Kirsten and I barely escaped the grasp of the winter storm last Friday by flying down south to Florida, where we stayed with some wonderful friends of ours and their 3 adorable children. Ages 4, 5, and 6. And full of that incredible kid energy. Painfully so at times. I have the bruises to prove it.
We had a great time. The weather was a balmy 70 degrees (ok, balmy compared to our frozen tundra in MN). I actually enjoy the winter most of the time, but I was really appreciating wearing a pair of shorts, sitting on the grass, and soaking up the smells of a warm climate. Waking up in one state, going to another where you don't have to trudge around in the slushy muck is almost surreal. Indeed, things felt a little dreamy there for awhile. Partly because we got up at 4am to catch the plane and I was a walking zombie (if you know my sleep habits, you know how big a sacrifice that was), but also because I couldn't help but feel like we were transported to a world where 3 children pretty much run the show. A scene I daydream about often these days. Throughout most of my life I have never really been a 'kid' or 'baby' person. I just couldn't relate. I found them kind of annoying and hardly conducive to an active social life. But I always knew I wanted to have kids of my own. I had no doubt that I'd feel differently about kids that were mine. Kirsten told me when we were dating that she'd never really considered marriage very seriously until she'd met me, and realized she wanted to have children. My children. A huge moment in the development of our relationship. And here we are a few years later, awaiting our first child. Tempus fugit. Time flies.
I've come to feel that raising a child (whether your own or not) is one of the ultimate ways to participate in life. I'm sure there will be moments where I'll question that logic. Like at 4:32am when it's my turn to get up and attend to our little girl. Given my situation now, I'm going to love doing everything it takes. Realistically however, I know it won't be all precious moments and rainbows. Somehow though, in the last few years, I've started to realize that raising children, being a good dad, is one of my biggest priorities for my life. Far outweighing my career, hobbies, or any 'material' pursuits. I think it's a pretty common evolution for young adults, but it has really been a surprising journey for me.
So back to Florida. Our friends' children, 2 girls and a boy, are simply wonderful (as are all of our friends' and family's children, we're not playing favorites!). And while they were climbing all over me, saying 'watch this!' every 3 seconds, giving us a million hugs, and of course saying the darndest things, I was struck with a certain kind of joy I simply have never experienced before. The trust that these kids put into you, and the awesome responsibility that comes with it, it's nearly mind-blowing for me. And while I enjoyed every minute, and look forward to spending more time with all the children I know (ok, that sounds a little cheesy, I'm not like the Pied Piper or anything), such experiences are bittersweet. Simultaneously wonderful and incredibly sad. The youngest girl, 4 years old, little Alex, likes to come sit with me and build a tent with her blanky. I feel this incredible bond with her that I can't explain. Partly because she's this great little person, but I think partly because it feels like I'm getting a chance to hang out with someone like my daughter in the future. I don't want to be a downer, I know people want to hear that everything is ok, but I have to tell you that it's just destroying me that I finally figured out what to do with myself, and now I might not have the chance to do it. I know deep down that I can be an outstanding father. Certainly not perfect, but I already know that I would do anything for my child. I just want a chance to get to know her. To play silly games with her. To learn what toys she likes. To hear her say 'Daddy, read me a story' and know that I would drop everything and do it.
Ok, enough of that. The trip was wonderful. And did what any getaway should do, allowed us to get away from things for a bit. Even though I'll never be able to escape my reality, I can at least daydream of another one once in awhile. Sorry to get so morose. I promise next post I'll try to be a little more upbeat. I don't want to scare any of you away. But thank you for listening.