I went “stay at home dad” a few years ago, and unwittingly entered into the world of too much food, too much coffee, too much booze, and too much TV.
If you’re considering the world of at-home parenting, hide the chips man, it’s super hard.
Toughest thing for me is the lack of “wins.” I used to run my own business. I could regularly measure my successes. At the end of most weeks, I could sit back and say, “well done.”
This? I’m just happy that I’m not incarcerated at the end of the day.
I constantly break up fights, repeat myself over and over again, get critiqued daily for my poor choice of menu options, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. There are few wins here, so when I get some down time I want to escape, fast.
Enter food, coffee, booze, TV, and a whole new level of angry-chubby.
I’ve always been delayed gratification (DG) challenged, but it’s off the hook in this, the darkest hour of my life. The idea that I need to feel some discomfort now, so that I can feel good later, doesn’t make as much sense as feeling good now…
…which leads to more discomfort later, which leads to another big boy pour – wash, rinse, repeat.
DG seems harder than instant gratification (IG), but it’s not – I know this. You feel much more discomfort in your life if you let IG run the show. But, until a recent, life-examining 6AM 2 hour stroll on a beach in Tamarindo, I haven’t spent much time thinking about how stupid it is to put something in my face everytime I feel bad.
Having ruminated on my predicament for a bit, here are a few reflections…
With DG, I’m forced to submit to something that’s bigger than I am. I have to accept the way the world works, and if I play along with the rules, I can be happier. But I have authority issues. I don’t like other people’s rules. I like to be in control, even if I have to feel like crap just so I can drive the bus.
Bad feelings are opportunities to feel better, as long as I’m willing to feel bad in the moment. It never lasts forever, and always seems to lead into a time of peace, or hope, or insight, or thankfulness – something that the good folks at Blue Bell™ have never been able to deliver.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dissing ice cream, craft beers, chips, oreos, pizza, TV, skittles, popcorn, cheese, Grand Marnier™, butter, GoGurt™, sugar in any form, especially with butter, or binge watching. Sometimes it’s good to get my head out of the game for a bit.
But when these become my chosen coping tools, I’m actually signing up for more discomfort, especially because too much “escaping” makes me weak – the next time discomfort comes along I’ll be even worse at trying to deal with it.
I think “all things in moderation” is a crappy slogan. I don’t need more self-control, I need to trust discomfort. But our culture doesn’t appreciate discomfort, it’s hell-bent on avoiding it, and has me totally convinced that bad feelings are bad. I’ve spent most of my adult life believing that the best course of action when I’m feeling bad is to escape.
But bad feelings are just as much a part of feeling good as good feelings are.
So, for 2018, after I finish my third Diet Coke on the flight home from Costa Rica, I’ll be breaking up with instant gratification. Too many times has she offered a bowl of happiness with nuts and a cherry, only to leave me broken hearted, wanting more, and worse off than I was before.