In this issue:
Hello and Happy December,
Another season is upon us, and change is in the air... Last week it came as snow, this week (at least at the time I was writing...) it was rain and, believe it or not, babies. None of them ours, mind you...
New additions always have an impact, and last week's crop o' kiddies was no different. As any parent who has spent weeks in a sleep-deprived state can attest, it ain't all softness, light and big-eyed celebration. There's a reason for that off-kilter Mona Lisa grin that folks who have lived through those early days (and nights) give to new parents...
Thus, gentle readers, this month's feature story: "Love, Anger and Paradox."
Enjoy the ride.
And while I'm thinking of it, will you send this issue of DadsNews on to some other folks? 'Tis, after all, the giving season...
As always, I'm grateful to you for spreading the 'News... Thanks!
Keep those virtual cards and letters coming - I love to hear from you!
Have a good read, happy holidays, and a healthy, prosperous 2006.
Love, Anger and Paradox
All of a sudden, babies are showing up all over my radar screen.
Perhaps I should expain: In the past week and a half, four of my clients have had babies, and at least one more is due in the next month or so.
Of the new crew, all but one are first children.
While all new arrivals have a way of stirring the home-life pot, it seems that first children come naturally equipped with a heftier spoon. No matter how many books one has read, regardless of how many videos one has seen - or how many gigs of information have been downloaded into one's cranium from well-intentioned friends and family - there is simply no way a new parent can be perfectly prepared for what actually shows up.
Sometimes it's the wonder of it all - the sheer delight and overwhelming fullness that comes with witnessing a new life that, oddly, looks back at you through eerily familiar eyes. Sometimes it's the sense of being touched by forces far grander and infinitely more powerful than imagined. Maybe it's the flood of raw emotion, which one had ever so neatly bottled, corked and shelved, that oozes out- or explodes - stubbornly refusing to stand quietly behind any level of resistance...
When a new child is "in da house," change comes quickly and doesn't really give a hoot, thank you very much, for who you thought you were last week - or five minutes ago.
Welcome to "Growth 101." What? You're not sure your pre-requisite coursework is in order? Oops... Well, no matter... Here's your final exam... And (wink) good luck!
"How can I be so angry..?"
I had a conversation with one of those new parents a few days ago. While he was, for the first week, as blissed-out as any newbie ever gets, the wonder and newness of it all was wearing thinner with each passing day. Sleep deprived and burnt out on a solid week's worth of one-pot meals, he came to our call confused by mixed emotions and armed with harsh judgements about his capacity to make a go of this whole parenting thing...
Here's a paraphrased version of our conversation:
"I couldn't believe how happy I was a week ago..." he said. "Now I feel like I'm the lousiest father in the world. I'm angry at my week-old kid. He's not old enough for me to be angry at him, but I feel completely helpless and I'm angry at myself for getting angry at him! Other parents seem so happy, and I feel like I'm putting on a good face that's just not real. How can I be so angry..? It's not supposed to be like this!"
"What," I asked, "is it 'supposed' to be like?"
"I'm supposed to be happy. I'm supposed to look at this little person and love him, even though I don't know how to help him when he cries at all hours of the night and wakes us up every two hours... and I'm frustrated..."
"Here's what I think I'm hearing: 'If I really loved you, I wouldn't be angry...' How familiar does that sound?"
Silence. Then, "Really familiar... And I do love him, so how can I be angry..?"
"What's wrong with being angry?"
Silence. Then, "Um... it just doesn't seem right... I'm angry at him because he does what he does - then I'm angry at myself for not knowing what to do."
"What did you do the last time you were a first-time parent?'"
"I've haven't ever been a parent before!"
"Good! Now that you have that detail figured out, what are you telling yourself - with your depth of experience - that you 'should' know?"
Silence... More silence... Then...
"Oooh... I wasn't expecting this, and of course he's doing exactly what he's supposed to be doing..."
"And you're learning via the accelerated plan."
"Yeah - I am. I guess I can love him and be angry." Pause. "I can love him and feel helpless... I don't have to do this Hollywood-perfect..."
Maybe it's our peculiar western conditioning that helps make shallow mud of our emotional range. Perhaps it's the dark side of "the pursuit of happiness" (Ever notice that it doesn't read "The all-the-time attainment of happiness?") that has us buy into thought-habits such as "happy = good, sad = bad" or "joyous = excellent, angry = yucky." The result, of course, is that we resist "bad" emotions and end up flogging ourselves silly over feelings that we perceive as less than ideal.
The good news - and the bad news - is that resistance to emotion is almost always far more painful than the emotions themselves, and most of us are very well trained to resist. Can you say ouch..?
What if different emotions simply feel - well... different?
Like everyone, I've felt incredibly alive in times of great happiness. I've felt powerfully alive in times of deep anger, pain and grief, too. I'm grateful for the gift of feeling deeply regardless of the flavor. There's magic across the entire spectrum - if one is willing to let go of the walls of resistance and float in the moment...
I've yet to meet a parent who has never had the experience of being angry with a child. Nor have I met a parent who hadn't wondered, when things weren't going as they were "supposed" to, if they weren't getting it right.
Call it a cosmic design flaw, but we parents have the distinct double-disadvantage of being one-hundred percent human, and coming face to face with that humanity in every interaction we share with a child.
I have a confession - stop the presses... I get angry at my son sometimes - more often than I'd like to admit. My anger can be fierce and frightening and real.
I also love him with a depth and ferocity that reaches to the bottom of my soul.
Both can be present at the same moment.
Paradox... When anger comes, love doesn't run away.
I'm thrilled for my client. He's going to be a brilliant father. I'm thrilled for his child - he'll grow up in the presence of a man who's learning - early in the game - that to play the beautiful music of fully loving a child, one gets to practice the entire range of the scales that are our human emotions...
How cool is that..?
Exhibit A: First child, stirring up the
Exhibit A: First child, stirring up the home-life pot...
Quote of the Month
"The world needs anger. The world
often continues to allow evil because it isn't angry enough."
"A Better Way to Work"
"Making your passion your profession means finding what you really want to do, figuring out the way to make that profitable, and devising a plan to put things in motion."
Personally, I couldn't say it any better!
A program of teaching, coaching and connecting with what really matters - from the inside out. If you're ready to give your working life a fresh, juicy start, then it just may be time to take a look at A Better Way to Work ...
Send me a note or gimme a ring at 518.580.0550.
Third Monday Calls: Taking a Closer Look at Masculine/Feminine Energies
Monthly calls exploring the nature of Masculine and Feminine energies in our culture, our work, our relationships, our families, and ourselves... With Debra Wilton-Kinney, Sam House, Mary Kuentz, and Ken Mossman. Come over and have a look at the Third Way blog for more info...
Watch for Third Way Teleclasses and our upcoming Workshop
Riding the Edge
Coming in April, 2006... Chamonix, three experienced leaders, one experienced guide, big mountains, snow, speed... What has skiing got to do with leadership, anyway?
Curious? Stay tuned...
On the coaching front, I'm setting up sample appointments for January. Ready for a 45-minute test drive? Let's set it up! On the house, of course!
Feedback for DadsNews - or a simple "howdy!" - is always welcome. Send me a note!
More cool stuff is available at the Cirrus Leadership website!
Next issue of DadsNews: Thursday, January 12, 2006. Until then, feel it all...
DadsNews ©2005, Kenneth Mossman, MFA,
CPCC, PCC, Cirrus Leadership®