There’s an old lyric in a Rod Stewart song (and no, it’s not “If you like my body and you think I’m sexy) from a really early LP. It’s the title track to his LP Every Picture Tells a Story.
I’ve used the title as a line before because it’s true, every picture does tell a story. But the opening salvo of the song is a line brilliant in its simplicity:
Spent a long time feeling inferior
Standing in front of the mirror
That’s an apt line. It truly is. For quite awhile, before I was married, and later after losing my wife, I thought that very thing. I could look in the mirror, see the overweight guy, hair prematurely grey, life totally changed, and no direction to speak of. I’d changed jobs but not really adjusted to change. I’d moved into another home, worked a new job, even taken on the responsibility of being the sole parent in the household. It’s a different thing to go from running decisions by another person and verifying them to having that sole responsibility. It’s not a simple shift.
But something happened, and I can’t begin to tell you when, to change all that.
Some of it is physical, sure. I’ve lost a great deal of the weight I’d gained. I’m happy about that, but I can’t take all the credit, most of that is pure activity. Raising four kids is hard work anyway, but raising them alone is a whirlwind of activity. I’m on my feet more than I ever used to be and I’m actually quite happy about that. The result is that the kids are on their feet more as well.
I’ve posted before . . . things changed. They did starting on March 26th of 2011. It comes hard, that change, and it’s not like we didn’t fight it. I had a lot of help in the beginning (well, now too, let’s face it). But the thing was I never looked at it like this was some sort of major task or burden. They’re my kids. Somewhere along the way we made a decision to have those children and we wanted to have a family so why would I look at it as a burden? Like my parents, I enjoy time with my kids.
So somewhere in the last many, many months I’ve looked up and realized that the guy in the mirror isn’t what he was. Not the guy feeling inferior standing in front of the mirror. Sure, I’m a bit more ragged and weathered but I noticed I’m standing straight and I’m making those decisions . . . confidently. Sure, initially it was because I had to. Now, I just do. Sleeping isn’t a chore . . . sometimes it’s just a necessity, but I don’t dread going up to the big bed alone any more. It’s just my bedroom now . . . and it’s my bedroom. It hasn’t been ours for a long time now.
Things have changed, and they had to, but that’s not a sad thing. My kids are more stable. My home is finally, after being sick for weeks, cleaner. They all chipped in, we de-Christmased the house. We vacuumed and cleaned up the garage and we’re up and about again.
Things changed and we didn’t even realize . . . but still, we have the road we traveled to get here to influence us. That’s the most important thing.