Fatherhood changing the way I look at aging
Published 9:30 am Saturday, November 5, 2011
Column: Riley Worth, Riley’s Two Cents Worth
Yesterday evening my wife and I and our 4-month-old twin boys were shopping. She was walking slightly in front of me so she was facing away. I sometimes struggle to hear my wife when she is not turned directly toward me. She said “Now I just need one more thing, some (insert word here).” Can’t even recall what it was. The male brain is not wired to remember those types of details. For men, longterm memory is remembering at suppertime what we ate for lunch.
Whatever it was she said, I didn’t hear her, but I could’ve sworn she said she needed to get “Par har har har har.”
Seriously. “Par har har har har.” That’s what I thought she said.
I’ve noticed some minor hearing loss over the last decade or so, and it’s starting to affect my job this year for the first time. Apparently, it’s also hurting my ability to hear my wife in conversation, which mostly consists these days of she in the rocking chair holding one baby and I on the couch holding the other baby.
This hearing loss also tells me I’m starting to get old. I turned 37 a week ago today, and yesterday I began a onemonth leave from work to stay home with my children. My wife went back to work, so it’s just the three of us boys. So far I haven’t struggled to hear their crying.
This hearing loss, while certainly disconcerting, does not bother me. Would I like to hear a bit better? Sure. But it’s like anything else in life. Would I like to be 20, 30 or 60 pounds lighter? Sure. Would I like to be able to reach that itchy spot on my back like I could 10 years ago? Absolutely. Would I like to be able to tie my shoes while standing up? It’d save me a couple minutes getting ready in the morning, so of course.
I want to be healthier for the same reason I’ve wanted to be healthier for the last 13 months. I have these babies for whom I want to help raise and see grow. I can’t do that if I’m dead, so health now has a purpose. Still, I’ve struggled with it.
But aside from the hope of being healthier, I have realized something: I am getting older. My body doesn’t function quite like it used to. It hears the person five feet away say “Par har har har har” when they actually said something I still can’t remember. Since these boys arrived in July, aging no longer bothers me. See that gathering of wrinkles on my forehead? They now represent something. And that clutch of white hair along my hairline, it also represents something. The more regular aches and pains are also representative.
For every day I grow older, so do Beckett and Ike. Every year that passes and brings me closer to 40 and beyond is another year in their development.
So maybe I can’t do a single push up any more where I used to be able to do 25. Now I pick up babies instead. And when I pick them out of their crib each morning and they smile at me and I kiss their puffy cheeks, I know this aging this isn’t going to be nearly as bad as advertised.
Riley Worth teaches at Albert Lea High School and resides in Albert Lea with his wife and twin sons. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.