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Posts in Family
A Taste of Parenthood

Seasons of life have tastes. 

I've found this is primarily true when I encounter a certain food and am taken back to a time long ago, usually a specific summer. 

Whenever I order an Angel Food smoothie from Smoothie King, I'm taken back to that summer when Emily and I ignored the sparks between us and kept our relationship friendly. We snuck into the YMCA three times a week to swim or work out and after we finished we drove to Smoothie King and doubled up on Angel Food. The summer of 1997 tastes like cold strawberry puree. 

Frozen burritos - it doesn't matter the brand - means the summer when my mom went back to school and lunches or afternoon snacks were whatever we found at home or the babysitter whipped up. Sam's sold entire bags of microwaveable burritos for pennies and I must have eaten a few hundred during the course of her getting a graduate degree. Reheated beans and tortilla remind me of what it's like for a parent to chase down a dream. 

Barbecue chicken and canned corn is my first summer job back in middle school, working in the clubhouse for the local minor league baseball team. Sunflower seeds are summers spent traveling and preaching around the southeast. Pizza dipped in ranch dressing is orientation freshman year and mashed potatoes with just enough garlic is the summer we moved into apartment 1202 together.  

And parenting? Parenting tastes like leftovers.  

I'm in the season of life that's not as much defined by summers as it used to be. Working in June is akin to working in August or November or March. Most Mondays are like those that came before it and until summers matter to my daughter, all I have to distinguish this season of life isn't a calendar but rather a mindset. Leftovers take me back to the time I tried to figure out this whole parenting thing and it takes way more than a summer.  

I eat what she doesn't, finishing yogurt cups and bowls of granola, the soggy end of an ice cream cone or a slice of cheese with bites taken out of the corner.  

Parenting tastes like this and looks like this - you picking up after and chasing after and running behind and negotiating and packing too many stuffed animals and wiping up after everything that happens in a given day. And in between all of that you eat what they don't and before you know it you've amassed a season worth of leftovers. 

Parenting a toddler is blurry at best, a flash of time and food and family and growing and sentences that start fine but go nowhere but you listen with rapt attention to watch their brain send words to their mouth as they struggle hard with a thought that means a lot to them. (You're watching an idea take shape live and in real time, for God's sake!) Time is less defined by some calendar and instead moves from one inconvenience to the next.  

Leftovers aren't sexy, they're seldom remembered, and they sometimes stick around longer than you might like. But I know this stage of parenting won't be here forever. The witnessing of the idea formation and all the cleaning up and the stuffed animals mattering - it'll turn soon, just like cereal standing in milk until lunchtime. Better lap it up while it's fresh. 

Soon life will be in another season when she has summers of her own to taste and they remind her of peanut butter M&Ms at the pool or cool watermelon slices that accompany long morning walks to the farmer's market. Her summers may be full of smoothies enjoyed after working out with a boy she can't muster the courage to tell him how she feels or maybe she'll one day be reminded of camp friendships when she shows her kids how to make s'mores.

And as she develops those tastes I hope she invites me to eat alongside so that her seasonal tastes can be mine, too.  

The beautiful thing about leftovers is that some event preceded it - some meal or intent created in the bonds of community or family that harkens back to a deep feeling of love and belonging. 

That's what it means to eat leftovers, and maybe one day I'll get to eat them with her.  

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My Daughter, the Thief

My daughter ran to me when I entered the playground, happy to be going home after what was certainly a fun and carefree normal day of school. She handed me her "treasures" as she calls them, a usual assortment of leaves, mulch, and rocks that she finds while playing outside. The best make their way home and if she remembers, she puts them in a small treasure box my mom made for her.

As we turn to go and she gave a few hugs to classmates, one spoke up, "Where is my rock?"

It's Amy, a nice, shy three-year-old that my daughter plays with often. "I would like my rock back, please."

My daughter seemed to know this was coming and answered with, "It's my rock, Dad."

This is a parenting first for me - a she-said/she-said between friends over a rock. There are hundreds of them on this playground, readily available to any child or adult who would like them. And of all the rocks on all the playgrounds, now we must determine who can lay claim to this one. Adding to the drama is the fact my daughter is making a beeline for the door. After all, the park and pudding await. She has no time for accusations about rocks.

I asked my daughter point blank: "Is that Amy's rock?"

"No. It's mine."

"Was Amy playing with it first? Did she give it to you to borrow?"

"No. I found it in the sandbox and it's my rock."

