I Bet It’s Difficult for My Co-Workers to Imagine I am Married and Have Kids!

I have caught on to a tradition in my office, since starting there over 3 months ago:

Every Friday afternoon, an “It’s almost the weekend!” email goes out to about 20 people in our department, to help motivate everyone through those last couple of hours. Typically, it’s something like a funny Internet meme or an office-themed comic strip.

Well, last Friday, it was… me.

It was a picture taken of me as I was returning from my lunch break.

Apparently I feel comfortable enough working there now that I have begun wearing Hawaiian shirts on Fridays; not because that’s an official thing we do in our office, but simply because I feel like wearing Jimmy Buffett style clothing when it’s that close to the weekend.

Hey, if it were up to me, I’d be wearing a Hawaiian shirt to work every day!

I’m not sure my wife would approve though; even if my co-workers encouraged such Dave Coulier behavior.

And this is actually something I’ve been thinking about, as one of my co-workers recently commented, “Nick, I wonder what your wife must be like? Is she normal? How does she handle being married to you?

My immediate response to her: “And don’t forget… I have two kids, as well! Imagine me being in charge of two young human beings!”

When you spend 40 hours a week working next to the same people 5 days a week, it can be easy to assume that version of them is the default. And to some degree, the “work version” of me does bleed over to the “family version” that my wife and kids know.

In both cases, I believe in being structured and focused, yet optimistic and creative.

But I bet it’s difficult for my co-workers to imagine I am married and have kids.

I think to some degree, even I’m confused:

How do I consistently co-exist on a daily basis, as different versions of myself?

The daytime version at my office versus the evening version with my family.

I wonder now, in reality, if there’s even much of a difference?

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Dear Jack: You Start 2nd Grade in the Morning

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Tomorrow morning, you will officially be a 2nd grader. I was just telling Mommy tonight how I pretty much remember the entire year of 2nd grade. It was the first year in school where I have more than just flashes of memories from it.

I remember that was the year I officially became obsessed with getting a Nintendo so I could try to save the princess on Super Mario Bros. I remember Nonna taking me to see the movie, Big, which was the first non-kids’ movie I ever saw in a theater. And I remember that was the first time I was in a school play: I was an earthworm.

You have an exciting year ahead of you, which will bring its own little milestones in your life.

Today was your last day of summer art camp. When I picked up and reminded your teacher why you wouldn’t be returning after today, I could tell how proud you were when I said, “Jack starts 2nd grade tomorrow!”

Earlier this week, we even got to meet your 2nd grade teacher… or I should say, teachers.

Your school is experimenting with a new curriculum this year in which you will have a homeroom teacher who takes care of math and science, but then for reading and social studies, you will go across the hall where a secondary teacher will handle those subjects.

When I started 2nd grade 30 years ago in 1988, we only swapped teachers for reading. And it wasn’t until 6th grade that switched teachers for more than one subject.

You are definitely ready and eager to start 2nd grade.You were proud too, that this will be your first year at your school where your classroom is up on the 2nd floor.

If you weren’t a big kid before, you definitely are now.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Hanging Out with Your Cousins in Alabama, While Mommy was in Canada

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

From last Friday to this past Tuesday, Mommy was in Vancouver; on a business trip in Canada. So after I got off work on Friday, I drove straight to your school and took you and your sister straight to Alabama; a trip that took precisely 2 hours and 18 minutes.

I left on Sunday afternoon, after a much needed nap for the 2nd day in a row.

As for you and your sister, the two of you got to experience a few days of Cousin Summer Camp!

This included making slime, shopping for a new toilet at Lowe’s, and running around in the gym during a family reunion.

It was a great way to bring your summer of 2018 to an end, as you will be starting 2nd grade in a few weeks.

Looking back, it’s been a pretty big summer, actually!

It started off by me finally going back to work after being a stay-at-home dad for 6 months. Then shortly after, our family got to travel through northern California for 2 weeks. And you even got to go to Art Camp.

And along the way, I have seen you and your sister become even closer, as her personality and social skills have development greatly over the course of this summer.

You have been very kind to share your stuffed animals with her. After all, you have the largest stuffed animals compared to any kid I know.

I’d say as far as summers go, you got your boyhood’s worth. And that’s not even mentioning earlier when you and Papa caught a snake!

I understand that it’s summers like these that will greatly form who you are. As your parent, I can feel confident in knowing that my kids didn’t have a boring summer.

If anything, you are probably due a long nice nap yourself, thanks to all the non-stop action this summer!

Love,

Daddy

 

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.

Dear Jack: Maybe You’ve Grown Up a Bit More When I Wasn’t Looking

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Whereas I don’t feel like your sister has grown up all of the sudden, like the way people feel who haven’t seen her in a while, I can’t say the same about you.

Raising your sister at age her requires so much of my attention, that I am aware that it sort of feels like I can’t focus as much on you as I did before your sister was born.

While I could feel guilty about that, I have to remind myself that when you were 2 years old, I probably spent even more time pouring my attention and care into you.

In the process, your role and identity has had to shift from the only child to the older brother.

Fortunately though, you’ve done a remarkable job with that transition. The 5 and a half year difference between you and sister definitely makes things easier, I believe.

I feel that we’re nearing a point where I’ll feel that my time will be a bit more balanced, as your sister is now gaining much independence. I look forward to us spending more time together.

At the same time though, somewhere between the fact you’ve been forced to be more independent of my attention because of your sister, and because you’re naturally becoming more dependent in your age anyway now that you are almost in 2nd grade, it’s like things are naturally gravitating towards a more balanced divide of my attention.

But I do feel like you’ve grown up more quickly here without my noticing it.

So hopefully, time will feel like it’s slowing down with you about more in the near future; whereas with your sister, it’s almost as if time has progressed slower than normal, because of how much time I’ve spent with her.

I look forward to things balancing out.

Love,

Daddy

Photo by Mohamad Alaw.

Dear Holly: You’re at the Age Now Where People Think You Grew Up So Fast, But You Didn’t…

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

You are officially at the age now, to where if someone hasn’t seen you since you were a baby, they will react with, “Oh wow! Holly is all grown up now! She’s a girl!

We have friends and family members that have haven’t seen you in about two years. So for them to you see now as a little girl, it can give the impression that time has just flown by since you were born.

However, it’s a different feeling for me; regarding my perception of time.

I definitely don’t feel like you grew up while I blinked. For me, I think it only reinforced a more natural passing of time in that I had 6 months to take care of you while I was a stay-at-home dad.

Through every night where I woke up at 3:00 AM to change your diaper and help you get back to sleep, it’s possible that it felt like time was actually passing by more slowly for me.

It’s like the way that sitcoms often skip the years between infancy and Kindergarten, I imagine that’s how it is to the outside world when they see you.

I suppose it’s also like the way if a person stares at the minute-hand of a clock in an attempt to watch it move, compared to someone who looks away from the clock.

This weekend we have a family reunion to go to. I am expecting many people to say, word for word, “Is this Holly? She’s gotten big. I remember seeing pictures of her when she was a baby. She grew up quickly!”

But for me, as a parent who has been heavily involved in so many waking hours of your life, you’ve grown up at normal speed.

I’ve survived enough sleepless nights to feel it.

Love,

Daddy

Photos by Mohamad Alaw.

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