Once you start hanging out with people who have little kids, (and unless you’re some sort of weirdo, at some point you will), you’ll notice the following: the kids will be acting like fucking monsters, and the parent will inevitably say something along the lines of “yeah, it sucks. She’s going through a real shitty phase right now.” This is fair. Kids develop quickly, both physically and mentally, and so it stands to reason that their personalities change at a similarly rapid pace. My son used to go through phases where he would only let his mom put him to bed or feed him or get him in and out of his car seat, then he’d go through a phase where he’d only let me do those things. Phases exist. It’s not just a way to explain away a shitty kid without admitting how shitty your kid actually is. All kids go through shitty phases. They do.
BUT! You almost NEVER hear a parent say “oh yeah, little Rudy is going through a really good phase right now,” because parents, when assessing their lil’ angels, tend to think of bad phases as aberrations, and moreover, that the kid’s default setting is good. I know that parents rarely mention ‘good phases,’ because I do all the time and every time I do, other parents laugh incredulously and say things like “good phase? Oh man…” as though I’m joking. But I’m not. The way I see it, if you can write off a kid’s bad behavior as a shitty, petulant phase, you have to admit and recognize that the good bits are phases too. At the end of the day, a kid’s entire development is just a series of phases. That’s it. There’s no underlying current of any kind at all. It’s phases. And recognizing that actually makes things much easier, because, since you can be confident that this phase will pass, you can appreciate the great ones for the beautiful, sweet, fleeting moments they are, and you can also deal with the bad ones in much the same way you deal with February winter, tax season, your parents’ extended stay at your house, finals etc. You just have to hunker down and get through that shit. And you will (unless you die, in which case, fuck it! You’re out….but that’s a whole other story).
The thing is, the ‘this too shall pass’ theory doesn’t just apply to kids and their shitty, capricious moods. One thing I’ve learned after 5.5 years of being a parent, is that (duh) childhood is just a weird microcosm of life, and that this entire thing we’re doing here, whether we’re Michael Jordan or the janitor in my office building with the hoop earing, is no more than a series of phases. Life is phases, a moving sea, nothing is permanent, nothing is fixed, up is down, etc. Everything. All of it.
Of course, this all seems pretty obvious when it’s written down. “Nothing is permanent, huh? No shit, Watson. We all die.” Yeah, but it’s not always so easy to see in the practice of being alive. Example: 2 years ago, I discovered I’d somehow become a stay at home dad who was very lost. I’d never had much of a real job and my resume was essentially “1993-present: drank beer in a van.” The band I was in was inactive, being audited by the IRS, and generally seemed pretty done, my friends were all moving out of Chicago, I had no money, no prospects and I had absolutely no idea what to do. The one shitty job I HAD been able to get, bartending at a shitty sports bar, had fired me out of the blue just a week before my second kid was born. My wife and I were both super stressed as new parents, and, though she was always cool about it, my lack of earning potential was a major bummer for both of us. I saw no way out of my situation. I was ashamed of myself and even briefly thought that maybe it would be best if I just took off until I got my shit together and could be a contributing member of my household. This was a pretty stupid idea, born in desperation, and I quickly realized that if I bailed, there would be no one to watch the kids while my wife was at work, so I’d be doing way more harm than good, which, looking back, duh.
The point is, I was so stuck that I was having crazy, irrational panic thoughts. I was frozen and there was literally no possible way to change anything. But it’s been 2 years and, hey, fuck me! Pretty much everything HAS changed somehow. My kids are old enough that they can sleep through the night and fix themselves breakfast and get themselves ready for school, so we’ve got some sanity in our lives. The band I play in has the opportunity to work with one of my favorite labels, and we’re about to put out a record that I’m very confident is pretty cool. Beyond that, I have a great, satisfying job working with awesome people and generally shit is really great. I literally have no complaints right now.
BUT, this too shall pass. This shit’s a phase. Just like those dark times, which seemed endless, came to an end, this will also come to an end. Maybe it’ll be because things get even better, or maybe I’ll get smooshed by a bus or come down with a bad disease, or I’ll lose my voice and never be able to sing again. Or maybe I’ll lose my job or my wife will fall in love with the guy from the pet store or my kids will start doing krokodil…I don’t know, man. Anything can happen and it’s ONLY because I know how fleeting all this stuff is that I feel like I’m able to really appreciate it in the moment.
SO, here’s the upshot of all this: If shit’s rough, it will pass. If shit’s great, it’ll pass. Cling to your happy moments and recognize them for what they are, even if it’s just sitting in a chair with a dog on your lap, watching wheel of fortune. Because that shit won’t last forever. Neither will sadness and pain, unless you really, truly are the kind of person who clings to that shit. And if that’s your scene, if you’re the kind of person who’s not happy unless you’re not happy, well, then in a weird way, you’re stoked. You’re either happy (bummer) or miserable (yay!).
I don’t know. I like you guys. I’m stoked to be here. Thanks for reading. Xooxxox