His father asked Ethan in a raspy voice, “You spend time with your son?”
“Much as I can,” he’d answered, but his father had caught the lie in his eyes.
“It’ll be your loss, Ethan. Day’ll come, when he’s grown and it’s too late, that you’d give a kingdom to go back and spend a single hour with your son as a boy. To hold him.Read a book to him. Throw a ball with a person in whose eyes you can do no wrong. He doesn’t see your failings yet. He looks at you with pure love and it won’t last, so you revel in it while it’s here.”
Ethan thinks often of that conversation, mostly when he’s lying awake in bed at night and everyone else is asleep, and his life screaming past at the speed of light—the weight of bills and the future and his prior failings and all these moments he’s missing—all the lost joy—perched like a boulder on his chest.
Every second that I spent with Gautham is a pure joy and I enjoy it to the most. It’s true that I have very less time to spend for myself, but then it also made me realized I have not been using all the time I did have before he was born. I have re-arranged all my schedules so that whenever I am home and he is awake, I do nothing else, but be with him! There has been a lot of learnings and realizations that I have had since the last 20 months.
Curiosity is what keeps us going
Each day is a new day and he learns at least one new thing. Though to us (the ‘grown-ups’), it feels that he is doing the same thing over and over again, for him, it’s the same thing in a new perspective. He is curious about everything that he sees and happens around. I often felt that my job was boring, mundane and repetitive and often ended up being the same thing every day. But then I understood that it is not about what you do but how you see what you are doing, that matters. Having at least one new thing to learn from whatever you do daily is a good way to stay motivated.
Always try to understand one level below your current level of abstraction - happiness lies there!
Making the Complex Simple
Often when playing with him I realize how overwhelming things are in the world and all that he is yet to learn. But that’s just me putting my perspective through his eyes. For him, it’s always ‘try try and try again’. He tries the best he can do something now and improve on it over the days or months.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
I often get overwhelmed when dealing with something new - learning a new language, buying a car or even planning a vacation. There are innumerable options for everything these days and all that information is available at our fingertips. But then the way to approach these is to break it down into smaller chunks of work and target that individually. Just like writing this blog post is overwhelming for me for all the things that I think I need to write, but then I write section by section or even line by line. Forming habits to break anything complex into smaller pieces and tackling that is a good way to approach tasks.
Learning to Disconnect
I certainly do not want Gautham to be entertained with a smartphone, iPad or laptop while I get to do something else. Though it is very much plausible, that’s just setting him up the wrong path. It’s easy for us to get distracted into all these and not do what matters to us the most - just like all of us hooked into the social media.
The more you stay offline from these ‘addictive’ social networks the less you will feel the need to check it. Like I do not want my kid to be addicted to these, I do not want it to get in the way of me using that time for something more useful. Staying disconnected from the internet and social network is a good way to get a lot of time for yourself.
Less is More
Gautham is happy just with a bottle cap, or a small thread of a shirt and can spend a lot of time playing with it. It’s not in what you have but how you see things that you have matters. I was always attracted to the latest and coolest gadgets and often bought them too. Happiness then was directly related to the things I had in possession and how current I was. I have learned to get over that minimize my expense to what matters most. Though it’s a bit late , the saying ‘Do not save what is left after spending but spend what is left after saving’, starts making a lot of sense. The fact that there is someone who is completely dependent on me(/wife) brings in a lot of responsibility to life which was missing earlier and puts savings in front of expenses.
Time is Valuable
One of the most precious things that I have is time. I used to while away time earlier but now I have very limited of it for myself that I try to spend it usefully. Having your Most Important Task (MIT) defined is important and helps prioritize your tasks for the day. If you feel a lot of time is getting lost, while sitting down to work (on a laptop for me) use monitoring tools like Rescue Time to understand your daily habits and improve on it.
Someone once asked Somerset Maugham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
Habits decide what we do every day so it’s very important that we form good ones. Though it takes effort, it is possible to rewire any of your habits just by giving attention to it.
Learning from Mistakes
When you try, you fail and you fail again and again until you succeed. When you don’t try you fail - you fail to succeed! Infants learn to walk by learning to fall. It’s easy to get into a comfort zone and stay there be it in your jobs or elsewhere. Intentionally putting yourself into a position to learn and grow is important. I spent a large part of my time at the workplace. So I try to own up a lot more unfamiliar things and get exposed more - It’s Ok to fail!
Parenting is hard but it’s also real fun. You get to learn a lot yourself while on the journey and they give back the initial years of your life. Let me wrap this up quickly as he is about to wake up and the last thing I want is to have all the keys pulled off my keyboard!