A teacher noticed our departure was taking longer than usual and comes to listen. She repeated the same line of questioning to my daughter and Amy. I've seen several episodes of CSI but surely even they never tackled something so complex.

The teacher assured me it'll be okay and bids us farewell. "See you tomorrow!" she cheerfully said, knowing that today's rocks become tomorrow's long lost memories for three-year-olds. Or maybe they become buried childhood memories that only surface after a night of heavy drinking and bad decisions in college.

As we entered the stairwell, something didn't quite feel right. I didn't think this rock was my daughter's to take. And so began the hardest conversation of my three-plus years of parenting.

"I really think this is Amy's rock," I said to my daughter as I asked her to stop on the top step.

"No! It's mine!" she defiantly told me.

"Did Amy have it first?"

"It's my rock!"

"You're not answering my question. Did Amy have it first and then did you take it or did she let you borrow it?"

"But I really want that rock! It's very special to me."

"It's Amy's rock, sweetheart. We need to give it back to her. We can get another one."

She started to cry. This idea - the giving back of the rock - doesn't sit well. She nearly made it out the door with her rock, the perfect playground heist. Her life of crime had begun until I interrupted it and played the heavy.

"If we pitch a fit, we won't go to the playground. Now tell me - does this rock belong to Amy?"

She finally mutters a yes through tears and desperation. "But I don't want to give it back to her."

"I understand you really like this rock," I tell her. "But it's not yours to keep. It's Amy's. We don't keep things that don't belong to us and we don't take things from other people. That's called stealing and that's wrong."

I could tell stealing is an abstract term and one she's not readily grasping. It quickly dawned on me that I had introduced a whole host of terms that most toddlers would find foreign and that even most of us adults struggle to understand: morality, personal property, community, retribution, reparations, testimony, dishonesty, intentions, confrontation.

I was really hoping to be better prepared to have this first discussion about truth. I was hoping it would fall nicely planned on a Friday, perhaps around 3 PM. You know - something I could plan, put on my calendar, and prepare for. For a guy who schedules time to check email, write, and even drive to meetings, having an impromptu conversation that you hope will prevent your daughter from eventually working her way up to grand larceny can be a bit nerve-wracking.

I fought back a smile as the ridiculousness of the perceived gravity of this situation hit me. But I pressed on. I couldn't back down on this one. I just couldn't. This was the time to lay the foundation of a basic understanding about other people's stuff and our stuff and the fact that we don't take other people's stuff. We're lucky to be able to get stuff on our own so we don't have to steal others'. Not even if it's a free worthless rock. Let them have their stuff. If we want something, we'll work hard and go get it.

I told her it's time to go back outside and give the rock back to Amy. She obliged.

The teacher was partly embarrassed and mostly confused, not assuming we spent the past 10 minutes in the stairwell discussing my daughter's rap sheet. She told me we didn't have to do that. "Yes we did," I said. "It was important."

But ultimately, the lesson wasn't the important part. By bedtime, my daughter forgot about the rock, the word stealing, and how she almost went to jail. I don't think she remembered the moral. But I do hope she remembered the story.

I hope she learned that when something serious happens, we're a family who talks about it. Whether the issue is a wrong that's happened, a major change on its way, or some piece of unexpected news, I hope she knows that talking about it is important enough that the park and pudding can wait and that serious conversations can happen in a stairwell on a moment's notice. We're not a family who hides the truth, mixes messages, or minces words. Let's be one who says what's up and does what's right.

Of course, with this approach, my words won't always be polished and my delivery won't be on point. It won't be like I'm on stage or this speech has been rehearsed a hundred times and I know exactly when the punchline's coming. Hard conversations can't be so perfect. But they don't need to be. Perfect conversations aren't really worth having - at least not with people we love. Perfect conversations are like lines from a play. They can sound great but everyone knows where this is going.

What we need to be better at seeking out are the meaningful conversations, no matter their degree of difficulty. Forget the perfect setting, the perfect reason, and the perfect day. Just start talking. Fumble through a sentence or two and trust me; you'll eventually get where you need to go, giving back a stupid but important rock to the other girl. And when you do, your daughter will grasp your hand, head down the stairs and you two will make it to the park to pick flowers, pick up sticks, and find a rock she can rightfully call her very own.

Your Children Are Watching

I know that not all of my readers have children, but when I ran across this quote, I had to share its impact:

"Both my parents gave themselves permission to pursue their dreams in life, to do something really excellent that was theirs."

