One of the recurring thoughts I have each night as I lay in bed reflecting on the day is, “did I pay enough attention to my family today?”…”was I really there…listening and present?”
I remember taking my DADDY BOOTCAMP class before we had Gavin because as a first time parent, you dive into any support option you have to try and even remotely prepare for this new stage of your life.
One of the cornerstones of the session was the concept of “being present”. Not physically, but emotionally. Any parent can go to the park with their kid, or take them for a walk, or sit and watch their little league game. The difference is how engaged they are with their children in these moments. The moments you sit their on your cell phone “yessing your kid” while they ask you if you like airplanes or ladybugs is not all that different than ignoring them at all. You wouldn’t do that to a co-worker right? So how does your family deserve it?
I thought to myself, well, that doesn’t seem so hard does it? Just pay attention right? Why wouldn’t you?…its your kid.
Not so fast….in practice, as any parent with 1 or 12 kids (well, maybe not the ones with 12, they are of another world where patience can be injected) will agree that in an everyday setting, when coupled with all the other static that life brings, being present can easily be lost and leave you with regret and worse, a feeling that you let your family down.
That static is the curveball…ya know…the random thoughts that fill your mind and absorb your attention….the news, that status report due next Wednesday, how close you are to your car’s factory warranty…am I drinking to much coffee?…and those are just the menial topics that run through your head as you brush your teeth.
Ok, so where does this connect?
For me, the connection has been in the moments I have had lately where the white noise of the static seems to fade into the background…making way for the clarity and presence of mind that I had been looking for. Our travels as a family have been key to that for me. I look at Nicole and my children enjoying each moment we explore together and I find that I don’t need to consciously be as present and put the static in its place. I’m there, with them, and with a good feeling that I am absorbing and living these moment to their fullest potential…free of the regret that I may not be and that feels super cool. However, I’m in no way claiming to be a “sensei of present-dad-fu”…I know its a work in progress and may always be. I need to make a conscious effort. Being present and in each moment isn’t always going to be easy…because life is going to bring on challenges that create obstacles and force me to dig deep for that strength to not allow the static a front row seat.
I don’t think you can categorize in any certain detail the steps each of us needs to take to get yourself to this place. We love different loves, have different stressors and battles we face. Finding a way to compartmentalize the “other stuff” because the most exciting details in your life will organically rise to the top and as a parent, that will be your family…your kids, your spouse, relatives, or anyone of importance to you that deserves your undivided attention and love.