Yesterday morning I took a long bike ride on a magical summer morning. In many ways it felt more like a fall morning with temperatures in the low 60s and big waves crashing in on the shore of Lake Michigan. Towards the end of my ride I stopped at the northernmost end of the Chicago lakefront bike trail to spend a few minutes walking about on my favorite Chicago beach – Hollywood beach.
Technically the beach is called Kathy Osterman beach, but to me it will always be Hollywood beach because that’s what my Mom and I used to call it when we lived in Hollywood towers for the beginning of my wonderful little life. Back then things looked a bit different on the beach than they do today. Back then there were no fancy concession stands or $15 a day umbrella and cabana rentals. If you look up and down Sheridan Road across from the beach though, things look pretty much the same.
I was born on a normal July morning to my mother Charlene and my father James. Everything in my life was as delightful and as ordinary as it could possibly be. If I had to try to point out anything in particular that was unique about my situation, I guess it would have to be that my father was a bit older than what was typical for first time fathers. Back then the majority of men were married and already raising families not later than age thirty or else they were very likely to stay bachelors for life. My Dad was 37 the day I was born. He used to tell me that he might have had to wait longer for me, but that I was worth the wait. He’ll be gone from his body 20 years this October, but as I often say “I have no regrets.” I got more love and support from my Dad in our 33 years together than most children get in twice that amount of time. His spirit is still so close to me and his love still guides me in so many ways that I seldom feel like I miss him: I do sometimes wish we could go out to lunch together though.
Like most young kids, when I was growing up I always longed for the “day when I would beat Dad at….” I wanted to beat him at Yahtzee, at ping-pong, at bowling, at running races, and at so many other things. Eventually I did win, but more importantly I learned about the fact that winning is less important than giving your best effort and being kind to others. I’d like to think that I’ve given most things my best effort throughout my life. More recently I’ve studied the art of kindness in earnest. As I sit here today, it looks like I just beat Dad in one more thing. I just beat him by being 16 years older than he was as a first time father. I can only hope to be as good at actually being a father as he was.
Yesterday when my wife Christiana and I announced our pregnancy to the world we did so with tremendous excitement and the expectation that we wanted to fully share the experience with the many who have followed our lives along the way. I’ve waited five decades to go through this journey to parenthood. I’ve been waiting weeks now to share my thoughts and feelings. Over the duration of our pregnancy my plan is to post once a week on this topic of becoming a first time father at fifty. I have no idea what direction this journey may take us and I have no idea what I may wind up saying or not saying, but I do know that I have a deep sense of knowing that I need to write about this experience and I need to share what I am writing.
If the last few years of my life have taught me anything, what they have taught me the most is that we feel most alive when we allow ourselves to open our hearts and feel EVERYTHING! Joy, pain, love, fear, bliss, vulnerability, uncertainty and so many other feelings are beautiful colors that we splash onto the canvas of our life when we open our hearts. I tried in college with acrylics and watercolors, but I sucked at painting. With a few more years, stories, and miles on the path of life, I’ve realized that words are my medium.
I’ve tried my hand at many writing projects over the years. I’ve started more than a few novels. I’ve written hundreds of blogs. I’ve got a major project in the works for which I’m about to hire an agent in NYC. I’ve written and told dozens of stories, hosted nearly fifty webinars and cranked out numerous speeches both for myself and for clients who have hired me to help them. I’ve never been more excited about any writing project than this one.
Each week since we confirmed our pregnancy, Christiana has shown me a video about what’s going on in her body and with the little one. So far we’ve progressed from the size of a gummy bear, to a raspberry, to a green grape, to an olive. Maybe next week we’ll be a medium sized strawberry. Whatever it is I look forward to sharing the stories along the way, both what has happened so far and what is yet to unfold on the path. I promise you my best effort. Let the ride begin!
(Look for the “Fatherhood at Fifty” blog to move to a new dedicated site associated with Jim’s new website in the weeks ahead)