Tomorrow is my son’s 18th birthday. That means today is his last day of being a child, which means this is my last day of having kids. My daughter is 21 and bought a house last month. She’s not coming home. My son is waiting to hear back from colleges where he’s applied. I understand I’ve always been aging and that tomorrow is really more of a legal thing, but it’s a harbinger of things to come.
We’re having a massive snowstorm, so he’s doing remote school from our living room as I write this. I can hear him interacting with his teacher, but I have no idea what they’re talking about. Standing back from an objective distance, he’s a smart kid who really has his stuff together. He wasn’t the most social kid, and COVID-19 didn’t help, but I think he’s one of those who blossoms in college.
When older people hear that I’m 44 (I’ll be 45 on Feb. 8, still time to order me gifts), they usually say something like, “You’re just a young pup!” I recognize that if I were 23 and they were 44, they’d say the same thing. It is a matter of perspective, but beyond that, my knees are shot. I literally need help getting off the floor. I can’t go the entire night without peeing. And I was just told that when I get glasses next year, they will have to be bifocals. Young pup, my ass.
I don’t really mind the aging process. It’s part of life and it’s interesting. I hate seeing my parents (early 70s) get older and start to need some periphery help, while they, ironically, still help my 95-year-old relatives. They say only the good die young. We live long, long lives in this family. I’m lucky to have had both parents this long, I know this. But I’ve also just been given power of attorney and we’ve had a few conversations about things like where the important papers are. It’s kind of scary to be told these things in preparation for what’s next.
My wife is older than me. This summer, she turns 50. As somebody who has been in recovery for almost 7 years, that gives me the emotional maturity of a second grader. The concept of being married to someone who is going to be 50 is surreal. It’s not an ageist thing. It’s more of a milestone thing. Until recovery, I always lived like I’d be dead by now. A 50-year-old spouse? Never considered it.
Maybe aging is just hitting milestone after milestone that you witnessed your parents and grandparents go through. The reality is, if my daughter got pregnant from her longtime boyfriend, she would be 22 when she gave birth. That’s hardly an anomaly. She has no plans of a child, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Me being a grandfather before 50 is probably more likely than not. Grandfather? I’m not ready to be the patriarch.
Taking Stock of Aging
I’m not depressed about the aging process, but not exactly thrilled, either. The further you get away from youth, the more you appreciate it. I don’t lament that I took it for granted, because I think you’re supposed to do that when you’re young. The world is open to all possibilities. Why waste time overanalyzing them? I can appreciate the present now, but one of the gifts of youth is not recognizing it for what it’s worth.
I’m seeing the bald spot start to gain further definition at the top of my head and the hair in my beard is about a quarter white. It feels like more than half the people I interact with in life are now younger than me, and with the exception of Adam Viniteri, who I think is still playing, there isn’t a professional athlete in the big four sports who is younger than me. Even Tom Brady is almost a year younger and they frame him in terms of a dinosaur.
Technically, I’ll have kids until about 6:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. I just can’t believe it’s been 18 years since I held him for the first time. I was just a young pup.