I hang out with my eight-month-old son every day. Some days it is an hour, other days it is three or four. But I have a confession to make: I get bored with him. And I can’t concentrate. Sometimes I get frustrated that he is keeping me from getting work done.
When we sit down and just play, it is really fun for a while (and actually the time flies for a bit, like you would expect), but after 30 minutes or so, I get bored. I think about reaching for my phone to check Instagram or I put on a podcast so we can learn about gaining multiple country citizenship or biohacking or whatever.
And I’m hyper aware that I can’t stay focused. I start thinking that if I can’t focus with my kid for half an hour, how will I ever finish writing a 60,000-word book?
I’m looking forward to when he can walk and talk and we can go on hikes in the woods and connect effortlessly. Or maybe we can cook together or something. But that is a long way off and I don’t want to rush anything anyhow.
So, we will be playing and I’ll get bored or frustrated or feel like it is too much and I’ll start looking for some excuse to give him back to his mom- “I think he needs milk…”
What other places in my life am I bailing when things get hard?
When it comes to my maintaining my website, probably. But that is something you can outsource. Don’t outsource being a parent.
But hire a nanny if you don’t have immediate access to grandparents – a couple hours a day is worth your sanity.
Sometimes I wonder whether going on long bike rides is a way of escaping responsibility. I’m not training nearly as much as I used to be, and it helps me think, and it keeps my juices flowing, and I meet lots of great connections while riding, and all these things, but sometimes I still wonder.
Sometimes I get it right though. I can make Axel laugh and laugh until he is crying. And it always seems that he grows and changes the most on the days when he is laughing the most.
Sometimes I have the concentration to read a book to him five times in a row. And I notice that it helps me in other areas of my life where I want to focus.
Sometimes I walk him around the neighborhood and take all the time in the world and I can really use the time with Axel to let my mind relax and enjoy the present.
Sometimes people tell me things like, “Wow you are doing such a great job as a dad – you are a natural!” Or, “What a lucky kid!” That makes me feel like I am winning at life.
See, I’m so hard on myself – I tell myself it is because I strive for excellence. If you are going to do something (like be a dad) then that something is worth doing well. And we all have this tendency – to be our own harshest critic.
But you know what? When Axel falls over and cries or gets frustrated because he drops his snack – I don’t judge him at all. I totally accept him where he is.
And if I can just do the same for myself – be a loving parent for myself and admit that I am doing the best that I can, then that’s all I have to do. And my mind will wander, and I will check my phone sometimes. And sometimes I’ll put the phone far away so it can’t lure me in. And someday soon, Axel and I will get into the zone and we will spend the whole afternoon knocking over towers of blocks, and all those times when I practiced bringing my attention back to the present will be worth it.
Because most of the time I am just thinking how freaking cool it is that I get to be a dad.
This story has been republished to Medium.
Photo credit: iStock