Being a parent takes a lot of energy because you’ve got to be there, in the fullest sense of the word, for your kids. It’s not exactly a spectator sport. You’ve got to be engaged, full on.
When I was fat, that was hard. Damn near impossible.
At 340 pounds, I didn’t have a lot of energy to begin with, and what I did have was almost entirely consumed by the tremendous effort it took to simply move through the world in a body of that size.
Sure, we’d go out and do things, me and the kids, but more often than not, those outings were to places where they could run around and get their ya-ya’s out – the park, or the beach, maybe – but also someplace where I could sit down while keeping a watchful eye.
The key phrase there is, sit down. Full and active participation on my part was usually not on the agenda.
Sometimes, though, we’d have a go at something that demanded a bit more action: we’d play ball.
Some families play soccer. Others play lacrosse. Our house is a baseball house. I grew up playing baseball. As the fat kid I was, of course, the catcher on my Little League team. I wasn’t very fast, but I could hit a bit, I had decent reflexes and I could peg it down to second base on the fly, so I got some regular playing time.
I was glad to have it. I loved the game. Still do.
So when my kids were old enough to hold a ball, they learned to throw. As they grew into it, we’d take a bucket of balls sometimes in the spring and go to the park to play. We’d throw it around a bit, and then work on hitting.
Over time, though, as the pounds piled on, it got harder and harder for me to keep up.
For a lot of kids, throwing a baseball isn’t something that comes naturally and throwing one accurately is never easy, even if you’ve got fully developed gross motor skills. Throws go wide. They sail. They come up short and bounce past you. And so it goes.
So I mastered the fat-guy run; that sad, half-assed trot where there’s an exaggerated spring in your step and your arms swing wide in a grotesque parody of running, a farcical performance meant to convey to yourself and your watching children that you’re still in the game despite the extra pounds, that sure you might’ve lost a step or two, but that’s just age and has nothing to do with weight because, look, you can still get out there with your kids and have some fun.
Truth be told, though, after chasing down a dozen or so errant throws, I was about cashed.
Today, 13 months post-op and down 165 pounds, I can play ball with my kids. I can run. And I can keep up, on the field and off.
Here’s what I mean: a few weeks ago, I took my daughters to see Taylor Swift on a Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. We’d been planning the trip for months, and it was their first concert. A big deal.
So I bought a ticket and drove from Portland to Bangor, arriving just as Anthrax, one of the opening acts, was launching into a cover of Joe Jackson tune.
Slayer rocked. When it was over, I got in the van and drove back to Portland. I got home around 3 a.m. and caught what sleep I could. Sleep never comes easy after a Slayer show.
The next day, though, we all piled in and went to Foxborough to see TayTay. Say what you might about her latest record, the fact is she brought it and brought it all that night. It was a solid show, and for a good part of it I couldn’t hear what she was playing because most of 70,000 people were singing along, loudly.
It was nothing less than a marathon weekend of rock that spanned genres, of pomp and spectacle and towering pyrotechnics, on both ends.
And it was something I could not have done a year ago. I simply wouldn’t have had the energy or the stamina. A year ago, I couldn’t have done a marathon anything.
I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise, like the headline says, but to me it was – after all, 340 is powerful heavy – and I realize now how much I missed during all those years when I was hauling around that weight.
And while I can’t ever get that time back, I can be around – really around – for my wife and kids now.
And so I will.
Ed. note: I know, I know, there’s supposed to be three things on this list, and there are three things on this list – and you won’t believe what’s next! Seriously, though, click that subscribe button over there. It’s gonna be fun, I promise.