Flying Kites

It’s the last wave and smile. 

It’s the oversized backpack filled with snow pants. 

It’s independence.

I drove to work crying today, again. 

It’s not a daily occurrence. It’s something that happens on certain days. 

You see, due to a parental scheduling error, my son has been without before school care at his elementary school since the New Year. 

As with most things in life, there are benefits and drawbacks to this situation.

Good: Kids get to sleep in a little. They choose not to of course, but they have the option.

Bad: Mom and Dad get to work later than they’d like.

Good: More time with the kids at home. They have breakfast, watch shows, and getting out the door is a little less hectic.

Very Bad: Dad has to drop off with other parents for kindergarten.

Dropping the kids off is typically Mom’s job, mostly due to work schedule and location.

If you’re a parent, you are most likely thinking, oh it’s a nightmare waiting in line every day to drop off your child for school.

I am not here to tell you that you’re wrong, but it’s not what makes it bad for this Dad.

I’ve come to realize through almost six years of being a parent that your children are like kites. 

Yes, kites, stick with me on this one.

In the beginning, you work to get your kite airborne. Pushing for milestones. Taking ultimate pride in the milestones they hit early. Rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, potty training, these are things that mean the wind is picking up and your kite is going to fly.

The first day we dropped my oldest off at daycare he was three months old. I wore sunglasses the entire time, hoping that they would hide the uncertainty, sadness, and tears on my face.

In reality, it made me look like a douchebag. More accurately, a sad douchebag.

That was the day that it struck me. The end of the line that holds my kite, is not attached to the spool in my hand. The line is roughly 18 years long.

The day will come when the last bit of line detaches and I’ll be left with an empty spool with nothing to do but watch the kite fly on its own.

This has created a severe cognitive dissonance for me. 

There are things we do as parents that feel taxing at that moment.

Pushing them on the swing, for example. When you are doing it for the thousandth time, it becomes so monotonous. So, you start educating them on how to swing by themselves. Thinking, if I let out a little more line off the spool, I won’t have to stand here and push them anymore. 

You tell them how to move their legs. They do it wrong. You try to correct. They do it wrong and get frustrated. Then you get frustrated that they won’t try. You say, “if you’re not going to have fun at the park then I guess we’ll just go home.” They cry, so you tell them they can play for 5 more minutes, convinced you’ll have the only child that never learned how to use a swing.

Then one day, out of nowhere, they can swing on their own. That section of line that you so desperately wanted off the spool is off. There is no getting it back. The pang hits you in the sternum when you realize, you never have to push them on the swing again. 

The problem is, the word “have” changed to get.

You’re not sure how it happened but it is there as clear as day. 

You never get to push them on the swing again. 

All you want is to pull the line back in just a little. Just for a minute. Just one more time. 

The spool doesn’t work like that on these kites. 

This is why this morning… and yesterday morning… and a few more over the past week and a half, I drove out of the parking lot with tears rolling down my cheeks. I look at other parents driving out of the parking lot muttering “what the fuck is wrong with you people?” as I notice no one else is crying.

They are moving on with their day and not having an existential crisis.

After he stops, smiles, and waves to me (ugh, the wave is a punch to the gut), he runs to catch up with friends with his backpack bouncing back and forth on his shoulders. I remind myself that this is a good thing. It’s good that he doesn’t need me to walk him in, find his locker, put his backpack away, and go to class. I am doing a pretty good job at flying my kite. 

It helps a little. Eventually, the book that I am listening to in the car distracts me and the sadness fades.

What’s more, I have two kites, which allows me to recognize these important spots in my daughter’s line and cherish them. 

However, too soon, she’ll be the one smiling and waving as she walks into kindergarten. 

All I can do is continue to fly my kites. Keep them away from trees, houses, and powerlines so when the day comes, they’re able to soar.

Until that day, should you need me, I’ll be the idiot crying while flying kites.

Cheers.

Hot Timmy Summer

I’ve hated myself for a long time.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

I’ve hated my body for as long as I can remember.

I can remember hating the start of football as a kid because the pants never fit right. I’ve hated shopping my entire life because trying on clothes would give me anxiety and leave me in a depressed state. 

I’ve had stretch marks on my stomach since high school. 

Then college happened. People talked about “the freshman 15”, but my body misheard that and went after the freshman 50. 

Since college, I have battled with my weight constantly. Losing some, gaining more back. A decade ago I lost 60 pounds and gained it all back (and some). 

I got to a point where I justified it. 

The worst part of my day was getting out of the shower and being forced to see myself. I told myself, “this is just who you are.” The echoes of people calling me “big guy” and other names pointed out the fact that not only was I big, but everyone knew it. 

I even got my Covid vaccine early because I was obese. Talk about bitter-sweet.

I have pretended to be confident in myself and how I look every day.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Right?

Then, on April 12th as I was sitting down to eat a plate full of air-fried popcorn shrimp and mozzarella sticks, I saw an ad for Noom. 

It advertised a psychological approach to weight loss. Something that piqued my interest as a guy with a Psychology degree. 

One of the first questions was, “what is your goal weight?”

A lot less than my weight now, I thought.

