By John Jericiau
My third son is eleven days old and I’m enjoying every second of his life. Basically it consists of eating, burping, a few minutes of playtime, sleeping, waking up, and repeat. All day long and all night long. It’s my third time through this, so I feel pretty comfortable going through the motions. Exhausted but comfortable. Tired but ecstatic.
However, I find another emotion bubbling to the surface: sadness. I realize that since we have decided to stop at three kids, I am experiencing many “last time” events.
It’s the last time I will cut an umbilical cord.
It’s the last time I will sign a birth certificate.
It’s the last time I will smell the incredible smell of our baby.
It’s the last time I will have the pleasure of wiping that meconium. (Yahoo!)
It’s the last time I will give my child his first bath.
It’s the last time I will see his first smile.
As I’ve gotten older, I have noticed more and more “lasts” in many aspects of my life. Friends enter and leave your life, and it’s hard when you realize that you probably had your last good time with them. There are friends out there for whom I yearn to see one last time and have some closure in our lives. It may be decades since I have seen them but the desire is still there. Just one more time to let them know how much I appreciated and enjoyed their friendship, and that I would never forget them. It’s a strange phenomenom, but I have found that once the kids started entering my life, some friends (mostly single friends) lined up single-file and marched right out of my life, never to be heard from again except for the occasional Facebook “like”, which doesn’t really count, does it?
A couple of years ago I competed in my tenth Los Angeles Marathon, and when I crossed the finish line, with Alen and the boys there to cheer me on at the finish, I whispered my good-bye to the marathon distance. The older one gets, the more the marathon training and racing beats you to a pulp, and it was time to say adios. But there’s a certain sadness that comes with the good riddance of that cruel race. Farewell to the feelings of invincibility and unbelievable athletic prowess. Good-bye to the comraderie you share with other runners.
A year or so ago we sold our South Florida beach condo. For 16 years of my life (pre-family) I had enjoyed twice-yearly vacations where I could let my hair down, lay on the beach all day, exercise for two hours, and just enjoy the tropical climate. Don’t get me wrong; I love my family and our life now. But I can’t help but miss those days sometimes (although trying to replicate them at my age would be pretty silly). How do you say farewell to days where you were the center of attention, where you felt like the crowd at the beach took a collective breath as you made your way on the beach?
I’ve already had my last time in my 40’s, my last trick, and my last time being crowned 6th grade chess champ. I’ve said goodbye to my hair and to life without reading glasses. I’m not good at saying goodbye. I’d rather peel my fingernails back than go to a funeral. Sometimes I abandon books because I don’t want them to end. Clearly I have a problem. The only way I will survive as I go through the lives of my sons is to keep in mind that the things ahead – their first loves, their first day of high school, their first trophy – will be so incredible and awesome too.
Oh, and there’s always grandchildren.