There aren’t many major life choices that give you an opt-in or opt-out. You don’t get to pick your birthday, your parents, or your age. You just have to go with life and enjoy the moment you are in. The one exception is becoming a parent. Sure, unplanned pregnancies happen, but for many of us there is a point in time when you either said, “I’m ready” or in my case, “I’m ready to stop trying to not get pregnant”. I know, it’s not a full step, but you have to start somewhere.
I was never the guy who had to have a baby. Sure they are cute, but so are puppies, and you can still travel around the world and have your generous neighbors feed your puppy when you are away. Not true with a baby. That guy has to go with you, legally. Which for most of my twenties would have been a huge bummer. I had things to do and places to see. Which is really what your twenties should be used for. They are your freedom years. It’s your time to be poor. It’s your time to travel to dangerous places. It’s your time to date a lot and figure out what love looks like to you. It’s your time to make the mistakes that will be your lessons for the rest of your life. It is the time to focus on yourself and find out who you are and what you value. But when do you know when you’ve found yourself? When do you know who you really are?
In my twenties, I worked at a ranch in Colorado for a summer, hiked through the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico to work with coffee farmers, went rock climbing in the Red River Gorge, was baptized in the Jordan River in Israel, studied art history in Paris, was literally 10 feet from finish line when Usain Bolt broke the 100m world record in Beijing, drank wine from a barrel in Italy with the locals, touched the southern most point of Africa, went surfing in Hawaii, swam naked in Lake Michigan in the middle of the night, double majored in subjects I love, met the love of my life, and built a dream studio. Which, honestly is more than most people get to experience in a lifetime, and I am grateful for every single experience. In that time, I do feel like I found my core values and I know more about myself than I would have ever expected. Even through all of those experiences, there was never a point where I thought, “Ok, I’ve seen it all, time to stop all this adventure. I am ready to have sleepless nights, get thrown up on, and change diapers now”. Crazy I know… but that pitch still hasn’t sold me on having a kid.
That’s the problem with adventure. It’s a drug that never satisfies you. The more you see, the more you want to see, which is why the idea of giving up freedom and adventure has always been the mental block that has kept me from taking a step into parenthood. It sounds selfish, and especially after the life I have lived, it sounds really selfish. But for me, and many of you, there isn’t going to be a moment where you’ve seen it all. You will never be able to see or experience everything.
However, a couple years ago, I started to notice something.
At the time, if you had asked, I wouldn’t have noticed a shift, but looking back, it is pretty obvious. I started to hang out with dads. I didn’t know I was gravitating to dads, I just knew I was being drawn to hanging out with chill guys that were asking wise questions and focusing on things beyond themselves. My first thought wasn’t, this guy’s life is over and he’s lost his freedom. It was, he’s got a great life. They were all down to drink until midnight, after the kids went to bed, but were also good for a 5k in the morning. Before I knew it, almost all of my friends were dads that I didn’t know were dads. I don’t mean they hid their kids away and never talked about them. I mean they were guys who didn’t endlessly talk about how terrible it was to have kids. These guys hadn’t lost their identity and were still into adventure and freedom but in a more holistic way. They talked about adventure and joy, but it was through the eyes of a child. They never talked about what they were giving up; the sleepless nights, diapers, medical bills, or gaining a couple pounds. They talked about how much more enhanced their lives have become and how they were seeing the world in a new way, with the eyes of a child. They were becoming interested in bugs, forests, and gardening because they were teaching their kids about it, and their kids were asking them interesting questions. It was totally unexpected. I began to feel myself feeling like I was missing the greatest adventure in life. Which was the pitch that won me over. No one wants to choose a more difficult life, but we all want a life of meaning and exploration. So earlier this year, Megan and I decided to broaden our definition of adventure. We went for it and enjoyed what I call free love. No stress, and no expectations. Just lovin and livin. Which must have worked great, because within a month we were pregnant. Which was a lot quicker than I was expecting, or prepared for, but I am beyond happy it was such a natural process. I know that isn’t always the case.
As this post goes live, we are in the final days of it just being Megan and I on our adventure. We are about to bring another one on board. Sure there will be late nights, vomit, and lots of poop. That is obvious and is the first thing everyone in the grocery store loves to tell me when they see Megan’s belly. Of course, those moments will happen, and I’ll take a shower after they do, but what the oversharing stranger at the grocery store has never said to me, and I wish they would, is that my world is about to completely open up. In a couple days, I will get to see and experience the world through my son’s fresh new view of the world. That is the greatest adventure I have yet to go on and I’m patiently awaiting the moments we will share together.