Every weeknight of my life, a big thrill runs through my body as I approach my house. Inside are three young kids (7, 4, and 2) and a wife who love me. I love them back, more than I ever could have imagined as a single guy a decade ago.
We laugh and we kiss and we hug, every single day.
My in-laws come by my house every day. I thank them every chance I get for being loving grandparents to my kids. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but our petty disagreements are so trivial compared to our shared love for our kids.
I see neighbors and school friends I care about every day, too. We smile and we chat. Sure, I sometimes see people I’m not wild about, but that’s not a big deal.
I don’t have my own life anymore. Neither does my wife, and neither do my in-laws. It’s all about our kids.
When I was single, I accomplished a lot in my career. I kept in touch with my dear friends. I traveled to amazing places that I dreamed about and had life experiences there. I do far less of that these days. In fact, sometimes it feels like I hardly do those things at all.
I look back at those single days fondly, but without regret. I’m glad I had that life back then, and I’m glad I have the life I have now. In fact, I’m ecstatic. Sure, I can complain about my life now, but when I really think about it, I know that it’s wonderful.
In fact, it’s so good, I fear that I have nowhere to go but down. To date, my oldest son, a first grader, has had no homework, so the extreme stress that most American schoolkids feel is still nonexistent in my family. It will come, I’m sure, and I’m not looking forward to it.
Will each of my kids hate me when they go through their adolescent years? Yes, at least for a short time, it’s inevitable as they struggle to be their own persons. I just hope they get over that quickly so we can find a new equilibrium in our relationships.
Then, someday, even if they get over hating me, they’ll leave. Yes, it’s a good thing in theory, but I can’t help being sad thinking about it.
Many of my good friends have kids who are away at college, and most of them are happy about it. Yes, they’re getting their own lives back. They have more time to spend on their careers, their friends, and travel. And they’re immensely proud of their kids.
Perhaps their lives are more full than ever now, because they have all their memories of their single lives and family lives, but now they have their own lives back, and they have strong adult relationships with their kids.
Yes, although I really can’t see it clearly, perhaps I’m not at the apex. Perhaps my life can still get better.