The look on his face. It was priceless. He’d just discovered one of those things that all toddlers figure out through messing around with a toy, shoe, empty box, etc. The new things seem to astound young minds almost hourly. The best part…I’m a new dad and I’m present for a lot of them.
By present, I don’t mean at home. With my work schedule the past few years, I’m actually not home much during play time hours. What I do mean, however, is that the moments that I am home, I’m not preoccupied with external things as much as I would have been had I been 26 and not 46. Here are just a few of the things that would have kept the “old me” from keeping up with this new, old me as a new dad.
Disclaimer: this means no disrespect to anyone who’s in their 20s with kids. Most people begin at that age. If anything, it’s something about the way I was specifically. If you find some similarities from who I’m about to describe, then truth be told, this may just be your future self talking to you through me. If so, take heed.
1. TV doesn't suck me in anymore
I used to be pretty focused on sports. Not playing, just a spectator. If there was an NFL game on tv, regardless of who was playing, I would have been watching. Or trying to watch. Same goes for NBA and NHL. Baseball was a bit too big to be following all teams all times, but I’ve caught my fair share for sure. These days, I might catch some highlights from time to time, but to sit and watch a full game is rare, unless my boy and my wife are both up to something else.
2. Hitting the gym
At one point in my life I was in pretty good shape. Bench pressing my way through life, I’d read all I could get my hands on as far as new workouts, supplements hitting the shelves, different angles to hit the biceps with, etc. I even went as far as setting my alarm clock for 2 am in order to down a protein shake in the middle of the night, then back to sleep. I know, a bit off the proverbial rocker there. Nowadays, I still do a pretty good job keeping in shape, but not with the same intention I used to have. Now it’s more centered around functional fitness instead of just being big and strong. I’m more interested in doing more stretches on a yoga mat than how loaded the bar looks. If my squat form has to suffer because I loaded a few pounds too much, well that won’t do. In years gone by, the weight and reps were priority. At this stage of the game though, I realize an injury has more consequence than it used to. I’ve been hobbled with a pinched nerve a couple of times so far. Trust me, it’s not fun.
3. The right to party?!
I could wrap partying up into the sports tab with football and hockey. I think I treated it as a full throttle sport for the first quarter of my life. The nights spent having a good time with friends and family, though I’d never trade the memories, all came witht the cost of beine couch bound for the next day (usually in front of a sports game or three), with some very unhealthy food on speed dial. Losing this part of my life has had the most profound impact going forward. The compound effect of not doing the partying has paid off in countless ways including more money, more clairty in life, a better relationship with my wife, no more couch bound days, the list goes on. As I put it to a buddy of mine at work when asked the biggest difference, I replied simply “Shit gets done.”
When it all boils down, I appreiate my at home time more than I did. The times when he was discovering things new on an hourly basis have all but gone. Now that our boy is a bit older and off to school and has activity days, there aren’t as many of these moments. I have a few (hundreds) mental snapshots taken over the past 5 years that are a treasure to me. I have a few gigs spent on my Google Photos with his name on it for the long years ahead should my memory wane. For this, I’m forever grateful. He has his own TV shows he likes to watch. In time, I’m sure he and I will be sitting down to a hockey game together if his interest should go that way. Until then, I’ll be here.