How to Not Get Lost

Got to do what you can, with the time at hand.
Ali boom mah yay, ali boom mah yay
Don’t worry your mind, it’s just the test of time
In 5 years, these be the good ol’ days
- Stephen Marley, “Good Old Days”

In a home with two working parents and 2 kids under the age of 4, life moves pretty fast (thanks Bueller). Often times Katie and I will lay down in bed at the end of the night and before we begin reading, it’s our time to just talk and catch up. We use it to relay important information like pick ups or school events, but more than that it’s a time to take a moment and reflect on the day, what went well and what didn’t go as planned. How we did as parents, friends, and professionals. More often than not, we spend the 20 minutes or so pontificating about parenthood.

Last week as we were laying in bed touching feet (that’s how Katie likes to snuggle), I said to her, “what an amazing time in life we’re at right now. There’s so much happening, it’s easy to lose sight of how lucky we are. You know, in 20 years, these are the days we’ll look back on and tell stories about. We’re actually living the ‘good ol days.’”

“I know,” she replied. “These are the best days of our lives.”

And that gave me pause in that moment and it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a week or so now. It’s so easy as a parent to get caught up in adulting. So easy, in fact that some people lose their entire identity to it. I want to give it the attention and brain space that it deserves as my favorite thing to this point in life, yet I hate the thought that they’re going to grow and want less of me in their lives, and I’ll be moving past my greatest accomplishment. That sounds fucking awful.

Every day Katie and I get up my first thought is, “I hope John didn’t hear our alarm clock.” The kid is the lightest sleeper ever and if he’s not awake before our alarm, he’s usually awake slightly after it. Once he’s up, the day of the children begins, and thus our day as parents. It starts with getting them bananas, a granola bar, and water-juice (that’s what they call our mostly-water-and-a-little-bit-of-oj drink). They watch shows while we shower and then the craziness immediately begins. Finish eating, get dressed, teeth brushed, lunches and bags in the car, and shoes on. It doesn’t sound like much, but morning’s can be crazy. So SO much fun, for sure. In fact, it’s maybe my favorite part of the day, but it can be pure chaos.

My second favorite part of the day is usually around 5pm, when I get home from work. I hear from another room “DADDYYYY!!!” and both kids sprint to meet me and we give hugs and kisses and they tell me about the absolute most important things on their brain, usually the art that they made at school that day or something of equal importance. From there it’s play time, reading time, wrestle time, craft time, hide and seek, you name it and we’re doing it.

In between these moments, we squeeze in the loving of a spouse, the making of dinner, packing of lunches, and any other emergencies that might arise, like a skinned knee or a bumped noggin. Whether you’re a parent or not, it’s easy to see how this life is both incredibly challenging and incredibly fulfilling. And when you do something right and see it lovingly played out in real life by your child? Forget it. You melt with love and inspiration.

It’s such an intense experience, one that spans the entire width of the emotional spectrum. So I understand how parents can get lost in the roller coaster ride, and subsequently lost in the identity of being a parent. It’s surprisingly hard not to. But I have both my own passions and the passions of my family and I refuse to believe that I’m at a peak in the quality of my life. I have a million things I want to accomplish, and I’m still young and full of energy.

So I refuse to believe that today, at the age of 39, is the best day i will ever have. What I am choosing to believe, instead, is that every day from here on out is going to get a little bit better, culminating in the best day of my life, which will also happen to be the day I die.