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A major life milestone has been unlocked: My first child just graduated high school.
This comes with lots of emotions, tons of thoughts. Some of which I’d like to unpack today.
Having kids has a unique effect on the mind.
Regret of Days Gone By
Someone like me has trouble not regretting life. With each passing day, you see opportunities that might pass you by. I’m not saying I’m over the hill, or that I even subscribe to such a concept. I’m just saying, there are things out there that are hard if not impossible to start over. And there are other things that do have an inherent time limit.
For example, I chose a degree in college that hasn’t been very fruitful for me professionally. And that led to other choices along the way, ultimately leaving me halfway to 90 with countless degrees and certifications, but still working as a customer support monkey, answering questions from my living room for 40 hours a week.
If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t make those same choices. I would set myself down an entirely different path. But life doesn’t really give do-overs. And even if it did, it’s not even close to the same. You can never be a starry-eyed 20-year-old in college again. With age comes exhaustion, responsibilities, aching joints, and a thoroughly jaded attitude. So you can try and change your life from scratch, but you’ll be fighting an uphill battle, with few guarantees of success.
Another example: If you choose later on in life to learn an instrument or a second language or a new sport, you can grow greatly proficient, but you might lack the time and freedom to really dedicate yourself to your newfound craft. And it’s so easy to give up knowing full well your 50th birthday is right around the corner. You might wonder if this is really a good time in life to start playing the oboe, learning Urdu, or mastering rugby?
Fact is, starting over is a challenge. And one most of us are unlikely to face head-on.
But there’s an alternative, of sorts.
Second Chance via Kids
Having kids is, in many ways, a second chance to live the life you would live as a child, if you could start all over again.
It’s not exactly the same. But if you’ve been an active parent, and you’ve had an impact and an influence on their lives, their accomplishments are your accomplishments. And it’s almost like getting that redo you thought just didn’t exist in this world.
You wished you could have gotten into fitness younger and more intensely, while your body was ripe for building muscle memory and burning fat. You wish you had spent hours practicing on the piano when your life wasn’t as hectic as it’s become. You wish you focused your studies differently, and now weren’t so worried about paying the bills because you were on a path with potentially serious dollar signs in your future.
You can have it all… it just won’t be you.
In walks these energetic bundles of joy into your life. They have all the energy and time you wish you had. And when they start accomplishing things you never had the chance to, it’s like your second opportunity to thrive. And it’s better in some ways. They get to grab on to the myriad of opportunities that weren’t even realities when we were growing up, usually due to the endless opportunities modern technology has given us.
And we get to sit back and soak in the pride! For everything they accomplish, big or small, we get to jump with joy at this unique second chance the universe has given us.Having kids is, in many ways, a second chance to live the life you would live as a child, if you could start all over again. Click To Tweet
But Kids Must Still Be Kids
There does exist a danger in this. Because kids are and will always be kids. I understand that if I hadn’t eaten like an animal as a kid, I wouldn’t have Diabetes now. And I for certain should let my children know this important fact. But what happens when they don’t listen? And guess what: They very likely will not. They’re kids, and they’re always going to love cookies and candy and ice cream. And you’re fighting a wild war if you think you can prevent this.
But what a grand opportunity to try!
And it’s borderline flawless, so long as you don’t get frustrated or angry if your attempts fail. Kids will always be kids, just like you weren’t controllable in this way when you were young, your own flesh and blood won’t be either.
IDF, Here He Comes
So now my oldest has finished high school. He’s off to the next big adventure, whatever it may be.
And for me, I’m as nervous as if I were stuck going to the Israeli Army again myself. My experience was less than exhilarating or meaningful. For approximately 15 months of my life, I withered away supervising a recreational computer lab. My days consisted of telling dopey kids how to switch to typing in Hebrew and kicking people out of the room for looking at porn.
I tried to reach for something special. And I fell into a giant pile of excrement.
And now my son is reaching for the stars. And I hope to God he gets everything he could have ever wanted and more. A small portion of people go to the IDF and walk away proud of what they did, basking in the enormity of their accomplishments for years to come. And the rest of us, well, we’re just glad it’s over.
But the second chance has arrived. The new, updated version of me is inches away from serving our nation. And I’m watching from up close, helpless, with one eye closed. They have every reason to give him everything he desires. Yet they are notorious for plopping people into positions willy-nilly without any careful, calculated thoughts.
And so my ambition is alive and well. And it is not bound by time.
I get to not only bask in my own accomplishments, but I get to enjoy those of my children like they are my own.
And as I love to point out: The best is yet to come. For both of us!
There’s going to be a lot of reasons for celebration. This I can guarantee.