If you’re a baby boomer who has raised any kids, you’ll like this piece. Or maybe you’ll find it painful. Actually, you might just hate it. But you can’t deny it’s true. Longtime professional comedian Forrest Brakeman writes for BoomerCafé from La Canada, California, his story about how raising kids has destroyed his once glorious body. It’s called, “Kids Break Dad, Details At Eleven!”
Man, my body is sore. It is seriously beat up. What the hell happened to that magnificent 20-something body that I see in faded analog pictures?
I’ll tell you what happened. Kids. That’s what happened.
When my firstborn arrived, I could carry her around, singing songs to her for countless hours in an attempt to get her to sleep. Sometimes I got deep enough into the catalogue to sing Kenny Loggins. For the love of God, go to sleep.
My wife and I played “One, two, three, wheeee!” with all three kids endlessly when we walked down the street. That’s the game where we hold their hands on either side and swing them ahead of us.
Again, Daddy? Sure, why not.
I could lift strollers, diaper bags, and portable cribs in and out of the car trunk all day long without problems. Sure, maybe the lack of sleep made me numb to physical pain, but I could do it.
But my oldest daughter just graduated from college. Thank you, thank you very much. And in order for me to be able to make it through the entire ceremony, we had to bring a stadium chair for me to sit in to cushion my ailing back from the concrete risers.
Granted, we had kids later in life than most do, but I was still fit and healthy when we started. Now I’m a wreck.
The bad back happened because I heroically pulled a guy out of a burning car. Okay, that’s a lie. I threw it out rebooting the cable box. Went right to the floor. My youngest called my wife and said, “Dad is on the floor and he is yelling a lot. What should I do?” My wife, no stranger to these incidents, said, “Just leave him there.” It was the right thing to do.
Now, when I take the clean dishes out of the dishwasher, I have to be really careful how I remove them so I don’t tweak the back. Bend at the knees, keep the weight of the fork in front of me, step back, pivot around …
Getting up out of a chair, I have to leave time for my arthritic knee to get with the plan. There are a few steps with a limp before things smooth out. Kind of like a pirate. Not embarrassing at all.
I pinched a nerve the other day sneezing.
I have to be careful of what I eat. Probably because of years of eating the kids’ leftover food: chicken nuggets, crappy burgers, really bad mac and cheese, an infinite number of half-eaten grilled cheese sandwiches, cardboard pizza. Can’t let any of that go to waste.
The Kid’s Menu destroyed me. If I eat red meat, I pay for it for days. If I eat onions or garlic, I will be up all night popping Pepto. Drinking too much consists of two and a half drinks, no matter how much I would like to party like I’m twenty-nine. C’mon, let’s rage! But let’s be done by 8, because I have something important to do the day after tomorrow…
Like I said, kids! There should be a Surgeon General warning label on each one.
Twenty-five years of accidental baby head butts (man those little heads are hard), horsey rides, hide and seek, jumping on Daddy when he’s not looking, chasing kids around trees, pushing kids on swings, launching them high out of the water when we were in the pool, lifting two of them off the ground, one on each arm, riding them on my shoulders so they could get a better view of the fireworks, letting them grab ahold of my legs and monster-walking them around the house, encouraging them to run into me at full speed then bouncing off my belly and laughing like little lunatics while I gasped for breath, coaching their softball teams, building their IKEA desks, helping them move into the dorms, helping them move out of the dorms, helping them move into apartments…
It’s the wear and tear of living a life filled with joy, heartache, and laughter; of watching them go from goofy little monsters to strong, opinionated wonderful women. So proud of my oldest for making political statements, even at her graduation. So proud of my middle daughter for working two jobs and being the voice of reason more times than I can count. So proud of my youngest for teaching herself to play the guitar, ukulele, and learning to speak Norwegian, all from YouTube.
The broken body is the price a dad pays for raising kids. Years and years of doing whatever they would ask, over and over again. Years of carrying them when they were sick, or upset, or broken. Years of commiserating, worrying, and celebrating. Years of loving them unconditionally.
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. But only if I had my 20-something body.
Now somebody get Daddy an ice pack and some ibuprofen.