When you have kids, sooner or later you know youíre going to have a house full of things. Itís a slow accumulation. In the early years it begins innocently enough with stuffed animals, trucks, race cars and dolls. As kids become more curious and broaden their circles, this unstoppable mass accelerates with board games, baseball cards, books, bikes and athletic equipment. It then escalates when a new pet is assimilated into the already cramped terrain. Expansion is a very real aspect of raising kids, but itís not something people talk about until it becomes their everyday reality.
I can handle the diminishing free space in my house because I understand that having things in plain sight can sometimes be a catalyst for creativity. Thatís why Iím OK with tripping over toys and cutting the soles of my feet on Legos; thatís why I agreed to hand over my office to accommodate the kidsí new playroom. And thatís why I even suggested that my kids bring their musical instruments up to their rooms instead of leaving them in the basement just in case their muse happens to strike. (I didnít anticipate being woken up by screaming guitar licks in the morning, and then rattled by funk beats in the evening when Iím trying to read.) That said, I wouldnít change the way weíre doing it; my wife and I might want the house to be uncluttered and pristine, but for now weíve happily traded some of the square footage for the sake of short-term discovery and long-term goals.
The difficult part of expansion happens when it goes beyond material possessions. Itís when a parent is forced to care about things they had no plan on caring for. Sure, the dog comes to mind, the dog I agreed to get, and the dog I now take care of during the day while the kids are in school. But no, more than the dog, Iím talking friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and at some point maybe spouses and grandkids.
To me, that feels like piling on. Iím not sure I can keep accommodating all of my kidsí new accumulations. Yet my hand is forced, because thatís what parents do. All of a sudden I have to care about the things they care about like their naughty dog, their stuffed animals, their dolls, their baseball mitts, scooters and any other person or thing they are connected to. Because what happens to their connections impacts their lives. And when you love someone, you also have to sort of love everything they love. So yes, that piling on continues to grow exponentially over the course of their lives. And a parentís only choice if they want to continue their relationship with their kids is to continue expanding their world to accommodate these new relationships.
Page 2 of 2 - But I wonder how long Iíll be able to do this? Maybe the universe is able to keep expanding forever, but at some point my physical body will just run out of space. And maybe thatís what ultimately jettisons us to the next chapter in our existence? Maybe thatís what transforms us from the physical to the spiritual? Maybe the only way to continue being part of the lives of the people we love is by joining the universe as energy, where we can continue to expand forever.
Saelen Ghose can be reached through his website: www.theguysperspective.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org. (This piece is modified from the novel he is working on.)