I’ve been a parent for thirteen years. After a series of other character-building endeavors including age appropriate collegiate shenanigans, two years of waitress-funded independence in the Pacific Northwest, a shabby-chic Boston North End condo purchase, and half a MBA I found the man of my dreams, signed the pledge and launched my progenitor career. Growth in the role has been slow and steady. A few setbacks, one or two moments of fantasy about a hut in Tahiti instead, but, for the most part, not bad. Sometimes paralyzing. Sometimes heartbreaking. Always crazy love. Always spiritually fundamental…Kind of like a residential construction project wouldn’t you say?
Here are the parallels:
Step one, that initial excuse for renting a three bedroom apartment because the walk-in closet fits a full-sized bed (for the extra roommate), kind-of, has been upgraded (along with you) into a three-story Victorian in a suburb of Boston. Now we’re getting serious. A leaky faucet and a failed kitchen triangle is no longer the fault of the degenerate landlord…because you are the degenerate landlord.
Step two, find the design build dream team and, yup, get hitched. Perfectly matched? Well, we’re going to make a mess. And sometimes we’ll think we are all totally on the same page, but you’ll be thinking that the fact that we made a mess means we don’t understand you and we’ll be thinking that the fact that we made a mess means we are totally committed to you so what’s the big deal anyway?
Step three, you’ll decide you want this over and you want to move to Tahiti or you want us to move to Tahiti…but someone is moving. Today. That’s it. We’re done. This is too hard. How did anyone think this was a good idea in the first place.
Step four, something miraculous happens. It’s beautiful and meaningful. Everything you poured your heart into becomes tangible and real. It matters. It’s a truth. You can brag about it and toast to it and act like it was no big deal just your continued luck in life…sweat, sweat, sweat, breath, breath, breath.
Love, love, love. Always. Because the things that do matter in life we want to run to and run from constantly. Isn’t it funny? I think it’s because we don’t want to fail. We don’t want our kids to fail. I don’t want my clients to feel failure. Idealism holds our brains captive and we are unforgiving of the natural human process of growth, discomfort and downright ugly days. It’s okay. But don’t forget:
“the real truth, the thing we must be most afraid of is the destructive power of absolute beliefs- that we can know anything conclusively, absolutely- whether we are compelled to it by anger, fear, righteousness, injustice, indignation. As soon as you start believing in the absolute, you stop believing in human beings, as mad and as tragic as they are…in all their complexity, their otherness, their intractable reality…the only commitment any of have is to other people.”
– Bryan Cranston character in Broadway’s Network.
We like the humanity of our work. The idealism. And the commitment to other people as mad and as tragic as we all may be. It’s why any of us were able to live in that three bedroom with
five roommates to begin with. Because love is crazy and because sometimes we start things that are so terrifyingly profound we must simply believe in each other.
Thirteen years down…a lot more to go.
I’m with you,