This begins my daily effort to write something worth reading.
<<<pauses while he thinks of something >>>.
I have been on meds for my depression for close to four years now. I never would have thought I needed them. Then I turned 50 and realized I probably needed them 30 years earlier. Life would have been so much different if I had realized I had depression. For one, I would still be married, because many of the events earlier in our marriage that contributed to its eventual demise would likely not have occurred. For another, I would have a much better (for you Spanish speakers that’s mucho bettero) relationship with my eldest offspring.
We tend to fuck up more with our first born. We should have temporary, trial sized children first, so we can make our mistakes on them. But we don’t get that opportunity, so we muddle along on the real ones and do the best we can, hoping we do no permanent damage. By the time we get to child number three we think we have them figured out. When #3 turned out to be my third daughter, I was quite pleased, as I had experience. Figured out? No.
Should I ever be blessed with another child, I would be ok with either sex and/or gender. A fourth girl would be awesome and hopefully look like her mother. My first son would be cool, as well, because, well, it would be a different experience. For one, I could teach him how to write his name in the snow, assuming I lived someplace that had it.
Lindsey, my current youngest, is already someone way too much like me. She’s quick witted, a total smart ass, somewhat shy, and has my emotional make up. She’s also tall and thin like I was at that age.
Raising children is the hardest thing I have ever done. I think it’s the hardest job there is. Puppies are much easier. Children have opinions and no filter. They’re like mini Donald Trumps, only smarter. The good news is, as my friend Abby told me today, “little people have little problems and big people have big problems”. Children’s problems generally don’t rise to the level of, say peace in the Middle East, even if they think they do. The exception to this rule is when your child is sick, especially seriously so. Then the world stops while you attend to that need. Courtney developed epilepsy at four and I still recall her first seizure and how at that moment my medical training kicked in. Once she was safely in the hospital and her status epilepticus finally stopped, it was then I fell completely apart. Until then I was Dr. Dad. Once she was someone else’s responsibility, I was just dad, a quivering mass of jello with a 70’s porn star mustache.
Whether I have more children isn’t exactly up to me. First, I’m not seeing anyone at this moment, much less recreating. Second, while I am not specifically fishing for a younger woman, I wouldn’t necessarily throw one back unless they were too small. Age is just a number and what matters more to me is maturity and compatibility. Companionship, intellectual stimulation, physical attraction, lots of laughter and tenderness. All of those are important, but intellectual stimulation and conversation are indispensable. She must be educated and erudite, even opinionated, so long as she is a good listener, too.
Such compatibility is rare. There are plenty of beautiful people, intelligent people, truly wonderful people. But finding one who is truly compatible with you is a needle in a haystack. When it happens, hold on as tightly or as loosely as appropriate for the personality, but don’t let go (with apologies to .38 Special and their hit song, Hold on Loosely).
I hope I find such a woman to be My Person. Maybe I already know her. I can’t say. I was married to one for two and a half decades until my own unhappiness did us in. If I have another shot at love, I will take it. Maybe that will include a child or step-children. Who knows? But, to quote Ann Lamott in Traveling Mercies, “even when we are most sure that love can’t conquer all, it seems to anyway”. Love alone isn’t sufficient, but with love you make the compromises and sacrifices to make a relationship work. You give. You take. The two are greater than the sum of 1+1. The odds of two 1-in-a-million people finding each other is 1,000,000 squared. When you do, you don’t let go.