I often get asked the same questions by new, expecting, or prospective parents. “What is the toughest part of being a parent?” “What’s the toughest part about having twins?”
Parenthood presents plenty of different challenges for everyone; they differ, as do the skill sets of each parent to deal with them. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is an important part of being able to divide and conquer the challenges of parenthood. But what about times when playing to the strengths of the individual parent is not an option?
0 to 100 and back to 0
A particular challenge for me as a parent is being patient, especially when I first come home from work. As someone with an analytical disposition, my brain’s synapses are an organized chaos during work. Usually any thought or action triggers multiple additional thoughts and analysis, creating an exponential reaction. Although central to my success as a marketing manager at a software company, this sort of disposition can quickly become overwhelmed when multiple children are thrown in the mix.
I don’t have my wife’s calm patient presence or a mild disposition. Instead, I embody one of my wife’s favorite phrases, “Anger is the dark side of passion, and one cannot exist without the other.” I care about things too much; in fact, I want them to be perfect. Perfection is a rare occurrence under normal circumstances, let alone during parenthood. But all logic is forgotten when your two year old twins are screaming at the top of their lungs about a toy whilst you’re trying to prepare dinner or complete a list of chores.
No Logic. Only Patience.
Arguing, reasoning, and shouting do nothing to quell the incessant need of attention of a toddler. I can’t explain to my little ladies that daddy mentally organized the list of things to do, and this is the best order in which to accomplish them or that the food won’t cook itself.
What I can do is show patience and perseverance, even if that’s not always my natural reaction. So I had to find ways to decompress and slow down the ever-racing mind enough to be patient with my children, such as taking a longer route home from work or doing breathing exercises in the driveway. It was a slow process, and there were other methods I used before settling with the ones that worked best. From allowing myself to be angry only at a certain hour, between 8 and 9 pm when my kiddos were long asleep, to going on a night time walk, I took time finding what helps me change my gears so that I can be a better person and parent once I’m home.