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Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad

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No D day: Screw brevity, we're talking the secret to life

Sometimes thoughts require more time to ruminate then my schedule permits... this post is what happens when I'm excited by an idea but don't give it enough time to solidify in my mind. I though that it may be interesting for you to see an unfinished thought... 

The thought of sitting down and committing words to an idea in long-form makes me happy inside. I likely could spend the rest of my life discussing and dissecting topics, what topics? Doesn't really matter. I just love to take ideas apart to see what made them. I've always wanted to be a writer because the time of sitting around a fire and talking endlessly is far past and writing seems like the last way to completely explain a view of and to the world. What follows is less of a complete thought and more of a guide to imparting ideas, preparing children and the pursuit of being able to explain your experiences in a way that makes you feel like you've helped someone. I think the kids call it blogging...

That's right - I've got the secret to life and No D day seemed like as good a time as any to give it away... Think of this as a poem to communication as it may have no traditional beginning, middle and end but does include seemingly disjointed thoughts that I gaurentee will leave you feeling like you understand the secret to life.

If brevity is the soul of wit, what does that make length and contemplation... I assert that it's the soul of understanding and of finding truth. Thoughts and ideas have levels and they are initially understood by people at different depths. A conversation about recycling may sound like talking about trash to one person while another in the group fights back the emotions that come with contemplating the end of the world. Spend enough time talking and the complexity of the issue becomes apparent to all as it's levels and depth are revealed. Just because a concept first strikes you on one level doesn't mean that you can't come to understand it on all - but you have to be willing to devote a few minutes and open your mind to something that may not at first make sense.

While brevity has it's place and is the preferred tool of communication (and blogging), I think that at times it does us harm. Often we are overwhelmed by the thought of disseminating our knowledge. The emotion of wanting to be clear and heard overwhelms. The pain of not being able to articulate your thought in the way that you desire often causes us to convey complex concepts in far too brief and non descriptive terms. How many times have you heard that, "being married is hard... you have to work at it"? We've all listened as a new parent proclaim, "I'd do anything for my baby". These phrases and thousands more are thrown around as if they are sage-like wisdom but honestly they are neither helpful nor do they resonate with the kind of understanding that they require.

I'm going to use my first example to make my point. Of course being married is hard and obviously it requires work to maintain any relationship but how is that advice in any way helpful? It's not the being married that is difficult, it's the not saying something stupid at the wrong time, it's being giving of yourself when you feel like you don't have any more to give. It's acceptance, forgiveness and selflessness, those things are hard - not being married. Even though I've broken the idea down, my words still don't constitute any actual advice. I would have to take each thought and separate them into their own thousand words to clearly leave you with a meaningful direction to follow. What does it mean to be accepting? That concept is a chapter in a book, an hour in a conversation and should not be carelessly boiled down to some trite sentence and passed off as advice. 

Our lives our setup in a way that doesn't leave time to listen to a more learned person speak at length about the things in life that matter most but often seem unimportant. That lack of time is the precise enemy of happiness. The not sitting still and listening and by extension the not taking of time to impart the knowledge that you've amassed is destroying our ability to grow. We can't build a skyscraper if each time a shift change happens the next person chooses new fertile ground and starts over. We have to continue from where the last person left off, understand the mistakes they made, adapt and forge on.

When I imagine my life it looks like a road that at some point encounters a fork. Each path after that has it's own fork. When I step back from that image, it appears to me as a tree that grows endlessly into the sky. All of the branches lead to a slightly different destination, all somewhere at the top of that tree. I want to get to the highest, happiest spot that I can before there are no more forks in the road to choose from - but that's not my life goal, that's just one thing that I want to accomplish. My goal is to set Cole and Arden on their own road and give them the insight to consider each fork with not just the map of knowledge that they've amassed but with mine and Kelly's as well. I want to teach them to slow down and consider the depth and level that ideas happen on before they choose which way to walk next. I wish for them the personal serenity that is required to listen, filter and apply the wisdom that others that they meet impart. I hope that they have the love for speaking, writing and hearing thoughts at length in the way that I do... because "being married is hard" doesn't constitute advice or guidance.

When you speak to your children please don't leave out the stuff you messed up or struggled with. In fact, I'd lead with it. I'd tell your kids every stupid, poorly considered and just plain moronic choice that you made, show them where potential speed bumps will be and if you can't... because you just don't know how to, if you can't tell them how to avoid those bumps, find someone that can - no shame in it. Be transparent, show them your human side, let them know that it's not just okay to mess up, it's expected. Tell them to go make their own mistakes. I find no life sadder then the ones that appear to be nothing more then Mom 2.0 or Dad part II. It may feel easy to see a child doing familiar things in familiar ways but in my opinion, that's a wasted life - you already lived that life. Your children should be reaching in a way that makes you nervous. They're lives should feel unfamiliar to you, new, exciting and unsure.


Bonus thoughts... (like an extra chapter in a paperback)

The act of planning to express yourself in words has this wonderful side-effect. There is this thing that happens when you know that you are going to sit down and write, you really pay attention to life. Knowing that I want to blog causes me to focus on things that may, very reasonably, seem like minutia to most. I hope that I can convince you that those small moments aren't filler but in fact are where life happens. There is depth everywhere, levels to everything, the beauty is in the moments in between the things that stand out.




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Reader Comments (1)

i really dig this sentiment: "Your children should be reaching in a way that makes you nervous. They're lives should feel unfamiliar to you, new, exciting and unsure."

thanks for sharing! :)

October 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commentershannon

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