Many things have dramatically changed for me in over the past few years, the most obvious of which is that I am now a father. Having entered the realm of parenthood at a seasoned age has given me a different set of life experiences to mold how I interpret parenthood than, I would guess, many other first-time fathers.
For a number of years before and after I was married, I was healthy, financially stable, and for the most part otherwise unencumbered by today's worries. I was able to travel to exotic destinations on short notice, eat unhealthy food without without giving it a second thought, and watch or listen to what I wanted-when I wanted. Likewise, I was also able to view the latest movies on opening weekend, recognize holes my wardrobe and fill them with a quick trip or click of the mouse, and accept last-minute invitations from friends to join them for spontaneous events.
Of course, becoming a parent changed all of that for me. As most of you parents out there already know, you effectively can throw true spontaneity out the window when becoming a new parent. And, I don't know about you, but the extra cash that provided the means for me to splurge in some of the above mentioned ways....well, that now gets sucked into the proverbial child-rearing vacuum. And extra time? What is that of which you speak? In other words, for me the finer things in life are no longer defined for me in terms of material items. On a daily basis, they are now my wife and my son.
Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about this. Quite the contrary really. What I have actually found recently is that when I do get the now rare chance to experience some of the pleasures I took for granted just a couple of years ago, the appreciation level has been profound. For example, it has been so long since I had steak, that when merely driving past a steakhouse the other day and smelling the sweet aroma wafting outside, I had an immediate pavlovian reaction and found myself drooling idiotically. I can only imagine how good it will taste when I actually have my next one. Similarly, I no longer have a nightly bottle of micro-brewed ale, but every few weeks or so when I do, I take a deep breath and let the that first swallow slowly work its glorious way down through my body. It's nice.
I have had similar enhanced appreciation for movies, sporting events, travel, or just a few quiet moments alone to gather my thoughts. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and also the appreciation to rise to new heights. As a new parent and a man experiencing life through a new prism, I can certainly attest to the veracity of this.
Let me know next time you are in Seattle. Perhaps we can grab a juicy steak and a cold pint or two. Just don't be alarmed if my eyes seem to roll to back in my head. . .if only for a moment or two.