Not to be overly sappy here but I have to admit that parenthood has made me a better person. When the Peanut looks up at me and smiles, all I want to do is save the world and convince everyone to have children. That's a natural feeling for most new parents, isn't it?
But the birth of the Peanut has also forced me to face the twin peaks of Responsibility AND Maturity. Simply put, I'm a father now. And being a father means that I have to be THE ADULT. Though I'm 36 years old, I've never really thought of myself as the adult. Despite all the responsibilities in my personal life, I've always considered myself more of an overgrown kid. But now that I'm a father, I need to "set an example for the children." I also need to avoid putting myself at any personal risk that would jeopardize my ability to take care of my daughter.
That being said, I'm starting to realize that there are many things I've done in the past that can no longer happen again. Many of these vagaries can be attributed to the indiscretions of youth. But, off the top of my head, it's pretty safe to say that I'll never do the following again...
1. Spontaneously drive from Washington, DC to Graceland at 2:00 am in order to pay homage to The King.
2. Spontaneously drive from NYC to Philadelphia at 2:00 am in order to pay homage to Geno's Cheesesteaks.
3. Drive cross-country with only $75.00 in my wallet and a map of Motel 6 locations. (Did you know that you can write I.O.U.s at most of the nation's toll booths?)
4. Ski down the Italian Alps while absolutely drunk because you and your best friend decided it "wouldn't hurt to have a little early lunch and a few bottles of wine" on top of the mountain's peak at 10:00 am. It hurt.
5. Croon Frank Sinatra songs while standing on top of a car in Berkeley, CA at 3:00 am. Get thrown into a holding cell with one of my best friends. Spend the next 2 hours singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" and "We Shall Overcome" at the top of my lungs.
I'm sure that there are many other things that I won't be doing again now that I'm a father. And though a large part of that has to do with being a mature and responsible adult, an even larger part has to do with the fact that I need to be there for my daughter at all times...in every way, shape or form. I'm her protector and I can't take any careless risks that would prevent me from taking care of her.
I think a friend of mine said it best when we were skiing a few years ago; "when I look down a mountain now, I no longer see challenge or adventure. I see loss of income potential."
I don't miss the carefree, risk-filled days of my 20's. Like I'd always suspected, I can see how much more rewarding life is now that I'm in my 30's with a beautiful wife and child. Sure, waking up at 4:00 am to calm a fussy baby isn't a lot of fun. But when you've helped your infant daughter get through the night and she rewards you with a big smile? There are very few things in life as thrilling as that.
It's funny. Because although I don't miss those old days, it seems like they were just around the corner. But the reality is that I'm closer to being 40 than I am to being 25. Scary, eh? It's like the sign in the car says, "Objects in the mirror may appear closer than they are. Exercise caution."
Sound advice. But I want to hear from you, people. What will YOU never do again now that you're a parent and responsible for another human being?