New year, renewed hope

I blinked, and 2013 kind of vanished on me. It’s a blur, a seemingly endless stream of activity that rarely relented long enough for me to appreciate any of it. I have pictures to prove it, sure, but I have to struggle sometimes to remember the date, or what else might have happened.

I’m fairly certain this isn’t (solely) a result of age. It’s parenthood. It’s a rigorous schedule that keeps the family machine moving at quite a pace. Between work schedules (which alternate such that Alex and I resemble “ships passing in the night”), school schedules, various after school activities, and the family activities, there’s very little time for much else.

Like, say, writing a blog.

This brings me to a few revelations of the last year. The first one, which is more of an evolution than a revelation, is that I miss my kids terribly every day. I’ve always missed them, but they’re no longer babies — they’re little people with clear thoughts, (mostly) clear emotions, and they’re capable of expressing themselves. They no longer say “don’t go” when I head off to work because they want me around — they sound sad, they hold me longer, and it sounds more like begging than just mere missive.

And especially, Choo Choo. She’s still three. It seems like she’s been three for years, now, which I absolutely adore. Back before Monkey was even born, I’d told Alex that I was mostly looking forwards to the age of three, because it’s enough that a kid can talk clearly, but they’re just constantly happy, and silly, and fun, and dancing, and making up stories, and everything I thought parenthood would be. (Yes, I’ve since had the rude awakening.) My last child is growing up, and she’s no longer the wee babe I held in my arms. She’s still small, yes, but if she’s like Monkey, she’ll be growing quickly. Too quickly.

The next one, and likely the most painful one to realize, is that I’m not particularly happy. I love my wife, I love my kids, and that’s a lot, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like I never see my friends (especially my far-flung ones; the internet is therein a live-saver), and it’s hard to make new friends, given the aforementioned schedule. There’s also little down time from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. Every day I see notes from people I know on Twitter or Facebook — people I know with families — who talk about the hobbies they have or the games they play, and I think: How the hell do they do it? I look at my house, it’s frequently a mess, and I feel like I’m barely above water. I don’t travel, which I used to love and miss dearly, which makes me feel confined to Calgary. And then I look at my lowly little blog, which used to get so much attention, and I’ve barely made a post a month over the last year. Maybe I need to find new happiness? I don’t know.

My health ain’t what it used to be. As little as a few years ago, I was still largely invulnerable, or so it seemed. Then I got a hernia. Then appendicitis. Illnesses seem to be getting worse. And then this year, my heart palpitations sent me to a cardiologist. I’m fine, for the record — I’m actually normal in that sense — but the doctor did say I was exhausted, been drinking too much caffeine, and not getting enough sleep.

The last one was a recognition that I can no longer do any kind of freelance work. I’ve tried, repeatedly, over the years to make it work. The realities of my “day job” almost always interfere, and I usually end up disappointing others. But now, with my home life weighing in more than my job, taking on any kind of work — even pro bono — is stressful beyond comprehension. I don’t like to disappoint, especially with a friend, and the only way is to formally and completely renounce freelancing. Regardless of how much my family could use the extra income, it’s just not tenable, especially when related to my happiness problem.

So this will be a year of some change in that regard. I need to change something. ‘Cuz going on as it’s currently going isn’t good for my happiness, my health, or my family.