Sometimes when you find yourself thirty-six years old and bound with family; the kids screaming, the car packed with arguments, and every minute of the day weighted down by the disillusionment of bedlam, you close your eyes and for a few seconds from behind your sunglasses as you maneuver the mini-van down the highway on the way home from brunch, you see yourself at twenty-two in San Francisco: you are wild and free and swaying in and out of bars, with random women; the nights are endless and the days quiet; you highlight your way through a litany of manuscripts that justify your behavior. You see yourself at twenty-three in New Orleans: passed out on Bourbon Street watching the sun come up on the Mississippi. Twenty-four and New York City: snow in the Village, Paris, Maputo, Bangkok, Chicago, you see yourself all over the world. You see yourself. You see yourself. You see yourself…
You may entertain, however briefly, that something has gone wrong. You may feel for a few seconds that perhaps you have made some errant choices. You may lose yourself in erroneous reminiscing. Confuse the perfect reality with imprecise fantasy. If this happens to you:
Look deeply into your childrens’ eyes and tell them you love them. Watch as their faces light up and they squirm with the knowledge that they are truly loved. Watch as they say I love you too daddy. Squeeze them until they scream and lose yourself in their laughter. Have meaningful conversations after the yelling has stopped and feed them ice cream. Tell them you are proud of them, constantly. Forget about who you were and focus on who you are. Who they are, who you will both become together as a family. Sing in the car and be silly. Make them dinner and wash their hair. Dry them off and kiss them good night. Read them stories. Blow gently into their faces and kiss them on the lips, on the stomach, and on the cheeks. Point out the light from the sky as it bounces of the trees as often as you can. Teach them vocabulary and metaphors. Point out the giant snail and the injustice of the dog tied up next-door and the bird in the cage. Remind them that birds belong in rainforests and not cages. Remind them that being polite is the first step to compassion and compassion leads to peace. Be patient with them, even when they drive you crazy. Brush their teeth and hair with love, even when they scream and fight you every step of the way. Remember to stop and kiss your wife too and rejoice in the family you have created from scratch.
Sometimes when you find yourself thirty-six years old and bound with family, sit back in the quiet of the night after they have all gone to bed, play some tender songs and spill your thoughts on an empty page and blow them out into the universe. You will feel better about the whole affair. You will remember that when you were twenty-whatever and free, you were also lost and miserable. Running from darkness to darkness, you banged your head into every wall that stood in your way. You are here now, in the light, moving forward with the most beautiful family in the world.
Please leave a little poem of your family moments in the comment section.