So tomorrow I turn 34. Oyaji-hood (Oyaji being Japanese for old man with old fart feel) comes closer with each year. And, admittedly I feel my years more as I spend time trying to case down two hyperactive boys who seemingly are powered by micro-perpetual motion machines.
Seriously, how can a two year old run that fast for that long? Shouldn't he stop sometime? And the 5 year old? He never stops, even when he's asleep!
But, yes, I know it's not quite mid-thirties, but it's close enough. And after next year? Well then I'll be closer to reaching my next decade than starting it. A middle age, out of it, uncool, over weight, uninteresting dad am I.
If I may borrow a phrase from some dear friends, screw that, sideways, with the rotating cactus.
I think, if anything, the lesson I can take from my grandparents was that one really is as old as you act. This isn't to say that my grandfather was a childish man, far from it, but until shortly before his death, he just never stopped going out and doing things. And yeah, I admit that chasing after young boys is tiring, that I look forward to the notion of taking a breather more than before, but it's also... new. If being 34 means that I've seen the world around me (My area of it at least) many times, having two boys who are in the exploring stage means I get to experience it all again for the first time. I've been camping up the ying-yang, it's new for the boys and their excitement is now mine. I already know about the solar system, they don't and they are excited to learn about it (Well, Makoto is. I'm not too sure Hikaru has actually noticed the heavens yet).
I mean, sure, I long since passed the obsession I had with trains... until I had boys who are now interested in them and while I may grumble a bit about it, I don't mind going to watch them with them and experience the joys of rail watching again. I might get tired, but I end up feeling young.
But it's more than that. Yeah, I'm approaching the mid-point of my life and while it seems that I should be frustrated with the dreams that haven't happen and will never happen, those roads not taken as Robert Frost labeled them, I'm not. Instead... I want to see what happens next with my sons, my wife, my family. This could be, perhaps, because I didn't have my own father growing up so I have no real pattern to follow or to see in regards to fatherhood from toddlerhood to teenage years, but I don't think so. Instead, well, let me relate an essay in the book I Should Have Seen it Coming When the Rabbit Died by Teresa Bloomingdale.
I'm fairly sure the book was given to my mother as a babyshower gift and as was my wont, I read it a few times when growing up (This isn't unusual, for me. I read everything, including the backs of cereal boxes). It was pretty much a forerunner of this blog, a humorous take on parenthood (Motherhood in her case). Any case, the final chapter was called "Growing Old Along With Me, the Best is Yet to Be". In a bit of a change from the humor, the author related that while she was growing up at each milestone of her life when she proclaimed that this, THIS, was the peak of her life, her father would always reply "Just wait, it gets better". She related how she graduated from college, how proud she was and yet her father said wait, it gets better. She fell in love and got married, but just wait. She had the joy of being a new mother, holding her first son in her arms, but again her father said that it would get better.
The final bit was her at the wedding of her eldest son, watching this man whom she bore grow from a child to a man strong and proud who found a wonderful woman and who was now going to marry. She said silently to her departed father, if I recall correctly, "Oh Dad, you were right. This truly is the best. And I swear I heard him answer from up above, "That's what you think sweetheart!" Amazing, all this and heaven too!"
I am not at that point yet, but every day something new happens and while I might not always remember to appreciate it, I do. Tomorrow I turn 34, and in those 34 years I have lost my father, grown, graduated from college with a MA, moved halfway around the world, met the most wonderful woman on the planet, become a teacher, built a house, and have two beautiful little boys who are now on life's journeys of their own.
I ain't slowing down and getting old, I's just starting!
The best is yet to be and I can't wait to see what it will be.