Not forever anyway. Never forever.

The most repeated and perfect piece of advice given to parents of small children is “enjoy it while it lasts”.

The most repeated and perfect piece of advice given to young lovers is “enjoy it while it lasts”.

Your early-middle-aged office affair will feel sordid by comparison, your marriage already stripped and mined to nothing. And then there’s the fallout. And then there’s the small apartment with the bathroom ceiling fan that sounds like an asthmatic phantom, and the custody, and the travel logistics, and the realization that you don’t have a suitable pan to make a stir fry.

Your adult relationship with your grown children will be pale, a ghost of what it was when they were seven, and four. At twenty-four they may have finally come back to appreciating you, but it will be filled with compromise and denial, shaken and moved permanently by the landslip of cultural shift and the shocks of cultural upheaval and personal revelation. You will always be somewhat of a curiosity and the butt of so many jokes through the tint of their youthful confidence, their inescapable generational groupthink.

Don’t think a pet will do it. Despite your best ideas, you’ll be a hollowed old sap with muddy jeans, a dog-hair-covered fleece, and a slobbery wake-up-call every day at 5:45. That cat won’t care for you, but it’ll observe your despair. The lizard won’t even do that.

And then later, you’ll be a burden.