Dad at 40

Fitness, Nutrition, Parenting, and Life

Archive for the category “Parenting”

Being a Dad at 40 Something

I am going to be 43 this year. As I have gone through life, I have looked at my aging as a ridiculous obstacle that existed in my head. I am young still, active, healthy, and full of energy. This age thing is nothing more than some fear instilled in us by society.

A funny thing happened though. In my mid-30s, I started feeling lethargic. I was not sure why. I gained weight and slowed down – no matter how hard I worked. That sense of youth and vigor was slipping away. There was no real reason it happened. It was not like I rolled over one morning and decided to stop feeling and being young. So, after a couple of years, the doctor finally did a blood test checking my hormone levels to discover that my testosterone was depressingly low. All of the regular remedies were tried until finally it was determined that I need to take synthetic testosterone. Yep, you heard that right – anabolic steroids. Before all the guys start high fiving and say “eureka!”, it was determined that I should take one of the weaker ones and in controlled weekly doses. Boy, it made a huge difference and I noticed it right away. Let me tell you, it is like the fountain of youth. Really…increased muscle mass, libido, energy, vigor, and so many wonderful effects when you inject it properly.

But, along the way I have noticed a few things and I want to share my experiences with everyone.

  1. Eyesight – I started noticing my eyesight getting a little wonky about two years ago. I love to read and enjoy reading a variety of things, but reading a book was becoming harder and harder. Went to the doctor for a vision test. My vision is still considered 20-20. How could this be? Well, the test measures some basic lines of letters read at a certain distance. That is pretty easy. However, up close was a different story. I needed corrective lenses, readers, but still, corrective lenses. Me being the problem solver I am asked the doctor what it would take to fix my eyes. LASIK? Some other procedure? I was ready to pay it. He looked at me and smiled and said these simple words – “son, you can’t fix age”.
  2. Gym time – This gets harder everyday. Waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning is not as easy as it once was. The body remembers the moves, but sometimes executing them is not as easy. Oh, I can still do all the moves, but I have to look at which lifts and techniques will complement an aging body as opposed to simply doing what I want. How do I know this? I have a scar on my shoulder from surgery telling me this. Don’t go thinking that I tried to lift too much or lifted carelessly. My shoulder simply decided that it had enough. I asked the doctor what was happening when he checked me – “well, you have a degeneration of the end of the bone. You are getting older. You’ll need a distal clavicle resection”. Then he suggested I give up regular bench press and other lifts that strained the shoulder in favor of lifts that were easier on my joints. I never recalled this conversation in my teens or college days, but it is not really a bad one to have. Just something I noticed with age.
  3. Fatigue – Here we go with the baby stuff. Being a dad at any age is exhausting. Being a dad at 40 something is just plain hard. Whether you have done this before or are starting over like me, it is just hard. At this age, many of my contemporaries are talking about being grandparents soon. Heck, some even are grandparents! But, I started over. The beauty of the grandparent thing is that when you tire of the screaming baby, you hand him over to mom and dad and you leave. Not so when you are dad. Fatigue sets in as you have to deal with everything all the time. Up three or four times a night (on a good night) and disrupting sleep cycles that your aging body needs more than ever. It leaves you feeling tired a lot of the time. And this is because my job is easy compared to my wife.
  4. Retirement – Yeah. I threw that in there. Retirement. When you hit 40, at least in my mind, you start to look at your exit plan from this working life. A word you never thought you would think about becomes a reality. Retirement. First, just a word of caution – think about it when you are 18. Start early so you can possibly retire early. Me, I started a wee bit later than I should have. I accept that choice, but it does not mean I do not think about it. Having a child has changed that idea for me. I can technically keep my son on my health plan until he is 26. I have a very good health plan. I can make sure he has no student loan debt. I can do a lot of things to give him a leg up. But, 26 is the magic number. I am 42. The math sucks, but you do what you have to for your children.

There are a few others, but I have to get ready for work. I will expand on this at some point. For now, these are the things I notice the most about being a dad at 40 something. It is a challenge. It is not easy. Make no mistake, the reward is great! But, it requires patience, sacrifice, careful planning, and a change in how you see the world and your place in it. It might be subtle for some while major for others, but if you enter into this adventure and change nothing about yourself or your thinking, then you are doing it wrong. Think about that. It is not an attack, but a simple statement of truth. Being a dad forever changes things and forever changes you.

