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I don't have time to be relevant

March 05, 2015 The Wine Time Dad 0 Comments Category : , , , ,

           The world is small and getting smaller. This is the age of information and blurred borders. Ideologies that became obsolete and forgotten, whether dangerous and based off of blind ignorance or not, are reemerging as common sense wisdom. A new study from Nasa shows carbon dioxide does absorb more solar radiation, thus providing tangible evidence that GH gases perpetuate climate change.      
    Everything is changing. Culture is changing. People are changing. All things are in flux and old cultural hegemonies are scrambling for purchase in an unfamiliar landscape. Some believe the Book of Revelations speaks of our time. Other are convinced we don't need a biblical disaster to destroy ourselves. We are quite capable...
New research shows that…
Blah blah blah.
It never stops.
And, even though I want to keep up with all this, it's impossible.
I simply don’t have time for it.

            An arrangement of words I find bouncing around my head more and more these days. Though I have managed to carve out chunks of personal time here and there, it’s still a parenting axiom I can’t avoid. But, back when the toddler was an infant, and I really shouldn't have given any shits, I still tried to give as many shits as I could.
In those infant/baby months, it was all about maintaining sanity and getting enough sleep. The latter of which was nearly impossible because I was still fighting the old night owl tendencies. The need to “unwind” became an unscratchable itch I pursued until the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t have time for anything else until 9 pm. And if she did take a nap on her own, I was usually too tired to do anything constructive. Also, by the time I had collected myself, slapped some lunch together and cleaned the kitchen, I didn’t have much time left.
I soon began to feel that spending my days with an infant was slowly stripping away all the things that made me, me. Only by seeing first few hours of the next morning, could I remain Wine Time and not just DC Daddy. I know it may be terrible to imply that an infant can be a soul-sucker, even though they’re really not, but there it is…
Unless they actually are?
            During those quiet witching hours, I would maintain my pre-baby identity and pursue my ephemeral intellectual journey by ensconcing myself in the sphere of online debate and discussion. A place where I could keep my views informed, my philosophy sharp and my ideas fresh.
If I didn’t do this, I would somehow be doomed to a state of mediocrity when the dust of the child bomb settled later on in life. My talents and whatever intellect I had left from my chaotic 20’s would continue to dissipate. Slowly but surely, everything that made me a participantin human culture would be subsumed by parenthood and my insatiable, needy baby.
Maybe sometime in my late 40's, I would emerge a soft, disinterested shlubb, who was no longer relevant enough to say anything meaningful. I would be out of practice. Slow. Disconnected from the pulse of culture.
            I would be lost and society would be lost to me.
The world would descend into chaos, and the only intelligible thing I would be able to offer would be an uncertain “Uh… I don’t know.”
            Worst of all, my daughter would be a full-fledged teenage girl- one of the most heartless and unforgiving creatures known to human kind. She and her cabal of bloodthirsty friends would destroy me with their mockery. People at dinner parties and BBQs would avoid me for fear of their sensibilities being assaulted by another one of my baby poop stories. I would live in a constant state of defeat. Shao Kahn's disembodied voice would announce that I was, indeed, a weak, pathetic fool.

Thanks, Shao Kahn.

So despite the all-consuming duties of parenthood, I had to fight this intellectual degradation at all costs. I needed to reverse my growing irrelevancy, not just for my self-respect but also for my child. I had to be sharp, smart and in control. Not the aloof wanderer, whose greatest achievements didn’t just amount to dangerous exploits and drunken escapades in the Far East. That was my past and while it mattered, I couldn’t hold onto it like it was all that mattered. The past had to remain there, serving as a foundation, while I matched pace with world’s inexorable march forward.
I couldn’t just be a father. I had to equip myself with clever responses to all her questions about life. Teach her something. Be great. Be awesome. The proverbial “parent trump card” when it came to bragging on the playground.

I also had to be sharp enough to outsmart her when she became a teen.

            As I was, I wasn’t enough. Nothing short of being financially rich off my talents and having a heart of gold, would do. The American dream, wrapped in a platitude.
            The panic always sets in with this barrage of anxiety. Until it dawns on me that I’m in my mid-thirties and can’t start over. Panic turns into despair. There is no turning myself into Joe Smith super dad, who is also an insanely wealthy public intellectual. It’s too late. My brain is shot through with holes and oozing useless crap.
            I can’t even balance a checkbook.
Besides, my daughter is already talking. Next week she’ll be going on dates. The following week she’ll be dropping out of high school and then depositing me on the steps of the old folks home. Before she elopes with a smelly hippy who thinks love is the only currency we need in life (I have nothing against hippies, really).
My broken and unfinished bits will have to be tossed or remain as they are. Surely, the impenetrable “parenting wall” will keep these dangerous odds and ends from ruining her. At least until she’s in high school. 

I can maintain, right?
I can only hope…
            Suddenly, a powerful ballad wafts into my eardrums, knocking all this worry away. An annoying tune, really, from one of the worst Disney movies [possibly] ever made. A movie referenced (and loved) to a level of absurdity that’s difficult to comprehend, when you realize how morally bereft its plot is.
            On cue, my daughter pops around the corner, violently swinging a singing Elsa doll about, enthusiastically butchering the doll's theme song.
            “Hock go! Hock GO!” she screams at no one in particular, until she zeros in me (because I was the one who taught her “the dance”). I have no choice, now, but to stand up and sing along with her.
“Let it go! Let it go!” we sing, “Turn away and slam the door!” I let the words sink in and we dance and twirl around several more times. Until I can’t take it anymore and surreptitiously toss the Singing Elsa into the corner.
            As the silence finally resumes, I have an epiphany: that fucking song has been drifting in and out of my head all week. And, for months I’ve caught myself humming it. It seems that my ego has been trying to tell my id and super-ego something for the last two years but lacked the proper medium, until recently. It’s been saying, “Jesus, man, let it go. You don’t have time to worry. Make some lunch, do the dishes and get on with it.”

            And, there it is. I simply don’t have time to worry about being relevant anymore, whatever being relevant means. And, neither do I care because I have lots of time to dance. For the time being, I’m relevant to my daughter and talented enough to teach her to dance to the only mentionable song to come out of the movie Frozen.

             I also provide hours of stupid entertainment for my wife. 

            Take that world.


            ... that getting more sleep makes you a happier, healthier human being.