Time has a way of catching up to us.
And not only does it catch up but it flies right past us. One minute we’re young, able to function on less than 3 hours of sleep after drinking for 12 hours straight and the next we can’t get out of bed after 8 hours of sleep without wincing at the pain shooting from our backs. That full head of hair is replaced by a scalp that looks like the top of a globe. Vibrancy, flexibility, and a thirst for adventure all take a back seat to your knees cracking any time you bend them and doing whatever you can to pencil a mid-afternoon nap in to your day.
The other weekend, my wife and I went out with friends of ours for a night on the town. Unlike our typical dinner out and home in time to fall asleep watching Saturday Night Live, we were going to bar hop, drink too much, and stay out later than normal. By the second bar, I had seen more neck tattoos than on a marathon of Miami Ink, my beer was lukewarm, I was tired, and ready to go home.
The flames of youth I thought I could reignite with an alcohol accelerant and the spark of local bars never happened. I realized I am much better suited to a decaffeinated coffeehouse. It was clear, that youthful portion of my life had passed me by.
But that’s life. While I’m prone to delusions of grandeur and irrationality, even I have accepted certain aspects of my life are finished and best left to the past or nostalgic conversations. I have accepted, my current state will eventually end as well and I’ll enter in to whatever the next stage of life is (I’m praying it doesn’t involve yelling at kids who walk on my front lawn quite yet). I’ve come to grips with being bald, wearing a knee brace for even meaningless physical activity, and the pains of waking up in the morning. I’ve reached a point of recognition that all of the moments in our lives are brief. These moments are not sustained by longevity which is why, given the opportunity; we tend to wax rhapsodic about them long after they have passed us by as a way to remember.
So I sat at in the kitchen pondering when I will see the next phase of my life in the rearview mirror getting smaller. What will the next stage will bring? How in the world did I get so bald? Wouldn’t it be nice to stop time, just for a little bit? I was broken out of my reverie after hearing a thud from the 2nd floor that was either a boulder or my kids jumping off of my bed. I figured it had to be the kids because surely I wouldn’t have missed a large rock sitting on my bed that morning.
After I checked the floor joists and told my kids to stop pretending to parachute off of my bed, I realized I didn’t need to make time stop because, I’m a Dad.
Parenthood is the one thing in my life time can’t touch. From the moment the doctor told me it was a girl until long after I draw my last breaths in this world, I am going to be Dad (or any form of Dad, it just depends on what my kids want).
In the decade I have been a father, I have watched myself get older. I have enough gray hair on my head (from what’s left up there) that I stopped counting the number because it would take a mathematical equation to figure out how many I have. I have felt pains in joints, seen just how out of touch I am with Generation Y, and have continued to make more and more comments to my kids I remember my parents telling me. I have changed. Points in my life which have helped to define me over this past decade have come and gone except for being Dad.
As the responsibilities of this title have changed as my kids have, the title itself hasn’t. When I was changing diapers during a downpour in the back of the car, I was Dad. When I am called in to reassure their safety in a thunderstorm, they call for Dad. Whether I’m cleaning up a broken glass, a crayon mural on the dining room wall, kissing ‘boo-boos’, helping with math homework, making dinner, running to dance class or soccer or to basketball, or sitting back to give them the independence they need, I’m always Dad.
I accept those times that have passed by were all a part of the normal course of life. Each one with an expiration date I either didn’t see coming or tried to ignore when it came. So my time hanging out in bars, being able to meld seamlessly with a younger crowd, having hair, being able to bend my knees without grunting, or any of the other times in my life that have helped to form and define who I am may be over but that’s ok. I will keep them in my memories so I can occasionally call back on them or try to relive them, despite how unsuccessfully I might be. Those memories are important but there is the one thing that best defines me now and is immune to the effects of time. Regardless of age or whether I will ever understand the purpose of a neck tattoo, when, why, or how my kids need him, their Dad will be there. No matter how rapidly the rest of my life is flying by.