Reinvent myself as family first

445AM. Bzzz. Grind coffee. Fidget with wetsuit zipper. Pour. Brew. Bowel movement.

540AM Toes in Lake Harriet. Rainy. First time pitter patter rain swim. Dad’s already in. Somewhere. Good swim. Strong arms. Thick glide. Easy stroke. Big waves on the south side. Pushed through.

7AM. Again coffee.

This chronology reveals selfishness. Which is good. We all need to carve out time for ourselves. Grow our garden of passion. Yada yada. Especially as a parent. Find the niche of personal space. Avoid insanity. I have no problem with this. Except I have so much of no problem with this that I take take take without give give giving. Our marriage partner marries our best and worst traits and this might be one of my slipperiest shadow sides. The fact that I think mostly of myself first, instead of others.

As parent, and as a marriage partner, this trait is unfortunate. I’m cutting the conversations that led up to this realization. Or the deluge of frustration. It’s like the construction job on the street next to our house. Sometimes you need to rip out the pavement, cut down the trees, dig a huge hole in the middle of the street, gut the pipes, and fucking start from scratch. Sometimes you need to yell and say harsh things because that’s what gets the job done.

Kate does, and has been doing, more than 50% of the workload with the baby. It’s a difficult thing to admit. As it’s also difficult to admit that I have to rewire my psychology to be less self-focused and push the needle more towards others and team and community and Kate. From breastfeeding, to dog walking, to vacuuming, to laundry, to washing the bedsheets, to feeding the baby, changing the baby, playing with the baby, napping with the baby, she’s the dominant workhorse and I’m on the kitchen floor with a foam roller massaging my IT band. I do contribute, but I do hypnotically think of myself in most situations. I don’t know what neurons or genes cause this. Or what environmental factors or upbringing.

I’m not a lethargic cow, chewing cud while watching nightly news. But I’m more cow than field surgeon skipping from body to body asking if they need water or a quick shot of whiskey.

Maybe The Alt Dad Diary is the perfect illustration of self-obsession. Let me tell you about my life. Me me me. Maybe it’s beautiful and maybe there’s something to be said for honesty and public admission, but to what degree is it a self-absorbed whining? Like foam rolling on the kitchen floor while Kate is folding laundry?

The beautiful thing about being shitty at something is that you can always improve. When I set my mind to something, be it marathon training or alcohol consumption management, I succeed. I’m wired that way. Obsessed. So it’s just about identifying goals. Once something is on the goal list, or the to-do list, it’ll get crossed off. As a matter of fact.

So, Monday. You know, they say there’s always two sides to an argument. I think that’s true. There are. Maybe married men see the women breastfeeding the baby and they extrapolate like oh, that little ameba baby is THEIRS (meaning the woman’s) and I’m here to hunt and lift big rocks and that’s the division of labor. If I had to take a non trained neuroscientist stab at my inner working, I’d say that’s kind of the primal musing that’s going on.

After this morning’s talk, it’s been a rest day. Napped with the baby. Fed her organic cheerios and quiche. The ax of silence falls heavy. Making mistakes is miserable. The ego is limping along. But so it goes. And brighter days are ahead.

No growth without pain.