I Found My One Non-Dad Thing – Will You?

On a normal night, I collect my thoughts after my kids are finally asleep – when I’ve reached the finish line of my daily, parenting marathon.

When I sink into the comfort of the couch and embrace the now quiet living room, I have three thoughts in this order:

Thought 1: About today

My first thoughts are always about assessing the craziness that pulls me in so many directions each day.

Some days, my first thoughts are great.  I think about the compliment a teacher paid to my son for being kind to a classmate, or smile when I remember my toddler yelling, “That’s what I’m talking about!” while learning to drop-kick a soccer ball in the driveway.

Other days, my first thoughts are of lost opportunities – a time to reflect on hustling so much today that I can’t remember any of it.  I regret that too many days are blurry and lost.

Thought 2: Looking toward tomorrow

My mind quickly shifts from today toward tomorrow – focusing my second thoughts on the adventures that lie ahead.

At times, I think purely tactically – planning tomorrow’s logistics of simultaneous soccer and swimming practices, or determining if I have enough peanut butter to pack sack lunches in the morning.

Some days, these secondary thoughts are more of an internal pep talk – particularly when my first thoughts spotlight today’s disappointments.  I’ll try to convince myself that tomorrow will be better – that I will be up for the challenge.

Most nights, it would be easy to stop here – I’m exhausted, it’s late, I have a rest up for tomorrow’s uncertain, impending adventure.

I try not to take the easy route.  My goal is to resist the urge to end my day after thought #2.  When I push through, something uncanny happens – I don’t think about my kids’ needs anymore.  For the first time all day, I think of my own.

I become more than a doting dad and adoring husband, I become just me once again.

Thought 3: My One Non-Dad Thing

I try to make it to my third thought most nights.  I need to – thinking about the non-dad me helps me work out of any parenting rut.  My third thoughts transform me from a routine-driven, check-writing, lunch-making, chauffeur-dad into a starry-eyed, aspiring author.

Writing is my one thing – a passion that belongs to only me, a selfish endeavor that helps me escape today’s reflection and ignore tomorrow’s grind.  Writing dominates my third thoughts.

I lived in absence of such passion-filled, third thoughts for a long time.  During those periods, I was a less engaged husband and father.

For me, a life devoid of such thoughts is an existence stuck in neutral – a “just-get-through-the-day” mentality that is ultimately unfair for my family, and not fulfilling to me.

Searching for, finding and embracing the third thoughts that lead to selfish passions has changed me.  I’m a better dad, husband, colleague and friend.

I’m me again.

I was beginning to miss the guy I used to be and, I would venture to guess that my family was too.

Despite the fact that I may not get to my selfish endeavors tonight or even tomorrow, they still do exist.  That acknowledgment helps harness the energy needed to get through the daily trials of being a parent.

My passions don’t distract my parenting – they make me better.

I’ve found my one non-parenting thing – have you?

 

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