They wanted a specific number. I knew that if it was going to work, I needed to be specific in a meaningful way. Something that was special to me. 

The neat thing about my birthday, October 8th. Is that is the day that I nervously asked my wife to go out with me when we were in Junior High. 

Now I can’t be certain about this, but my educated guess was that I have not weighed less than 200 pounds since my freshman year of high school in 1999. And since college, I have essentially been pregnant on and off like an Irish Catholic woman. 

It clicked.

I am going to weigh 199.8 pounds on my birthday.

That meant that the task in front of me was to lose 64 pounds in 179 days. 

What was the first thing I did?

I ate the mozzarella sticks and popcorn shrimp, duh. 

A last meal of sorts. I’ve got to say it was almost a sexual experience. I dream about that “meal” sometimes.

I got obsessed with my weight loss goal. If you saw me walking (yes, I walk 2 miles every day at lunch) or on my stationary bike, it would look like I was talking to myself. 

I repeat two things over and over and over.

“One ninety-nine” and, my mantra, “I can. I will. End of story.”

The weight melted off in the first month and a half.

This gave birth to “Hot Timmy Summer”.

If you saw me this summer, you may have heard me promoting Hot Timmy Summer. 

From the outside, it probably sounded stupid or self-indulgent, but it was about me embracing myself and being confident in myself as a human, not just faking it.

If people asked if they should do something, my answer was, “go for it! It’s Hot Timmy Summer, celebrate your power.”

In the beginning, I held on to anger inside me. I’d hear the people making jokes about my weight over the course of my life. I’d see their faces and hold on to it through a difficult workout or when I really wanted a piece of pizza but didn’t want to mess up my progress.

Hot Timmy Summer changed all that.

It started when I was going to my brother’s house and going swimming in the pool. The pool that was put in when I lived there in 1998. I have had a routine since the first day I swam in it.

I would put a towel close to the stairs. I would pick a time when people weren’t paying close attention to me, quickly take off my shirt, and jump in. Then, when it was time to get out, I’d go straight to the towel and cover up as quickly as possible.

I would do this even if it was just my family around the pool. I just figured they had to be at least as disgusted as I was in how I looked without a shirt on. 

This summer, I realized how ridiculous that is. 

I decided that I was out of fucks to give when it came to what people thought about me. Thus,  Hot Timmy Summer was born.

So, how’d it go?

Well, today is my birthday and the official end of Hot Timmy Summer. 

I stepped on the scale this morning and it showed 198.4 pounds. 

I am down just over 65 pounds in 179 days. 

I am not done yet, I have adjusted the goal and will lose another 14 pounds, just so I can say I am at the normal weight (according to the BMI charts). 

This morning, I took a moment to pat myself on the back and enjoy it.

First and foremost, I did it for my wife and my children. They deserve a husband/dad that loves himself enough to take care of himself. 

I did it for previous versions of myself that would look in the mirror and cry. The guy that would look in the mirror and say terrible things to the reflection. For the teenage Tim who cried in a Hollister dressing room because nothing fit. 

I did it because life is too short not to love yourself. 

It took me 36 years to learn that lesson.

Maybe you’re reading this and have had some of the same thoughts or feelings. 

It’s never too late to work on and improved yourself in whatever way you want. 

Fuck what other people may say or think about you.

You can. You will. End of story. 

Cheers.

The Talk

They sat on a bench on the bike path overlooking the river. The late afternoon sun lazily making its descent to the horizon. The leaves rustling in the late fall breeze.

In days past they would have sat holding hands, or at least making some sort of physical contact. Lately, they didn’t mind the space. As a matter of fact, they felt more comfortable with a bit of separation.

They looked at each other at the same time and knew that they were both thinking the same depressing thought. They sighed.

She broke the silence first, as usual.

“How did we get here?”

“Seriously? We parked the car at the park, then followed the path to the bench” he said.

Another one of his ill-timed jokes that she used to find adorable, but now she found irritating.

“Sorry, I just don’t know how you want me to answer that.”

“I want you to be honest. I want you to tell me how you feel. Why do I always have to drag things out of you?” Continue reading

Chunking

Our brains get lazy and let us down all the time. Mostly, this happens when we are doing something innocuous. We let our brain take over and go into autopilot.
This is called chunking. It’s when something has become so routine that our brain lumps it into one task.
For example, going to work. Do you ever get to work and think, how did I get here?
Our brains work to be as efficient as possible. You aren’t actively thinking about opening your car door, backing out of the garage, shutting the garage door, etc.
99% of the time, this results in arriving at work with no issue. But, if there is a slight change in your normal routine it can lead to a mistake. For example, you get in your car and then remember that it is garbage day. You get out of your car, roll the garbage can to the street, get back in the car, and drive away completely oblivious to the fact that you left your garage door open (not that this happened to me today, this is a fictional situation that I came up with).
Something like this has happened to all of us at some point. Our brains skip a beat and pick things back up at step 10 rather than step 9 during some ritual. It is irritating, but it is usually harmless.
So, why are you reading this? Well, sometimes chunking can lead to an embarrassing moment. Like this one…

Continue reading