You read that right, rage monster. My last child was born late at night after about fourteen hours of labor. Her eyes were a gorgeous shade of gray at first that would slowly change to hazel then to a dark brown like mine. Something else that she obtained from me is my unquenchable anger and strength (yeah, I totally just called myself strong, add prideful to the list then). Often reprimands are useless, time outs never work – she just keeps getting up; Super Nanny would be none to pleased with us. Taking toys? You’d think we never let her have any because she is never phased. Corporal punishment? Let’s just say she takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’ (but in most cases it turns into a slap contest that she wins). But that isn’t the point of my post, its about human nature.
My wife and I have recently embarked on two major transitions in the sake of sanity; one being moving the rage beast into her sister’s room. And the other is potty training. Seeing that I am now investing in Rug Doctor stock, it is the first that offered me a glimpse of inspiration. While we attempt to get her acclimated to the ‘new’ environment, I am often tasked with spending an hour protecting her from the darkness – but really, I’m just there for moral support and to keep her from getting out of the bed by, well blocking the edge of the bed.
While on post, I am able to contemplate the day’s events, think of work left to do, mentally prepare for my busy mornings and think of strategies to use in the work of the week. However, during the last deployment, I chose to do something altogether different. Tonight I spent my time simple embracing the quiet moment I could share with her; just a father enjoying his two year old as she drifts off to sleep.
What this illuminated was something I believe we all loose as we grow older, the ability to rest. As she fought sleep through different activities; talking to herself, pulling her hair, picking her nose (trying to pick my nose occasionally), and kicking violently, it reminded me of how much energy I spend throughout my day, week and life fighting the world. Sometimes, I am fighting myself – my human nature. It is in our nature to be combative, but it is also our nature to be inquisitive, to want to know more about everything we can. We also like to know more about ourselves. But at some point we loose the ability, or the desire maybe, to stop our minds from racing and just rest.
Not go to sleep, or just lay down, but to actually rest. If you are anything like me and most people, you go on vacation and relax but never really rest. Or spend time with the family during a holiday – restless.
As an adult, resting or something comparable is the goal for any downtime I, a father of three with a full time job and consulting on the side, can find. Rarely is it found. But watching her peacefully find rest after the struggling seemed remarkable. How can it be so easy to just let it all go and rest, like she did just before she passed out and began snoring?
During this year’s cj Conference I had the pleasure of listening to a great session on fascination by Sally Hogshead, author of Fascinate! In her session, Sally made a point of saying that we are all special, or better yet, we all have something that is truly fascinating about us that we may have,
put in a box, put it on the shelf, because of life or circumstances, walked out of the room and closed the door.
Part of me believes many of us did this with parts of our nature. It may have been our immaturity, our lofty goals or otherworldly ambitions (I wanted to be bitten by a radioactive spider – which would have probably killed me and the spider… but I digress), or even our imagination. I believe many of us did this with our ability to rest.
As with any positive trait there are shortfalls – to borrow another line from Sally. The positive of loosing immaturity may in that one becomes more rational or respectable and therefore better at professional endeavors. In loosing immaturity, some swing away from being overly childish to being overly staunch or rigid. Immaturity is often kin to playfulness. For me, I find it hard to play, really play, with my kids because I am very rigid, structured, and goal oriented. Most employers would love to see two if not all three of those words on a resume. But think about it, kids don’t want you to be any of that; they want you to be flexible, accommodating, and free flowing.
In the set of child-like attributes there is a system that, by it’s nature, allows a child to let go of today’s concerns, tomorrow worries and problems that last for infinity, and rest in the moment. I think that my little rage monster may be on to something. Fight when it’s necessary – there will be pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth, but find time to realize: it is okay to be at peace and restful. Look back on the things you may have put away on a shelf because the world, a parent, a friend or a little voice in your head told you that you should. You may have heard, “Out of the mouth of babes comes truth.” I believe this is true because there isn’t a need to fight the truth or their nature. Now, fighting their parents on the other hand…
I can only hope that my first and only son is more like his momma, but it doesn’t look too promising.