It has only taken a year, but a flow is starting to be established. What was once a whole lot of chaos is, slowly, being reorganized into slightly smaller piles of color-coded chaos. That way I can easily keep track of what chaos needs to be taken downstairs and thrown into the washer and what chaos could probably go a few more days. Then there’s the chaos that comes with three boys and three bathrooms and keeping all of those clean. So, you’ve basically got to just accept that there is one bathroom where there is SO much chaos that you can just never enter it. You might as well just board it up and write “DON’T OPEN. DEAD INSIDE!” on the plywood, but you don’t because that would be crazy. Oh and, typically, this is the bathroom in the master bedroom. So, yeah, the wife just loves it when that becomes the one that hasn’t seen the non-chaos side of a sponge in months. But, hey, there’s a whole lot of this chaos piling up and I’m raising two boys over here.
Ok. Everything got white for a second. I’m back now. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Everything is fine. Well, no. That’s not true.
Except that it kinda is. On August 17th we celebrated one year of having a tiny human being in our family named Charlie. Charlies growth has been astounding, not only to us and his doctors but (I believe) to modern scientists and philosophers as well. He’s a BIG boy and he’s really smart and he’s scary strong. He’s already attempting to put his own socks on. He’s regularly using common words and trying to say more and more all the time. I have yet to decide if it’s cute or scary that he’s so used to one of us saying “Okay, Google” to the Google Home that he is trying to do that. What am I talking about? Of course it’s scary. In one short year, which went by like greased lightning, he has gone from a bumbling blob of instinct to a nuanced juggernaut of will. Ya see, Charlie has a plan, and it’s typically counter to whatever it is everyone else wants him to be doing.
A while ago a few people told me that it’s nearly guaranteed that whatever the first child didn’t do the second child is sure to do. This is proving to, mostly, be the case. Charlie is breaking through every barrier that Jack never even attempted to. Jack always seemed to have a natural sense of boundaries. He was kind of aware of what he could and could not do and, to a degree, even what he should and should not do. This is anything but the case with his little brother. I had, when Jack was around 10 months old, perfected my “Disapproving Dad Tone” of voice. It worked on Jack probably longer than it had any right to. Now, when I use the same tone with Charlie I am greeted with a full head turn, a toothy grin and a certainty that he is going to do exactly what I don’t want him to.
But, so what, right? I mean, that’s part of the whole experience. I get to have those types of interactions today because I’m part of something larger. Seriously larger. With that larger comes commitments in both time and energy. Jack has started elementary school and I’ve volunteered for a few positions. I’m happy to do so and I enjoy the hell out of these type of relationships and interactions. Not only because I like being social, but because I am providing the example to my son. If he sees me involved, even if it’s not in the conscious forefront of his mind, he will know that what he does is important to me.
So, now that Charlie has turned one I feel like I get a unique opportunity to actually start getting to know him. That might sound weird, but it’s how I feel. In some ways he has gotten the short end of the stick. When you have another kid at first you work so hard to make sure that the first one is getting ignored, but you fail at that on some level. There is absolutely no way to perfectly divide the attention. Up until recently, Jack was off two days a week from Pre-School and we’d all go and hit the town. Now, five days a week, it’s the Dad and Charlie show. Just in time too. He’s starting to understand things. He’s starting to want to play more specifically and not just tumble his way through whatever toys might be on the floor. His choices and what he likes is really starting to come into focus, at least a little bit. It’s time to start hitting the museums and zoos with just Charlie. It’s time to start providing him with the same options that I had provided his brother.
The chaos, or whatever you wanna call it, will always be there. It will get smaller and more manageable and just when I’ve got it licked, I’ll find a brand new pile under neath it all. I like to think less and less than I have actual problems these days and more and more that I just have experiences in which I grow. Yeah, that’s a much healthier way of looking at things than I’m used to but, like Charlie, I’m slowly starting to come into focus. I’m starting to realize, like he is, like Jack is, what it is that I’m supposed to be doing here. For a long time, I had hinged most of my being on two things: my parenting and my alcoholism. Those are part of who I am, but those things are not who I am. An old-time in a meeting I used to go to would say constantly: I’m a human being first and an alcoholic second. So much truth in that. I’m more than a dad, more than a husband, more than a son, more than a friend. I’m more than a recovered alcoholic that helps other guys get sober. That work and my passion for it is integral to everything else and will always be my priority, but it is not the end in and of itself. It’s the beginning of the journey that I now get to take.
Besides all of that, I am George. I am an artist. I create. I am really looking forward to this.
Be well, everyone. More to come….