I've been around for a few years now, and as such I've often partaken in the American tradition of the New Year's Resolution. Just as often, however, I've partaken of the American tradition of giving up on the New Year's Resolution.
When I step over some sort of threshold, there's an exhilaration that makes me want to revitalize my life. It's a new year, and I want to make this one better. So work out. Read more. Stop making penis jokes in polite conversation. Write more. Be a better frakkin' person.
It works, for a span. All too short a span. And then it's destroyed by a realization. I didn't cross a threshold at all. Life in this year's the same as last year, except I'm writing bigger numbers on my checks. Soon, I begin to slip in my pledges to change, and once I fail to reach my goals, I tell myself they weren't as big a deal as they seemed on December 31.
Sure, I could be in better shape. But I've got time, and I'm still pretty lean. And I've got a lot of unread books, but there are so many other things to do--I'll read them when my schedule slows down. Penis jokes... well, penis jokes are just plain fun. As for writing, well, I'm still young for a writer. No need to obsess now.
And pretty soon, I give up on being a better person, because I never had any good motivation to change in the first place. I stay the same 'pretty good' person I am from year to year because I'm used to putting up with my crap. I've done it for years, and I still like myself--no, really, I love myself. And my wife doesn't complain.
Really, why should I change?
And then I get the news. No, that expression is so inadequate. I didn't get the news. I became the news. I am becoming a father. Any day now, my wife will be giving me a son. And even from the womb the little spud convicts me. When will I get fed up with my own crap? Will my son one day look at me, and wonder when I'll get my act together? Why should I wait that long? I love him, unborn though he is, and every time I feel him go to town on my wife's ribs, I feel pangs of guilt, spurring on promises better than any I gave myself on New Year's.
I'll be better, son. Because now I really am sick of putting up with my own crap.
This blog isn't the sum, or the chronicle, of the many changes I'm under-going for you. But it is one of them. There's a lot to change, a lot to do. I need to be deliberate.
You see, I understood love before I found out about you. But I didn't understand parenting, or what it did to love. Throughout my life, my father would say he loved me, and I'd notice something in the look he gave me, something withheld that always made me curious. I think I understand it now. Parental love, the love I feel for my son, is tangled up with conviction. His failings as a son will be mine as a parent.
It's time for a zero tolerance policy for inadequacy. And it's all for you, son.
But I'm not giving up penis jokes...