Living Life Among the Adjustments

w: Johnathon E. Briggs

w: Johnathon E. Briggs

Living Life Among the Adjustments

— March 8, 2020 —

In a few months, my wife and I will mark 11 years of marriage. That’s 4,015 days. A lot of living has happened in that span of time.

We completed our educational journeys (I finished grad school; my wife, law school.) We survived our Landlord Years, discovering all too late we had rented our condo and townhouse to troublesome tenants. We entered the Parent Hood in 2014 with the birth of our daughter, followed by the Apartment Adventure, in which we squeezed into a space that was way too snug for a family of three. In 2018, we stepped into the Happy Homeowner chapter of our lives, buying our first single-family home complete with a big backyard.

Along the way, I changed jobs three times; my wife, four; and our daughter started kindergarten.

That’s a lot of transition and with it a lot of acclimation to new schedules, new routines, and new responsibilities. I had not one strand of gray atop my head 11 years ago at the age of 34; at 45, I have flocks of them. (My fraternity brother once poked back, “At least you still have hair!”)

Many married folks I know have shared that the secret to making marriage work is learning to compromise. But I think it’s a bit more nuanced than that. Marriage entails making a never-ending series of adjustments to arrive at a mutually acceptable equilibrium. The Oxford Dictionary defines an adjustment as “the process of adapting or becoming used to a new situation.” Life requires this of everyone.

My wife started a new job a little over a month ago after a stint as a stay-at-home parent, a full-time job society continues to undervalue. I’m thrilled she found a role that aligns with the next phase of her career, but the change also triggered a new round of adjustments, both big and small.

Marriage entails making a never-ending series of adjustments to arrive at a mutually acceptable equilibrium.

On the big side, the issue was this: With both of us working full-time, who would be on hand for our daughter’s at-home therapy sessions for autism—four days a week? One job ago, this wasn’t an issue because my previous employer’s health insurance allowed the sessions to take place at a convenient location: my daughter’s daycare. Not anymore. An adjustment needed to be made.

With help from a close family friend and flexible work schedules from our employers, my wife and I arrived at a solution, but we’re still settling into this new routine. (A shout-out to the companies that allow their employees the flexibility to juggle work and life).

via GIPHY
On the small side, the questions were more mundane: How are we going to keep the house clean? (Cleaning service? Scheduled!). What to do about dinner? (Blue Apron meal service? Done!)

The latter are First World problems to be sure and our family is fortunate to have the resources to address these trivial frustrations that come with adulting. Still, it’s another adjustment, another tweak to our routine.

Reflecting on the last 11 years makes me think of “28 Thousand Days” by Alicia Keys. The song’s title is a reference to the average life span of 76 years:

There’s only twenty-eight thousand days
Who would you love, where would you go?
What would you celebrate?
I’m telling you that life’s too short to just throw it away
So have the time of your life, so have the time of your life
Hey, ey, ey
Hey, ey, ey

The reality is that you won’t have the time of your life for 28,000 days. You will have highs. You will have lows. You will have periods of stability and periods of upheaval. As a friend from college once said to me, “the blows keep coming.” For me, the “blows” are not always the gut punches, but the ever-blowing winds of change.

If you’re lucky, you and your partner will embrace it all, making adjustment after adjustment, redefining fear of change to F.E.A.R. (Face Everything and Recover) as an attitude of resilience.

At this moment, I’ve lived 16,425 days. If offered a chance to rework Keys’s lyrics, I’d replace “have the time of your life” with “make the most of your life.”

I’m telling you that life’s too short to just throw it away
So make the most of your life, so make the most of your life
Hey, ey, ey
Hey, ey, ey

I think that’s the point of it all: making the most of the time you have now.

Father on,



849 words

3.8.20

Johnathon E. BriggsHusband • Ausome Dad • Wingtip Shoe Enthusiast • On @GoodMenProject • #BlackDadMagic • ΑΦΑ

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About

Few may know this, but twice as many dads of newborns today are now in the 40-plus age group, compared to the 1970s. Six weeks before my 40th birthday, I became a first-time father, hence the title of this blog.

