I wrote a similar post a few months ago, but I want to delve a little more into it. Over the weekend, I found myself gong to a show my father was filling in for in northern New Jersey. It was a suburban New York town’s founders’ day and the whole town came to the neighborhood park to enjoy food, music, and lots of beer. The kids who were either starting or just started school had on their high school’s team jerseys and you could hear them talking about the things that we all did in our adolescence. Since I had Cydney with me, I wound up spending a good portion at the playground watching her climb, slide, and run around. What she was once afraid of doing she excelled at and didn’t need me right next to her to help. I was able to assume my role with the other parents sitting on the park bench about fifteen feet away watching my child enjoy herself and look on to see that she doesn’t get hurt.
As I looked around at the children in which many of them were about Cydney’s age, I noticed a major difference: the parents watching them were all about seven to ten years older than me. *Puts pin in thought for side story*
Side story: While sitting there watching Cydney, a little boy began to chase Cydney around in what seemed like a flirtatious manner. Of course, I felt a certain way. Then I noticed that his mother kept turning around and smiling at me. She was there with who I assumed was the child’s grandmother. The grandmother kept looking over at me and smiling as well after conversing with her daughter who in being observant I noticed had no ring on her finger. Sitting at one end of the bench alone, a few minutes later they sat down next to me in what seemed like they were waiting for me to strike up some kind of conversation. Before the moment could get really awkward because I wasn’t taking the bait, her son called her to watch him on the slide and that was averted.
Anyways, I looked around at the other fathers who were their with their wives. Balding, overweight, in their cargo shorts, and dirty walking sneakers. And then there was me: earrings, tattoos, clean Timberland boots, and a shirt with a t-shirt that says “Pass the Mic” on it. That contrast made me think of thee two worlds I’m caught in between: my youth and fatherhood.
I am happy to be a young father. By the time I am forty-three, Cydney will be out of the house and off to college. I have the energy to run around with her and still do everything I need to do in twenty-one hour days and such. But living the suburban family life with weekends filled with dance recitals and soccer games was supposed to be a two person job. Had Cydney’s mother been alive, I would be more than happy to be doing so. I wouldn’t miss the world of being young and having summer nights to do as I please. Just about all of my closest friends are married, have children, are in long term relationships, or don’t live in New York; so schedules usually conflict. Since I’m back in the dating thing, a lot of my conversations sound just like what Kevin Hart explained:
That just about sums is up. And many of them now understand when they were twenty-three or so and in their prime nights of recklessness get that when they’d ask me or TImile on my behalf (I never put anyone up to this…Once my roommate asked her if I could go to Miami with the guys. I was surprised and scared of the conversation Timile would have wanted to have with me that night) Do I necessarily want a relationship at this point? Nah. I have a few demons I need to exercise and bad habits that need to be reconciled first. However, people I’ve dated other than one single mother and one other person who wasn’t understood that my life just doesn’t work like theirs anymore. I’ve dated someone in which as busy as they were always expected my schedule to revolve around theirs. I had no problem finding middle ground and making my way to see them and such, but nah I can’t do happy hours and the nights that I am out until 5-6AM understand that I’m probably not sleeping because that’s the time I wake up and prepare to be a parent in a couple of hours…hangover and all. Truth be told, as busy as she is, twelve hours of my days require the energy of two of hers. I can do the best that I can; but my life revolves around someone else.
Everyone comes second. Hell, people I date really can’t be faint of heart because not even Valentine’s Day is their day (I got you on the 13th or 15th, but that’s the best I can do). And I understand. Being in your twenties is the time when life is all about being self-seeking, self-serving, giving into your id and worrying about the repercussions later. Being selfless has been a lifestyle I’ve lived since the week I turned twenty-one when Timile and I started our relationship and in the last three years has been on overdrive.
Single male and platonic female friends get it. When I can make it out its a celebration. When I can’t “We dig. We’ll catch you the next time.” Cool.
If I were married, I wouldn’t miss having nights to myself so much. Its an outlet. I’d be fine with catching up with the married guys sharing stories of how the Mrs. did x, y, and z and Cydney is a mess because _______ once a month or so. The other outlet being date night with the wife would be the other outlet and Saturday afternoons at the playground on Dumont Day would be everything it should be (not that it wasn’t).
As I sit there and watch my two year old daughter fearlessly climb up a slide with seven and eight year olds I look at the fathers in the corner of my eye. No matter how much I’m caught between two worlds, I have more in common with them then I do with my peers who spent that Saturday night in Manhattan, DC, or Atlanta or wherever at a bar in hard bottomed shoes/heels and stepping out for the night.