So, today I turn 30. That’s a big deal, right? It feels like a big deal, even though I’ve felt possibly even older than 30 for quite some time. That’s what children (multiple children) will do to you. I tell all my friends, you age about 5 years with the first kid, and it doubles with each one you add on, so this would make me 55 (do the math). 30 is a benchmark though, right? I mean, most people have all these goals of things they want to accomplish before they hit these big benchmark numbers and so I find myself wondering…what the hell have I done with my life? I guess I have this false sense of urgency when it comes to aging because I’ve always told myself I’m going to live forever and so instead of making goals I just live each day for what it is, which isn’t always the greatest way to handle things, but looking over my past 30 years, I can’t say that I regret anything. Well, I take that back…there are things I regret, but in the wide scope of things, they brought me to here, and here is a very comfortable and happy place for me. I have a wife of nearly 12 years, I have 3 beautiful, healthy children, I have a secure job, I have a nice home, I have the best friends I could ask for, I may not be able to travel and just goof off because, like, money is pretty tight, but I have traveled, I have seen other parts of the world and I have the pictures to bring me back, so I’m good…for now. And yet, looking over that list of things that should make me really happy and appreciative for where I am in my life (and don’t get me wrong, I am appreciative and happy), I do see that something feels amiss, something very clear is just not there.
What some of you may be aware of, but most of you probably are not, is that my one aspiration in life was to be a published author. When I was a kid, while all my friends were dreaming of being astronauts or explorers or sports stars, I was the practical one who realized that the only shot I’d ever have to be any of those things would be if I wrote that story myself.
And so I wrote.
I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. By the time I was 15 I had written at least six complete novels and a slew of short stories. They cluttered my parent’s old Apple computer (you know, the one with the monitor that was the size of a television), and they even got me in some trouble when my mother read a sex scene I’d written at age 12. The point was, I knew what I wanted to be, and I was going to work my ass off to get there.
And then I got married and had kids and had to work, a lot, and pretty much had no time to do anything for myself and so, here I am, 30 years old with a novel that I’ve been writing and rewriting and editing and second guessing for the past 10 years (yes, I started it when I was 20) just sitting on my computer and this idea of seeing my name on a shelf at Barnes and Nobel is slowly drifting away to the point where I’m just focusing on seeing my name on MY shelf when I print this thing out and bind it myself.
You know, for the novelty of it all.
Anyways, it’s this realization that has me thinking…maybe it’s time that I actually make a goal. Like, I told myself that I wanted to be a published author by the time I was 30, but it wasn’t a goal in that I never really set out to make that happen…I just told myself that would be nice. But maybe, just maybe, today is the day that I say, “35 will be your year” and I actually MAKE THAT HAPPEN! Maybe this will be the day when my view of life changes and my ability to be something I really want to be actually transpires into something I’m really proud of.
Or maybe not.
Maybe today will be like every other day. If you’re reading this as it is posted, be aware that I actually wrote this on Friday and scheduled it to post at midnight on my birthday, so I’m still sleeping right now. When I wake up on this beautiful Monday morning (weather forecast for the day is 73 and sunny) it will still be dark. I will make myself a pot of coffee and turn on my computer to get work started. Before I have a chance to drink half of my first cup of coffee, my son will probably be awake. He will be screaming from his crib for “DADA” and I will have to race up the stairs to grab him before he wakes up anyone else, because my wife needs her sleep and the minute my daughter’s wake up, my day really starts. I’ll get him breakfast and then retreat back to my office. By this time, my coffee is lukewarm. I will respond to an email or two before I hear footsteps coming down the stairs. They’ll be softer steps, which means it’s my eldest. My beautiful 7-year-old daughter will come into my office, give me a kiss and then plop herself on the couch and turn on the TV. The sound will fill the house, and since my office doesn’t have a door, it will make it hard for me to concentrate on work or anything else for that matter. The sound will also wake up her younger sister, who will let out a cry for “DADDY” and then will pound down the stairs, her steps like miniature jumps from step to step.
She’ll whine for a second before climbing into the leather recliner she has claimed for her own (she literally will not let anyone else sit in it, despite the fact that it was originally purchased for my wife when she was pregnant with our son) and then demand that I get her a pillow and a blanket. My initial thought is to tell her to get it herself, since the blanket and pillow are both at her feet, but I know she’ll refuse and just whine and she’s only 4 once so I might as well baby her now, and so I get up, ice cold coffee now in my cup, and tuck her in. Now that I’m up, I take the opportunity to dump out the cold coffee (which is about half the cup) and refill it from the pot before slipping back into my office to actually get something done.
But I won’t. I can’t. Give it about 3 minutes and that little stair pounder will say, “I’m hungry” and I’ll be up again, getting her breakfast. Because none of my kids can make things easy, we’ll fight about what she’s going to eat. She’ll demand chocolate and I’ll tell her “no” probably about 10 times before she finally settles for a pop tart that I will have to cut the crust off of. Unfortunately, my eldest, who is glued to an episode of Lab Rats, will tell me that she’s “not hungry right now” and I’ll head back to the office. I haven’t even had a sip of my second cup of coffee yet, mind you. At this point I’ll probably be checking my blog, scanning the new posts from my blogging friends and setting them aside to read and comment on later and this is the point where my eldest will declare her hunger and I’ll be in the kitchen, fighting with her about food.
Then my boss starts calling.
The sun is up now and I have the choice to either work and make money to provide for the kids that I created or cast work aside for a dream I had when I was their age and just hope they understand that being broke and having nothing is worth it as long as you are doing what you love.
I’ll work. By this point my wife will be up and so I will work.
I’ll work and then I’ll homeschool my daughter and then I’ll make dinner (yes, I insist on making dinner myself because it calms me) and then I’ll get those kids ready for bed, read them stories and sing them songs and tuck them in and then I’ll drink a bottle of wine and watch a movie or read a book and tell myself, “I could have written this” and I might cry, or take another anxiety pill because at this point my heart is starting to hurt, and then I’ll walk up the stairs and look in on their sleeping faces and I’ll know that I did what I needed to do for the day. It may not be what I wanted to do, but it’s what I needed to do.
But maybe today will be different.