Thirty years ago this week, our first flippered mermaid was born. After a carefree engagement and first four years of marriage, suddenly everything changed with the arrival of this little bundle of joy. Being new parents, we immediately began to baby-proof our first home and realized we really needed to work at this parenting thing. Thirty years later, the first born was strutting down Surf Avenue in Coney Island with the rest of her fishy school of friends for the Mermaid Parade. Who knew!
Back then, the chief mermaid kicked into mother gear, a gear I did not even know existed. Completely unbeknownst to me, all chief mermaids are genetically engineered to move into this phase at some point or other either for their own or other minnows. I watched in amazement, as my work was done the nine months prior, and this new phase of nesting and mothering moved us forward. I was now operating in very deep water, but the waves were smooth, and the skies were clear, and I was able to follow her sage lead.
Our social life changed quite a bit back then too, not gradually, but pretty abruptly. At first, I thought we could live the same way, but it became clear that the priorities had changed and all for the right reasons. Friends who hadn’t yet made this transition, were skeptical at first but soon came to realize as well that change was required. It was about this time both the mermaid and I realized that a lot of the answers to our questions were probably sitting in the minds of the two King Neptunes and their Queen Mermaids, better known as our parents. While we had only half-listened in the past, it was really important to get them to share what they knew about this process we were headlong into: parenting a baby!
Turns out they had been waiting quite a long time to pass this information on too. For they too had been genetically engineered for this role that they now were happily enjoying: grandparenting. Whoever this “Master Engineer” was, was really onto something. There were two more deliveries over the years, adding to the abundance of joy that we were blessed with. I would like to say it got easier, but that’s not entirely true, because every spirit is different. But I can tell you this, it always got better.
This Father’s Day I looked around at this little group that started off with one delivery 30 years ago and wondered to myself how lucky I got to be here for it all. My own father at 90 is still with us in every way, leading with wisdom and warm cheer. The chief mermaid has never truly stepped down from her role as chief worrier about the minnows that now are like full-grown dolphins! And I sense more transitions on the horizon, but all good, and all for the right reasons. Maybe I’m just an optimist, but that’s how I was taught to see life.
The key with life-changing events is that every day there is an event that changes our lives. Sometimes the events are small and imperceptible, and sometimes they are seismic, but the key is always to face them and move forward with them. Kind of like a riptide, just let it take you wherever it’s going and then once it’s finished, slowly make your way back to shore. Believe me — the sun will be shining!