Standing at the changing table at 5:30 AM, I haven’t had any coffee, sleep is still heavy in my head and Sweetie has pooped everywhere. And I ask myself, “How did I get here?”
It is not hard to trace my literal path here. It starts at Loyola University, where my wife and I met. There I chose to major in Theology, thinking it would set me apart from other pre-med students. Then I chose future plans that did not focus my med-school bid like it was my world. After college were my years in social services. There I chose to work with Chicago’s homeless, mentally ill citizens. Then I got distracted.
In the midst of a budding career as an Outreach Worker I decided to make a switch to the automotive industry. I chose to move to a town in Wyoming that was smaller than the neighborhood where I lived, just to learn the basics quickly. I chose to work with my hands, despite the dust and the noise and the chemicals…and the bachelor’s degree. I chose to move to Denver, Colorado, to be closer to family and to live again in an urban setting. After a few years I realized that my future family would only grow in one city, and I chose to move back to the Midwest.
Coming back to Chicago I chose collision repair work over custom work, thinking it was more stable. I chose to purchase a house with Wife (then girlfriend), a 100-year-old bungalow. In the front room of our house I chose to propose to the woman I had dated for nine years. At work I chose to move up the ranks, looking for compensation for my mind’s work as well as my hands’ work. And at home we chose to grow our family.
Looking back I see the important theme: I chose. For better or for worse my path is paved with my decisions. Granted, I did not choose to clean dirty diapers or spend my days preparing baby food. But that’s just a small part of this adventure. I did not choose to leave my job during shaky economic times, but rather chose self-preservation and a sabbatical. I did not choose to be a house husband…until I did.
We all know the lessons from life are cumulative and help us with the next adventure. I feel bolstered by my previous decisions and experiences. And I feel prepared by the challenges that I have seen. I have chosen to be a stay-at-home Dad and make this experience great for myself and Sweetie.
So after a deep, head-clearing breath, I quietly hummed The Talking Heads to myself. I cleaned up Sweetie’s poop diaper, acknowledging that it wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. I got her dressed for the day, and set about finding a cup of coffee.