The Anniversary Men
Talk about time marching on. This week, my 29-year-old son, Jay, celebrates his third wedding anniversary, just as I celebrate my 33rd! Good grief, I must be getting old. First, because I have a 29-year-old, and second because I’ve been married 33 — count ‘em — 33 years! I started thinking back on my third anniversary and reflecting on where I was in my life compared to where Jay and the world is on his third. Times, they are a changing!
I was 28 on our third anniversary, Jay is 29 on his, so some similarity there. Robin and I were living in a fairly small North Texas community, where I was just starting my practice as a clinical psychologist. I was an absolute dyed-in-the-wool workaholic, literally working 18 to 20 hours a day. I had a clinical practice (Fees were about $35 or $40 an hour!) I’ve always kind of had a strategy of marketing my education in non-traditional ways, so in addition to a typical therapy practice, I also saw patients at the hospital for pain and chronic disease management and rehab, and I even did work in the corporate arena, doing management and leaderships training for businesses like banks and manufacturing plants. I worked relentlessly and stayed very, very busy. I was just totally on the run, determined to conquer my corner of the world!
In comparison to the student poverty we had been in for a number of years, Robin and I were living it up because I had a “real job.” HA! By “living it up,” I mean we occasionally went to the movies and out to eat at restaurants where you actually looked down — rather than up — at the menu and didn’t order by number! We bought a small but nice three-bedroom home in a nice neighborhood. It was a house I wasn’t in much because of working. Thank the Lord Robin was a woman of patience.
Back then, I didn’t understand balance. I didn’t understand balancing my work life and home life. We did a lot of great things together. But I just thought my first duty in that era was to do whatever it took to be a success. Somehow, despite that, we sure had a lot of fun and have such great memories of that time.
Fast forward three decades. Jay is, by all standards, a very successful young man. He has obtained his bachelor’s degree from University of Texas and a law degree from Southern Methodist University, and he is now running his own television production company, Stage 29, in Los Angeles, creating a variety of projects, both for the networks and for syndication. (You’ve probably seen the new hit syndicated talk show that he created, The Doctors.)
He’s a hard worker. Yet, he is far more balanced than I was when my third anniversary came around. He knows how to balance work and fun, career and home. He definitely takes more time than I did back in the day to go out with his wife, travel with her, cook out in the backyard and just hang out. While I wasn’t great at that when I had been married three years, I will take some credit for Jay’s lifestyle, because I learned from my mistakes, and I spent a lot of time before he got married talking to him about that balance. But he put it all into action — and for that, I give him a lot of credit.
However, Jay, if you are reading this, and I know you are, I do need to mention one little thing to you. You might be thinking, “Hey, the boy here is a little bit ahead of his Old Man right now on the ‘ol marriage curve.” And yes, I admit, career-wise, you’re way ahead of the game: You are being a great hubby to your beautiful wife, Erica, and even a pretty good cat owner to Bizant, the hairless cat. But, and this is an important but, on my third anniversary in 1979, Robin was eight months pregnant — with you! HA!
So, come on, kid, get with the program, hint, hint. Your mom and dad are looking for some grandkids over here. Step it up. Pick up the slack. We’re getting old you know … well at least I am. Your mother never seems to age!!
Congratulations, Jay and Erica, on three great years. And I promise you, you’ll love the journey, just as I have, to 33 and on.