By Ty H. Phillips
I am going to make the assumption that we have all heard the saying, “out of the mouths of babes..”
Of course this is not referring to beautiful women, but rather children. We hear truths from them because they just speak, often without thinking, and they share the truth as it is presented to them. They have no compunction against telling you that your breath stinks, that your haircut looks bad, or that you are being mean and nasty.
When we are receptive to what they are telling us, children will often be our greatest teachers.
They have no ill intent; they feel no need to hurt or belittle you, they just blurt out the issue facing them or us and rattle off question after question (often to our annoyance) in an effort to understand the world around them.
Lately, I’ve been a tad moody—maybe more than a tad. I’ve been experiencing difficulties and roadblocks, both personal and emotional, and I have been finding myself tense and a bit rigid to the things around me. My usual go with the flow attitude has been less hakuna matata and more WTF. Needless to say I have been getting in my own way instead of alleviating my stress by allowing it to pass without putting the strangle hold on it.
It finally dawned on me, or better put, was shown to me, when my youngest blurted out, “Why are you crabby every day?”
I had no reply. I felt bad and I felt ashamed. I sat down right on the spot and let her speak. It was a revealing process to say the least. The transition from Mr. Mom back to working dad with little time to spare has taken it’s toll on both of us. Our daily routines have been thrown for a loop and my clutching to routines that helped me deal with my anxiety issue have all but vanished, and while the need for them has all but vanished, the comfort I felt in them had not.
Now I am faced with a new challenge. Growing in a new direction, reigniting old goals and passions, working my way back from another proverbial bottom in order to achieve said goals and finding that my youthful enthusiasm from a decade ago has dwindled some. I find myself tired often and easily, my energy levels coming in shorter bursts and requiring longer recovery periods. My patience for things that seemed irrelevant at one time, seems far shorter.
I am turning into a grumpy old man.
I see my reflection or photos of myself and wonder what happened. The greys are encroaching faster and faster (luckily I still have a full head of hair), and the bags under my eyes are probably big enough to carry groceries in. I am aging. I am facing that truth of suffering, in that we all grow old.
Now while I have by no means thrown in the towel, and I am at the same time reaching that old man strength stage, it comes at the cost of needing naps now and yelling at neighborhood kids to get off of my lawn.
Yet, I digress.
Back to sitting on the floor with Brynn. She has the look of hurt in her eyes. I grab her tight and pull her in. “I’m sorry sugerbear…” I kiss her head and we just sit for a minute. She recovers quickly and darts off on her next adventure chasing down the cat. I recover less quickly. It hit me enough that I didn’t move from that spot for quite some time. The usual questions arise. What do I do now? What do I want to do with my life? How do I get there when I figure that out? The intro to the Talking Heads song starts rattling off in my head, “you may find yourself…”
So, how did I get here and what am I going to do now?
The first thing was to get up off of my ass and chase the cat with Brynn. The cat was a little irked but the look in Brynn’s eyes and the giggle is unreplaceable. We shared a cheese stick and sang from the Trolls soundtrack after that. Reclaiming moments is a step—an important one. Our time is nothing if not made up of moments of will and mindfulness. Those moments put together over time can be life changing or life damaging.
What will your next moment be made of? What will mine be made of?
Where can I be of the most benefit to my children and myself now that I am back out in the world at large? Where will I be the most happy and the most productive? It seems odd at 41 to be asking these questions again, but better now than never asked again and finding myself on the decline regretting instead of celebrating the moments I made and lived.
All this from a single moment of honesty from a child…a babe.
Photo: Brynn Phillips (provided by author)
Editor: Dana Gornall