Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 35

with 3 comments

I read a study today (ie: I read the headline of an article summarizing a study) that said that young couples with kids are less happy than their childless peers.  That changes when couples get into their 50’s and the kids are older.  That study corroborates my thesis (ie: the thing I’ve said more than twice in frustration) that “Kids ruin everything.”  The truth is, of course, I love my kids.  But they’re also very hard.  Not my kids in particular, I’m sure– certainly the headline of a summary I scanned would suggest otherwise– but I sometimes look at other kids and think, “Hmm, they’re easier.”  I’m sure if they were my kids they wouldn’t be easier because they would have to deal with me and I would have to use my limited parenting instincts to deal with things I can’t control like their personalities.  Or maybe I’m too hard on myself.  I once read a survey (ie: a friend asked me a question she had seen in Cosmo) that asked, “Would you like yourself if you met yourself objectively?”  My first thought was, “probably not.”  But not for the reasons you might think.  I think I’d be jealous of myself: I’d wish I was as successful as Other Me or as motivated as Other Me or as funny as Other Me or even as good a parent as Other Me.  (At the time I had included “as in shape as Other Me” but the other day I saw this poor chubby bastard with a white beard staring me at the gym and I thought “Man, I hope I’m in better shape when I’m his age” before I realized I was looking in a mirror.)   Today, without a mirror in sight, I thought, “I’m doing better than Other Me.”

As I write this, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a friend the other day who’s close friend is a famous Physicist who just wrote a New York Times best seller about parallel universes (yeah, my friend and I hang in a different crowd).  My friend explained that there’s a notion that whenever you have a decision to make, ie: whether to cross a street or keep going, and you cross the street, say, there’s another “you” in a parallel universe that decided to keep going.  I offered, “like the movie Sliding Doors!” and my friend realized that he and I were in separate universes also.  Probably my most critical juncture in my life came when I decided to leave the show “Friends” after season two (I got out just in time before they started throwing money at writers to stay).  In hindsight, of course, it was a career decision equivalent of letting a girlfriend take naked pictures of you (thankfully that never happened).  Of course, in the plus column, leaving ‘Friends’ sent me to Dreamworks where I met my wife and we are living happily ever after thank you very much.  I’ve said this before, but when they say you can’t put a price on a good marriage, I can: around $10 million, which is what leaving Friends cost me.  I wonder, then, if there’s a Parallel Jeff who stayed on Friends, and if there is, I know he’s made more money than I have, but I don’t think he’s doing better than I am (although, yes, he dated Jennifer Aniston, get over it everyone who doesn’t believe that would have happened.)

So, how does this relate to my day?  Here’s how: Last night, at the advice of the Parenting Expert, my wife and I played a game of “Detective” with the kids at the Friday night dinner table.  The goal of the game is just to have an open conversation with your kids and get them to ask you questions.  The Expert said to answer the questions honestly, it doesn’t matter what the questions or answers are, it’s just about dialogue.  I started the game and told my daughter to ask me anything, anything at all.  The mood was high, we were playing a game!  My daughter then asked, “What was your life like when you were my age?”  I thought for a second, hearing the Expert say, “be honest” and honestly answered, “Well, my life wasn’t that great.  My parents were about to get divorced and they were fighting a lot and that was hard on me.”  My daughter’s face sunk, my wife looked down at her salmon and after a moment it was time for a new game.  Sure, Other Jeff would have handled it better, and Parallel Jeff who would have been in a nicer house or at a fancy restaurant, probably wouldn’t have had to answer such a question, but it felt good to be honest with my daughter.  And it also felt good to know that I wasn’t in that kind of relationship with my wife.

That notion was reinforced today as we had lunch with two other couples, and three out of the four of them were in second marriages.  I don’t think there’s a stigma attached to being divorced anymore; I have lots of friends and two parents who have done it, but I’m really grateful it’s not me.  And I also know that it could have been.  And maybe should have been.  When I was with my Crazy Ex I had pictured not only marrying her but having two kids and divorcing her, all in the same fantasy.  I hope that Parallel Jeff is not dealing with that, because it would have been hell.  And when I looked around the table and saw my kids, I felt happy knowing that I wouldn’t be dropping them off at their mother’s house, or worse, picking them up to stay at my studio apartment, asking if Mommy has any new friends staying over.  As I look forward to the next 65 days, and way beyond that, even though I don’t know what my professional job will be, I know with reasonable certainty that my main job will be as a husband to my fantastic, patient wife, and as a dad to kids who a random study suggests, will only make my life better.  That makes this Jeff feel pretty good about himself.  Besides, it could be worse, look at that old fat guy on the other side of my computer screen.  Oh, wait, never mind…


Written by 100daysoff

March 19, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Beautifully written. Your thoughts and stories were touching to read. Everyone should have this level of awareness of their blessings. Hats off to you, Jeff 🙂

    Allen Battino

    March 20, 2011 at 12:16 pm

  2. hilarious & poignant at the same time! really like your blog! hope you and the family are doing well – bracha

    Bracha Wosner

    March 21, 2011 at 5:50 am

  3. Jeff.. Loving your blog although I am always several days behind. But this one was funny before I even started to read it… As you mentioned on another day is the ads that come up on the iPhone… Today’s ad says… free Parenting help… Tips on what to do about homework, self-esteem, lying, etc. It was funny. On a side note… It is so charming how you write so fondly about your wife. She is a lucky woman.


    March 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

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