Is Age 37 Too Young for a Midlife Crisis? 1st World Problems and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

I’m pretty sure that at age 37, I’m currently working my way through my midlife crisis. While at first mention, it might seem I’m getting mine out of the way a little early, consider that the average American man in Tennessee lives to be about 74 years old. So actually, I’m actually right on cue:

If I live that long, then my life is already halfway complete at this point.

Perhaps the biggest struggle I am sorting out is that, as of this year, I have officially found myself at the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Actualization.

The way I like to explain how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs works is this:

If and when you are able to overcome needs in each stage of your life, they are simply replaced by new ones that you didn’t have the privilege of addressing before.

Things started progressing quickly on my journey up the pyramid, in my mid-30s, when I discovered that it was always my decision whether I allowed other people to emotionally affect me. During that same time in my life, my wife and I had become completely debt-free, other than our mortgage.

Now in our late 30s, we have found ourselves in a new income level bracket; having both progressed our ways up the corporate ladder, in addition to the aforementioned pyramid.

I think the identity crisis I am going through right now is that we both work full-time jobs in offices, in addition to side jobs online. The money simply goes to paying off our mortgage, our kids’ college funds, and our retirement.

It’s just sort of demotivating to consider how much of our time is spent working- and how little time is spent together as a family.

Plus, I really want a Jeep Wrangler. I’ve been dreaming about owning one for years. But having gone years without a car payment, and knowing that buying my dream car would only take away from our savings and our ability to pay extra each month on our mortgage, I just wouldn’t be able to enjoy it anyway.

Clearly, I have first world problems. Yet according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, they are still legitimate challenges that I am sorting out in my life.

This is my midlife crisis at age 37.

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Dear Holly: You Learned How to Jump This Week… While Wearing Your Brother’s Pokemon Underwear!

2 years, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

You’ve been on a mission this week. I’m not sure what inspired it. Maybe you’ve been seeing your friends do it at school, or maybe you’ve just simply developed your muscles to the point you can.

But after just a few days of practice, you finally taught yourself how to jump!

You’ve been leaping across our living room like a frog. You’ve even been making the sound: “Ribb-ribb-ribb-ribb…”

I had been noticing for the past couple of weeks that it looked like you were practicing. You just couldn’t figure out how to actually get your feet off the ground; as if it were supposed to be an automatic thing that happened after you squatted.

Your newly learned jumping skill just happened to be the same week that your brother talked you into wearing same of his old Pokemon underwear over your clothes.

Of all the cute clothes you have in your closet, you have decided that your brother’s old underwear are better choice.

Actually though, it reminds me of a conversation I was having with Mommy this week, how I myself have cool newer t-shirts that I never wear enough; as if I’m saving them for some special occasion that never happens.

Instead, I tend to wear only my old faded clothes when we’re home.

The irony is that for the people I love the most, I wear the worst clothes; and for the rest of the world, I have to put on a fashion show that no one is paying attention to.

So maybe you have inspired me to just start wearing what I really want to wear, even when it’s just our family at our house.

As for now, I have a feeling that it will just be the new norm to be seeing you jumping around the house in boys’ Pokemon underwear.

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Subliminally Taught Your Sister to Ask for Chips at Starbucks

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

There has been an unspoken rule in our family for years now:

When we go out as a family to run errands in the car, Mommy is always going to ask me, “Coffee?”

That’s her way of saying she wants to go to Starbucks. I always say yes; knowing that I might as well enjoy a cold brew.

And if Mommy and I are getting coffee, you know that you can ask for a snack:

“Can I get a croissant?”

And the answer is always yes:

“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone? -Matthew 7:9

So after quietly watching that scenario play out weekend after weekend, your sister decided it was her time to join in on the action.

As our family made our way to the Nashville Sounds baseball game a couple of weeks ago, as we pulled up to the drive-through at Starbucks, you said the magic words:

“Can I get a croissant?”

