I Wish I’d Met You Earlier

‘If I could change anything I’d go back in time and meet you earlier so I would have more time with you.’

imageOf course for that to work I’d actually have to go further back than you might think. I’d have to go back to the relationships before I met you, to the therapies and jobs and life lessons and various family functions when I festered with free floating rage and self loathing. The feelings that led me to some of the terrible decisions I made that left me looking for you in my early 30’s via the internet, wasting one Saturday night after another with the wrong people engaged in the same search. And of course you’d have to go back and relive all you’d lived to get back to the same place at the same time. In the end even that wouldn’t give us so much as a fighters chance of creating the events necessary to ensure another 5-10 years with each other.

The truth is had we met earlier I wouldn’t have been ‘the one’ yet and you may not have been either, though I have a harder time thinking that. Truth is we had to get to where we met, separately. In hindsight it was the only way it could have happened. Had you met me earlier you’d have met an even more imperfect man.

But we didn’t meet earlier. Life knew when and where you were going to be and made sure that I was ready. Made sure I had resolved my old and musty issues and was better able to understand how little I knew. Made sure I had learned, even if only in theory, that the person you love and commit to is not meant to be the end of the challenges and the resolution of all discomforts but rather they are your help and comfort while facing them. Life made sure I knew that it was my job to be that for you, too. That the dream of finding someone to love and be loved by was not the equivalent of going on permanent vacation. That it was not your pillows fluffed and your sheets turned down and rooms cleaned magically and freshly stocked paper products everywhere you looked. It was not nonstop nights of endless passion and wine and late night bathroom window cigarettes and days full of endless entertainment.

Wedding DayLife brought us to the same place at a time when we were ready to commit. To face the challenges and monotony and joys and unknown glories of having someone to do it all with. To commit not only to someone that could make the highs pure bliss, but also someone who could endure the lows, tell you your crazy and put up with the issues you haven’t resolved. Someone who will love you if you never resolve them. Someone who can write all these things at 12:51 in the morning after we didn’t have our best goodnight ever and never ever have to worry that that means anything other than we each have to figure out what it is we have to apologize for. Because this is real. I’m forever thankful for you. You absorb my frustrations and reflect my joys. You make the bad times quick and the good times permanent. I hope I can do at least some of the same for you.

None of this could have happened any earlier than it did no matter how much later it was than either of us might have expected it.

That said, it does leave me sad in one specific way.

I’m thrilled that Charlie is who he is and that Teddy is who he is. Specifically. Had it been another time they would have been other people. They wouldn’t exist as we know them. So in that sense I’m so happy it happened when it did.  But now I’m left looking at them and thinking…

‘I wish I could have met you sooner so I could have had more time with you.’

imageIt’s impossible for me not to project out now that they are with us. It’s hard to look down the road and know that at 20 I’m whispering to 60.  The math gets more unnerving from there. I’m not going to live forever. It’s something that hit me the second our first was born. Perhaps I’m dumb. We all know it doesn’t last forever. To say that it occurred to me at the moment Charlie was born is to somehow suggest I hadn’t known it all along. I did. I mean I knew people died and I knew I was a person. So, ipso facto and ergo and whatnot. But not like now. Now I’m going to die on my kids. I mean, even in the best case scenarios I die and leave them behind. But at my age the chance is it’s going to be when I would have been too young for my parents to go.

I didn’t learn to even start appreciating my parents until my 30’s. Not in the way they deserved. Not in the way that’s a bit more reflective of the amazing job they did  And my god, I’ve needed them more these days than I can ever remember needing them. I understand how silly and sweet that sentiment must sound to them. I ‘get them’ now that I’m a parent.  It must be cute to them to think I think I ‘need them’ now more than ever. Because those early days, my prehistory, the prehistory that is the equivalent to the one my kids are living now, concurrent with the peak of vibrant life for me are days they won’t  remember. They’re our days, actually, not theirs. Theirs come later. And I was their third. Of six. And there were a few more. I have two and I’ve needed them for all of it.

It worries me to no end that I’ll die while they still need me. The early days are just like that, and I’m still in the early days. But the deeper fear is that I’ll die without them being ready, without them being of an age or established in the life that will be there’s to live, that’s the one I can’t shake. I know no one is ever ready. I know I won’t be. But I’ll have a home, a wife and a job and my boys. I fear leaving them before they have any of this. Before they have roots.

