Every year that goes by seems to be not only moving faster than the one before it, but packed with larger and larger milestones: meeting Diana, adopting our pup Miles, marriage, house moves, career wins, career losses, sometimes a couple of those things thrown into the same year. (And, in the case of marriage, we threw three weddings in the same year, because why not celebrate ourselves a little?)
This past year, keeping with the accelerating slope, has been the most action-packed yet. It was the one where I learned to become a dad. Me, teaching him all the things I know about the world. Him, showing me what it’s like to learn about life for the first time––a beginner’s mind in its purest form. Me, learning to up my dad joke game. (Truly, having a child is the sign of a groan man.) Him, testing his boundaries and exploring what he’s capable of, and oftentimes, making us laugh out loud in the process.
At last year’s birthday, I was too caught up in the thick of taking care of a newborn to think about what it means to be a dad. At this time last year, I spent most days with Crosby napping on my chest, dreaming of all the activities that I would do with him. This year, I’m doing a lot of those same things dreamt because he’s older, walking, and eager to discover the world around him.
With my wife having more free time away from work for the first time in a long time, and Crosby beginning to really interact with his surroundings, I think this year will mean more time exploring New York and seeing the world around us anew. One cold winter morning, as we were strolling the west side of Manhattan with newly-arrived Baby, my wife (who, let it be known, has long been seeking warmer climes than our brutal New York Januarys) said: “This will mean we’ll get to explore New York all over again.” So, knowing we will move at some point to who-knows-where as our family grows, let’s start with what’s there now in front of us: let’s explore New York all over again.
This past year has been spent trying to figure out how to stop chasing things endlessly – in work, in accolades, in likes, in what others have that I also want but that maybe I can’t quite explain why I want. To be confident in knowing that whatever comes, will come. Some of it was spent thinking “Well, now that we have all this family and kid stuff to work out, we won’t have time for anything else”. Now that we’re chasing Baby, how will we have time to chase anything else? And why, when all Baby wants and needs is us, do we want, or need to chase anything else? But in the past year I’ve learned to view all that time away from the “other chase” as a superpower of sorts. After Baby, I feel I know more now about life and other things I wouldn’t otherwise have. There’s some feeling like I’ve always known these things, but now I know these things. I seek closer, fewer, more meaningful friendships. I seek out books and places that I didn’t before, that give me experience and meaning without wasting time that I could otherwise be spending with family. I’m more mature now. I think of ideas and life differently now. I’d like to think I’ve always treated everyone as I would like to be treated, but I think I’m even nicer to everyone now, especially when I see other parents. A silent “Baby on Board” network no matter where we go.
This past year, I chose to spend most of my time with Crosby and Diana. You won’t get this time back. Time only goes one way.
At thirty-eight, I’m not just thinking of what I’ve done (or not done) in thirty-eight years, but what life will be like when Crosby is thirty-eight. And that, like my own life and my own thirty-eight years, it will all move just too fast. We won’t get this time back. It only goes one way.
This coming year, instead of just measuring age and accolades, I plan to use a different sort of measurement for my life. One that encompasses family, happiness, health, and success alike. I’m reminded of Clayton Christensen’s, How will you measure your life?
In pondering that question, I realized that my success lies not in just what I will achieve in my lifetime, but what my son will achieve in his.