Life, she is in session. I gotta tell ya I’m pretty happy about this whole being a dad thing right now. Jack is going to be 5 at the end of the month. Charlie is 14 months old. I’m on the upper end of my thirties and I’m pretty much tired all the time. There are times where I wonder what it would’ve been like to be doing this at 27 instead of 37. Times where I see myself as having squandered the seemingly unlimited amount of energy that my youth gifted upon me. As it stands now, I do have days where I am looking at the clock and just hoping for the minutes to speed up a bit so that bedtime can get here a little faster. I realize both the pointlessness of this and how counter it is to what I truly want. I don’t really want the time to speed up. I want more smiles with my boys. I don’t want to rush them into bed. I want to have conversations with Jack about the things that are starting to cling to his burgeoning personality. However, my brain starts swelling and my back starts aching and I find it far to easy to rely on the “I’m only human” excuse. While I am only human, it’s not incredibly healthy to set the bar low for myself. I know what I’m capable of and when I’m one hundred percent in mind, body and spirit my days seem exceedingly more than human. I am amazed at what I am capable of pulling off now at 37. Also, it makes me fully realize how incapable I would’ve been at 27 to have kids. A walk to the store at that age would have elicted any number of audible groans. I was all about one thing: myself. Despite any protestations to the contrary, I was an incredibly selfish human. Now: I’m a little less selfish.
So, as I come to another birthday in the life of my first child I am finding myself reflecting a bit. I am trying to be more aware of the moment I am now occupying. There is a lot of joy and a lot of hardship going on in life right now. A lot of smiles and a lot of tears. No, that’s actually not true. There are a lot of smiles and really what there is room for a lot of tears. But, the tears themselves have been few and far between. There are there when they need to be, but they are typically replaced with laughter. It’s the laughter that comes knowing how happy you are to be alive. The laughter that comes when I look at Jack.
I look at Jack and I’m amazed at the boy he’s becoming. It’s so hard to fathom him as anything but the person he now is. I cannot fully recall his little butt on top of a changing table. I smile with the recollection that he used to say things like “I wanna go down downstairs.” Which made sense. Downstairs was a place and he wanted to go down to it. Jack is amazing. Jack likes lizards. He’s got a great sense of humor. The girls in his class like him a lot. The boys like him too, but the girls really like him. I’m not sure, but I think it’s a mixture of being incredibly handsome and incredibly kind. He is both of those things, if he is anything. Jack also has a good amount of attitude. He can be pretty quick to tell me and his mother to stop talking and it’s become a question of how to react to this. While I don’t want my son to fear me, I do want him to respect me. I’ve long maintained this idea that “because I said so” is more than enough reason. I am the parent and I am in charge.
So, while I’m trying to control the uncontrollable I’m also keeping alive a 14 month old. Not just any 14 month old either. For his age Charlie is incredibly large and incredibly strong. Combined with that he also seems to be incredibly smart. He breaks down boundaries that Jack never attempted to even touch. He pulls socket protectors out of outlets. He can open “baby proof” plastic containers. He knows where we keep the snacks. Like his brother also, Charlie can have quite the little man ‘tude. It’s borderline hysterical to see him go on the offensive against Jack. Charlie has a smile that is very distinctly his own. It is not mine or Jack’s or Allison’s. When he unleashes his wide grin it is very much the trademark and property of Charles Kirby Ricciardella. Charlie is amazing too.
So, can we now see why I’m tired all the time?
So, I sleep. Big deal, right? I’m tired and I sleep and I try to stay out of the silly idea that I HAVE to do the whole thing over again the next day. Ya see, as I said before, I can be pretty selfish sometimes and I’ve got this very strict definition of “what I want”. This is doubly true when it comes to how I must spend MY time. I have, lately, been allowing myself to feel the squeeze that comes with a lack of time. The things I want to get done are not able to be fit into the window that exists between the boy’s bedtime and my own. When life infringes on what I want I get a little grumpy. Not so much vocally, but my thought life can suffer. In a way, that is the worse way to suffer. If I’m not being true to myself, it’s going to be very hard for me to be true for anyone else. If am not maintaining a healthy attitude and well-being for me than when I am trying to serve my family I am merely going through the motions. If I can love myself first, only than can I truly love others. Perhaps that seems corny, maybe even trite, but I’ve found it to be true. My experience is that if my state of mind is lopsided, I am going to produce lopsided results in my life.
That’s why I prefer to see the things I HAVE to do as the things I GET to do. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s imperative for me to find a consistent amount of gratitude in even the most benign situations in life. I’m late for a meeting? Yeah, but I got to see a butterfly on the way or I heard a great song that I’d been trying to remember the name of. My son fell and skinned his knee? He got back up and his brother got to see him get back up. A loved one is sick? I get to practice the act of love and not just the words of it. I get to laugh with them and cry with them. I get to experience all of this and it’s just so fucking beautiful.
When I can maintain that attitude I open myself up to all the magic that I wouldn’t see otherwise. It’s only then that I can see that I’ve never had it any better than I do right now. It’s only then that I never want bedtime to come.