I cannot for the life of me remember the last time I felt in complete control of my life. Actually, it has been a little over two years that I fall asleep with the uneasy sensation that I have forgotten to do something very important each and every night. Given that parenting years feel much longer than dog years that’s quite a bit of worrying. Maybe after years of practice I will have perfected some sort of breathing technique that allows me to enter a Zen-like state that even Yoda would envy. I hope I get there sooner rather than later.
The anxiety does not consume my thoughts round-the-clock, but it is annoying. It lingers like a sour stomach after a night of spicy food and beer. You can do things to quell the burning sensation, but it comes back hovering just below your tolerance threshold. The thoughts that bring on this state of apprehension, I have found talking to other dads, are fairly universal: Am I providing for my family? Am I pulling my weight as a parent? Am I teaching my son right from wrong? Am I too strict? Am I too soft? And so on and so forth. None of the questions, you will notice, have to do with other aspects of my life in which I feel very much in control (i.e. work, marriage, what am I going to eat for breakfast etc.) albeit, to a certain extent, overly confident.
The thoughts themselves seem more in control than I am. When I was still childless the thoughts were organized as I wished them to be and my life had priorities that I had set even with regards to a family (then again what does anyone really know about having kids until you actually have them). Now, of course, I have only one priority – my son. This should make things much easier since other decisions ultimately are means to that end and yet it wreaks havoc on my psyche. I am always second-guessing those decisions because I feel that unlike with my own life, I cannot afford to make mistakes in my son’s.
The veteran’s say it is normal and that you adjust and adapt, but I always felt that I could control my life since I was the only one living it. Now, though, I find I am responsible for someone else’s life, a life that I value more than my own, and so I toss and I turn a few times right before exhaustion takes over and the snoring begins.