There’s also a selfish piece to it all. I want to live long enough for them to forgive all the things we’ll get wrong and to see us as people, who loved them all the way through, even through the hard times when they couldn’t see why we did what we did. Through the times when we get it wrong. When they couldn’t see the love that was at the root of it all. Because having kids and being a parent and a spouse, it’s made me understand my parents in a way nothing else could. It made me love them in a way that’s oddly equivalent to how much I loved them when I was just Charlie and Teddy’s ages now, when they were my whole world and I was theirs and it made all of us special. There’s a symmetry now and I can see all that they did. I once again think of my parents as something so much more than ‘just people’. It’s your job to realize that they are in fact just people as you depart your family of origin. You have to see them for all their humanity and in that you find shortcomings and magnify them. It’s a part of your liftoff you have to exercise. It’s the balance to those years when they were the sun and the moon. It provides you perspective. But if you’re lucky enough, like I am, you get to come around on that later and see how superhuman their lives have been. I’m back to a place where I can tell them unabashedly how much their love means to me. How much I love them. I want that with my boys. I want to make it there.

‘I wish I’d met them earlier so we would have had more time together.’

Author: joejmedler

Joe Medler lives in New Jersey with his wife, who is universally understood to be far too good for him, and his two young sons, who are far too smart for him. His work has been featured on MamaLode, The Original Bunker Punks and Sammiches and Psych Meds. You can find more of his work at https://developingdad.com/ and follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/developingdad

30 thoughts on “I Wish I’d Met You Earlier”

  1. And yet, all things happen in their time, and there is no way to know the path ahead. In the meantime, it sounds as though you are being mindful of how much meaning that path ahead could hold, and are ensuring that the NOW is as right and deep and wonder-filled as it can be.

    A gorgeous piece though, but you’re right – before, you wouldn’t have been ready, not being the Now You.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so so much. It’s true. Not knowing can be blissful for fleeting moments and anxiety inducing for epochs.. Got to go along for the ride and get and give as much as we can… Thank you again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had this thought before as my wife and I met when we were in our 30’s. Like you said or at least implied, I don’t think we would have worked at that point. There were experiences we had to go through and ways in which we had to develop to be right for each other.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh Joe! Your words speak volumes to me! Beautiful!

    And they will and you will and believe it or not all your worries and doubts and concerns are just that. At this age, children are filled with forgiveness and in the future, when you hold that first grandchild in your arms, your children will look at you and get all of it.

    “I wish I’d met you earlier!” How that statement is said by so many of us for so many reasons! Volumes Joe! You write in volumes!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gretchen, wow! Thank you so so much for this and all of your very thoughtful comments and for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. You have no idea how much it means to me. Sincerely. Means the world to me… I’ve learned my concerns are just that, concerns. But I’ve also learned that I only figure that out when I take them out of my head and can look at them in the light of day. You’re the best..


  4. Wow..after reading this, my eyes are like teary already.. I was touched by your post because right now I’m very far from my parents. I’m a married woman now living with my husband, and being a Mother to my children really open up my eyes for the wonderful things my parents have done for me and my sibling. I missed them so much I wanna go home! thanks for this post joe!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So much love in this post! Beautifully written. 🙂 I am fortunate that I met my husband in high school and we dated right after we graduated. Although we broke up a few times throughout, I knew he was the man I wanted to marry. I do feel like I got so a lot of time with him as we grew up together and now as we grow old together. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. They say hindsight is 20/20 but it is not. You tend to only see the good on the path not chosen, because you didn’t have consequences, surprises, or pitfalls. And, every “wrong” decision came with a lesson that made you (both) better for each other. You are so right in this & while we say things so tongue in cheek sometimes-the cliches become so meaningless when you think them through.

    BTW, Hope you don’t mind but…
    You’ve been nominated 🙂

    Blogger Recognition Award
    The Rules
    Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you
    Give a brief story of how your blog got started
    Give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers
    Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog
    List those you’ve nominated in the post and comment on their blogs to let them know you’ve nominated them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great piece! As a mom of three who started having kids at 35 (final one at 41) I can totally relate. I guess the advantage to having kids later is the experience and understanding. You’ve done the self-indulgent thing, the soul-searching and the drama. But by the time you hit 35, you realize all these things are temporary, fleeting. And that “big deals” of your 20s weren’t really that big. They wouldn’t be the same kids and you wouldn’t be the same parent if you had them earlier…


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