A typical Saturday morning, meaning the day began at about 6:30 a.m. when Bobolito made it known that he was awake declaring–surprisingly enough–“I awake,” and indicating his displeasure with the floor: “I no like the floor. I no like the floor.” We descended in the semi-dark to the family room in the basement where we took in the final two-thirds of Misterrogers, enjoyed some raisin toast, English muffins, and breakfast sausage while we watched (in sequence, after Misterrogers) Bob the Builder, Clifford, and one of those PBS travel shows that makes you feel superior and cosmopolitan even as you’re thinking about how strange and incomprehensible people from other parts of the world can be.
I’m one of those men who decided with a great deal of conviction as a young man Who I Am. In my case, the verdict was Writer with an emphatically capital “W.” Most of my adult life has been spent trying to figure out exactly how to make that decision manifest while taking into account the details of marriage, children, making a living, not being an ass, etc., etc., etc. But now, having crossed the threshold of 50, I have begun to reconsider. Not that writing doesn’t still dominate my thoughts, even (especially) when I’m not doing it. But if a life is more legitimately defined by how it’s actually been spent than how it has been imagined, I realize that my chief role, and the one from which I’ve derived the most satisfaction, is not “writer” but “father.”
I’ve suffered through the usual internal laments and pseudo-regrets about the writing time I’ve lost, but when I think back, I don’t think “lost” is the word. I’ve allocated it where it has most mattered to me: playing games, reading books, watching television shows and films, playtime at the park, swimming lessons, gymnastics practices and meets, setting rules and enforcing them, arguing, punishing, apologizing, accepting apologies. The minutiae of parenting has filled my days and months and years since the day in 1991 when my first wife and I brought oldest son home from the adoption agency.
So now, deeply involved in the life of my third son, who will turn three within the week, I ask myself, “Who am I kidding?” My sons have been the greatest constant in my life. This doesn’t mean that I’ve always parented well, and doesn’t make me some kind of hero father. It’s just nice to find out, after 30 years of searching and sorting, who after all I actually am. And I have them to thank for that.