Sometimes it takes me a moment to stop and recognize that not only am I a father but I’m the father of two. Although I have very clear memories of what life was like before having children, the daily routine of my life has changed significantly and has come to feel like the “new normal.” I now get home from work every day to have two loud, rambunctious little balls of my DNA come running to the door, yelling and screaming, “Daddy’s home!” It’s a significant difference from coming home and having the time and ability to slowly drop all my work materials, change into more relaxing clothing and grabbing a stiff whiskey to finish out my day. But I digress…
There are significant differences and difficulties I face with my children. And just to be clear, I don’t mean with THEM specifically, so much as I mean with the fact that I had my children reasonably later in life than most. I was 36-years old when Nathan was born, nearing my 40’s and beyond the point in my life that I thought I would actually be having children. But as I’ve often said before, life rarely cares about one’s plans and I couldn’t help the fact that I fell in love and got married later in life than most would. After all, there’s no “set” plan to life; stuff happens when it happens. But the added birthdays I’ve celebrated prior to having my first child has had its effects, especially as it involves a little ol’ thing called Type-1 Diabetes…
Being a little further in life while raising a young child comes with a unique number of challenges. And I certainly don’t mean being woken every few hours during the night for feedings and changing; that shit is exhausting no matter what age group you find yourself in. But one’s energy levels tend to be lower and one’s availability also takes a hit. For myself, I’ve always worked really hard at maintaining my fitness and overall wellbeing. The problem is that I get to choose where and when I perform my fitness routine and workouts. One NEVER gets to choose when a little one will suddenly want to play a rousing game of “dive on daddy.”
Realistically, I get home from work at night and all I want to do is slip into some jammies, pour a stiff drink and binge-watch some Netflix with my wife. But in most cases, I get home and it’s mealtime, homework, showers, laundry and dishes… all between trying to accommodate either son when they’re asking to spend time with me and play in ways that my body tells me I have no rightful business playing. It sometimes makes for some hard feelings as my boys don’t have the age or maturity to understand that daddy doesn’t necessarily have the energy to keep up, although I sincerely wish I did. If I could bottle whatever gives Nathan his endless reserves of energy, much like Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, i’d put that shit on everything!
Sharing presents a significant challenge as well. Not because the boys aren’t learning about the use and importance of sharing but mostly because I often find myself in a situation where I suffer a low and have to try and explain to either child that no, daddy can’t share his jellybeans because he needs them to stay alive. Over the years, I’ve trained Nathan to understand that he needs to be careful around my insulin pump and CGM so that he doesn’t accidentally yank something out while we play. Alexander is slowly starting to get it, pointing and saying “ow” whenever my pump parts are exposed.
Given that Alexander was born after I had reached my 40’s, this phenomenon has become more pronounced. Although I make efforts to spend time playing with either and/or both sons and doing activities with them, I usually opt for independent forms of entertainment , such as bringing them to outdoor parks or indoor play structures where they can socialize and play with other children their age while their aging daddy sits comfortably on a bench and watches.
Being several years older than many of my counterparts, a more traditional approach t life would have seen my children reaching their teen years by now. This would allow for a significantly different type of relationship that would better accommodate the added years I have. It would also mean that the frequent lack of energy and motivation that fluctuating blood sugars cause would be mitigated as well. But such was not my path. Luckily, I still find myself in situations where I can freely play with my children and not everyone has that benefit. I’m definitely blessed in that regard. I’m looking forward to the summer months where I can start playing with the boys in the back yard, tossing a ball around or dousing them with water guns.
By the time Nathan graduates from school, I’ll be in mid-50’s. Maintaining my health and keeping my energy levels up play a big part in how well I can participate and stay active with my children, which is why it’s SO important to exercise regularly, monitor blood sugars frequently and stay in regular contact with your health or medical practitioner for the things you can’t self-monitor or diagnose. Taking good care of yourself means being able to take care of those who mean most to you. Even if this means sometimes disappointing one’s children by telling them that you need to rest and recover and can’t necessarily play. Take care of yourselves. ☯️