I’ve noticed that I mostly talk about myself on my blog. I suppose that makes sense. It is, after all, MY blog. But, if there’s anybody out there who reads this blog and doesn’t know me personally, that person might begin to suspect that I spend all my time playing video games and listening to music. For better or for worse, that is not the case. In fact, I spend most of my time taking care of my children.
Now, I love my children. I really do. But there are times that I wish I could go back to the care-free days when I was childless. See, there was a time when all I did was play video games and listen to music. Well, I mean I slept and ate and worked sometimes too. But heck, even at work I spent a lot of time playing video games and listening to music. Now, I’m lucky if I get a couple of hours a day to play video games.
Now, those of you out there who aren’t gamers might be thinking, “Oh, quit your whining. Two hours a day of playing video games is plenty.” To which I say, “You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.” I just got done playing Final Fantasy VII for the umpteenth time. This most recent playthrough alone took me almost 70 hours. Now when you consider that, at best, I get to play for two hours a day, you realize that I spent well over a month on this one game. I currently own 117 games. As you can imagine, many of them sit and collect dust for a considerable amount of time.
Okay, so I admit that I am whining to some extent. Raising children is much more important and much more gratifying than playing video games. But I definitely miss having as much time as I want to play video games.
But there is more to my malaise than just wanting to play video games more. I tend to think of myself as a “self-absorbed” person. And I don’t mean that in the traditional sense, in which I only care about myself. (Although that’s probably more true than I want it to be.) No, what I mean is that it’s difficult for me to even notice people other than myself because I’m caught up in my own little world.
For example, my wife will sometimes spend a great deal of time and effort doing her hair. And when she does this, she wants me to compliment her, so that she knows that I noticed and appreciated the effort she put into making herself look nice for me. This is a reasonable expectation. And yet, a lot of the time I fail to fulfill this expectation. It’s not that I don’t notice or appreciate her hair and the effort she spends on her hair. It’s just that it doesn’t occur to me to say anything about it. I look at her, think “oh, her hair looks nice", and then I go back to thinking about video games or whatever.
My point is that I’m so used to sort of living within my own mind that it’s difficult for me to put so much effort and energy into taking care of two small children who live outside my mind. All my life, I’ve lived in sort of a dreamlike state, lost in various fantasy worlds that existed only in my own imagination. I guess it was sort of a defense mechanism for me, a way to escape from the dullness and harshness of everyday life. But now that I’m an adult and have two children to take care of, I can’t just lose myself in my own imagination anymore. That’s a big change, and I don’t adjust to change well.
This is, of course, another problem all its own. Having children in and of itself is a big change. The first several months of my son’s life were some of the hardest I’ve ever lived through. He’s now four, and I’m still getting used to having him around. Not to mention that there is now a second child involved as well, which changes things even more. It’s difficult for me to find the words to describe the amount of stress I feel stemming from these two massive (but also happy and cute) intrusions into my life.
Again, part of me feels like I’m whining. Maybe every parent feels this way. Maybe this is just a normal part of having kids, and I’m complaining about nothing. Besides, I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t love my children. In fact, I probably love them more because taking care of them is so hard for me. The tension and the stress and the day-to-day grind just helps me appreciate the good parts all the more. But the good parts don’t take away the bad parts. I’d love to be able to say something cliché like, “When I see them smile, it just washes all the stress away.” But it doesn’t.
There’s an old saying, though: “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.” Actually, I don’t know if that’s really an old saying or not, but it kind of sounds like it could be one, and it’s certainly true. Being a parent is not easy. It is, in fact, hard. But it is also tremendously worthwhile. As much as I miss having the ability to play video games for 8 hour stretches, and as much as I miss being able to sleep as much as I want, I would not give up my kids to get those things back. I love my children, and having them and being able to raise them is a privilege and a blessing and one of the most important things I will ever do with my life.
As a bit of a side note, my wife had a dream the other night that she got pregnant again and had twins. I told her that if that happened in real life, I would have a nervous breakdown. I know I just said that worthwhile things aren’t easy, but come on.