When I was a kid, I asked my dad why he didn’t have a nicer car. You know, it’s one of those “why don’t you just write a check?” questions kids ask. Except I was probably in middle or high school at the time, and my dad was driving a Ford Tempo. Turbo.
“I could have a really nice car right now,” my dad said. “I could afford a great car. A luxury car. But I had kids instead.”
Haha, indeed. Now that I’m a dad myself, I see how bittersweet this joke was/is. As much as I love my kids (they’re ridiculously beautiful and awesome), I can’t pretend I’m never jealous of my single and/or childless friends and their free time. Or that I couldn’t dream up fantastic ways to spend our daycare money.
Of course I could. But when Jordan and I chose parenthood, we took a a long view of how things will go. Whatever our dreams and hopes, they’re fused into the hopes we have for Wil and Patrick. Whatever our material wants and needs, we mostly shop (and save) for the kids now.
Can we admit, as parents, that we sometimes think about the road not taken? I can. I do.
But most mornings I can’t wait to see the boys. And most nights, I feel so lucky to be there for them as they take turns falling asleep on my shoulders.
I’m glad I’m a dad. I’m insanely grateful that Jordan chose to share this with me. And I love my own mom and dad so, so much for choosing me and my brother. I’m especially grateful to my dad for:
- The dozens of times he fielded calls from my frustrated teachers.
- When he tucked a copy of Defender for Atari 2600 under my arms as I slept.
- When we won a ribbon in 5th grade science fair demonstrating no appreciable taste difference between regular cola and caffeine-free cola.
- When he bought me a new catcher’s mitt for no special reason.
- The time he made me apologize to everyone on my tennis team after I broke a window at the Northampton Club.
- The many repairs to my ’86 Pontiac Grand Prix.
- When I spent way too much on his charge account at Baylor.
- When he paid my rent all through college (I’ve never felt more rich).
- When he wrote me letters about how he struggled early as a father and as a man. And I realized it wasn’t just me. I wasn’t alone. (btw…lol @ writing letters, amirite?)
He hasn’t been perfect. I know he would change so many things about the way he helped raise me and my brother. But whatever regrets he’s got, I know having kids isn’t one of them.
And I feel the same way about my boys.
I want to say happy birthday to my Dad. Who bought a new Jeep Grand Cherokee this year. And last time I checked, he was very pleased with it.