Every year at my company, we drive up to Mammoth for four days for a company retreat. There is usually a combination of team building sessions, outdoor activities, and eating copious amounts of bacon and/or M&Ms.
During my first retreat, we went on an afternoon hike up Lembert Dome to work off said bacon and/or M&Ms. Although the hike was supposed to be leisurely, I struggled because of the altitude (i.e. out of shape). As we approached the top, dirt, snow, and trees gave way to rock, so I knew we were getting close to the peak. “One more hill!” someone would shout, so I was pretty motivated to make it to that one hill. When we finally got to that point, I found out that indeed there was one more hill.
When I got to that point there was yet again one more hill. I started to notice a pattern. Once I got to what I really thought was the top of Lambert Dome, the true top was in fact a quarter of a mile in front of me. The view was pretty awesome where I was and I don’t think 100 feet more altitude would make the view that much more awesome.
Fast forward 19 months. My wife was out of town for four days to attend a wedding. It was just me and Dylan. I had the flu. What would usually be just a little more challenging because I was on my own became a lot more challenging. I had to focus extra hard to compensate for wooziness and fatigue so that my usual clumsiness wouldn’t spiral into child endangerment. The extra focus made me even more tired.
“Just make it through this awake cycle.”
“Just make it through bathtime.”
“Just make it to his sleep time.”
Each night as I collapsed in a heap on the bed in a haze of NyQuil and chicken noodle soup, I managed to recharge only enough to make it through the next day. At the end of the second day as Dylan lay falling asleep in my lap I teared up either out of sheer exhaustion or because I caught something in my eye. Probably the latter. Yeah, I remember now. Totally the latter. Day four eventually came, my wife came back, and the flu went away (to later be replaced with strep throat, a cold, and a sinus infection, but at least I wasn’t alone).
Back at that hike, little did I know that would be one of the last times I would be allowed to say, “Alright, no more hills, I’m good here.” Being a parent is like “just one more hill”, except you can’t just stop. Actually, you can’t even think of it as “just one more hill”, unless you’re mentally prepared to think of parenthood as 20 years of hills.
Wherever you are at, just enjoy the time you are there before you have to move on, because one day you will look back and be sad that time is gone. When Dylan was six months old, I would rock him to sleep in my arms and get to partake in the amazing calm and serenity that is watching a baby sleep. He’s 11 months now and is too big to be cradled to sleep. There is no more watching him fall asleep like that. That time is gone now. Seeing each phase as a time to remember instead of a hill makes the hard times less hard, if even only a little while.
On an unrelated yet related note, what’s up with TV shows and hills?…