Content warning: introspection, parenthood, “Floating Butt”.
When Benjamin (our first child) was born, my life as an individual was unraveled.
With every bellow from the newborn’s lungs, I could feel my personal agency slipping away from me.
From that magical moment onwards, I’ve been gripped by the polarizing emotions of parenthood.
At any given time, I’m galvanized by fear for the well-being of my children, or existentially deadlocked by the calamities of all the possible (terrible) futures for this planet, or (figuratively) high from the amazing content and purpose my children bring to my life.
Any little thing, such as work-related stress or a messy room in the house, becomes magnified a thousandfold when filtered through a mind that’s been caught in the rip currents of these emotions.
Balance just doesn’t come easily anymore. I need to focus so much effort on pushing this emotional turmoil to the background that it’s sometimes difficult to remember what “normalcy” actually is.
However, this summer I found it again.
It was pouring rain, and I was sitting on the pier of my Happy Place (Lake Päijänne in Finland).
My son was goofing around in the lake, and my daughter was laughing hysterically at his antics. My wife was motioning for us to move back indoors out of the rain (although we all know that swimming in the rain is the most sensible thing you can do because it won’t matter if you get wet).
Just as I was giggling at my son’s latest rendition of “Floating Butt” (that’s when you dive in the water and then rise to the surface so that only your naked bottom emerges), something clicked in my mind and turned into a transformational thing.
I realized that it’s these powerful emotions themselves that give me a handle on the very things that cause the emotions in the first place. It’s circular and recursive, yes, but I just can’t explain it in other terms.
The incredible highs and devastating lows of parenthood emotions are energy sources. Having such amplifiers for even the smallest, most mundane things in life is an amazing asset to have.
I never realized this! I might be slow on the uptake when it comes to fundamental personal truths, but this was foundational stuff for me.
At that moment, on that pier, I was incredibly happy and as much in the moment as I had ever been.
I didn’t fix anything – nothing about the future became less uncertain; none of my fears for my family’s well-being was reduced.
But I felt normal. I felt like this version of “Simo” that’s part and parcel of our family unit is the best possible version of me.X
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What’s the point?
It doesn’t have to be parenthood – everybody has an energy source they can use to magnify the mundane or to suppress it when warranted.
My work ethic, my fear for our planet’s future, my excitement about our children learning new skills, my love for our family – it’s all because of this energy source. It’s all because the “Simo” that used to be an “I” and a “me” is now folded into a family unit, comfortably as a “we” and “us”.
For me, it took a rainy day at Päijänne, a dose of Floating Butt, and a serenity that can only come when you stop yourself in the middle of a moment to appreciate what you have.