Without missing a beat, your sister immediately jumped in:

“Chips?…”

It was equally amazing and hilarious how she already had a prepared request. She knew the place, she knew the cue, and she even knew the specific yet seemingly random food she wanted while the gettin’ was good.

However, you suggested to her that she get a croissant instead. In your experience and wisdom, you knew she might want some of yours once she saw it.

That was a good call. Both of you ended up with your own personal croissant.

I couldn’t help but notice though, she completely downloaded hers by the time you had taken the third bite of yours.

Well, I guess now it will be no surprise what will happen the time next our family ends up at Starbucks:

There will be two simultaneous requests:

“Croissant?…”

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: That Week You Refused to Take Off Your Brother’s Captain America Mask

2 years, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

It was a typical evening. Mommy picked you and your brother up from summer day camp. I had just driven back home from work.

As I began to help Mommy prep dinner, your brother mentioned something about taking you upstairs to see something.

Ten minutes later, I looked up to see that he had brought you back down, but decked out in his Captain America mask from his Halloween costume 3 years ago, with the accompanying shield.

You didn’t say a word, but I could tell it was important to you that I recognized that you were now Captain America.

Then during breakfast the next morning, I stepped into the kitchen to realize you were wearing the mask again; refusing to take it off while you ate breakfast.

A little bit later as Mommy was getting ready to leave for work, you added Mommy’s slippers to your superhero outfit. It somehow made sense.

This week will be remembered as the week you refused to take off your brother’s Captain America mask. And actually, your commitment to your superhero outfit actually inspired your brother:

He has been making some serious plans about making his return as an actor on YouTube again. Your brother asked me, “Hey Daddy, do you think when Holly’s a little older, we could do Jack-Man videos again?”

I instantly assured him that we could make our own superhero videos now if he wanted to.

But after he thought about it, your brother decided that instead of reprising the titular character of the 22 episode series, Jack-Man, he would like to try writing his own series.

So if this ends up really happening, I will be making the video, and he’ll be writing and starring in it. He’s also having Mommy look into buying him a lizard costume for it.

We’ll see where thing things goes. If it’s mean to be, it’ll be…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: It’s Hard to Take a Normal Picture of You These Days

7 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

As I began looking through the more than a thousand pictures I took of our family’s recent trip to northern California, it didn’t take me long to notice a pattern: It was rare to see you just smiling normally in a photo.

Instead, the majority of the pictures show you making some kind of silly face.

Whether it’s a scary monster face, or an over-the-top smile, or just you simply photo-bombing someone else’s photo, you are all about being silly in photos.

Granted, I was able to get some normal pictures of you during our vacation. And that’s good enough for me.

I accept you, as you are, as a 7 and a half year-old boy. I want you to be able to express yourself that way.

So I accept that at this point in your life, you’ve had your picture taken enough to where it’s become a bit of a joke to you.

I don’t mind this. I completely realize that in a matter of about 5 years, I’ll be lucky to even get you to pose for a picture where you’re smiling- in any form. Because you’ll be in that teenage phrase where you are embarrassed by me.

This is actually something I’ve always wondered about: At what point will I no longer be able to include new photos of you in my letters to you? At what point can I no longer get away with including you in my blog?

I recognize that at some point, your need for privacy may override the fact that I love celebrating and documenting whatever is going on in your life each week.

So despite me having written about you at least once every week since Mommy and I knew you were going to be born, that may need to come to an end, some time in the future; or at least, maybe I’ll need to do it less frequently.

It’s very clear to me: Silly, happy pictures of you are much better than no pictures at all.

Love,

Daddy

The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

As our family finished up our 2 week-long vacation road trip in northern California, we drove the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport from Walnut Grove to Pleasanton, where our kids got to enjoy the playgrounds at Mission Hills Park.

It was such a nice drive, as we saw the countless solar windmills for much of the way. There is so much beauty in the top half of the state of California, which often is not the region people tend to think of when they hear where my wife is from.

The kids also liked the fact that the entire roof of the Outlander was a giant window. It was almost like a ride at Disney, in a way.

