Here’s an accomplishment: I’m 34, and already on my fourth midlife crisis.
My wife says it has all been one crisis chained together. She might be right. All I know is I want a Harley, or something less practical for a father of five…
What’s my problem? Oh, just the same old midlife-crisisey stuff, but mostly this: I feel like I’m not where I should be. I have yet to finished a book I’ve been trying to write for five years. I do not have a master’s degree. I have never been picked for “So You Think You Can Dance,” and it’s been like, four years since I have won my fantasy football league.
Results are hard to measure. Success looks so relative. For me, every time I accomplish something, I look up to see a dozen other people who accomplished it ten years earlier, with ten times the results. “Oh you’re blogging? And you’ve got almost 400 followers? That’s cute. I’ve got half a million, and a book deal with Harper Collins.
Stupid twenty-five year olds getting their stupid books published…
But then I look at my son. By almost every societal measure, Jack is years behind his peer group. At seven, he doesn’t talk, ride a bike, tie his shoes, or soap himself up. He has no interest in wiffle ball or show-n-tell.
There are some formidable challenges here that can weigh down on the psyche of any parent. Concerns about the future (let alone the present!) can consume me during rough patches, especially during regressions: awful days of stress and meltdowns. Defeats. However those instances do not create a complete picture of Jack’s progress. If I insist on counting defeats, then I must also count victories. My own intellectual integrity demands it.
For example, in the past two years, Jack has learned:
- How to initiate play with his siblings
- How to say “mommy” and “daddy”
- How to go potty by himself (!!!!)
- How to stall his bedtime by claiming the potty privilege 3 times an evening. (Isn’t that so NORMAL? I love it!)
- How to find the Netflix app no matter what folder we hide it in
There are more, of course, and most of them aren’t earth shattering discoveries either. Just real, measurable results. And these simple victories seem to fuel him.
Simple victories. I’ve had a few of those recently, too.
And then, of course, the bigger victories:
- I bought a house for my family last fall, and we adore it.
- I got a beautiful girl to marry me fourteen years ago, and she hasn’t left yet.
- We made five kids, and all of them like me.
- I came through a long, hard season, and I did not lose my faith that God is good.
In order to properly measure success in life, we must acknowledge our wins and not just our losses. Then, we must, like Jack, take at least a little satisfaction in those wins.
It’s a simple lesson, but it’s sturdy enough to help me laugh off my own fake midlife crises. (Yeah, they’re fake. Mostly.) I might not be as far along as I’d like, but I’m a blessed man with an amazing family. And together, we are moving forward.
* Photo by Sugar Beats Photography