This is what Bill Drayton tells author David Bornstein in the book How to Change the World. Drayton is the founder of Ashoka, an organization that is empowering social entrepreneurs around the world. Quite truthfully, Drayton's impact is immeasurable.

It's a good thing his parents weren't chained to jobs they hated and were willing to try something radical so he could do the same, in his own important way.

Err on the Side of Heart

New research suggests that spending time on our phone when in the presence of others is harmful to us (and not just rude). As it turns out, choosing to connect with our phone (instead of others) is not good for us.

So when faced with facing your phone or facing a friend, err on the side of heart. Connect with the person face-to-face. Besides, your phone doesn't give a damn about you.

Check it:

In short, the more attuned to others you become, the healthier you become, and vice versa. This mutual influence also explains how a lack of positive social contact diminishes people. Your heart’s capacity for friendship also obeys the biological law of “use it or lose it.” If you don’t regularly exercise your ability to connect face to face, you’ll eventually find yourself lacking some of the basic biological capacity to do so.

And, as a parent, I found this scary:

Work in social genomics reveals that our personal histories of social connection or loneliness, for instance, alter how our genes are expressed within the cells of our immune system. New parents may need to worry less about genetic testing and more about how their own actions — like texting while breast-feeding or otherwise paying more attention to their phone than their child — leave life-limiting fingerprints on their and their children’s gene expression.

Finally:

So the next time you see a friend, or a child, spending too much of their day facing a screen, extend a hand and invite him back to the world of real social encounters. You’ll not only build up his health and empathic skills, but yours as well. Friends don’t let friends lose their capacity for humanity.

Email can wait. So can those Facebook updates. Let's all make a commitment to be more human - like, way more human - and leave all those bings, beeps, tweets, and buzzes for another time. I, for one, have never regretted time spent with those I love. On the other hand, I am rarely delighted when scrolling, pinching, and zooming just to avoid boredom.

"Don't forget the little guy, Dad."

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My daughter and I were out on a walk. She has taken a liking to collecting sticks to bring back home and leave on our front porch (my fault). We found a stick and she began waving and playing with it until she hit it against a tree trunk and small piece of her stick broke off and fell to the ground.

She was sad but I pointed out there were lots of other sticks to choose from. She asked where the small piece was that fell off her stick.

"Don't worry about it," I told her. "It's just a little piece."

"No, Dad," she shot back. "We can't forget about the little guy."

Indeed. We can't.

She found it, picked it up, and put it in her pocket for the walk home. That little guy is on our porch now.

Longing for that Eternal Spring

Spring has not yet sprung but if you happen to live in a place that allows you to already catch a warming breeze randomly this time of year, then your heart can't help but pitter a little faster as you wait for the day when the temperature will more consistently hover above 60 and little green buds start to poke out on the branches of that one tree you always walk by but never seem to notice except in the spring when little green buds start to poke out on the branches.

Spring is eternal, I've concluded. Our longing for it starts in the doldrums of winter during those short, awful days when it's cloudy and there's barely a sunrise and then there's barely a day because it gets dark well before it should, like when we're still at our desk answering emails and waiting for spring. In those worst days of the year the weather is biting and the opposite of inviting. This is why we placed Christmas there. Having something inviting - like a meal or a home or a gift - keeps us sane when spring seems a lifetime away.

But not only is spring something forever set in the future, it is also something forever set in the past.

Spring is eternal in our mind and our hearts, the host of fond memories, especially the generic ones. Memories that are memories because of a moment and not a location always seem to use spring as the backdrop. You don't exactly remember the temperature or the weather that day you first met, but it was sunny enough and it wasn't cold. And even if your happenstance introduction happened in early March, it may have well be a tad warmer than sweater weather outside. Spring is new things, after all.

That birthday when she finally wasn't a "little" girl anymore. That call you'd been hoping for offering you the job. The publishing contract. College acceptance letters arriving. These are all spring moments, forever planted in our memory bank, the balance of which we are forever free to draw upon when we need a boost, perhaps in the abyss of a frigid winter, both physically and mentally. We can visit our eternal spring when we must, especially when our heart is breaking, our confidence waning, or our patience disappearing. Spring is so eternal that we may go there an unlimited amount of time and times without lessening its power or performance. Upon each visit, we will bask in the unbreakable newness of our eternal spring.

