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Forewarning: this isn’t going to be one of my typical posts… But my dad turned 60 yesterday, and it has me thinking. I’ve stuck to writing about fitness, finance, and some ‘funny’ family stories for the last 6 months, and it’s been a blast. For the most part I’ve gotten great feedback, the audience continues to share the posts, and people keep coming back. So, thank you guys so much and no worries, we’ll be back to usual next Tuesday.
If you’re interested in a little variety, though – humor me for the next 700 words or so. Thanks in advance.
Here’s the needed background so that you’re not completely lost.
As I said above, my dad (Pops) turned 60 yesterday. He was 30 when they (him and mom) had me. I am 30 now and as you may or may not know, we recently had Clara.
If you’re fortunate enough to have seen a few age milestones you may know how it feels check the box. (The following is from my point of view)
- 16 – Sweet! They’ll let me drive. I can’t wait ’till I’m 18 and able to live on my own. I never though a bite of freedom could taste so good.
- 18 – I’m an ‘adult!’ Voting and living on my own are both legal possibilities. I can’t wait ’till I’m 21.
- 21 – I can enjoy an alcoholic beverage!… legally (if you’re in the US that is. Yes, believe it or not there are some that read this blog in other countries – cheers to you all).
- 25 – Insurance prices are finally less expensive and I can rent a car. But the premiums didn’t drop that much, and you mean to tell me I’ve lived a quarter century? That’s crazy talk. Oh well, I’m still in my mid-twenties.
- 30 – Your friends/family may throw you a surprise party but otherwise, there aren’t too many fixed milestones from here on out. The odds say that at least 1 other person now depends on you and you may or may not be settling into your professional career… If this hasn’t been done already, you start having dreams about playing high school football as your current self. “Man, I would wreck those kids now. Older, wiser, stronger… total mis-match.”
At 25 you can’t believe how much you didn’t know at 20, even though you thought you knew it all.
At 30, the same could be said about your 25 year-old self.
The point is this – as time passes and your experiences grow, there’s more to reflect on and (if you’re doing it right) more great memories to bring a random smile to your face.
At 30 (well 29 but let’s keep the numbers round), Monica and I started making some of our best memories with a whole new person starting back from 0. With Clara came learning moments, teaching moments, and humbling moments, but I can say that parenting Clara is the proudest and best thing Monica and I have ever done.
Before some of those moments could be ‘learned from,’ though, we had to struggle (most of the time will little-to-no sleep) and draw from the experiences we’ve had, however limited in the relevant area. Example – she won’t sleep. Solution 1 – uh… pick her up and rock her, it’s what my mom did to me. Must be a reasonable option.
Well, Clara is getting a little older now. She’s able to throw a ball and if she’s 100% alert and prepared, and you throw the ball in the perfect spot – she can catch too! She can understand some of what I’m saying, gives hugs, and is just generally a blast to be around.
Back to the matter at hand
Pops turned 60 and I’m sitting back to reflect on some of the moments we’ve had together. I can’t believe how much I didn’t know about being a father when Clara was born (there should be a class), but I’m realizing now that it’s his example I’m drawing from. It’s moments and bits of memories from my childhood that are bolstering my fathering abilities. Hey, she’s alive, thriving, and knows how to say, “twwooo.” I’m calling it a success so far.
Because he was 30 when I was born, we’re heading into the first time period where I have memories of him at my current age. So, on his birthday, I wrote him a letter to share some of my thoughts on the matter. I thought writing it down would help clear up the jumble in my head.
I’d like to share a portion of that letter here:
“… I have many fond memories of playing catch, raking leaves in the fall, watching movies, …, watching the game on Saturdays. But the thing that always sticks out to me is this – you always made me a priority. Spending time seemed very important to you. I saw this in your words and in your actions, and that has stuck with me. First – “thank you” – I am a lucky son. Second – “thank you” – for the example you set. I think about this often when it comes to Clara. Unplug, spend time, make time. Because she’ll remember, because it’s important, it’s the right thing to do, it’s fun, … because it’s what you guys did with me.”
“In my short experience, I’ve seen there is no linear path to parenting. No black or white answer (in many circumstances), but often I draw on the memories I have; the choices you made…”
“The fact that I’m at the stage in my life now when I came into your life then is crazy to think about. I can’t picture you at 60. But, for me, I see you at 30, or 40, or 50 and remember the different highs and lows, the normal and the extraordinary, but always the constant. You two were there, you are here, and that shaped me in ways we know and in ways we are yet to comprehend…”
“…Thanks for being one hell of a father…”
It turns out the point is to say, “Thanks.” It’s easier navigating life because of the compass you two set.
Do you remember hearing the, “You’ll understand when you’re older,” that the elders would throw at you when you didn’t quite understand something? Well, this is one of those that I get now:
Parenting is the most important job.
Thanks if you’ve made it this far. As I said above, we’re back to some interesting stuff next week. Have a great weekend all!