MAN UP!!! This is life…welcome to the real world

Having kids will change everything.

It seems that things are magical after you find out you are about to have a baby. You have the baby shower, get the gifts, you go out and purchase the crib, look at strollers, paint the baby room, plan for all kinds of things. You enter the real world when your baby arrives. Here comes another human being that you and your partner are legally responsible for at least 21 years in most states. Another layer of reality hits in 21 years or so.  The way things look for our future generation, kids might leave the nest later and later.

When we have kids, we think about all of the things we want to do for them. We think about playing all kinds of sports with them, watching their first bike ride, the first day of school, going to the park, the unconditional love, the games we can play, the days at the beach, the picnics, the school plays…all kinds of things that we may have gone through as kids. It can be exciting.

I have been fortunate to have two wonderful, healthy and happy children. Overall, things with me are pretty damn good. Even after a bitter divorce, I still see my kids almost every day. I take them to school, pick them up, feed them dinner, play with them. I stayed at home with both of my kids for 9 straight years. I have done all of the things I described previously. I know how lucky I am.

Some of us are not so lucky.

I feel we need to be reminded of how fortunate we are from time to time. There are people with all kinds of problems. Problems that are a lot worse than the things you might be going through.

I hear talk about how some of us men should ‘man up.’ Can we define what that really means? Does it mean suppress your feelings and never express yourself? Does man up mean that men should try to get through the tough times in our life by just dealing with it? Does it mean we should correct problems that appear easily correctable and get over it? Maybe we should redefine that term because many males have no idea what it takes to be a man or how to actually man up. Most young men never had a father growing up and have never seen a good man in their life. Many young ladies don’t know how to relate to a good man when they get one. Manning up to me means to be responsible. Hold yourself accountable. It also means understanding what is really important.

I learned how to man up during my divorce. It taught me what really matters. I’m glad I went through it. I feel it made me a much better person. Fortunately, I got closer to my kids instead of being pushed further apart. I relied on help from several true friends, I went to months of therapy and I became resourceful. I had lots of help. I came out the other end of the most difficult part of my life  pretty much unscathed.

It’s interesting to read about how people plan for everything when it comes to the birth of a child. So many busy Americans plan their C-Sections to fit into their lifestyle. They plan how they will sleep train their baby, how they will nurse for a certain amount of time then, they will put them on formula. They will plan for this and plan for that. Back in July when Marissa Mayer, new CEO of Yahoo said, “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it,” I paused. Maybe she knows something I don’t know. Maybe things will be perfect and she’ll be back on her feet in a few weeks running things. I wish her luck. I’m sure her husband is taking care of things at home, because running a Fortune 500 company takes up a lot of time. I have a funny feeling the real world will catch up to her, as it does to anyone else who thinks they are really in control of things. Parenthood has a way of leveling a person’s most imaginative ambitions.

I saw a video on a friend’s Facebook page recently and had to share it. Comic Anthony Griffith tells the story of his life as a comedian and as a father. He speaks about a certain point in his life when two worlds collided. It is a great, yet sobering tale that I feel is worthy of sharing. Anthony talks about things that many of us shove under the rug – the dismissal of therapy by black people, the reality of cancer, giving up everything to spend more time with the ones we love and the reality of losing a child. His story describes his journey through some of the best and worst times in his life.

I remember my parents telling me all about the ‘real world’ when I was young. Well, I’m in it. Being a parent is one of the most enjoyable, rewarding, yet difficult experiences for anyone. You never know what will happen after that bundle of joy is placed in your arms at the hospital.

My advice to any aspiring parent and any current father or mother would be this: enjoy every moment and take nothing for granted. You sometimes can’t plan for life in the real world. Plan all you want to, but realize there are things that you just can’t control.

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