At some point in your life, you may have felt a well-defined solidity, a sure-footed certainty in its overall direction. But most of the time you may feel like you have no idea where life will ultimately take you, where things change every time you turn around. Some say change is the only constant in this world, and I'd have to agree, though this makes it sound like kind of a bad thing; an irritation as we try to build around what we know. But change can also lead you to wonderful things and experiences you'd later on never give up for anything...
At this point last year, things were quite different in my life from what they are today. My wife was about five or six months inflated, with our little growing embryo greedily taking up more and more space in mum's tum.
While living in a rented single-wide in an even-God-has-no-clue-where-this-place-is kinda town, we were finalizing negotiations with the purchase of our new home on the other side of the community.
Me: "So, we just want the house and the yard, they can keep the moose."
Realtor: "Sorry, moose is not negotiable, comes with the house. Everybody gets a moose. The sellers will include a garage as an added incentive, though."
We were, at the time, also on the verge of evicting our tenants renting our modest condo wa-a-a-ay to the south. It seemed we were decidedly off to a bad start with the whole "landlord" thing, harboring tenants who repeatedly scared the little old lady across the hall with complete indifference to wearing pants and whom, we're pretty sure, had very tight liaisons with the Yakuza.
We were also busily preparing/arming ourselves with baby-knowledge so we could fight the good fight when D-Day would ultimately arrive in early August and idealistic but naive young parents would go head to head with eight pounds of pink, pudgy baby flesh.
And above all else we were learning to take care of a 900 lb moose. Turns out they don't like being milked. Who knew, right?
Anyway, for a while there were too many things up in the air and nothing we could really do about it. We were just biding our time, standing on the surface of the earth staring up at all this "stuff" floating above us, waiting for it all to come down. But thankfully, we were able to resolve at least one of our dilemmas rather easily; we just fired up the ol' barbecue on the back porch and voilà! Problem solved.
Don't be gross. We didn't eat the moose.
We grilled up our tenants and fed them to the birds instead. The moose is now staying in our condo. He pays the rent somehow, and always on time. I don't ask questions.
That was spring 2013, and now it's a year later, making it...uh...carry the one...divide by the square root of Pi...well, according to my math, it's just that: a year later. And boy, have things changed.
The neighborhood birds are suspiciously well-fed. We are steadily making our new home in Canada's northern nether-region "ours" with personal touches, loving the space and quality of life this place affords us. Random moose have stopped visiting our back yard, and we haven't heard any complaints from the condo board in a good long while.
But the biggest thing to come our way was just after a thankfully not-too-hot July. The wife gave birth to our first little mutant in early August, a fun-loving little imp who we mostly address as our li'l tax deduction. New to parenting, we experienced similar hardships that countless other people have no doubt endured throughout the process, but all it takes is one of his bashful little smiles to make it all worth it and more.
Having a kid changed our entire lives, and that's no exaggeration. Everything we do, everywhere we go, his needs dictate how we do anything now. Going golfing? Now we have to make sure the cart comes with a booster seat so he can see over the steering wheel when he drives (safety first, ya know). And, we've resorted to using catheters on long trips so we don't inadvertently wake up our little munchkin for fear of having to put up with a whiny little fusspot for hours on end, fighting the urge to leave him on the side of the road with twenty bucks stapled to the front of his shirt and a little sign that says Free to a Good Home.
This scenario plays out pretty much every time we go anywhere now:
"Honey, pull over at the rest stop, I really gotta pee."
"But he finally fell asleep!... Gharr...Fine, but you're gonna have to tuck n' roll. I'll loop around and pick you back up on the run. Okay, ready? Bend those knees!"
And fancy dinners out? You can forget that now with the messes this little guy makes. We're sticking to low-grade stuff like Denny's or something lower quality. So just Denny's.
But don't let that stuff turn you off parenthood! There's been so many fantastic, wonderful changes for the better! Like watching your offspring discover the magic in everything for the first time! Like lint! Do you remember ever being as excited about lint as an infant can be? As busy workaday adults, we've forgotten the simple pleasures of life like lint! I love watching that little goober just happily crawling around and, all of a sudden, his attention is focused like a James Bond wristwatch laser beam on, what else? A tiny ball of lint! Little mouth open in wonder, he pinches this magical lint nugget with his thumb and index and hoists it up to the heavens, as high above his head as those stubby little arms will reach, and just stares at it in wonder. If his chubby cheeks would allow him to form words, I'm sure he would say: "Behold! This lint is God's greatest miracle!" And after a short moment of reverent reflection, he then puts that little miracle in his mouth, quickly realizing, by the look on his face, that it likely bathed in the sweaty juices of dad's work socks. Heh heh.
But the perks of being a parent don't just stop at excitement over lint! No siree Bob! The tax deductions alone get us an extra... well, it covers most of...we might break even if we just...dang.
"Honey, what's the black market paying for adorable babies these days?"
"Hmm..." *plugging numbers into the calculator* "Shoot. Umm...'Kay, once it hits eight bucks we'll sell. Ok? Honey? Honeeee?"
Or how about the social advantages? Just the other day I finally had enough with this jackass across the street who treats our residential side road like a quarter-mile drag strip, proudly advertising to his fellow residents that he's too dumb to buy a muffler. So I took action! I hoisted my little bundle of joy into my arms and marched on over to Mr. Shitmanners' house, intent on using the whole "concerned parent" angle to drive some sense into this guy. He couldn't even defend his side, he just took it all in, not arguing with me one bit. I had baby-power, dammit! He hasn't sped down our street once since I talked to him, pointing my kid at him like a drooling magic wand. You gotta try it! Use your children to make people conform to your desires, it's great!
And how about this? I'm sure this resonates with every dad out there: Ever get to the public pool and someone claims that your kid peed in the water? Fantastic! I haven't had to get out of a pool to urinate in months!
Life is now very different from what it used to be. I love watching our little guy everyday, discovering, learning and growing, absorbing the world around him like a very thirsty little sponge. For him, in this very early stage of his life, things are always changing and, because of him, our lives too change constantly.
And it's definitely change in the right direction.