Figuring Out My Mid-Life/New Parent Crisis
Since becoming a father I’ve discovered that loneliness is a common theme. Not just with me, but other dads I’ve spoken to.
I go to work all day and then want to give my wife a few hours of non-baby time. So I often take my daughter and play with her until bedtime. This happens most days, which I love.
The one thing I’d forgotten to do all this time, was to take time for myself. My wife saw what was happening to me and insisted I call a friend and go out, but how can I do that in good conscious? Why do I get to go to the pub with a friend when she has to babysit? I’m doing it to myself and I have to change.
It goes deeper than that though.
For a few years I’ve been dreaming of a truck. I’d love to own a truck, go on adventures, or even live in a truck, or a houseboat, or a cabin in the middle of the woods.
It wasn’t until I found myself yearning for an old flip-phone that I noticed the pattern.
I’m dreaming of things that remind me of my youth and the option of freedom or escape.
Living in a truck or going for a drive on an unknown road is what I think of when my subconscious wants to get out of here.
I knew I wanted an old flip-phone to replace my work iPhone and thought it was because I fancied being a bit retro. After thinking about it and what I’d use it for, I remembered the feeling I had when I bought my first flip phone after moving to Warrensburg, Missouri for college. Or the time I was sailing around Alaska while working on a cruise ship, and went to the phone store by myself to pick up a prepaid phone.
It was freedom. Proper grown-up freedom where I was making the decisions, picking it out, and registering it under my own name.
That’s the feeling I miss. How do I get that back? Should I just let it go and know that my life has changed forever?
I know that being a parent is incredible, but I can’t help imagine what it would be like to have a little solo adventure, in a truck, wearing a cool hat and nobody telling me where to go or what to do. Pretty lonely, probably.
Cool, so I’ve figured out what’s wrong with me. What do I do now? I think I need a plan.
I’m going to make a plan for going out once per week and find a balance that lets me take time for myself and to reconnect with my friends. Of course, it’s a priority to give my wife the same. We’ll have to work out timing that works for us both and make sure that we work on our own happiness, each other’s and ultimately be better parents.
As for going to live in a truck? That’s one I’m still working on.
Charles CarrollMay 1, 2018 at 6:33 am
Hi James. Dad to Claire (3) and Ethan (just born). Like you, feeling lonely, dream of escape, and have some mild moments of depression.
jamesrcsmithMay 1, 2018 at 8:03 am
Hey Charles, thanks so much for reading. I think that the answer may be in finding something that gives us a sense of accomplishment. Building something, completing a task, or achieving a goal lets us feel like we’re in-charge again, even for a moment.
It’s funny, I always feel like I want to get away, but then I realise that without my family I feel much worse. They’re the most important to me.
KamreeMay 7, 2018 at 3:32 pm
This was beautifully written, there are so many learning curves when becoming a parent, Family is everything and being together helps more than anything else. I hope things continue to get better,
Reese WoodsMay 7, 2018 at 5:11 pm
I’m not a parent, but I do think that self-care is important in any stage of life. What that care looks like can change with the seasons, but it’s definitely good to still make it a priority!
Stephanie EilerMay 7, 2018 at 7:01 pm
I love this reflective post and appreciate your honesty. I love how you dug a little deeper to find the meaning behind these thoughts, especially with the flip phone. I think we are all fighting to find balance in our lives and all sometimes have moments of yearning to go back to a time of the past when we felt a certain way. I often ask myself when I am feeling that way, “In 10 years will I want to go back to THIS time of my life?” Sometimes that thought brings me back to the present moment and I appreciate my life how it is now instead of wanting to back back to a simpler time =) Thanks for the thoughtful post!
IndraniMay 7, 2018 at 10:21 pm
This is just a passing phase, I am sure you will overcome. And as the child grows life will get more interesting.
CristineMay 8, 2018 at 6:11 pm
It can be hard to put yourself first especially when it comes to many commitments. I wish I could turn off more often