When I turned 31 years old, I put my 20’s into a backpack and threw it over my shoulder. My thirties roared in with fresh beginnings; the birth of Amelia, a Masters degree, and lifestyle changes. I inhaled the mighty breath of inspiration and marched forward, my past strapped firmly to my back.
There have been misty March days and times sitting seaside under sunlit skies that I snoop into my pack, and love or hate what I see, it’s mine, it’s me. Sometimes the zipper gets stuck, there are days I look inside and marvel, and still situations where I set it down in a room full of revelers and hope someone will take it.
When I listen to “Green Gloves” by The National it reminds me of the moving away from one period in life to another, specifically for me, the transition from nights fueled by friendship frenzies until four in the morning, to finding pacifiers and waking at five to feed a baby.
It was on replay for several months during my early thirties. Each listen warmed me more than the last, and focused me to feel okay with breaking away from people and places that were once the focal point of my life.
Breaking away wasn’t negative, it was a necessity, for now Amelia, Robin, my job, and health took center stage. I knew they’d understand, and I would always “have arms for them.” as they would for me.
That didn’t mean that it wasn’t hard. My friends who didn’t have kids continued to resemble a time in my life when I only had to care for myself, a time when responsibilities were few and “fun” times over ran.
Then, there are our friends who had kids when we did. Many of those relationships turned into missed calls and text messages about how we wanted to get together, but couldn’t.
I clutch for my bag sometimes, just hoping I’ll look inside and my old friends will be there, waiting for me, and I can go back to a time when all I had to think about was myself. I look at old pictures, listen to warn out tapes, and get lost in envy of a life I left behind.
Then, I stop. I look at the pictures on the wall, listen to the sounds as they call “Daddy”, I think of times where my pride swelled out my eyes while watching the girls sing songs and laugh together, and I stop searching down that track. Instead, I adjust the pack on my back and start the process of fitting these moments into another sack, although this one will have one strap with dual bottle holders, and it’ll always remain open.
Andrew Meyer is a Special Education teacher from Madison, Wisconsin, whose wife’s job relocation changed their family roles and physical location. He's now a stay-at-home dad in Madison, Alabama, to two awesomely creative, sometimes challenging, and mostly sweet five and two-year-old girls who fill his days, nights, and in-between spaces. When with or without them, he writes, works-out, wonders, wishes he wouldn’t worry, wrestles with his wife’s commitment to her job, and listens to music. You can also find him at www.papasense.wordpress.com, on Twitter @papasense, and Facebook.