My Good Old Day

If you’re looking for a more conventional April Fools Day story, you can find that here. What follows is a different story that will still give you an opportunity to laugh at me if you are into that kind of thing.

There is a quote from the last episode of The Office delivered by Ed Helms as Andy Bernard that is so touching and relatable.

“I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days before you actually left them.”

We all know that the time we have is finite and yet we are so often unable to appreciate how impactful events will be on us for the rest of our lives. Days with friends before responsibilities. Time holding your sleeping newborn. 

So often, it isn’t until those moments aren’t available to us that we stop and recognize how great they were.

Sometimes, however, there are moments that pang in your chest just so. That pang rings up in our brains and we know that we need to take in all that is happening. We allow ourselves to be truly present as we are struck with clairvoyance that in years to come we will want to remember what is taking place. 

Today is the five-year anniversary of such an event that happened to me. 

I struggle with being present. I am usually wrapped in worry about what just happened or what might happen next.

April 1, 2017, was a perfect spring day. No, I am not romanticizing the weather because it was a special day for me. It was sunny, in the mid-60s, light breeze. It’s what I refer to as “Tim Weather”. 

My wife was away for a bachelorette party, doing God knows what, while I stayed home with my 12-month-old son. 

Leading up to the weekend, people asked, “who is coming to help you while she’s gone?” As though I would not be capable of keeping my son alive on my own for 48 hours. 

I mean, I get it now. At the time I thought, why does everyone keep asking that?!

I was so excited about the weekend. I knew the weather was going to be amazing so I planned an outing for the two of us. 

I settled on going to one of my favorite places, the University of Minnesota. 

We started in the mall. I took him out of his stroller and let him run around. Since it was Saturday, the mall was quiet with just a few students sitting on the grass studying. Reminded me of when I didn’t do that on Saturdays in college. 

We walked up to Northrop Auditorium and there happened to be a sorority taking their annual picture on the steps. I let Jude wander up to them. He would wave, back then, by raising his hand straight into the air and then opening and closing his fingers. He said, “Haaaaaaaiiii!” And the girls lost their collective minds. 

To this day, Jude makes fast friends with everyone he comes across.

We ate some Cheerios and I put him in the stroller for a little tour of campus. 

It’s so much fun to push a baby in a stroller and talk to them as though they understand a damn thing you are saying. 

We circled back to Coffman for another round of Cheerios. Jude greeted every new passerby with a wave. We rolled around in the grass until it was time for a nap. 

Throughout our time on campus, I knew I was living an unforgettable day. I knew it would be a day that would randomly pop into my head for years to come and it has. 

There is a movie, About Time, that I adore. I used to call it a guilty pleasure movie, but somewhere along the way, I have decided that it is an awesome movie.

That night, after I put Jude to bed, I turned the movie on and decided to have a beer. And another. And another. By the end of the movie, well I was a little drunk. 

The very basic premise of the movie is that the lead character discovers he (and all of the men in his family) can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life.

SPOILER ALERT

In one of the final scenes, Tim, played by Domhnall Gleeson, takes his last trip back in time to see his dad before his baby is born. They both know that this is the last time that they will see each other. His dad, played by Bill Nighy, has one last request, it is to go back in time together to a day they spent on the beach together when Gleeson’s character was a boy. 

I realized that if given the opportunity, that day would be the day I would go back to with Jude. 

Still is.

This realization paired with the beer caused me to cry.

Check that sob.

No. It caused me to heave cry audibly for about 15 minutes. Because drinking beer and crying are the things I am best at and I was all out of beer.

April 1, 2017, is one of the best days of my life and I am grateful that I was able to recognize that it was a good old day before I left it.

Cheers.

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.

Why I Go(pher) 2.0

Before the 2012 season, I wrote Why I Go(pher). The Gopher football team would finish that season 6-7. And under that coaching staff and administration, it never felt like they would be more than a middle-of-the-road Big Ten team.

Yesterday, 7 years later, we turned the corner I wrote about. And as I predicted, I was there.

At the time that I wrote those words, I had no clue that I would have a 3-year-old son and a 9-month-old daughter sitting next to me. Long gone are the days of drinking as much as I want because I had nothing to do on Sunday.

Our Gopher gamedays are decidedly different. In this special edition of TimTalks, I am going to hand the mic over to my lovely wife to give you a gameday-in-the-life as the wife of a Gopher fan:

 

It’s 5:30 am on a Saturday. Warm in my bed, I’m awakened by my husband’s alarm. I keep my eyes closed for a few minutes, considering trying to catch a little more sleep. I decide against it. Time to move. My husband looks up, surprised, as I walk into the bathroom. “I understand. I know this is the biggest game in decades. I’m up.”

Two hours later the car is packed, the kids are dressed, the baby’s been fed, and we are ready to go.

For the first time in years, I have convinced my husband we don’t need to make it in time for the open of the tailgate lots. Lots open six hours before game time or 7:00 am for an 11:00 game. On our drive in, at 7:45, we hear from my brother who has beaten us there. I can tell instantly my husband is disappointed at our late arrival. We pull up at 8:07 am. Three hours until game time. Our shortest tailgate of the season.

