As my twins reach the ripe old age of twenty-six months I am reminded that our household is firmly entrenched in what is commonly called the terrible twos. And, while I’d be lying if I said that that phrase wasn’t true for us, I’d also be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m enjoying the heck out of my kids right now.
The things that they do and say on a daily basis never cease to impress me and make me smile. They way they are learning to manipulate language progresses at an alarming rate. My son has recently been fond of calling people “poo head”. I guess the time to be more mindful of my language has come.
The other day I heard banging on the hardwood floors, and I naturally assume that one of the kids was throwing blocks around like I‘d asked them not to do a thousand times. But when I came down the stairs, there was my daughter jumping, and with a big smile on her face. “Daddy, I juppee.” She didn’t know how to jump when I left for work that morning.
I don’t always take the time to reflect on the progress that my kids are making because I can too easily get focused on all the difficult things going on. But lately I’ve been trying to be more present and focus on these smaller accomplishments. It hasn’t been easy, and it has meant that I have had to be very purposeful with my actions.
I’m in the middle of reading a book by Thich Nhat Hanh entitled Anger. I’m finding it extremely helpful. Its essential message is that we all have feelings of anger or frustration or despair that rise up inside of us. They are natural, and ignoring them or trying to suppress those feelings will not help the situation and it will not make the feelings go away. It’s what we do with our anger that is the key. How we handle it, how we address the feelings and actions that can be associated with it, how we are able to redirect ourselves that is important.
The idea stems from the Buddhist philosophy of mindful breathing, and while I make no claims to be a Buddhist, I have used the redirecting and breathing techniques with some success. It is not always perfect but it does allow me to see the craziness and chaos in my life from a different perspective.
On a related note. . .
The author Henry Miller was best known for his books, but he was also an accomplished painter. He painted for himself and never pursued commercial success with his work. When he spoke about painting he made it clear that he considered himself a painter not because he was particularly talented, or that all (or any) of his pieces were masterpieces, but because he was continually painting. What mattered was that he painted a picture every day.
Recently, I’ve likened being a father to Henry Miller’s version of being a painter. It’s not that I’m the perfect father of that I do the right things or make the right decisions all the time, it’s that I see myself as a father every day and that I’m fathering every day.
Keeping those thoughts present in my mind has been tremendously helpful. When my mind is looking way in the future when “x” will be better, and “y” will be easier, these thoughts help keep me grounded in the moment.
Henry Miller said,
“What is” is usually a thousand times better than what might be or what ought to be.
Ain’t that the truth, Henry? I’m doing my best to think that way.