It's taken me well over a year to come to terms with the idea that I would no longer have the time to write regularly about Young Old and his maturation, despite not having put fingers to keypad towards this end since September, 2010. I blame it on 9-11 "anniversaries", I blame it on my thinning hair and expanding waistline, I blame it on the current NBA lockout, I blame it GOP-induced depression, and I blame it on writer's cramps. But mostly I blame it on the newest addition to our family, Youngest Old, who arrived this last June [Please stop reading this now, and head immediately over to my dear wife's blog http://thegiftofjune.blogspot.com, where Aram's adventures are currently being chronicled]. What with all the pre-game financial finger-biting, the timed jackrabbit bed-sporting, an eternal incubation period, and the resultant bundle of living, breathing, palpable joy, time has just sneakily slipped past my ambitions to fully document the second and third years of Young Old.
Yet I refuse to play catch up. Aside from this final briefing, Young Old and his little brother are too disturbingly awesome to waste precious hours each week on cutesy "posts" and "photo journeys." I just want to absorb every moment with them, to savor every movement, every spoken thought, every misdeed and triumph, no matter how trivial or momentous they may be to myself and others at the time. I intensely love Mama K in ways I'll never fully understand, but with my children, I know why I love them. At first, I must admit, it was a mystery, seeing these crumpled little bloody man-wizards bursting out of my wife, and feeling a seemingly undeserved intensity of love for them. But now I understand. I love them because they are me, because they are my wife, because they are independent beings that simultaneously need me and want nothing to do with me, because they can viciously hate me one moment but unquestionably love me the next, because they are something I will never own or understand, because they are my future and my demise, because they take life from me and replace it with feelings of fatherhood. How can you fail to know a love that has such power to scramble your very notion of self? I no longer reside in a cogito ergo sum understanding of being, but one more aligned with they think, therefore I am. I am their's, and the feeling is exhilarating.
And exhausting. I more fully understand why parents oftentimes seem aloof, distant, disconnected, depressed, and distracted. Their bodies and minds have been willingly invaded and put to a use that doesn't serve self. They are at the whims of their new student-masters, and though often feel a reminiscing regret for pre-child past lives, the vast majority wouldn't consider giving up on the lifelong experiment.
...and, boy, aren't there some trade-offs. Sleep, friendships, careers, creative pursuits, drugs, sex...name something you love, and be prepared to leave it by the wayside. It might be waiting there when you come back for it, or it might be lost forever.
But look at what you gain for your proffered offerings:
If that didn't stir something in you, either life has been unkind (for which, truly, you have my deepest sympathy), or you're under 25, and haven't yet lost your inherent lust for risk of self. Or my kids aren't as cute as I think, which I can live with. However the time will come when the longing will hit you to give away everything in service to another [see: Earth's population = ~Seven Billion]. I'm not saying it's the right thing [see: Earth's climate = fucked], but it's an amazing thing.
When it comes down to it, it's about lowered expectations, something that clearly doesn't jive well with current trains of thought, i.e. capitalism, meritocracy, and the guided evolution of the individual. You have to let go. Coming into parenthood, we still fully expected to maintain our pre-child life and the attached hopes and dreams. There was no way this "thing" was going to derail my madcap booze-fueled adventures, trips to exotic locales, plans for becoming a "writer," or come between my wife and I. Once Young Old arrived, there was no way we were going to offer a pacifier, use disposable diapers, give vaccines, allow plastic toys, use non-organic clothing, serve anything but homemade baby food, place our child in a playpen, or utilize a television. Well, welcome to fucking reality. Agree or disagree, but pacifiers made him happy, disposable diapers were easier and allowed us to spend more time with our child and less time scraping shit into the toilet and doing three loads of laundry a day (oh, and we tried, believe that), plastic swords are fucking awesome to a three-year old and cause significantly less pain than their sustainably-harvested wooden cousins, they don't make organic versions of San Francisco Giants World Series Championship hoodies, most homemade baby food is disgusting, playpens are better developmentally and psychologically than closets and Tabasco sauce, and you can't watch RoboCop on a book. Vaccines still scare the shit out of me, but scientific reasoning can sometimes be persuasive.
Really, though, the kind of lowered expectations I'm thinking of are those I place on Young Old. At the end of my life, am I going to want to fret over whether he became financially successful, pursued an important and powerful career, leaned towards my side of the political spectrum, read and watched the novels and films I found choicest, devoured my every culinary treat, or shared my love of '90s gangster rap?
No, son, I will not. What I am going to fret over is this...
Did I live up to your expectations?
Jasper, my friend, I'll never stop trying.