This morning we drove the first half of the way to school in the rain, but the skies began to clear by the second half.
As they did, I announced, “Jack! Look, in the sky! It’s a rainbow! Do you see it?”
You looked through the windshield, asking, “Where? Where?” but not understanding what you were actually looking for.
Finally, you looked above the green I-65 South sign and finally saw what I did.
“I see yellow choo-choo, Daddy!”
That sounds pretty random when I tell it, but I have to consider: You’ve never seen a rainbow until today.
To you, it was a yellow train chugging across the sky.
Despite my 29 and a half year head start into life, I still am fascinated by rainbows; as you obviously are too.
Actually, it’s pretty hard to look up in the sky and see a rainbow and not at least think, “Cool, a rainbow.”
A rainbow is a universal sign of hope, I assume.
I have to assume that as hard as life can be, a person has to see a rainbow and consider that there is hope beyond what we see. For you, I would have to think that life is already more like that already.
You haven’t failed in life, yet.
You haven’t been legitimately disappointed about anything.
You haven’t regretted anything in your past.
You haven’t only wished you would have known sooner.
Hopefully, that’s where I come in. I want you to learn from my mistakes. Sure, you’ll make plenty of your own mistakes; that’s part of life.
But I want to help fast forward you through the learning curve of life.
It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, but there are clues of hope embedded into everyday life, if we know what to look for.
Last Thursday on the drive to school, I popped in one of my favorite CD’s ever, Mat Kearney’s Young Love.
In a random and successful effort to find a new way to entertain you, I handed over the jewel case with the lyrics; which instantly became a storybook to you.
While I’ve heard every one of those songs at least 273 times, a phrase from the very first song, “Hey Mama,” caught my attention:
“What are you doing for the rest of your life?”
It’s such an understated question. Naturally, though, the answer is simple:
You and Mommy. In other words, whatever I am doing for the rest of my life, it revolves around the two of you.
Granted, I had obviously given plenty of prior thought of spending the rest of my life with Mommy nearly five years ago when we got married.
But as for you, I hadn’t truly consciously put you in that same category; at least not since you were a newborn.
No matter what my calender says, your name is on every day for the rest of my life. There will never be a day that you don’t consume my thoughts.
It’s one of those things that every dad-to-be dwells on. I can remember now, how for the months leading up to your birth, I would constantly think about how you would forever change my life.
I would think about how my existence in this world would now cause a ripple effect which would be undeniable- simply because I was responsible in bringing you into this world, and more importantly, because the way I would raise you would make who you would become; for better or for worse.
So yeah, I haven’t given too much thought about that in the past nearly two and a half years. I’ve had so many other dad-related thoughts to consume my mind since then.
And that just goes to show you… you’re what I’m doing for the rest of my life.
I don’t think most dads’ lives were as chaotic as mine when their first child was born, so perhaps I had a late start in getting to the point of coming to the realization of how happy I am about my life … as a parent.
I read the article which refers to new research in the journal Psychological Science and I get it; at least in my own head. No one needs to explain to me why research would show that dads are happier than single men, single women, and moms.
Here’s my explanation, as spot-on or dead-wrong as it may be:
I’ve never heard a man say, “All I’ve ever wanted was to be a dad.” Yet, I’ve definitely heard many (if not most?) women say that, in regards to becoming a parent.
While I obviously don’t speak for all or most men, I myself never longed to be a father; I just always knew I would be one.
For me, becoming a dad was something as predictable as getting a job, getting married, and getting old.
I only had generic expectations in regards to being a dad. What I didn’t have were dreamed-about expectations about how complete and meaningful my life would seem once you got here.
But that’s the thing. Honestly, I was surprised by the amount of meaning my life gained once I became a dad two years ago.
It’s like I finally mattered to the universe. Because now I matter to you.
There’s a big joke about the end of the world happening today because the ancient Mayan calender ends on today’s date. However, the fact that we’ve been observing leap year for the past several centuries means that today, December 21, 2012, already happened a while back.
This is the first time in your lifetime that certain people assumed the end of the world was supposed to happen. This is your generation’s version of when I lived through January 1, 2000.
While it’s fun to laugh about, there’s definitely at least some subtle unease when we are forced to face the fact that eventually, whether collectively or individually, life does finally come to an end.
I don’t feel weird for admitting it: I think about death all the time.
There for a while I wondered if I was morbid, but after listening to an excerpt of Ray Kurzweil’s book The Age Of Spiritual Machines in a similarly named album by the Canadian rock band, Our Lady Peace, I realized I’m pretty normal to think the way I do:
“Death gives meaning to our lives. It gives
importance and value to time. Time would
become meaningless if there were too much
The way I see it, at best, I’ve only got about 50 years left to live. Assuming an even better case scenario that I get to live those 50 years with you and Mommy, it shows that I’m a very optimistic person.
I simply can’t imagine my life without you, whether that means I leave this life before or after you. My mind isn’t able to process that.
So in accordance to all the Facebook status cliches about living life to its fullest, all I can do is attempt to make the most of every moment I have with you and Mommy, until God pulls the plug on my time here…or the end of the world really does happen, like today’s Mayan forecast supposedly predicts.
One of my many weaknesses as Superdad is that I’m not a very patient person.
I’ve noticed that every time I catch myself “not living life to its fullest,” it’s usually because of something stupid like being tempted to check my email instead of immediately taking you up on your invitation to play on the floor with you as you crash your metal Thomas trains into each other.
See, the inevitability of death (or the end of the world, whichever comes first) really does help give value and importance to time, and therefore, more meaning to life.
If we make it through today, I’ll continue spending the rest of my life showing you how much I love you, through my actions, words, and daily private letters which just happen to be broadcast on the Internet.
I feel more alive today, not just because we finally made it to autumn, my favorite time of year. Instead, my state of euphoria exists because I know I made my son very happy by buying him that fire truck.
On this day, I do not feel overwhelmed as a husband and dad trying to provide for his family. I am not desperately in need of sleep or a boost in confidence in my abilities of what society expects of me or even what I expect of myself.
Nor I am worried about the end of the world; no, I’m not concerned that Communist China will take over America, or Communist Russia, or even religious extremist terrorists.
In fact, if the world as we know it came to an end right now, at least I would know I ceased to exist while in a state of accidental bliss.
It all goes back to my wife and I standing in the checkout aisle at the store and me telling my son, “You’ve been a really good boy today and we know you really want a fire truck, so we’re going to buy it for you.”
He didn’t even smile; he just kept a somber look on his face that somehow communicated gratitude even more than smile could.
It’s seeing him celebrate back at the house by making his fire truck the head of a parade with his other toy cars.
It’s knowing all day at work I was thinking about my son and how happy I made him by buying him some cheap toy.
In this moment I feel extremely needed by a little boy who is dependent on me for little surprises in life, like a toy fire truck.
The meaning of life is to give life meaning. I thoroughly believe that.