Today I have turned 39 years old, which according to this means that I am nearly halfway through my expected life. Rather than lament over all the things I have or haven't done in these years I've lived, I'm focusing more on the one thing that is becoming increasingly important as I grow older: time. I need more time with my wife & daughter. I need more time with my friends. I need more time to view all of the television shows everyone tells me I need to be watching. You know, the important stuff.
Part of my responsibility as a parent is teaching our daughter about the importance of time, adhering to schedules and using it to her advantage. Most of Olivia's responsibility as a toddler is to try and be as oblivious to time as possible and do her best to avoid adhering to it. Thus I am reminded on a daily basis about the differences between adult time and toddler time.
Adult time goes mostly like this:
- Waking up at 6 a.m. on weekdays to get ready for work (and at the exact same time on the weekends because my body clock won't let me sleep in).
- Check weather app to determine appropriate clothing for the day, then spend 10 seconds to choose one of the handful of outfits I wear each week. In the summertime this increases to 10 minutes because of the enormous amount of t-shirts I own and the level of cool/hip I'm going for that day.
- Falling asleep on the couch at 9 p.m. while watching T.V. because of a long day at work and no company sanctioned naps. Or maybe it was because I stayed up late the night before playing video games.
- Going to the bathroom, then coming back 5 minutes later to finish what I started previously because the pipes ain't what they used to be and time, while a precious commodity, is also a motherfucker.
- Eating lunch at my desk in less than 10 minutes so I can get back to work.
- Spending countless minutes on social media trying to catch up on everyone else's life while wishing mine was more interesting and engaging.
Conversely, toddler time appears to go something like this:
- Waking up somewhere between 6 and 7, seeing which parent comes in to greet you and then, a) lying back down and refusing to get out of bed without speaking a word; 2) reaching your hands out to be picked up and giving a warm hug; III) asking that parent where the other parent is and then rolling a die to see if you get out of bed amicably or deal 20 points of fussing damage.
- Spending 15 minutes determining whether you'd like to have your diaper changed and clothes put on for the day or lying naked, curled in a ball and silently protesting any further interaction. Once silence has been broken, phase two of protesting begins: determining the correct combination of clothing that does not have skin irritating tags, images that offend (kittens, flowers, anything you were fine with the day before) or any weather appropriate protection whatsoever. Because no matter what mommy, daddy or anyone on the weather channel says, that favorite pink and polka-dotted skirt is totally fine for blizzard like conditions.
- Using all 2 hours of nap time to remove every single bit of clothing you have and sing all the songs you know so far (because naked singing is so much more liberating). Then having a tantrum hair trigger at the end of the day, all the while exclaiming, "I'm not tired." After being put down to bed for the night, you are still up for another hour talking to yourself and singing songs.
- Laying on the floor in a ball for 15 minutes until you're damn good and ready to try going pee pee in the potty. Damn the man for telling you when and where you should go pee pee.
- Sitting patiently for 5 minutes at the dinner table and refusing to eat your hard shelled taco dinner until 'Baby' has finished eating her portion of the meal. When asked who 'Baby' is, a finger is pointed at a large piece of one of the hard shelled tacos set aside on a napkin, with a smaller piece of the taco shell being used as sustenance. "Be quiet, she's trying to eat." That she is, Olivia. That she is.
- Spending 5-10 minutes trying to put a plastic grocery bag over the 'Cat in the Hat' replica hat you made at school that day, then undoing it and starting all over again.
Don't get me wrong, I envy my daughter. I wish I could say 'screw it' to my day, stay home and just play with blocks and watch Disney Jr. until my eyes bleed or I go insane from the all the sugary sweetness of their shows. Unfortunately I have to live in the adult world and adhere to its rules, but that doesn't mean I can't learn a thing or two from her. Although it can be frustrating at times, I've definitely learned to slow down more from my child. I soak up the time I have with her and crave more of it when the days draw to an end. Ok, maybe not every day, but you get my drift. Everybody needs a break sometimes.
38 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, and it's as if life hit the fast forward button ever since my daughter showed up. In my 30s I finally started feeling comfortable in my own skin, so who knows what my 40s will bring. Maybe a newfound sense of purpose, drive to accomplish more things in the second half of my life, or maybe I'll finally stop taking myself too seriously. Then again, perhaps I'll just freak out about how much older I feel and worry that my days are truly getting numbered. Regardless of those things, I vow to be more involved and engaged in both my wife and daughter's lives. They both mean the world to me, and I can't imagine life without them. Thinking about all this makes me remember Jim Croce's song about time and bottles. He certainly had the sentiment right, but what he lacked was size and scope. You don't save time in a bottle, you horde that shit in a giant vault like Scrooge McDuck and swim through it with the ones you love.