If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it three million times, forget cleanliness; self-awareness is next to godliness. On my thirty-third birthday, September 10, 2003, I implemented that philosophy into my sad life. After three decades of being average, okay, and just getting by, I held this five-pound bald cherub in my left hand and got “it”. You know “it”? Oh, not that obvious platitude of parenthood changes you. Of course it does, you’re up half the night feeding and wiping a tiny human. No “it” is where you realize your failures and selfishness, that “what about me” bullcrap that you think is important but isn’t, becomes unnecessary and purpose matches philosophy.
I see them in the mall. I click on their Facebook pages. The sad eyes of men with no purpose are telling. They have wives, kids, cars, boats, mistresses, fantasy baseball teams, and gas grills the size of Volkswagens but they have no idea who or what they are. I doubt they want to know.
My daughter, now almost 9, was only 11 days old that September morning when I stopped being a rudderless person. She was tiny. I held her in one hand and made her bottle with another. I carried her to the couch and we watched the three a.m. Sportscenter together while tears streamed down my face. She opened her miniscule mouth and I turned the plastic container upside down so she could drink. The baseball scores scrolled by and I started planning. Get out of this marriage. Quit whining. Write. Be the kind of father she’ll dare other men to aspire to later.
It took years. Hell, we’re on nine. But I finally accepted myself. Birthdays mean little to me, now. If anything, they serve as a reminder of how I didn’t really deserve one until my thirty-three. On that couch if in front of ESPN, was the last birthday that mattered. After the thirty-third, celebrating was just cake.
I went rogue, true and personal for Trifecta optional prompt, choosing Smashing Pumpkins’ video of their song Thirty-Three. I had to write for this one. This song means a lot to me. http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2012/06/trifecta-week-thirty-three.html