Coming clean: I suffer from TMS and it’ll be years before there’s a cure
Let’s get one thing out of the way early: My fiancée is ten years younger than me.
The 1980s are merely part of the history books to her. To Tawny, “hair metal” refers to a barrette from Claire’s Jewelry.
Other than during the first few months of dating however, (a period in which she frequently compared me to a dinosaur and even gifted me several triceratops collectibles) this has only been strange for other people. She and I actually settled into a rather streamlined partnership a while ago, and we honestly rarely even consider the decade discrepancy. We share the same values, love each other’s families, and generally enjoy the same activities (I even got her to be a Niner fan!).
There is, however, one inevitable point of contention the age difference brings into stunningly sharp focus: Children.
You see, I have the “dad gene” and I’ve felt its influence for several years now.
The dad gene is that particular hereditary unit that predisposes some men to want to push strollers, sing lullabies and coo in baby talk for hours on end. Those who really succumb to the genetic pull develop a condition known as Ted Mosby Syndrome (TMS) (Look up How I Met Your Mother for additional information on this debilitating disease). Thankfully, so far, I’m only Stage I.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled I didn’t have kids with my ex. I know all too well the toll that divorce can take on children, and I also realize that when Tawny met me at the age of 21, she probably would have gone sprinting in the opposite direction had she spotted me sporting a chrome Baby Jogger City Select. (Side note: Have you seen the canopy model with extra seats and handlebar brakes? Check these bad boys out: http://www.babyjogger.com/product/city-select/). Yeah, just try and tell me those cruisers ain’t sexy.
Tawny, however, is in the midst of law school. After law school, she’ll need to prepare for the Bar Exam. After passing the bar, she’ll need to locate and settle down in a career. And unfortunately for me, every part of this process makes perfect sense to proceed childless. After all, I don’t suspect the third trimester of pregnancy is all too easy during an 80-hour-per-week internship, never mind everything subsequent (I hear labor, breast-feeding and sleep deprivation are all a wee bit tough as well). And to be fair, there’s no way in hell I was ready to be a parent at 24.
To her credit (and another reason we make a great team), Tawny is exceptionally cognizant of my deteriorating TMS. We both made the same decision: to date someone just outside the edges of our respective life stages (i.e., mid 20s vs. early 30s – OK, OK, mid 30s! sheesh, leave me alone). She listens to me about my desires for fatherhood, assures me I’ll make a great dad even if I do have a hairline as narrow as a V-neck, and allows me to feel perfectly justified in my love of children.
And I will do the same for her. She has worked hard to arrive at where she is today, and for her I am willing to be as patient as need be. For now, I’m content being the doggy dad. I’ll be the cool “older brother” to her kid sister. I’ll be the godfather to my best friend’s son. I’ll be the uncle to an awesome group of nieces and nephews. I’ll be the best rent-a-dad my friends and family could ask for.
I’ll do this because as luck or fate would have it, the person who gets me the most just happens to be at a different life experience milestone than me.
But you can bet that when the time does come we’re getting the fully equipped chrome convertible Baby Jogger.