Friday, April 20, 2018

"Joe Time" Is Gone

A while ago I was talking on the phone with my friend Sheldon. Somewhere in our conversation the topic of free time came up, and I whined--- I mean, pointed out that now that I am a father, I don't have much of it anymore. Sheldon laughed in my face. (Yes, it was over the phone, but I could tell he was laughing in my face.) And I don't blame him. I deserved it.
I didn't get married until I was 40. Back when I was single, I used to hang out a lot with Sheldon and his family. Often, when I went to go home, I would say I needed a little "Joe time." Unbeknownst to me, this would make Sheldon chuckle under his breath. (Sheldon is the father of four, and he now has several grandkids. Sheldon hasn't had any "Sheldon time" since 1988.)
What is "Joe time?" It's just like "Hammer time," but without the big baggy gold pants. (Sorry. Bad joke, but I had to go there.) (Word to your mother.) No, "Joe time" was the time I used to get to spend lounging in front of the television, doodling around on the internet, cultivating my large comic book and vinyl record collections, hiking (because every once in a while I did get off of the couch), and any other time-wasting, non-important activity that I used to enjoy. (I think "uninterrupted naps" falls into that last category.) 
I graduated college when I was 25 years old. That's when I was freed up to have all the "Joe time" I could handle. (While still in school there was always a nagging "I should be studying" feeling in the back of my head that could cut into pure "Joe time." Not that I did much studying; just that I always knew I should be studying.) So, for a full 15 years, from the time I was 25 until the time I was 40, I had a wealth of "Joe time," limited only by the 40 to 60 hours a week that I was working. That's a lot of "Joe time."

Graduating college with my parents by my side. The beginning of "Joe Time."

And then, I got married. Suddenly, there was a lot less "Joe time," but there was a good amount of "Joe and The Wife time," and that was generally more fun than simple "Joe time." Then, The Wife got pregnant. (Do they know what causes that?) When the baby came, "Joe time" dwindled significantly. Just like that "Joe time" was almost completely limited to "baby nap time."
And then came the second baby. And "Joe time" was gone. (You can hope that Baby 1 and Baby 2 nap at the same time, but you certainly can't depend on it.) Pure "Joe time" is no more. Instead of the "I should be studying" nagging from school, there is the "I should be watching the kids" in the back of my head. Even as I am writing this, I'm ''watching" the kids. They are playing contentedly (a rare occurrence), but I worry that at any moment she'll start screaming for no reason, as she is often wont to do, or he will get into something he shouldn't, because that's what he does.

So now, Sheldon can laugh at me. He knew this would happen. "Joe time" is gone. But, I love my wife and kids. How much? I love them so much that I'm willing to let "Joe time" go forever. Instead, I'll settle for the smiles and laughs and hugs and kisses. Yes, I think I'll settle for "Family time." (And I think I came out way on top in that trade off!)

Edited from a post originally published on 11/6/2010. (One of my very first blog posts!)

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