The main attraction at the city park was the giant, 50 foot slide; the kind I remember from back in the 1980s when I was my son’s age. These days, it’s rare to see such a tall, metal slide like that.

(To put it into perspective, the standard length of a dry van trailer pulled by an 18 wheeler is 53 feet long.)

My son quickly learned the best way to go down the slide was to lay down, like it was a luge. The slide was up so high, we were up there with the trees!

Here’s a little video I made, in the moment:

To my amazement, my 2 year-old daughter even insisted she get to try out the slide. So I held her hand and walked alongside her as she slid down, quite slowly, with me moderating her speed.

Granted, the rest of the playground equipment was great, as well. There were actually two main playgrounds; one for older kids like my 7 and a half year-old son, including a climbing wall and ropes course.

For younger kids like my daughter, there was a separate playground across the park which was more appropriate for her age.

So if you happen to be driving anywhere near Pleasanton, California and have some adventurous children with restless energy, I definitely recommend you stopping by Mission Hills Park.

The big slide is so cool!

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California

Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

Sometimes as a parent, you end up having to settle for the back-up plan; or even the back-up plan of the back-up plan, but as long as you’re with the people you love, you just might have a great time anyway. You may even get more than you expected, in a good way!

That is exactly what happened last week while I was out in northern California with my family. My wife and I had planned a trip to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where we had taken our son nearly 3 years ago.

But after learning from our experience the week before that our 2 year-old daughter was getting burned out on so much travel (after all, we had flown in from Tennessee), we decided to find a closer carnival destination; as Santa Cruz is nearly 2 and a half hours away from where we were staying with my mother-in-law in Walnut Grove.

It just so happened that there was a County Fair going on in Pleasanton, just about an hour and 20 minutes away; which would shave an hour or so off of our originally planned travel time.

That way, our kids could still get their fill of games and rides, like at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. But after my wife bought the tickets to the County Fair on Groupon and we actually drove there, we learned that the fair didn’t actually open until Wednesday: We were there on Monday.

After getting a refund on our tickets online, my wife found a place called Lost Worlds Adventures. So we drove the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport just 6 miles down to the road to the neighboring town of Livermore.

Fate would have it, our family had just as much fun at Lost Worlds Adventures as we would have had at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, or the County Fair… if not more.

Not to mention, it was actually less expensive than both of those plans, as well!

Fortunately, the whole place was dinosaur themed. For a 7 and a year-old boy who’s currently very excited about seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, that served as the perfect ambiance.

We started things off with a fun game of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. I’m pretty sure our son won, though we weren’t keeping score.

Then we gave our son $20 to spend on games; in which points were earned to earn prizes at the end. I am amazed by how much we got for that amount of money.

Not only did our 2 year-old daughter enjoy playing the games for free on demo mode, as she didn’t know the difference anyway, she also got to help her brother roll the ball for the Milk Jug Toss and Skee-Ball.

However, our son had to explain to her, “Holly, you can’t just crawl up and drop the ball in…”

And speaking of our son Jack, he made out quite well as far as earning points for prizes. He stumbled upon a game called Big Bass Wheel Pro, where the concept was that the harder you pulled the lever down, the harder the wheel spun, and therefore the more points you earned.

But we realized pretty quickly that A) what value the spinner landed on was completely random, and B) the game seemed to just keep giving my son bonus spins for no reason. So in the likeness of pushing the button in the Swan station on the TV show LOST, my son and I starting taking turns pulling the lever, to keep the game going, and therefore, the points racking up.

So with the 2,240 points my son earned (most of which were from the same game), he was able to get his very first Care Bear, along with a couple of planes and balls and squishy toys. In addition to a pig whose eyes popped out when it is squeezed and some stickers, my daughter was very proud of her poop emoji purse and matching plush poop emoji key chain.

Yep, that’s what she chose, so we didn’t turn her down.

Yes, sometimes life is about the back-up plan of a back-up plan. And great times were had by all!

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California