There comes a time in every man's life where he wakes up to realize, no matter how happy he may be, that things haven't turned out exactly as he had planned. You may not have hit that place, yet, my fellow men, but you will.
Mine occurred yesterday morning when I was woken up by a kick in the face. Literally. My youngest was up and down during the night and when it was wifey's turn to get up, she just brought him into our bed. Still not sure how that solves the problem, but it gets her back in bed faster, which makes her less miserable in the morning, which in turn makes me less likely to be the focus of her misery. Not exactly a 'win-win' but I'll take what I can get.
Anyway, little guy tends to squirm all over the place while sleeping. During his dreamland struggles he wound up upside down in our bed, so his head was down at my knees. I didn't realize this until it was approximately 5:30 AM when his foot met my nose at Bruce Lee speed. Remember my list of ways not too start off your morning? I just discovered a new one.
With one hand over my nose and another resetting the alarm, I flashed back 15 years when I was boozing it up with my buddies, flirting with the girls and thought 'What the fuck? How did I end up here?'. Mind you, I'm not complaining at all...well, maybe about the karate kick to the face. I love my boys and wouldn't trade them for anything. I own a nice house in a quiet neighborhood with neighbors I get along with. I like my job well enough that I don't dread getting out of bed in the morning. I'm in good health, laugh at everything and everybody and just generally have a good time.
I just find it a bit shocking to remember what I used to be like. No responsibilities, no expectations, no ties and no maturity. I've fought hard to keep my immaturity intact (and think I do a fairly good job), but the other things just sneak up on you. Before you know it you're not going out every night because you have a job. Then you meet someone that becomes THE someone. Then you're making sure you have the mortgage paid and the kids fed and in bed by eight.
Maturity and responsibility aren't conscious choices. They just happen. There is no warning, there is no prep course. You turn your back for two seconds and when look back there they are: bills, job duties, children who actually look up to you (who figured that?), wives who are constantly buying shit (ok, saw that coming) and a house that never lets you rest. Stupid house!
Amazingly, I have no bitterness or resentment about any of it! I love having my six year old want to play catch with me in the backyard or watching the Sox games with me. We even sit down at breakfast together and watch SportsCenter. He'll yell out 'DAD! THE TOP 10 PLAYS ARE STARTING!' if I'm out of the room. My youngest is becoming more of a clown every day, is already pretending he knows how to swing a bat and loves when I pick him up so he can slam dunk a basketball (he even hangs on the rim). I've introduced both of them to head banging, so when I play my music in the truck they both bob their heads accordingly. I mentioned my youngest is 2, right?
Wife and I get along perfectly fine as long as certain subjects aren't broached. Like her spending habits, religion, or any of my friends who also happen to be good looking females (more than you'd think!). Excuse those and her not trusting me at all and we have a great relationship!
Accidentally, I believe I've stumbled on the great secret of adulthood. It isn't maturity, since that isn't any fun. It isn't responsibility, since that entire concept is a fallacy; a term made up by adults in a vain attempt to describe what all teenagers should be striving to be. Most adults couldn't tell you what the word 'responsible' even means. It's just a general term used to describe everything they're required to do by law.
The secret of being an adult is just this: Do what needs to be done. You have no choice in the matter, you just have to do it. When you stop bitching about what needs to be done, you're reached maturity.
A general time line
- I like to party with my friends
- I need a job so I can afford to party
- I need a car to get to my job
- I need a job to pay for my car to get to my job so I can afford to party
- I need a better (or second) job so I can afford rent and my car and afford to party
- Since I've moved out, I need a better car so I can visit my parents on the weekends and Mom
can do my laundry, thus saving me more money for partying
- Now I need an even better job so I can afford to take my girl out while paying rent and
affording my car. Cutting down on the partying since I can't afford that anymore
- Need promotion, raise or another new job in order to afford expensive ring for girl and/or start
saving for house
- Job that pays for house and car and wife will now need to pay for daycare and diapers
- Wake up with kick in the face from 2 year old
A bit 'me' specific, but that's the general outline. In one form or another you'll hit those milestones in your life. And you'll pass them, not because you want to (although you probably will) but because you have to. It's the natural progression. If any of us stall at the above steps, we're usually viewed as irresponsible and immature; possibly dysfunctional. Labels men would easily live with if it weren't for the other word that often accompanies them: Alone.
We're social animals, whether we want to admit it or not, and will do what's necessary to make ourselves and our loved ones happy. It's not responsibility or maturity we strive for (who the hell wants that?). It's peace of mind. It's happiness. It's normalcy and a sense of self and place. We're men. We don't need a lot. Just to be content, to love and be loved and occasional blow jobs.
For that, we do what needs to be done.
Today's distraction: Some women's rules for men. I completely disagree with number 24. Not only is it cool, but can be the funniest thing ever if timed just right.