Trampoline flips as a kid. Hide and go seek matches in your backyard. Gooey chocolate chip cookies, steam still rising up while your impatient hands reach for one because they somehow taste sweeter when they're hot enough to burn something. Sleepovers. Makeovers. Road trips on a whim because you're young and when will you live this close to the beach again? Naps for the sake of napping (not because you're exhausted). Cooking something outdoors. Hikes and bikes.

These are all spring moments.

And so is companionship.

This is the deep spring we pray is eternal. Not just the newness of a relationship, but the relationship that is forever new each time we experience it, live and in the flesh and not just when our mind wanders there because we're lonely and the wine is gone and nothing good is on TV and it's cold outside. We want the relationship and the marriage and the togetherness that takes us to spring with each embrace and each conversation, each text and each meal. We want to be transplanted somewhere and yet stay here, arm in arm, eyes locked as we eat or read or parent or plan.

Our best relationships are spring moments, not because they last for but a short time, like the anticipation of a little green bud about to poke out, but because they forever create moments of hope that we may draw upon in any time of need or lack or want. This is the intimacy we long for, the vulnerability we're more than willing to risk, and the kind of person we want to be. We need the relationship that is an eternal spring for us, comforting us when we are together and when we are not.

And so each of us will long for that eternal spring until we find it, both deep within and so effortlessly without.

The Battle Isn't About Princesses; It's About Consumption

As father to a daughter and husband to a woman who has long believed in female empowerment, I am very cognizant of the "princess culture" believed to be perpetuated by corporations like Disney. The idea is that from an early age, little girls are inundated with the idea that being a woman means having an unattainable figure (usually with a waistline that fits through the eye of a needle) while waiting for a man to rescue you so that you can live happily ever after bearing children.

Of course, there can be a lot to laugh about:

Of late, it seems as though parents have tried to redeem some princesses. Belle is smart, so she can be admired. Rapunzel (whom my daughter adores) saves the man in the end, bucking a trend. Merida is athletic and smart and doesn't want to get married.

What has brought this all to the forefront of my consciousness is this recent Atlantic piece about a father who fought hard against the princess culture, to no avail. And while I understand the author's philosophical stance and reasoning, ultimately, I believe that if our battle is with princesses alone, we're ignoring a larger war we need to be fighting for and with our children.

For me, the battle isn't about eschewing princesses. For me it's about presenting options for play and enjoyment that are varied, particularly ones that create memories without creating debt and allow for creativity without circumventing childhood.

From birth, our daughter has always been presented with a wide array of clothing options. She can choose equally between a dress or pants on any given day. She can pick a pink shirt or a blue one. She can wear a skirt or shorts, purple pants or blue jeans. In other words, in her mind (right now), there are no "boy's clothes" and "girl's clothes." There are just clothes and whatever strikes her fancy on a given day she is allowed to wear.

Toy-wise, she has accumulated princess dolls alongside Mickey stuffed animals. She has princess dress-up clothes just like she has Legos. She has Hello Kitty toys and train sets. She collects hair bows and books and plays with both puzzles and a toy stroller. In other words, there are no "boy toys" or "girl toys." (Speaking of, I love this flow chart of what makes a toy "gendered.") And, USA Today recently looked at why toys are better when they can appeal to both genders.

Our quest, then, has primarily been one of equality. We've wanted to present a range of options, equally championing a golf set as we would a tea set. The decisions shall be hers, we tell ourselves. If she loves pink and lace, we will cherish it. If she prefers earth tones and basketballs, we will encourage it. 

And this is the chief task of parenting: to offer our children choice and then to accept their non-destructive choices as they turn from babies to children, children to kids, kids to teens, teens to adults, and adults to peers. As I'm very quickly learning with each passing day, many times my daughter will not choose for herself as I would pick for her. But the sooner any of us learn decisions have both benefits and consequences the sooner we can learn a process of deciding what works best for us and those we love. I prefer Daniel Tiger over Angelina Ballerina, but if I ask my daughter what she'd like to watch, I have to honor her selection. To present that as a choice and then force her into a particular option is deceit.

Therefore, I don't think the battle we need to be fighting as parents is one with princesses. I think the battle we need to fight is one with consumption, where personal choice reigns more supreme than any monarch. Part of what irks me about this princess culture is that much of it is tied to consumerism. Princesses are pushed because they're profitable, not because some company is trying to codify a feminine standard. This is what we get for living in a free market, not what we get for living in patriarchy.

