I love a surf. I love a drink (or ten). I truly feel like I am eternally 30 something. I quite enjoy pushing the socially assumed limits of acceptable behaviour for a 40 something grown man. I have always been a bit of a risk taker, which I think is a vital trait to enjoying this weird and wonderful little blue planet of ours to the fullest. After all, if we didn’t take risks, where would we be? Sitting at home with Nanna’s hand crocheted blanket draped over our knees, as we sip carefully on a warm (not hot) cup of Horlicks and peruse the latest crossword in todays paper? Ok so to be honest that does sound pretty appealing some days, but most of the time I tend to lean towards the slightly more challenging things in life.
But recently I have been questioning the merit in such an approach to life. And not because I am maturing and becoming more sensible in my old age, god forbid. No; I have found myself worrying about my previously assumed invincibility, or more to the point, my apparent unconcern for negative outcomes on a personal physical level.
And I blame it fairly and squarely on the bloody kids.
Well that and my physio. The Bastard. Eight months of ignoring a chronic shoulder injury brought me to the conclusion that maybe, just maybe, I may need to (gulp) ask for help. Which was, retrospectively, a great idea, one I possibly should have come to a little earlier on in the story, but nonetheless one I did arrive at. Only to find myself hearing the words
“Sorry Chris, but this is common in older men.” (“Who surf” he added quickly upon seeing my knitted brow)
What. The. Fuck. Did. You. Just. Call. Me?????
Ok, so I didn’t really respond in such a boganesque manner. I laughed through gritted teeth and pushed my anger deep, deep down, to fester in the usual healthy way. But it was too late. The damage was done. It was a revelation. An indisputable fact: I am, physically (lol), getting older and to put it simply, can’t do what I used to be able to, without consequences.
Now this may not seem such a big deal on face value, but the way my tangential mind works brought me to an abrupt and confronting conclusion, and it was all about the leeches, I mean our children.
I am all they have.
I, Just A Dad, Chris Martin; warts and all, am the one thing that walks this earth responsible for the health and wellbeing of Grace and Albi Martin. I am their sole parent, their Dad, their protector and saviour. Their (somewhat tenuous) link to surviving the journey from childhood to (hopefully) independent adult.
And that, my furry friends, is bloody scary.
Because my actions, previously assumed to be of only concern to myself, in actual fact have a direct effect on my ability to provide such care for our bubs. If I can’t perform my physical parental duties due to a self afflicted and / or acquired injury, well, nothing. No excuses. No palm-offs. Nada. They suffer. They lose. I hurt. Everything is fucked.
Which I simply can’t allow. This even includes a severe hangover apparently these days, God damn it.
It truly is a confronting and real fear to postulate on the fate of your children if you were to be either unable to care for them, or worse, not here at all.
I both hate and admire this considerate, responsible me. Naturally I lean towards the prideful side of things because, um, well, it makes me all warm and fuzzy knowing I have my children’s best interest’s at heart. Which is of course a slant on the truth – I actually do, in fact, put everything “kids” far and away above any self gratification, but given even the poofteenth of a chance, I still tend to throw caution to the wind and push my 40-something boundaries.
Unlike how I felt when my physio spoke in such offensive terms, I now acknowledge, and have come to accept, that I really do need to take care of myself. Not for me, but for them. As much as I may still consider myself a rockin’, fair-dinkum Aussie bloke, I, primarily, am a parent, a Dad; and a bloody Solo Dad at that.
And that is as hard a concept to grasp, yet somehow strangely fulfilling, as a 40 something rock-god-wanker could ask for.
So guys, don’t feel like you are alone; as you contemplate that 15th beer, that diamond run blindfolded, that nudie run across the oval, that 8ft barrel over an Indonesian reef. Do not, for one second, question your manhood or commitment to being a fucking legend, a bloke, the master of your own fate.
You, my awesome man, are something far more important: You are a Dad. You are already a legend in their eyes. You are on the path to your greatest triumphant, death defying stunt of all; your children. Keep up your sacrifice, your dedication; show the world that pure love you have for your little humans and I promise you, I almost guarantee, that the rock-god status you deserve will come to be. (If we can skip the teenage years)
Do not, I repeat, do not, forgo those things that make you feel alive. Don’t deny those moment that remind you that you are, in fact, you. You are their most influential guide. You are their baseline, their yardstick. Show them what it means to be alive. Show them that following their own journey is the path to happiness, the path to success. And that happiness in this life is all that truly matters.
But just make sure that they are forefront on your mind as you strap yourself into that bungee while shotgunning a 10% Woodstock and railing a footlong. Make sure your a Dad first, rockstar second.
Because you only get one shot at being the best Dad you can be. And if you do it right, they will elevate you to rockstar anyway – minus the risk to your ageing body. ✌️