Monday, August 31, 2009

Why do we even need to change?

I suppose it is a matter of perspective and priority. I feel like for all we’ve accomplished on this planet, we are still a mess. We still kill and wage wars. We continue to practice environmentally destructive behaviour against mother earth. We are still driven by the pursuit of more wealth and power, often at the expense of families and children on the other side of the world. We continue to elect and then turn a blind eye to leaders who wish to plunder and profit. We persist with using the wrong measuring sticks to judge happiness and success. Men continue to let bravado and testosterone drive the bus rather than compassion and reason. And as a whole we have long since lost sight that we are all connected to one another on this planet. When we kill, or bully or overpower, we are truly killing, bullying and overpowering our own children.

The short version of why we need to evolve as dads is because we need to evolve as men. We need to shed the illusions of power and wealth to help create harmony on this planet. Evolution takes time, however. At the rate we are going, time is a dwindling luxury, but hopefully our evolutionary steps as men and as dads will translate into huge strides for our children.

Fathers and men of this generation have made significant progress over dads of previous generations. But there is much more work to do. Until we strike a better balance as a planet —between the pursuit and the distribution of wealth, between the striving for and sharing of power and between testosterone and estrogen we will not evolve.

We have made mind boggling advances in science, technology, engineering, human kinetics and the ability to make something that has no chemical resemblance to butter make us say we can’t believe it isn’t. Don’t you think that parenting—particularly from a man’s perspective, needs to make this quantum leap, too?

Friday, August 21, 2009

A love like no other

I got married in 2004 and became a father in 2006.

I always joke with people that when you get married, you say all those right things to your wife. “I love you so much—I’d lay down my life for you.” You say you’d lay down your life, but you never really mean it. It sounds good, so you just say it and hope to God you never find the two of you held captive by a terrorist who says, “I only have one bullet. Who is it going to be?”

The instant your child is born, however, you are prepared to hurl yourself in front of an oncoming bus just to stave off a case of the sniffles.

I used to laugh uproariously at those “Baby on Board” signs, until the day when I pulled away from the hospital with my one day-old son in the back. I was gripping the wheel so tightly I had lost all circulation in my fingers. “I’ve got a newborn in the car” I shouted as the car crept out of the parking lot, “now BACK OFF!”

I always thought those “Baby On Board” signs were designed to get others around you to drive more carefully. Now I realize they are really code for, “I have a baby in the car, please forgive me for driving like a ninny.”

I never knew love until I had my son. The moment I laid my eyes on him, I began to cry. I’ve been doing a lot of crying since then, but it is all good. There is an old Yiddish saying, “when the heart is full, the eyes overflow.” That more or less describes how I feel when I look at my son.

Little did I know before I held my son, I would be capable of so much love. Little did I know that this little person came into the world with a key in one hand and my heart in the other.

Guess what? Your child came into the world carrying both of those things (but holding your heart, not mine.) But the question is, have you let them keep the keys, or did you snatch them back?

From my perspective, our children will be the best teachers we will ever have. They can teach us patience, nurturing and unconditional love. They can teach us about change and enlightenment and eventually the ability to let go. They can improve our marriage, our work performance, and our free time. They can shape the relationships we have with close friends and complete strangers. They can save our environment and bring about world peace. If I could convince you our children would also help you lose 10 pounds in 3 days, lower your golf score, and cut the time you could cook a roast chicken in half, I’d sell you one for just three easy payments of just $19.99. But the fact of the matter is, that what sounds too good to be true isn’t. Your children have come into this world prepared to offer you the most amazing gifts. The question is, did you see the gifts, or did life, old habits, and conditioning get in the way?