Of course, we're still dealing with the vestiges of a bygone era that was much more dominated by men than women. That history creeps into this free market today and still affects to a large degree what is made and advertised. But, in the end, the market wins and determines what gets made again. Case in point? The Easy Bake Oven that's now available for both boys and girls.

The bigger lesson to teach, then, is that we can like what we want and we can spend our money in that pursuit. Just because the princesses scream the loudest from the toy aisle at Target doesn't mean we have to listen, not because they're princesses, but because we can do things we enjoy that don't cost money. I'd rather my daughter learn about her own dreams and abilities than those I want her to have. I want her to discover what she likes and why she likes it, no matter what it is she likes. 

Ultimately, if she wants to be a princess, I'll play a king as best I can. And when I do, we'll talk about how she can be a princess that doesn't exploit others, that balances her other needs and wants as a person and a member of a family and community, and that helps people in need. We'll figure out ways to be a princess and be nice to Mommy and Daddy while also riding a tricycle or scooter or going down a slide. I don't hide princesses from daughter; I show that princesses exist within a larger context that must be considered.

But ultimately, being a princess or a prince, a muppet or a mouse, a belle or a builder is about choice. And I'll chase any context, no matter how Disney-fied or Disney-free it is that helps her understand choice is about privilege and privilege is about responsibility.

And my warning to her will be that if she decides to princess, she must princess responsibly.

And Then She Burrowed

Nine hours in a car have a unique ability to make you tired after having done absolutely nothing. I mean, you sat and sat for nearly a full day. You didn't do wind sprints or burpees or move heavy things from shelf to shelf. You sat down, ate M&Ms, drank three Diet Cokes and nine hours later you wound up at a hotel.

Thankfully I have the talent of Sleep Anywhere Quickly. Seated, reclined, prostrate; on a bed, in a car, on a plane; in your house, in my house, in a hotel, in a Waffle House (unproven). No matter where or what position, if it's after 10 PM, I'm fairly certain that I can get to sleep fast.

This comes in handy on the few nights a year I share a bed with my daughter. While still early on, I'm not entirely certain she has inherited my Sleep Anywhere Quickly gene. But she's working on it.

Not wanting to sleep solo in a big queen bed that is right next to Mommy and Daddy's big queen bed, I joined her for the evening. The bedspread and pillows took a back seat to stuffed animals, books, toys, and any other thing she could find that had to also sleep alongside us. After some late night (for her, so like, 8:30 PM) TV, the three of us turned off the light and said our good-nights.

We talked for a while, and then she burrowed.

I, lying on my sliver of bed as close to the edge as one can get without actually going over said edge, felt a tiny head puncture the big of my back (I don't know if "big of my back" is a medical phrase, like small of one's back is, but in this case, I simply mean it to be upper back). The top of her head burrowed perfectly between two of my vertebrae so that I awoke resolutely, but not in a startled way. There was no pain, just the distinct feeling you get when someone is half-asleep and trying to burrow in or under you. 

Her legs scurried, trying to get her closer to me. Wanting warmth or comfort - or perhaps both - she burrowed for a minute more before her deep breathing resumed and she was ready for another few hours of sleep.

I was trapped between my offspring and springing off the bed. Sleep Anywhere Quickly comes with its caveats, one of them assuming a reasonably comfortable position. For me, this is on my right side or my back. Finding myself as the den in which my progeny burrowed allowed for neither.

I tried to subtly shift my weight, looking for a place for my left arm to rest. As I shifted, so did my mole-daughter, and we eventually ended up with me on my back and her in my arms. This lasted for a good two hours before she again needed to burrow to remain asleep, this time choosing my armpit, which at this stage in her life is perfectly head-sized, meaning she can aim the crown of her skull directly into the most sensitive part of my armpit, causing me to want to react with a yelp that is a combination of being stabbed and being tickled.

We adjusted again and she burrowed again. Our dance continued until just shy of 6 AM. The drawback of Sleep Anywhere Quickly is that once the tiredness is gone, there is no sleeping whatsoever. Lying in bed becomes wasted time and one with this talent/disease may as well get up and make coffee, write, read, or begin the day's woodworking. Or, in this case, see if one's burrowing daughter is also awake then gently wake the Great Sleeping Wife who has the opposite of Sleep Anywhere Quickly and hit the road to Grandmom and Granddad's house.

