The Home Team: This is your future
Our middle son, Greg, sent his friend Erica a photo/text on a Friday night in mid-December, when he was out in Oregon. The photo shows him skiing down a gorgeous trail under a bluebird sky with a breathtaking, snow-covered peak in the distance. The accompanying text read, simply, “Mount Hood.”
Erica was once Greg’s boss and mentor, is a few years older than he is, and has a couple more years experience when it comes to marriage and the like. “Enjoy it now, Hermy,” she answered, and then attached a Friday-night photo of her own. It was her husband, Steven, kneeling on the floor of their bathroom in suburban Westchester, bathing baby Hazel, while simultaneously overseeing 4-year-old Griffen, who’s on the potty, pants down around his ankles, being “busy.” The accompanying text read, simply, “This is your future.”
Greg, who’s 32, is due to become a dad himself in April. And he definitely is trying to enjoy “it” now, before, as he kiddingly (maybe only half-kiddingly) puts it, “my life is over.”
Our oldest son Matt, who’s 35, isn’t married yet, but he seems to share Greg’s outlook when it comes to the effect of children on a dude’s lifestyle. A lot of Matt’s buddies are married, have moved to the ’burbs, and quite a few of them have not just one, but multiple kids. Matt’s been monitoring all this closely, and to his way of thinking, it generally seems to be the second baby who “ruins life as we know it.” Though he seems to assume he’ll be a father one day, he’s starting to hint that one kid might be plenty.
Ah, these millennials, they do like the way of life they’ve carved out for themselves. Lots and lots of travel, generally with their 15 to 20 closest friends. Raucous happy hour(s) after work. Hanging with the buds — and the Buds — at Triona’s or Barfly for the Sunday games. No cars to take care of — that’s why God invented Uber. Both our older sons are so enamored with their current freedom that they’ve issued our youngest son — 23-year-old Robby — strict orders to not even think about having a serious girlfriend until he’s at least 25.
And when they contrast this free-and-easy life they now lead to their impression of the ball-and-chain future that having kids would be, it kind of does make you wonder why any self-respecting millennial would voluntarily give this up and become a parent.
The answer, I think, is that some of us just seem to be cut out for it.
I remember another mid-December day, oh, about 30 years ago. Carol and I, and Matt and Greg — there was no Robby yet — are visiting our friends John and Cynthia, who live in Brooklyn. (This was way before everyone lived in Brooklyn.) We spend the afternoon helping them look for the perfect Christmas tree for their perfect townhouse. John and Cynthia, you see, had opted to remain childless, and, as is often the case in the elegant dwellings of such couples, there is not so much as a throw pillow out of place. Upon returning from the tree adventure, John puts on some chamber music and settles down on a stunningly upholstered Queen Anne chair with a cognac, while Cynthia curls up on a Chesterfield sofa with the just-so pillows, paging through the latest issue of Architectural Digest.
Meanwhile, Carol and I scrunch down on the floor with 6-year-old Matt and his backpackful of NFL action figures and 3-year-old Greg and his overflowing plastic container of Matchbox cars, attempting, with not a shred of success, to carry on an adult conversation with our relaxed and refined friends.
Later that evening, back at our own not-so-perfect apartment in Manhattan, we talked about John and Cynthia’s townhouse, and their lifestyle. Pret-ty nice, we agreed. Orderly. Sedate. We also agreed we wouldn’t have traded places with them for a second.
“The Home Team” appears the first Friday of every month. You can also keep up with Hank’s adventures on his blog, “Beagle Man,” on the Westport News website, at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/ To reach Hank, email him at DoubleH50@gmail.com.