Closer Than They Appear

reflections from life as a dad


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Episode Nine: 13.1 Miles of Dad

There’s that scene in the movie, no movie in particular, just any old movie, where the woman is frustrated with the man because he’s out doing his thing. Maybe his thing is driving motorcycles, or surfing, or playing music, or whatever it is, but it’s his thing, and it’s largely what first attracted the woman to the man in the first place, but as she fell in love with him, she realized that this thing might at times be too big, too powerful, and it would cause friction between them. This scene, the one that is no movie in particular, just any old movie, is the one where the woman is lost in that friction. She feels she is losing the man to his thing. She’s home alone, and he’s out feeling life explode in his veins, and she’s wondering whether he’s coming home, and if she can keep loving him while he still has his thing.

You know the scene I’m talking about.

I believe that every man has his thing, his thing that he loves and gets lost in and in many ways makes him who he is.

But as all men know, when you fall in love and get close to sometimes, you sometimes have to make compromises. Your thing can’t always come first. Sometimes the other person has to come first.

And when you become a dad, those “sometimes” become “a lot of the times.” And if you’re a full-time stay-at-home dad, “a lot of the times” becomes “pretty much all the time.”

My thing is being active. I’ve at times thought that my thing is surfing, but I’ve realized that surfing is too fickle to be a thing. The waves aren’t always good, and you can’t invest all your happiness into something as dynamically unpredictable as surfing. For me, surfing is my favorite way of being active, but it’s the action, the being outside, working my body, that I love the most. I have always prided myself on my physical fitness. I aim to be in the type of shape where on any given day I can either a) run a half marathon, b) swim 2 miles, or c) bike 50 miles. I’m proud to say that I have achieved this aim for most of my adult life.

Since I’ve become a dad, my time to exercise, and pursue my thing, has plummeted. I sometimes go running late at night, when I should be asleep, because it’s my only chance. Or if it’s the middle of the day and I just can’t take it anymore, I bring the baby in the jogging stroller. But the truth is, more frequently than not, I simply don’t exercise. And as those days stack up, one after the other, I am afraid. I am afraid that I might be losing my thing.

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