, quality family time was a luxury for him.
Things Come to a Head
Things came to a head when Dan gave in to utter exhaustion. Wanting to grab a few needed minutes of shuteye, Dan climbed into the demonish and massive forklift crane, its motor running. He lay his tired head on the backrest of the driver's seat and closed his eyes. Yes, he forgot to turn the engine off. The forklift reached for the boxes in front of it automatically, scattering them about like pieces of lego.
Dan went home after sorting the mess out, tired furrows on his forehead that resulted from the stress of dealing with a dissatisfied superior. He had received a sharp reprimand for sleeping on the job and causing chaos.
"Damn. Still have to throw that fish casserole together," he muttered, his eyes half-closed from sheer lack of sleep. He went into his second home, the kitchen groped around the refrigerator and pulled out white fish that was about to lose its freshness. He breaded the casserole and threw the dish in the oven, relieved to have some time to shower while it baked.
What Dan didn't realise was that he had set the oven for too long a time. The casserole stared back at him from the dish, with charred cherry tomatoes for eyes.
A Reprieve for Dan
Dan knew that he had to take affirmative action before becoming a complete Zombie or, worse, lose his job. "Not sure what to do here, but I do need a hard mental reset," he told himself.
Hard as it was, he knew that he had to improve his situation for his family's sake. So he spent the next few days trying to figure out the next steps.
Finally, he emerged from the period of self-reflection with a solution.
What Dan needed to do was get tidy. He had thus far approached his cooking routine without planning his meals. This laissez-faire view of meal preparation had, ironically, caused meal times to become a burden.
Dan decided to prepare meals ahead of time. He portioned his cooking to last for several meals. He also learned to use the same ingredients to make different dishes.
Dan's children understood the stress that cooking was putting on their busy father. They chipped in to buy and prepare their school lunches. The move was more than a great help.
Dan searched online for quick, easy-to-prepare recipes that he could throw together in less than 15 minutes. He wanted to put meals on the table fast without compromising flavour or wholesome goodness. He managed to add variety to his cooking without unnecessary time or stress.
A popular family favourite proved to be Dan's baked white fish. All Dan needed to do was chop breadcrumbs in. a blender. Next, he sliced fish, broccoli, capsicum and tomato in less than 15 minutes. Then, after layering pesto sauce over all the ingredients, he baked them for just half an hour.
The quick meal was the biggest of Dan's recipe hits. The family requested baked fish at least a few times a month.
Fatherhood in the 2020s
Fatherhood is a challenge in this day and age. Dads, much like moms, face the challenge of having to strike a work-life balance.