Growing up with three brothers, I spent my fair share of time at football games. However, I was more interested in talking with my friends than staying up to speed on the play by play. My first Gopher football game, in 2001, my future husband and I sat in the Metrodome as he tried to explain the basics of the game. I listened, not realizing as a 16-year-old girl that this would become a staple of my life.

Gopher football as a college student and twenty-something without children was A LOT of fun. I loved the social aspect. The chants, the traditions, and the beers. I cheered loud for the big plays but didn’t lose sleep over a bad game. But it got a lot tougher with one and now two kids. And I’ll admit, some days I get a bit salty.

Making it to a tailgate lot at 8:30 am with a three-year-old and an infant requires a lot of work. Arriving home a solid twelve hours later makes for some tired kids, and parents too. And some days I just wondered, could we maybe go at 9:30, or 10:00? Is it absolutely pivotal to the success of the team that we arrive for six full hours of tailgating? And the answer is, yes.

Yes, it does matter. Because it matters to my favorite human on this earth. It matters to him to show up for his team, week after week, some years loss after loss. And this moment, this day, was to date, the most important day in his lifelong journey as a Gopher fan. My husband has never missed a game in TCF Bank Stadium. His three-year-old son and 9-month-old daughter haven’t missed a home game in their lives. He’s been there for the electrifying wins and the heartbreaking losses. He always shows up.

So I show up. I nurse a baby in the sleet under a Gopher blanket to watch the team beat Nebraska. I stand in the pouring rain in Evanston to see the team suffer a truly unwatchable defeat by Northwestern. I’ve never been to Hawaii or Palm Springs, but I’ve been to Ohio State and Maryland.

But some days, like this beautiful November morning, I sit in the sunshine holding a sleeping baby, my hooligan three-year-old being a perfect angel, and watch the Gophers lead a top-five ranked Penn State team through not one, two, or three, but four full quarters of play to maintain their perfect season.

We lovingly refer to my husband as “Timmy Baby Pants.” It’s a lot of fun. On cue, Baby Pants shed a tear in the stands as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” played and fans rushed the field. Honestly, I shed a tear too. I’m so grateful for the husband and father that he is. And seeing the joy on his face while he hugged our three-year-old in the final minutes of the game, I’ll get up at 5:30 on a Saturday for that. I’ll stand in the snow and the rain to see those smiles on my two favorite boys’ faces.

And I know it’s only going to get easier, and better, as my kids grow up. I can already see the excitement and joy on my son’s face when he talks about “Minnesota.”

We are laying the foundation for a lifetime of tradition.

I’m a big Fleck fan. I love his energy and enthusiasm, and he’s easy on the eyes. Some people roll their eyes at the catch phrases and mantras, but I love them.

FAMILY. Forget About Me, I Love You.

It perfectly encompasses my Gopher experience. I love the energy and the party and the celebrations, sure. But I can’t tell you the score or even who we played in the opening game of the 2018 season. What I can tell you is what the face of a father looks like when his 2-year-old son walks into the stadium for a new season, looks out over the field with eyes full of wonderment, and unprovoked exclaims “row the boat.”

I can tell you about the pride on a first-time father’s face as he walks into the stadium with his son strapped to his chest for his son’s first game.

I can tell you about the sparkle in a father’s eye as he watches his wife unwrap his daughter’s first pink Gopher shirt.

I can tell you what a father and son sing on Fridays before gameday. (Les Mis  – “One Day More”)

I can tell you about the grin on a toddler’s face as he signals for another “Golden Gopher First Down!”

I can tell you how a tailgate lot full of strangers become friends (it takes a village.)

At the end of the game, win or lose, I can tell you about my husband and the amazing bond that he will forever share with our children over this team called the Gophers.

It’s why I Go(pher).

The Mountain

Two decades. 

Twenty years. 

7,300 days. 175,200 hours. 10,512,000 minutes. 

Time is great at playing this terrible trick on us. When you start counting minutes in the tens of millions, time seems to drag. 

When you count it in decades, saying “time flies” seems like a comical understatement. 

After two children, it feels like time is an icy mountain face that I am sliding down making futile attempts to slow myself. 

Looking back up the mountain, shrinking in the distance is me awkwardly asking my wife to “go out” with me and her saying yes, not knowing that she was grabbing my hand and jumping off the side of the mountain with me. 

We have been through it all. Junior high, high school, college, our 20’s, two kids, and half of our thirties. 

What the hell happened? 

Just yesterday we were sneaking kisses in the hallway and talking on the phone until one of us fell asleep. We woke up married in a house with two kids that we are scrambling to get ready for daycare. 

The most brutal truth that I have come to know in this life is that the days are long and the years are short. 

My birthday has become so important to me over these two decades. Today it reached a pinnacle when I heard my 3-year-old run into the bedroom, climb into bed, and burrow into me as though it was impossible for him to get close enough to me.

“Daddy, I had a bad dream…”

My gorgeous wife got up and made me a cinnamon roll and orange juice that I shared with my son at the counter.

I walked into the nursery to find my 8-month-old girl standing and smiling at me. 

I felt a strong pang in my chest.

Long gone are the days of wondering what I will get for my birthday, today I realized that all I need to do is open my eyes.

I’m going to do my best to keep them open because I know the next time I blink another two decades will have passed me by.  

Happy birthday to me but, more importantly, thank you to my wife for jumping off the mountain with me October 8, 1999 at 8:05 AM. 

Cheers. 

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