I have a two year old daughter… I should probably start by telling you that, or the rest of this article will seem entirely like conjecture. If you have a child too, I hope yours came with better instructions than mine, because so far the only real advice I’ve received is “Try not to kill her, and you’ll figure the rest out as you go.” The fact that this was given to me by a total stranger (a nurse at the hospital), told me that I was in for a real challenge.
Now, I’ve never really been what you would call an overly emotional person. Sure, I cried tears of joy when the Cubs won the World Series (didn’t we all?), but never at weddings or a funeral, or even at the beginning of Up (which, I’m told, is incredibly sad for most people). I’ve noticed, however, that since Quinn has been born, there are many emotions that I hadn’t considered before. Seeing her try things for the first time, or solve a problem for herself, or even just the times that she wants to cuddle on the couch and watch cartoons (currently, her favorite is the 80’s run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), has put a near perpetual lump in my throat.
Freemasonry teaches us that our emotions are a normal part of our existence, and that (when handled properly) can make us more well rounded people. In addition to teaching us to keep our passions circumscribed, it teaches us that while traversing that circle we can and should experience the whole range of emotions, instead of staying safely at the center point.
I’ve also found myself contemplating my own mortality more than ever before. Being a bit morbid, I’ve always had a fascination with my own demise, however death has generally existed more as something that happens to other, weaker people, people who weren’t strong enough to keep fighting for their existence. Of course, on an intellectual level, I knew that I, myself, would also die one day, however I never truly accepted the reality of the situation until having a child.
You see, children force us to think about the future, and in the future lies a time beyond our existence. For all of us, that day creeps closer and closer, so we start to make plans, and backup plans, contingency plans, worst case scenario plans, and even “if everything goes just perfectly, this could work” plans, to prepare our children to be able to live without us.
While having a child has made me focus on the future, it has also helped me to gain a greater respect for the past. I’ve been lucky in my Masonic career to meet men from so many different generations, and each has taught me something valuable when it comes to raising a child. Watching everything going on in the world, I definitely appreciate a simpler time with less things to worry about; I know my parents never had to worry about what I was watching on a tablet...
Children are, Masonically speaking, rather expensive. Money that was once going to our Masonic habit is suddenly being redirected to things like clothing, diapers, food, and whatever the heck an aspirator is. So far, my experience has been that as they age they become more expensive, and I see no reason to expect this trend to change until the time comes that I’m entirely destitute.
Finally, I’ve found that having a child makes it very difficult to ever get around to finishing anything that I start. This article, for instance, was started nearly five months ago, and no amount of editing has made it read any better than it did when I first started writing it. The ending, which tied it all together both intelligently and eloquently, was unfortunately overwritten by the Troll Holiday special (no, I have no idea how that’s possible, let’s just go with it, or this will sit on my computer for another five months before being revisited).