This is something I want to work on. When I’m really busy, I’m rude.
It was a Busy Evening
I had a lot going on this evening.
I had to take my eldest, Grayson, to swim at 4:45. I had to run by the grocery store on the way home. Once I got home I showered and basically as soon as I was done dinner was on the table. As we finished, my wife ran out the door to go to work. So then I had to clean up the kitchen, spur the kids on to cleaning up the house, close out a few miscellaneous work tasks, deal with about 20 emails related to an organization I volunteer for, help my youngest take a shower and get ready for bed, and I topped things off by helping my daughter paint a metal pig she was given by her grandmother.
Finally, at about 9:45, I managed to get the kids off to bed.
Not Bad, per se, but Not Great
I wasn’t a bad dad tonight, but it’s also not an evening my kids will look back on fondly. I was very short with them; all business.
Clean up. Take a shower. You tell me if you’ve cleaned up well enough, you have eyes, use them. I need for no one to talk to me for the next 15 minutes. If you can’t let me focus on this then you need to go to your room until I’m done.
Deliver those directives with a stern tone and that’s pretty much what I sounded like tonight. All business, no fun, go away and leave me alone.
I don’t want to be that guy, and usually I’m not.
Jon, You Have Two Options, or Really, One Option
I get like that when I have 47 things breathing down my neck that I need to get done. When I’m in that place, the broken record in my head is going “you have things you need to do, eliminate all distractions, you have things you need to do, eliminate all distractions.” With that broken record playing in my head, I start bowling over the people around me. I’ve got shit to get done and if you’re in my way, watch out.
There are two possible solutions here.
- Don’t be so busy.
- Don’t be an ass.
Yes! Thank you! I’ll take one of each.
Realistically, option 1 is quite often out of my hands. There were some things tonight I could have eliminated. Notably, I don’t have to volunteer, and removing that alone would have improved my mood by a large margin. That is something I can control and I’ve actually already told that organization that once my term is up this Fall I won’t be returning. Nights like tonight are a very large part of why I made that decision.
However, with all the moving pieces in our lives, there are going to be nights like tonight not matter what I do. So if I want to be a good dad on a night light tonight, I have to work on option 2: don’t be an ass.
Problem solved! Easy, right? Uh, sure. Easier said than done is right.
Remember to Stop and Breathe
The connection I’m trying to build in my mind tonight is the connection between that feeling of pressure and anxiety, and the realization that I don’t want to let that pressure and anxiety activate asshole mode. This is a “stop and breathe” moment, a time when I need to find a quiet corner and spend 30 seconds identifying the stress I’m feeling and deciding not to let that stress hijack the way I treat those around me.
That’s not easy to do. It’s really hard, but it’s important. It might be the most important thing I do.