Do you really deep down believe that birthday wishes come true? Ever? But we all make them, don’t we? I’m a scientist, and try as I might, I can’t derive any theory based on modern physical, chemical, biological and mathematical principles that could lead to a cause-effect relationship between blowing out a small wax candle that was bought at Walgreens and some major benefit coming to the individual that blew out that candle so long as it occurs on the anniversary of the date at which they were forcibly extracted from their mother’s womb. I’m rational, I’m logical, and birthday wishes are just that…wishes. But I remember always hoping that just once, my wish would come true.
A week ago today, Jack turned 1. Now it’s my turn—today’s my 41st birthday. Yep, I’m old for having my first baby, and really old for trying to figure out this whole ‘life’ thing, but well, here we are. Today’s post is more about me than Jack, and I apologize for that. But I think you’ll see the influence he and his mom have had on me and I promise I’ll get back to writing about him next time.
When I was a kid, I was always told I couldn’t reveal my birthday wish or it wouldn’t come true. Well, I never did get that pro-football contract or a date to the prom. So, screw you wish-making fairies or whoever you are. I’m going to throw wish-making etiquette out the window, and make today’s birthday wish public…
But first, let me give you a bit of background, though I’ve said most of this before. I’ve sort of side-stepped a lot of the ‘life’ stuff over the past 20 years with a single-minded determination for being the best I could be at my work. Somewhere along the way, by some miracle of miracles, I met an amazing woman who has similar passions as me, and I got luckier than I ever deserved—she married me and several years later, we brought Jack into this world. Work was my first love until my wife entered my life. Then, it was my second love until Jack entered our lives. Then it was my third love, but still a huge part of who I was, how I defined myself, and what I did really really well. An absolutely perfect life…great job, great spouse, great baby...well, you know what’s coming next.
As a result of some very foolish things that will remain unsaid, I now find myself without that work. Without that identity. Without that passion. Without that salary. But, at the same time, I am getting to spend so much more time with Jack. I am getting to redefine myself as Jack’s Dad, and to figure out who I am as a person, how I ended up here, and where I really want to be in the future. In the past two months, I’ve rediscovered that I like to write beyond the boundaries of boring scientific writing; I’ve rediscovered that I like to cook; I’ve discovered that I like hanging out with Jack (and his mom when she is able to get away) all day long without worrying that there’s something else I really should be doing; I’ve discovered that family and friends are much more important than some stupid emails I have to respond to or reports I have to write; and, I’ve discovered that I really suck at home improvement projects.
Do I want my old life back? ‘Yes’, absolutely..…wait, ‘no’ forget it…wait, ‘yes’ and ‘no’… How do I make a birthday wish with such conflictions? OK, here goes…as I become fully entrenched in my fifth decade on this world, I hereby ask that the birthday wish fairies would grant me the following wishes:
(pause to blow out the candle….)
- I wish that Jack remains healthy and happy;
- I wish that our family will get through this very difficult time and eventually end up in a place as good (or better) than we were before, emotionally and financially;
- I wish that I can resurrect the important aspects of my career that I love but still get to hang out with Jack all of the time;
- I wish that that I will actually write that novel that I started, and maybe even get someone to publish it and make it into a blockbuster movie so that we can afford to take Jack on nice trips and get him whatever he needs as he grows up;
- I wish that I could figure out how to fix the back door so that Jack doesn’t keep breaking out;