Remember the “golden days?” You were a man with youth on your side and full of idealistic dreams.
You were a sight to behold. Golf multiple times a week and a roaring social life. You had it pretty good, didn’t you? As Bob Seger once sang, “you were like a rock.”
Then like a powerful late summer hurricane, your life was transformed. You had not an ounce of resistance towards her. She made you want to be a better man, a different man.
Now, you sometimes sit in your “man-cave” and reflect on how life has changed. Chucky Cheese is your nightclub. Changing diapers is your extreme sport. A soccer game where nobody is even keeping score is something you are psyched about all week.
Isn’t it beautiful? As good fathers, we sacrifice so that our family may thrive. The following list accounts for a few of the things we have put aside:
1. The Lifestyle. Jimmy Buffett would have been proud to know you. No responsibility was felt towards anything and your life revolved around the next bit of fun. It was a shallow existence, but you were just the man to make it rock. Eventually, last call always occurs. The lights come on and the party is over. You still slip out on occasion to catch Monday Night Football and see how many .50 wings you can down. But Margaritaville has long since closed. Nowadays. you sip ice tea and your wing man uses a sippy cup.
2. Stepping Up To The Plate. Sometimes you can’t believe the words are coming from your mouth. “I sound just like my Dad” you think to yourself with a slight bit of fear. Then, you remember you are the Dad now and that a different set of priorities now rest at your feet. You are the responsible one now. Discipline and guidance have now been reassigned to your department. You step up to the plate and you deliver, because that is what a good man does.
3. Tick Tock. Time moves like a bullet train. Even Christmas sneaks up on you like a fleet-footed time bandit. There is always something else that needs done and somewhere else you need to be. Then, you see those big brown eyes staring up at you. The only place you know you will be is right where they want you to be. You slap the time bandit upside his head and you sit down and play Candyland. A good Dad knows the meaning of the phrase “time well wasted.”
4. Mean Green. Sure, with your money you would love to upgrade the golf clubs. That 80-inch hi-def at Best Buy taunts you every time you walk by it. But you leave those items in your dreams. Or on a “wish list” that gets larger every month. You work hard so your family has the things they need. Luxuries are for them when possible. College funds, insurance and retirement plans are where you have your spending sprees now.
5. The Sandman. No, not the future Hall of Fame closer of the New York Yankees, but The Sandman who used to allow for a great night of sleep. He seems to be tardy in your life a great deal now. Remember sleeping past 10:00 am once upon a time? You are lucky to make it past 8:00 am on the weekends and 6:30 am during the week. Work starts early and ends late. Saturday morning arrives and before the sun can fully rise a little face is staring in yours wanting your full attention. Your first instinct might be to gently take your forearm and shoo her back to SpongeBob. But you don’t. Thoughts of your Mom screaming “Are you going to sleep the whole day away young man?” race through your head. This while you eat your Frosted Mini-Wheats watching SpongeBob and your daughter explains who Mr. Krabs is. “No Mom, I’m apparently not going to sleep any whole day away ever again.”
6. The Dream Job. You work hard and you’re talented. Naturally, opportunities arise. There is always a kicker though. This one moves the family across the country. That one requires that you travel three weeks a month. The money is incredible, but how much of your soul is required to take it? You come home and your son plops in your lap and tells you all about his day. His best friend across the street helped him make a skateboard ramp. At that moment, you realize you are just fine where you are for now. The corporate ladder only needed to be climbed just so far. Your dream job has already been realized and business is booming.
7. The Cool Factor. Nobody likes to think of themselves as a nerd. You have friends and people like you. You’re cool right? No, sorry Dad, you aren’t. You look ridiculous when you wear those hideous jean shorts your wife bought at Target. Your belly is chubby and your haircut long since went out of style. You wear plaid shirts and khaki pants on a daily basis for goodness sake. All you need is the pocket protector and you just got cast for “Revenge of the Nerds Part 8.” No, you aren’t cool, but there is a very positive trade-off. You are Superman in the eyes of a special little child. Superman trumps cool…always.
8. The Rabid Fan. Back in the day you had season tickets and never missed a game. You found the fact that some fans came late and left early nauseating. Come rain, sleet, wind or snow, you were going to the game and staying until the clock hit zero. You were the most rabid of rabid fans. One beautiful wife, two adorable children and a mortgage payment later, those tickets are long gone. Occasionally, you spend what amounts to a full car payment to take the whole family with you for a game. You arrive late because your daughter puked on the way. You leave early because your son’s diaper is full and you forgot the diaper bag. You don’t know the final outcome and, at this point, you don’t really care. Then your mind drifts to this weekend’s big game and you get excited once again. The big game between the Westminster Dragons and the Shady Oaks Tigers. Dreams of “scholarship” dance through your head as your daughter scores her third goal. Rabid fan reborn.
9. Coup d’état. A man’s home is his castle right? Son, you’ve been overthrown by the Prince and the fair Princess. Tiger is finally playing like himself again and you would like to watch it on the big screen? Sorry Charlie. This is the final season of Veggie Tales on TV and every episode is “special.” Think you might surf the Net a little bit and see what’s going on in the world? Nope. The Princess is playing a game involving lots of furry animals, while talking to her friends on the phone who are doing the same. Do you know who the low man on the totem pole is, Chief? In almost every instance, it’s Dad. You just shake your head with a smile and go take a nap. That’s what was going to happen while watching golf anyway. Life is good.
10. Spreading Their Wings. She just learned how to ride a bike and now she’s backing your car down the driveway. A few days ago, she was playing with Barbies and now she has a date coming to pick her up. Yesterday, you were holding her hand walking into kindergarten and now the trunk is packed for college. The most difficult sacrifice for any great father is letting go. But we do. They spread their wings and off they soar. We taught them well and they are majestic as they fly towards the horizon with the sun at their back. Job well done Dad. Job extremely well done.