This Sunday, July 1st, is the day four years ago when my life completely changed. No, not the day I got out of rehab or jail. It was the day my son was born. All of the sudden it was no more late nights out with our friends closing down bars after work. No more midnight runs to the nearby bowling alley to squeeze in a few games and a few bowling pin shaped beers. From that day on it was diaper, feed, burp, change diaper, feed more, burp, change diaper, sleep for a few hours, then start all over with a clean shirt on.
We quickly got the routine down and the few hours of sleep every night were enough for us to stay alive. The bags under my eyes were eventually replaced with extra laugh lines. The hair on my head is a different story. Not long after our son was born my first gray hair appeared on my goatee. I plucked it. Then one appeared on the side of my head so I plucked that sucker, too. They say if you pluck them more just appear. That's OK by me because at the rate my brown hairs are vanishing I would much rather have more gray hairs than no hairs at all. I already keep a nice short cut and I estimate that in about five years I'll just shave it bald - but only if I can find out how to reconfigure my wine cork shaped head by then.
Many other things are different than they were four years ago. By quitting my bank job to stay home with our kids I confirmed what I always knew in the back of my head. I'm not the corporate lackey type and that's fine. Some people are mentally built to strive for a corner executive office with a giant leather chair and a huge mahogany desk paid for by "the company" as part of the perk of the job. Not me. I'm happy to drive myself over to Office Depot and buy my own leather (like) chair for $50. Couple that with the giant Kimball desk in almost perfect condition for $80 from my neighbor's garage sale, I'm sitting pretty. My home office is in the corner of the back living room with eight windows looking out into the backyard covered in large oak trees shading the only pet we have left. Old Maddie now gets to hang out with the family all day.
Also, in the last four years since my son was born I have discovered that he is just like me. He is even starting to look more like me, although shorter with more hair. He is a picky eater like I was. He is stubborn. He is constantly full of energy and on the go, and he loves the Dallas Cowboys. I started him cheering early on at two months old in his Dallas Cowboys onesie. He is also a very funny kid and I remember being somewhat of a clown growing up. Who knew I would write a humor column someday? Maybe my mother did. She was always my best audience and laughed at me all the time when I wasn't driving her bananas.
In the four years since my son was born we also had a daughter. I have since learned that with all that goes wrong in the world like wars, shady politics, economic busts, catastrophic weather events, etc. - at the end of the day everything is all good when my daughter flashes that beautiful smile and laughs. It breaks my heart to think that someday she will be ticked off at me for not letting her date that guy with a nose ring and tattoos. It will break my heart even more when she comes home one night with a nose ring and tattoos that she got while out on a date with that guy.
Four years ago I was almost thirty-one years old, I had been married for almost five years, and it was time to start the family I always dreamed about. It was time for me to grow up and take on new responsibilities. I sure am glad I did.
Happy Birthday, Little Mr.