There is a left turn red light I will always remember. It was the left turn that led into Kaiser Permanente in Woodland Hills, CA – and the day was September 30th, 2007. I sat there, staring at the light, and then turning my head to glance at my very pregnant wife, and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach.
I had no idea what lie ahead.
I guess I mark that moment in my head as the last moment of my life before I had kids. Amalea was born the next morning, on October 1st, 2007. Maya came two years later, and now we have one more little girl on the way.
See the thing is, once you have kids – you always have kids. There is no going back, ever. See it’s different than having a friend or being married. Because those relationship status’ end. But kids… it does not matter if they were to pass away, you can never rip that relationship away, no matter what. They have your eyes. They have your personality. They have your sense of humor and your temper. They came from you and they are yours, forever.
And so you’re life changes, drastically, when your first child enters the world. You do not realize it until some time later, but everything changes and there is no way to return to the you-before-kids.
The moment… at that light. That was someone else. I was someone else.
But this isn’t really what I wanted to write about tonight, though it does serve as a good introduction. What I wanted to write about, is in fact this relationship – parent / child.
Having a child is unlike any other experience in life. It is exhilarating and terrifying. It is liberating and stifling. It is magical and it is mundane.
Kids… no wait, not just any kids, YOUR kids – are magical. They are. I say, YOUR kids, because people without kids hear the word “kids” and immediately think of something 1. small and cute and 2. semi-annoying. Which is true and all, but there is so… soo….soooo much more. And you can’t see past 1 and 2 unless they are YOUR kids.
Anyway, back to “magical”. They are. Think about it. They pop out all bloody and attached to their mom, kicking and screaming. They barf and crap everywhere and they suck the life out of you, literally. They demand your attention for every waking hour (and let’s face it, you can’t stop thinking about them after they fall-asleep either). But over the first two years, they develop into this little person. This little walking and talking person who has feelings (as primitive as they might be) and has thoughts (like remembering a person or place and stating that they remember). They play make believe with toys and live in this alternate universe sometimes. They smile, and frown, and cry, and laugh. They lash out when they are angry, and they passionately hug you when they are scared or hurt. In their most precious moments, they tell you they love you (even if it is the young 2 year old who repeats it “I wov you”) and they throw their arms around you and they laugh and scream and run towards you when you have been away from them for a long time. In some of their forgettable moments, they swing at you, bite you, and tell you “I don’t want to talk to you right now” or just “No. Nothing.” And there is so much going on inside of them. It’s such a mystery.
Where did this little person come from? Seriously, all I did was… well, most of you know what I did. (-;
Life is so strange.
In the course of 4 years I feel like my life has, in one sense, ended, and in another sense, begun. And this is how it is, I suppose. For most of us that choose to procreate, we have kids and there in lies the death of our purposeful, self-important life, and the beginning of a time when we live for our kids.
I suppose it is not this way for some… or maybe most. They have kids and it is more of a hurdle or a flat tire on their career path. They struggle through the young years, keeping the kid alive, and then engross themselves again in their pursuit of glory and forget about their offspring.
But that’s not how it is for me (I hope).
I suppose I should be a little more self-indulging and care more about the effect I am having on the world and how I might contribute to bettering the world outside of my family. But I can’t seem to rekindle my passions outside of my kids! It’s crazy, I know.
And it’s a little depressing at times, I’ll admit it. Sometimes I look at all of this and it feels like this big circle. Like, there was a time when you were preparing for something. You went to school and you prepared for the adult world. You learned how to get a job and support yourself – and for what? Well, to have kids and then to do the same for them. Feels small and insignificant – but I’m finding it actually just might be what it is all about.
Life that is, what life is all about: kids. No, seriously. Ok, I know, you’re reading this and you don’t have kids – you think I’m one of those nutso parents who have completely lost it… maybe. But I don’t think so (they all say that ^_^).
People make life out to be some grand adventure (and to some extent, it is) but what they really mean is they want to experience as much for THEM as they possibly can. And that’s fine and all, go be the “world’s most interesting man” but at the end of your life, what do you have to show for your life and all that you’ve done? Memories stuck in your head that only benefit you?
The ultimate fulfillment at the end of life, is knowing that you contributed in some small way to continuing life. And not just continuing it – but creating loving memories that you share with a family. Experiences that will be passed on long after you have died and are gone. You raise your children and you leave your fingerprints all over them (and in turn, on their kids and their kids and so on).
And this is what it is all about. Family.
I may have missed out on the club scene and getting drunk and going to crazy parties. I may never have lived in a fancy condo on the 30th floor of some exciting town, and have a big time job at some big time company. I may never drive a sports car or drink mixed drinks. I may never have sex with another woman for the rest of my life. And I’m ok with that, with all these things I may never experience… because I know, that when I am dying and ready to say goodbye – or even now if I were to pass suddenly – I know that my legacy (if you can call it that) lives on in my children. I know that I have created life and (hopefully) offered all of who I am to my children so that they may do the same for their children.
Having kids, it’s not the end. It is the beginning. The beginning of a meaningful life – a meaningful future for all my descendants. I am grateful for the opportunity to have kids and to be able to hold them, and love them, and nurture their curiosity. I am trying to keep my head above the smog that is the day in and day out demanding routines of a 4 year old and a 2 year old, so that I can relish in the overwhelming satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have created life – and a future.
Kids are so great. MY kids, are so great. And I would, in an instant, give up my life for theirs – because my life is theirs, and I hope someday they can pass their lives on to their kids.