I wish I could really write.
I just got through reading this great blog, and was very impressed. His writing style is magnificent, and it makes me wish I had stuck with English Lit a little longer.
Ah well, that’s life… Lauren (my wife) and I have been talking about that kind of thing lately (regret, in case I wasn’t clear). And maybe regret is too strong a word. I guess curiosity is really what we’ve been talking about. You know, what might have been, etc. Probably nothing too constructive to engage in.
We’ve been married for almost 6 years now. That’s really not that long of a time, but it’s definitely long enough to have some ups and downs. I think we’ve grown up a lot. I was 22 when we got married, and she was 19. When Lauren was 21, we had our first child, Madelyn. Two years and six weeks later, we had our second, Hailey.
You really don’t know love until you have your own children. There is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t do for mine, and the first time you see them hurt, scared, or upset is terrifying.
Not too long ago, I was home with the girls, while Lauren was at work. Lauren’s a nurse, which is obviously pretty handy. It keeps me from worrying too much whenever one of the girls is sick. Anyway, on this particular day, I was giving them a bath. They had some cups in the tub that they had been playing with and drinking out of. I know, I know… drinking bath water is pretty disgusting, but they seemed to enjoy it, and I figure it’s gotta help their immune system in some way, right?
I had been watching Hailey very closely because she’s still very young and I knew it would be easy for her to choke on the water. She didn’t. But Madelyn wasn’t so lucky. She started coughing and spluttering, waving her hands in front of her face, and looking at me as if I could do something about it.
I reached over to her, spoke kindly, etc, but I really wasn’t that worried. I mean, I had been a dad long enough to have seen choking before, and as my wife has assured me, “if they’re coughing, that means they’re getting air.” So, like I said, I kept cool.
But Madelyn really started choking. She wasn’t coughing at all; all breathing had stopped, and she just looked at me in shock, waiting for me to fix it. But I couldn’t fix it, and that became more and more apparent as the seconds ticked by. I picked her up out of the tub, oblivious to the water soaking my clothes, and patted her back, my mind whirring frantically.
Have you ever had a car pop out of gear while you’re driving it? You know, you’re really moving down the road, maybe going up a hill, and suddenly, the engine screams, and the car starts slowing down? That’s what my brain was doing. It was running overtime, but it wasn’t in gear; I couldn’t think of a single thing to do.
Luckily, I didn’t have to do anything. Madelyn finally took a gasp of air, coughed, then began sobbing. “I couldn’t breav, Daddy!” I think I might have been crying too. I had never felt such pain or terror in my entire life, or such relief when she finally started breathing again.
Yeah, the love you have for your kids knows no bounds. But that’s not really where I was heading a minute ago… seems I took a bit of a tangent.
Because no matter how much you love your kids, they are work. You certainly can’t think just about yourself anymore. As a matter of fact, your thoughts have to be more like 95% family/kids and 5% you (don’t let that freak you out too much. It’s not like I’ve done any scientific research on the subject, I’m just making stuff up).
Six years can see a lot of changes. When I got married, the World Trade Center was still standing, and the Gulf War still referred to the one in 1990. But MTV had already stopped playing videos. I haven’t been married that long.
I’ve changed a lot too. Some good, some bad. I think lately, the good have outweighed the bad. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, and gained a little back again (trying to lose it again, too). And I recently had my 10 year high school reunion, which I actually enjoyed more than I thought I would.
But still, after a while, you wonder what things would have been like if you had made different choices in life. What if I had gone away for college? What if I had really pursued a career in music? Blah, blah, blah.
It’s ok to wonder about that stuff sometimes. But you’ve still got to keep your perspective. For one, you can’t go back and change anything. So if you really find yourself regretting something, you’d best forget it and move on. Life lies ahead of you, not behind.
And ultimately, you’ve probably got it pretty good anyway. I know I do. I got very lucky in marrying Lauren. She has been someone to laugh with, cry with, and someone to pick me up when I’ve come undone. She’s made me a better person and has given me the two people I care most about in life.
Sometimes it’s fun to speculate about how things could have been different. But there’s really nowhere I’d rather live than right here, right now (to borrow from Van Halen [EDIT: I’m a buffoon. Jesus Jones did that song, not Van Halen.]).
Got any dragons you need killed?