On Being Daddy: Live on the Fringe or from Center
It's been a revealing couple of days.
Courtney gave birth to our third child, Selah, on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to her sharing the birth story more in-depth and from her perspective here, but that's not for today. I will never fully grasp the intensity of what Courtney did this past Wednesday, and she's done it three times! Today, you get another realization from yours truly.
After a day of watching and attending to Courtney, I was tired. In fact, my younger brother remarked how I looked exhausted, even more than Courtney. What had I done? Been present and attentive. I was in the moment, anticipating her needs, sitting in silence a lot and occasionally offering a word of encouragement. Now that the pressure of the "big day" is over, I found myself reverting into less-than-inspiring ways of being.
Yesterday proved I'm still living on the surface, in activities. In tasks, in busyness. I'm living on the fringes of my being rather than from center. Competing priorities play tug-of-war in my head. I spin schedules and logistics like too many tops, can't let them fall. Rather than being in the moment, I've been present to past failures, both desires and accusations from the future, and a sense of guilt for my priorities being misplaced, yet being unclear on what I truly desire.
My prayer is to sink into the now, to live from my heart-center. Today, I'm here. No one to please, no performance scheduled. All I have to do is take care of little bodies, little souls, little people--and a mama who needs some R&R and TLC. Maybe I'm just being a daddy in the 21st century. I am disconnected and craving connection. I'm preoccupied and craving fulfillment. I'm on paternity leave, and finding my head space with little room for fathering. Maybe it isn't true, but it feels like my kids are the last recipients of my love and affection. So much of my work is oriented "out there," whether with patients, readers, community leaders, that I forget about my little 8am breakfast-eaters.
I feel pulled in multiple directions, but where am I choosing to be? Busy, distracted and preoccupied are both my choices and my self-indictments.
This brings up a whole host of questions. Why do I feel bad for saying "no" to others? Why am I afraid of saying "yes" to my family? Am I still here, living in dichotomies, pretend forks in the road on an either/or zero sum game? Can I be a full-time, present and loving daddy and be a full-time worker in my "field of dreams?" I believe I can.
This leaves me no room for resistance, no room for compromise. I have to be all in what I'm doing, not give space to laziness in my thinking or in my doing. When I am fully present, there isn't room for sinking thinking. For where I feel angst, I can express it and move on. There will be moments of loneliness, even in being surrounded by people. There will be "all the feels," it comes with the territory. I have also tasted and seen the immeasurable joy I am brought by my little ones and how grateful I am to be "Daddy."
So today, I choose to live from my center. I choose LOVE. I choose JOY. I choose to bare my soul and spill my life for the sake of those around me. I choose to be the Beloved, where my significance is a given, not derived from what I do. I choose to love intentionally, unabashedly, and without reservation. I will not ignore my needs, yet I will remember I feel most loved when I am loving, most joyful when I am spreading joy, and most inspired when I am inspiring others. I choose my life, my wife, and our three little ones. Thank you, God, and keep me settled in Source and Center.