By Eric Myers
Read any self help book or listen to any motivational speaker and you will hear the same advice: problem solving begins with problem identification. It's a simple and straightforward idea really, you can't fix what you don't know is broken, and it was my first step down the healing road of getting a sense of purpose and importance from being an at-home parent.
For those readers who missed my most recent article, let me borrow a line or two from it in order to help you quickly understand where I was when it came to dealing with my daughter after a short time of being an at-home dad. "I resented her….I can sum up my emotional and mental attitude succinctly this way: she was an irritation, an imposition, a hindrance, and a duty."
"Yikes!" you might say, and you'd be right.
"You shouldn't have been caring for a child with that attitude" you might also add.
Well, if people were honest, there might be a larger percentage of people caring for children who have a similar attitude than we might want to know. However, what began to happen with me was that I began to become more and more aware of my negative attitude. I would sit to play with Caroline and she would be laughing and she would be having fun and I began to recognize that I wanted to be having fun too. I wanted to be enjoying my time with her. I began to feel this gnawing sense of dissatisfaction with what I was doing and, more importantly, how I was doing it. I didn't want to look forward to nap time anymore, I wanted to look forward to being with Caroline.
It's one thing to feel a generalized sense of irritation and dissatisfaction. For example, maybe you don't like "work" or you don't feel comfortable in "that church" or you find yourself on edge at "family functions". However, it's an altogether different thing to have your irritation specified and personified. Then your work problem becomes you don't like Jim, your church problem becomes you're put off by Mike the door greeter, and your family functions are spoiled by Aunt Janice and your brother Ed. Now it's specific. Now you know. Now, as they say, you are standing at the proverbial fork in the road and you have a clear choice: how are you going to choose to handle the issue?
So, who was causing my issue? My one year old daughter? Nope.
Who was the source of my irritation and dissatisfaction? I was. I was the issue. My problem was with me.
It's almost easier to have the problem person be someone else, you know? As I sat at looked into the mirror one morning I recognized my choice, I could wallow in my puddle of irritation for another 5 years, or I could set out to change me in order to enjoy this time that seemingly everyone else around me thought was special. I decided to change me.
And where I began was the most basic and important of all places. More on that next week.