Partners & Parents

Dad Advice: Learning to be Still

I currently work two jobs.

I am also the father of two… let’s call them “rambunctious” five-year-old twin boys.

My wife is a hard working and dedicated teacher.

Our life can be hectic at times. Each day is a constant cycle of getting the kids up, dressed, fed and off to school and then scurrying back to the house to begin my workday. My brief breaks from work are often consist of shoveling down a quick meal while I attempt to get some work done for my second job. Then at 3:15 it’s off to the corner to pick the fellas from the bus stop, make them a quick snack, and get back to work until 5. After work, I’ll generally make dinner for my family and settle down for some sort of activity with the boys (their current favorite is vintage video games so it’s hard to complain too much.) Then it’s a bath time, during which, I have been sneaking off during to write or review a piece someone has sent me while my wonderful wife cleanses our ragamuffin children. When the boys finally are tucked in and asleep for the night, it’s usually all my wife and I can muster to stagger back down the couch, consume some hidden junk food, and watch a few hours of television while playing on our respective phones.

The soundtrack of my day is Frank Sinatra, followed by Oldies and, as my work frustration crescendos, 90’s Punk Rock. This is broken up by phone calls from clients, text message alerts from the school, emails, clerical work, and the various other tasks associated with my job. Sometimes, I’ll even throw on a movie I’ve seen dozens of times or reruns of a favorite TV show, just to break up the silence of working from home.

 

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The evenings are filled with the beautiful sounds of my children’s laughter interspersed with the annoying, over the top fake laughter of a certain orange suspendered and bespectacled host from my kids’ current favorite television host. This laughter is bookended by the battle cries, tears and whining that comes from having more than one child.

My day is filled with sensation and I’m bombarded with it. Music, television, work, conversations, text messages, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. My attention, both physical and mental is constantly being constantly pulled in so many different directions.

Then, tonight, I tried something different.

The boys were fairly engaged in the wonder that is Kinetic Sand. My wife was quietly recuperating on the couch from a long drive home from her first week of the new school year. It had been torrentially downpouring for hours. Nobody really noticed as I slipped out to the garage and opened the door. I retrieved a folding camp chair from it’s hook on the wall and just sat there, staring out at the rain.

I considered reaching for my phone, and then remembered I’d forgotten to plug it in the night before, so I had left it charging in my bedroom. I continued to sit there, staring out at the rain bouncing off my car. No music or television to fill the void, just raindrops coming to earth and the occasional rustle of trees as the wind would pick up. For 15 minutes, I sat, alone with my thoughts and the rain. I went back into the house. The boys had shifted from playing to watching a little television before bed. They were more or less settled, so I grabbed a drink and headed back out to my camp chair. For the first time in a long time, I experienced stillness. In that stillness, I found peace.

I think, as parents, we all need to find the occasional few moments of stillness. A time when we can let go of all the input we are constantly receiving and just reconnect with ourselves by disconnecting from all the things that normally fill our day.

Nothing compliments the chaos of parenthood like a quiet moment of serenity.

 

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