At this point in our lives, many of my contemporaries in middle age are now parents to young adults. Some have even recently become — great gadzooks! — *grandparents.* So I can’t help but look at where I am and wonder that I’ve only recently become a father, and to a two-and-a-half-year-old at that. It just so happens that my daughter is also now just entering the peak of her climbing stage, and I think that maybe I’m too old to be chasing her all around the house.
Looking back at my life path, it seems that it’s all topsy turvy and protracted in all the odd places. I started with a corporate career first, and — to boast a little — it would have been a stellar one if I followed its trajectory, but then cut it short to bum around a few years, maybe write a little, before joining academe and getting a master’s degree in my forties. Discontentment again, and back to corporate, though much less stellar than the first.
Might it all have turned out differently if I had gotten married younger? The responsibility of a family would have grounded me much earlier, and therefore far less likely to follow my whims. Well, it wasn’t for lack of trying, but I just couldn’t find the right one. My personality can be far too rigid to be palatable to most. Then again, if I had married earlier on, it wouldn’t have been to my wife now, with whom I am approaching our tenth anniversary this year.
Ten years: that’s just about how long we’ve been wanting and working to have children. Age wasn’t already in my favor when we started the journey, and as time went by the chances seemed to diminish further. Everything was in place except our own little ones. I suppose, to fill the void, I carried on into my own extended childhood of toys, games, and books, and these gradually ate up the shelves of our house.
There would have been a point when we both would have just given up and quietly accepted our fate as a childless couple. I think we were fast approaching that, too. But! Just as we were about to concede, well, a little miracle happened, and suddenly all those years of frustration melt away.
Now our lives are turned upside down, but our joy is complete. The toys no longer sit meticulously on the shelves, the house is one big playroom; our daughter, it turns out, is as interested in Hot Wheels and robots as I am, and she is, as I said, at the peak of her climbing stage.
And there’s still a long ways to go, and I sometimes find myself counting what age I’ll be when she enters grade school and high school and when she graduates from college. (I’ll be seventy then, good Lord!) And yet, rather than dread or weariness, what I fills me more is a sense of purpose, that all my wrong choices have not been in vain and are just coming to fruition.
So really, how can I feel old?