WHY DO I HAVE TO GROW UP?
I don’t pretend to be something I am not. Here are my basic demographics:
- heterosexual male
- 39 years old (almost)
- divorced twice
- currently single
- college educated
- father of two beautiful daughters
In other words, I believe to be the typical American male minus the dog and the white picket fence. If I stood before you and didn’t utter a word I honestly believe your interpretation would be that of a serious, yet casual, typical middle aged man with some type of career along with being a responsible and productive member of society. It has been said by many that my salt & pepper hair make me look intriguing and distinguished. How easily looks can deceive.
I remember when my daughters were born I couldn’t wait for them to grow up. I was not good with babies back then. I wanted so badly for my girls to say their first words and take their first steps. I couldn’t wait for them to be potty trained so I could stop coming up with excuses to NOT change poopy diapers. I wanted to be the proud Daddy walking his daughter to her class on the first day of Kindergarten. There were so many other things I looked forward to, simply out of my own selfishness and ignorance, that if I could I would have turned the time clock instantly forward about 10 years. Today I am the father of two amazing teenage girls, but God how I wish I could have my babies back again. (This dilemma of mine may be subject of a future post!)
This “rush to grow up” was not exclusive to my daughters as I too wanted so badly to grow up and become the man I thought I wanted to be. Married at age 24 I felt my timeline was limited. If I had to describe it, I would say my vision of my future self was a combination of Ward Cleaver, Heathcliff Huxtable, Danny Tanner, and Tim Taylor with a slight twist of Archie Bunker. Mix them all together, throw in the suaveness and intelligence of Captain Picard and you have one bad ass Dad!!!
As my daughters rushed to grow up, so did I. I started molding a successful career, incurred a mortgage payment and two car payments (a minivan would NEVER be in my driveway). I provided health insurance for my family, set-up investment/retirement accounts, purchased a large life insurance policy for my family’s benefit in the event of my untimely death, and started networking with local business leaders at monthly Chamber of Commerce breakfasts. I was on my way…..to misery and self destruction.
Two marriages later, combined with countless lies, broken promises and trashed friendships, I couldn’t stand to look at myself in the mirror. I was fighting for survival amidst the turmoil that not only surrounded me, but I also invited and welcomed into my existence. The thought of just lying down and calling it quits did run through my mind on several occasions, yet Something always kept pulling me back. In January 2007 what was left of my life, or lack thereof, came crashing down and for the first time I faced a crossroad with two very different and drastic paths. I had a choice to make and both alternatives scared the daylights out of me. The interesting thing is that I had to go through a complete metamorphosis, which some call a “psychic change” and completely evolve in the way I saw things. I had to learn to live….I had to learn and discover who I was.
The path I chose that of discovery, growth, change, self-reflection, spirituality and rebuilding has not been an easy one. This bumpy road has been full of fear, hurt, revelations, forgiveness and the dredging of memories I had rather just forgotten, but the truth is that I am incredibly blessed and living a life TODAY beyond my wildest dreams. So does this mean I have grown up? I suggest the result is just the opposite.
“Serious, casual, middle aged, and a responsible and productive member of society” that is what I truly believe and described as the opinion a perfect stranger would have of me at first glance and I would argue that assessment is almost entirely wrong! The only accurate information I see is “casual and middle aged” other than that I am the exact opposite.
I cannot have a day without humor. I cannot be with my family or friends and not laugh. Most who really know me consider me the clown of the group. I am not a comedian or the court jester. As opposed to my earlier days, I am not someone desperately seeking attention. I am simply a casual, middle aged man who loves to laugh and have fun. I have not one but two pairs of Superman underwear that I wear on a regular basis. I have worn them to work, to the doctor, to a costume party, and occasionally wear them to bed. I was once intimate with a woman for the first time and was wearing my “Man of Steel” undies. I will almost do anything I am asked if I believe it will bring a smile or a laugh to someone. I have dressed as Spiderman at a 3 year olds birthday party and slid down a waterslide. I have no shame in acting like a gay man for the simple laughter it may bring. I once pretended to be on a covert military rescue mission when I picked up my roommate at his job. I often answer my phone “Dominos Pizza”. I will make fun of myself and allow others to do so as well if it is in jest and good spirits. I take pleasure in going out of my way to make someone laugh. I find farts ridiculously funny. I heard “Laughter is the Best Medicine” for me, it’s a way of life. Humor is a key element in my life. I don’t just walk into a room….I make an entrance with the simple hopes that someone, anyone, will find it funny. I often fail miserably, but my genuineness in my motivation encourages me to do it again, and again, and again. Laughing and occasionally playing the fool keeps me young.
Do I get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated? Like the best of them! Yet, I can honestly say that the majority of my days are happy and filled with laughs. I’m a goofball and proud of it. I can be serious when the occasion calls for it; funerals and dentist appointments. The rest of the time I am happy being me and laughing every chance I get. Those dark and dismal days of my past are now humorous as most importantly is the ability to laugh at yourself. Yet they remain stark reminders of the place I was and one I hope to never visit again.
Today I am working towards a new career completely different to what I was doing before. A rewarding career, where the money may not be the greatest but the changes you can make in people’s lives are immeasurable. Today I rent instead of own, and I drive a 5 year old car with hubcaps instead of rims. I have cloth seats rather than leather. It’s the greatest car I have ever owned. Today I look at my daughters and want them to stay exactly where they are….raging hormones, moodiness and all. Today I don’t want to grow up regardless of what the age calendar says. Today, for the first time ever I am not only having fun and enjoying life, but most importantly I can look in the mirror and I am happy with the image I see looking back at me. I guess I AM growing up.