Uncle Bob leads an all-ages, late-night dance party on the Sullivan Family vacation.

It’s Father’s Day weekend and I’m packing up the minivan for our family vacation and really appreciating the stow-and-go seating/storage feature. I should be shopping for a new car, but I just can’t quit the stow-and-go. That’s some seriously middle-aged thinking, isn’t it?

It has occurred to me lately that were a stranger to describe me they wouldn’t be entirely off base if they used the term middle-aged. And let’s face it, when I see those people on the Progressive Insurance commercials about becoming your parents I think “rookies” … so it’s possible I have crossed a threshold.

I’m at an age where if I shopped for a sporty car or at least something red it would be a predictable move. I used to think those guys were just fooling themselves into feeling younger but now I’m trying to be more understanding. Maybe they feel like they are running out of time and just need to get where they are going faster? Personally, I don’t know if I’m ready to sacrifice space for perceived coolness so I’m probably going to look at another minivan, a hybrid if I’m feeling frisky. I can commute to and from work every day using only electricity. Who says a mid-life crisis can’t be pragmatic?

Crisis seems like a dramatic word for it anyway. Sure, you become weirdly intimate with your weather app and you tend to overthink things like I am doing right now as I pack the van: Do I really need to bring beer? It takes up a lot of precious cargo room. I mean, they do sell beer out at the beach, but will they have the kind of beer I like? The low calorie, low alcohol but still tastes like a half-way decent IPA and doesn’t give me a hangover kind of beer? These are important, sensible, middle-aged considerations.

A decade ago when I was toting toddlers it was all forearms and stamina but now with a teenager and a pre-teen it’s more mental gymnastics and gray hairs. This fall, Elliott heads off to high school and Margo starts middle school and my status is morphing from “Dad Life” to “it’s complicated.” So, it goes I suppose but can we even fully trust a guy who doesn’t have any gray hair? Bald guys are even better. I like to surround myself with guys who are far enough removed from their playing days that they don’t feel the need to mention them.  We can all ride a bike, and we all suck at golf so the playing field is level and we can compete on more important things like who grills the best meats.

I have been working out a lot lately too which is another telltale sign that a guy might be going through something. But as an embedded reporter from these trenches, I want to relay that the exercise has little to do with honing my beach physique. It’s a mental game at play. The space between my ears can get more cluttered than my garage so working up a good sweat to start the day points me in the right direction. Now if your guy starts shaving his chest or wearing tank tops by all means – throw the penalty flag and call it a crisis. But shy of that, let him work it all out. It’s good for him.

A Father’s Day gift to me would be if the need for bathroom breaks aligns on our long drive to the Outer Banks. Once we’re out there I plan on evening out my sun damage and maybe catching a fish. But I wanted to give a quick shout out to my middle-aged brethren – I feel you, I see you, I am you. I hope you all had a great Father’s Day. Cheers and remember, it’s not a crisis. This is only just the middle!


Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at tim@sullivanfinerugs.com.

Tim Sullivan

Tim Sullivan is an award-winning columnist who writes about family life and thinks everything is at least a little funny. tim@sullivanfinerugs.com