Understanding your Wife’s Challenges

I have a unique situation. I am not quite sure how many men experience the same thing, but I am going to share my perspective. Before I go and do that, let me give you some background. As you may have read, I have an 18 year old son. When he was born, times were a lot tougher (I’ll share more about that in a later posting). I worked and so did his mom. We put him in with a caregiver that watched him for several months. Things were tight and life was not easy.

Fast forward 18 years and I have a very stable career and make a manageable living. My wife went back to work yesterday. I have the luxury of being able to work from home and stay with our son. Plus, his big brother helps out to make sure we are constantly watching him. Thus, I am the one picking up around the house. I do the dishes when needed. I sweep the floors. I do the laundry. Funny enough, as I was flipping through TV channels the other night, Mr. Mom was on the air and I thought to myself that I could finally relate.

As my wife and I discussed it, she looked at me and said she was lucky to have me. I am not saying I do not try to be a good guy, but that came out of left field. So, I asked her why. Well, according to the many parenting blogs and forums she reads, many women discuss their home situations when it comes to raising children and being a domestic engineer. Apparently, many men really lack the understanding of what it means to raise a child and take care of a home. They come home and have the expectation that dinner be cooked and the house be cleaned. Surely, this is not possible in this modern age? But, she swears it is.

So, I am going to say this as a guy who deals with this daily. Guys, if you are the husband with ridiculous expectations of your wife while she raises your children, then lay off her. I get that earning money is hard. Someone has to bring home a paycheck. But, raising a kid is hard too. Babies scream and cry. They find solace only in being held or carried. It is incredibly hard to accomplish anything when they are wanting to be held. If you put them down to sleep, you tip toe around to keep quiet. I swear, I want to stomp the UPS guys for ringing the doorbell and setting off the dogs. Cleaning!? Hardly. It is survival. Dinner? Bread and cold cuts.

This is not to say that there are not some extraordinary women out there who manage all of that. And, I would bet some men. But, the general rule is that parents dealing with a small baby have it pretty hard and we would all be better served if we were more understanding of the parent left at home to deal with our little ones. So, if you are that guy, take a day off and try it on for size. Let your wife just go for 8 or 9 hours and see how you handle it. Put the same expectations on yourself that you have of her.

As a bonafide Mr. Mom, I can tell you, it is a lot harder than it looks and I would gladly trade office duty for home duty any day of the week. In fact, it is my semi-monthly required time to go into the office. I can hardly wait!!

 

 

A Second Chance

1997

My son was born in 1997. He is a great kid. However, looking back on my life, I wonder if I was a great dad. You see, I never had a father. I grew up with a single, working mother who served in a dual role. I watched from a distance as friends and classmates had fathers, but I never knew what that was. So, naturally, I was worried that I had no idea how to be a father. I’d like to say there is no book that teaches you to be a father, but I would be lying, as there are no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of such books. I learned that having a book to read does not equal having the skill or natural inclination to do the job well.

Thus began a journey to learn to do something I had only seen from a distance. A journey to fill a void I felt for a long time. And yes, I think we all have that friend that will roll their eyes at a sentence like that….as I can just see him rolling his eyes right now. Regardless of eye rolling, it is how I felt then.

2015

December 9th was a defining moment for me. We have many moments, but only a handful of moments we would categorize as defining. As I stood by the bed watching the doctor masterfully deliver my child, I realized that this was my second chance. As the doctor placed my son on his mother’s belly, I could not help but get momentarily choked up, as a wave of emotion overtook me at seeing this little human. I cannot describe it. It is something you have to feel for yourself. To those expectant fathers, it is something to look forward to. I am more concerned about those men and women that do not feel that wave of emotion. I know they exist and I can only hope that it does not change the experience of the child in some way.

A second chance. I had my second chance to correct the mistakes I made with my first son. I know I sure as hell made some. There are some regrets I have carried for years and while I cannot undo what transpired, I surely can do better this time around. I have to. Otherwise I learned nothing from my greatest teacher….my first son.

 

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