Night and Day

by Fletcher McDonald

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My mother used to sing to me when I was  little. The ABC’s, surely; Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, I remember. A Korean nursery rhyme as well. 

My mom was born in Korea, post-World War II, post-Japanese occupation, post-Korean War. My grandmother was a literal refugee in both wars, fleeing for her life and the lives of her children at various points and suffering no small number of personal tragedies. 

Korea was a third world country for a while, not the industrial powerhouse it is today. There wasn’t a Samsung, an LG or any manufacturing. 

Hey, the U.S. didn’t have Apple yet. People still used calculators and landlines. People didn’t have cell phones. 

The world fifty years ago doesn’t resemble the world today, not at all. 

Honestly, what did people do before the internet, really?

 

My mother used to sing to me, in English and Korean, when I was a little boy. She loved the Beatles, and rock, and still does, although now she only really listens to gospel.

She used to sing to me, “You are my sunshine.” I tried the same for my twin girls. The song is as sweet as it is dependent. The last line, “so please don’t take my sunshine away,” has markedly different connotations as a parent than as a child. 

 

I didn’t understand that until I had kids. I’m not a helicopter parent, I don’t think. I’m not faint-hearted; I don’t cry when they cry. I don’t panic when they have a cough. 

I laugh when they laugh. I smile and they smile – I’m not sure who smiles first. When I walk into the room and either daughter smiles at me, it makes my day. 

If I compare my life before and after they were born. . . then it’s night and day.

By comparison, everything before was just a little bit… less. 

I was motivated, but looking back… just less. 

I enjoyed life before… just less. 

I cared about the people in my life… just less. Lol. 

Life is just better now. Life has a purpose. 

 

I have a friend who is a climber and he told me that after climbing, everything is turned down a notch, muted a little bit.

I agree. 

When you’re presented with your own mortality, it puts things in perspective.

Having kids definitely puts things in perspective.

It’s the front end, not the back end of a life that you’re presented with. It really makes you think.

I cared about this or that before. I cared what people thought of me. I cared about the car I drove or the shine on my shoes or a multitude of other things. 

Ya know. . . I still do. 

I had kids, and it’s like inside me, a switch was flicked. 

Damn, I care. 

I care about everything, but in better proportion. Things that didn’t really matter really don’t matter, and the things that do, I realize and treat accordingly. Things change, and things did change.

I didn’t care much before, but now I do. My kids – they’re my reason. 

Night and Day, they’re my sunshine. 

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