This life-changing moment made me think about my own dad, who became a father at 44. As my parenthood journey unfolded, I noticed that most of my friends had become parents earlier in life yet, here I was, changing diapers and battling sleep deprivation at (nearly) 40. I told my wife, “Parenting is definitely a young man’s game.” But is it really?

Where most of my friends were preparing for their children’s middle and high school graduations, I was mastering the art of the swaddle, perfecting the one-hand baby wipe, and learning to decipher my daughter’s gurgles and whimpers. It occurred to me that I had so much more to offer my daughter at the sure-footed age of 40 than I did at, say, 28, when I was still coming into my own.

Fatherhood@Forty: Dispatches from the Parent Hood™ is a creative outlet to share my experiences and connect with other (relatively) late-in-life dads.

Here are a few factoids about me, Johnathon Briggs, the editor behind this blog:

  • I’m a former journalist (Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune).
  • I love exploring Chicago and the Midwest with my family.
  • I remain on a constant quest to stay fit.
  • I support charities that fight HIV, uplift families affected by incarceration, and ensure African American boys graduate from college.
  • I’m a comic book geek (mostly Marvel, but a bit of DC and Image Comics).
  • I’m a child of the ‘80s, so please expect occasional references to the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.

As a reporter for daily newspapers, I had the opportunity to interview fascinating people and to test out great products and brands for my readers. I hope to do the same for you as I blog about the moments that make up this adventure called fatherhood.

Feel free to tweet (@fatherhoodforty) or email (fatherhoodforty@gmail.com) me if you’d like to collaborate or have ideas for a blog post.

Father on,

P.S. Check out The Art of Conversation podcast interview I did with Art Eddy from Life of Dad.

 


Disclaimer: Fatherhood@Forty may contain affiliate marketing links, which may result in commission on sales of products or services I write about. My editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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About

Few may know this, but twice as many dads of newborns today are now in the 40-plus age group, compared to the 1970s. Six weeks before my 40th birthday, I became a first-time father, hence the title of this blog.

This life-changing moment made me think about my own dad, who became a father at 44. As my parenthood journey unfolded, I noticed that most of my friends had become parents earlier in life yet, here I was, changing diapers and battling sleep deprivation at (nearly) 40. I told my wife, “Parenting is definitely a young man’s game.” But is it really?

Where most of my friends were preparing for their children’s middle and high school graduations, I was mastering the art of the swaddle, perfecting the one-hand baby wipe, and learning to decipher my daughter’s gurgles and whimpers. It occurred to me that I had so much more to offer my daughter at the sure-footed age of 40 than I did at, say, 28, when I was still coming into my own.

Fatherhood@Forty: Dispatches from the Parent Hood™ is a creative outlet to share my experiences and connect with other (relatively) late-in-life dads.

Here are a few factoids about me, Johnathon Briggs, the editor behind this blog:

  • I’m a former journalist (Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune).
  • I love exploring Chicago and the Midwest with my family.
  • I remain on a constant quest to stay fit.
  • I support charities that fight HIV, uplift families affected by incarceration, and ensure African American boys graduate from college.
  • I’m a comic book geek (mostly Marvel, but a bit of DC and Image Comics).
  • I’m a child of the ‘80s, so please expect occasional references to the Golden Age of Hip-Hop.

As a reporter for daily newspapers, I had the opportunity to interview fascinating people and to test out great products and brands for my readers. I hope to do the same for you as I blog about the moments that make up this adventure called fatherhood.

Feel free to tweet (@fatherhoodforty) or email (fatherhoodforty@gmail.com) me if you’d like to collaborate or have ideas for a blog post.

Father on,

P.S. Check out The Art of Conversation podcast interview I did with Art Eddy from Life of Dad.

 


Disclaimer: Fatherhood@Forty may contain affiliate marketing links, which may result in commission on sales of products or services I write about. My editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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