I made it past my four year mark as a parent a few weeks ago. I was reflecting on the biggest lessons I’ve learnt/attempted to learn over the past years. The three words that came to mind are patience, flexibility, and tact.
It is fitting that patience was the first area that popped to mind. This is an area I frequently come up short. The good news is that I’m far more aware of how impatient I am. The bad news is that I still lose my patience a few times a week. I’ve made progress from “Always” losing patience to “Often” to “Sometimes” over the years. But, there’s a chasm I need to jump to get it down to “Rarely.” That’s the goal for 2021.
Flexibility is the area where I’ve made the most improvement. I started our parenting journey hoping to juggle parenting with a bunch of other things I wanted to get done. I am under no such delusions now. I understand now that work life balance is a myth. Instead, we just have work life trade-offs. These trade-offs are real and are best made consciously. I’ve become better about making consciously conscious trade-off decisions and then making peace with them.
Finally, tact. This is an area I often come up woefully short. I’ve shared an analogy a few times over the years – “When you try to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department uses water.” The challenge with tact is that it runs counter to how I solve problems (I run toward them). That turns out to be a horrible way to solve problems with kids. As my wife frequently demonstrates, there’s often a creative detour you can use to diffuse the situation.
The good news is that I have become more aware of this. But, if I had to grade my progress – I think I have graduated from “Always” lacking tact to “Often” lacking tact. My hope is to get to “Sometimes” in 2021.
Here’s to making progress.