In the back of my garage there is a section that is devoted to baby gear. There is a diaper genie, a high chair, crib, clothes and assorted toys neatly stacked, wrapped and boxed up. For a moment I stare at them and and wonder if there is reason to keep them any longer.
My youngest is midway through kindergarten and there seems to be no compelling reason to believe that babies will be forthcoming. I am torn about this, unsure if I am ready to accept that this part of my life is over. There are a million reasons why it makes sense to not have any more children. Smart, sensible and practical reasons.
Yet I find myself feeling a bit sad and unsettled about this. Am I really ready to say that there will be no more? That doesn’t mean that I don’t love my kids. I do, they are my world. But I always thought that there would be a few more and I find myself asking myself a ton of questions.
In May I’ll be 41. I am still young and in relatively good shape. I don’t have any doubt that I could do it again. Heck, part of the beauty of being male is that in theory I can keep procreating until I am 130. Although just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.
The private school battle has been strenuous and difficult. More children means more bills and that is not necessarily something that I want. It angers me to bring finances into this. I don’t like it. I really want to base decisions upon whether the children will receive the love and attention that they deserve. Although I suppose that finances do come into play because of the impact that work has upon life.
Meaning that a good job that pays enough to support the family can require so many hours that it is challenging to spend time with one child. So here I am recanting, finances have to be a part of the discussion. It still irks me, but perhaps that is more of an issue of the general struggle with accepting that the end of this part of my life is at hand.
Maybe this is all tied into trying to figure out some of the what now business. I have reframed it from being a midlife crisis, although that is what some people would deem this to be. I don’t like viewing it as a crisis or being reactionary. It is an approach that is far too negative.
What I have been doing is going through a transitional period in which I have been figuring out what it is that I want for me now. Been out of college for a long time. I have spent time working in the corporate world, worked for small and midsize businesses and been self employed. During that time I have gained a lot of valuable skills and experience.
I want to take that and use it for things that make me happy. I want to wake up and be excited about the day. It happens, but not with the frequency that I want it to. I want to look at the future and be excited about that and not see a grind. Again, it happens but not with the frequency that I’d like.
Back in the garage I am staring at my weights. They are trusted companions of a different sort. Cold and unfeeling the steel has been a companion of a different sort. Some of them have been hanging out with me since the Reagan Administration. That is a pretty good investment. Too bad they don’t provide a financial dividend to go with the physical.
Old luggage lies on a shelf. A suitcase and a duffel bag. I picked up the duffel bag at an army surplus store around 1988 or so. Back then I spent hours in the gym. I was rock solid and wore a flat top. Occasionally I would be asked if I was in the service. There is only one time that I remember not saying no. It was in Denim and Diamond, a Country/Western bar. A couple of drunk boys were starting up with some friends and it made sense to let them wonder what I might be, but that is a story for a different day.
The bags and the weights remind me of the past but they also speak of the transition into the present. They serve as an easy reminder that change is not always absolute nor scary.
I bend over and grab a dumbbell. Twenty-five pounds is all that I am working with now. The fragile male ego is irritated. I used to swing far more and with greater ease than I am using now. But those were days without responsibility. Back then I would have laughed at the Jack who wonders if he wants more kids or not.
But then again the truth is that kid had his own share of anxieties. Though they may have been different, he most certainly worried about things.
The crib is broken down into pieces and covered with shrinkwrap. I close my eyes and for a moment I can see the babies who once slept in there.Tiny creatures who taught me that I hadn’t even begun to understand what it meant to love.
In my mind’s eye I see a little boy who was once called Red by great-grandparents who are no longer here. The image changes and I see this baby girl pull herself up. She smiles at me and I melt. Damn, she can’t even walk and I know that I am already wrapped around her finger.
My reverie is interrupted by the beeping of a BlackBerry. The real world is calling and with that we fade to black…………….