This won't be the last time we share a bed, my daughter and I. And whether it turns out she has full blown Sleep Anywhere Quickly or just some strain of it, I hope she doesn't stop the burrowing. I hope she knows that she can sink her head in my back or my armpit or my arms whenever the need calls for it, be it an unfamiliar night in a hotel, the tragedy of a broken heart, the occasion of a missed expectation, or the deep grief that comes with a meaningful loss.

And I hope I can be the dad that serves as a great burrowing place, sacrificing sleep or comfort or plans for the chance to be warmth, the possibility of feeling like a home, the opportunity to be needed.

This is the sacrifice of family, then. Family doesn't say, "You needs can be met if my needs are met, too."

Family doesn't say, "Your needs can be met if my needs are met next."

Family simply says, "Your needs can be met."

Because in the meeting of the needs of those we love - be they children, partners, parents, or friends - we'll find our needs are always met, too. We need to be burrowed into as much as we need to burrow.

FamilySam DavidsonComment
What Christmas Means

While some would say this time of year is only about a baby born in a manger or a jolly man flinging presents, I think there's more to this holiday. I think the Christmas season shows us something about ourselves, our fellow humans, and what we can accomplish together.

Christmas means that new things can happen when we least expect it.
Christmas means that we have within us the capability to do something nice for someone else.

Christmas means that deep in our core we long for human connection more than we long for anything else.
Christmas means that a year's worth of mistakes and downs can be replaced by hope, optimism, and the chance to do better next year.
Christmas means that we're all getting better, one step at a time.
Christmas means that we have the ability to warm each other, no matter how cold the world may seem.
Christmas means that each of us can do what it takes to make someone else happy, making ourselves a little bit happier in the process.
Christmas means that we're part of a story bigger than ourselves, a story that has been going on for quite some time and will continue to be told long after we're gone.
Christmas means that babies and children have a lot to teach us.
Christmas means that expectation is important.
Christmas means that story and belief are central to our function as humans.
Christmas means that it gets better.
Christmas means that together, we're much better than we are apart.

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Family, FaithSam DavidsonComment
The rocketship of parenthood

After the delivery team left and I'd put the sheets on, I laid on her new big bed, staring up a the ceiling, watching the fan spin its slow, quite rotation as I reflected back on nearly three years of parenting - the coddling and the toddling, the beams and the screams, the hugs and the shrugs. It was nearly three years ago to the day that I struggled and cussed through assembling a crib, learning far too late in the process that a 2-inch screw won't do for a hole that needs a 2-and-a-quarter-inch screw and why they didn't put a big warning on the front of the manual alerting you to this reality is beyond me and I figured the percentage of dads who get to this stage not aware of this pitfall must be hovering near 95% and then I just took it all apart and started over.

The starting over - you don't get a shot at that when you parent. Do-overs don't exist. You get one shot in each situation. What quiets a crying baby on a full flight? How do you respond when your daughter doesn't want to get dressed? What do you say the first time she asks if you're mad? How do you describe the day she came home from the hospital? Walk slowly, friend. You get one stab at this, fumbling your way through persuasion and turns of phrase so a two-year-old mind can grasp that which a two-year-old mind needs to grasp.  

I lay there on her double bed - the mattress, box springs, Hello Kitty sheets, big blanket - all of it serving as a wake-up call to let me know once again that this ride doesn't stop. In those early days when you wonder if you'll ever be able to use words - my chief asset as a writer and speaker - to assess why she's crying and upset, time moves slowly, mainly because you're sleepwalking through life, waking up when your daughter does, holding her and a bottle while you're half awake, lulled to sleep by sheer exhaustion and the rhythmic tune of a breast pump in the next room. When the bottle's empty, some nights you just stay there in the recliner, content to sleep anywhere because you're so tired but you also don't want to move because you're holding the only thing you've ever loved for no reason at all and you know deep down that this ride is going to speed up soon and being in your arms might be the last place that thing you love for no reason at all will want to be one day.

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Three years goes by like a dream - the kind that's so vivid you can recount every detail at breakfast but you only remember the highlights by dinner. Luckily, unlike a dream, you have pictures and video and someone else who was there, too. You and your wife try to reconstruct infancy and crawling and toddlerhood, but at best this is a revisionist's rendering edited by time and love. Those baby cries get depth to them and become wails when she hits her head on the doorknob or can't have cake for breakfast. And that's when you wake up and find yourself reasoning with someone who's but 30 months as to why she needs to finish the banana by the time you throw away that toxic diaper and wash your hands so you two can watch Dinosaur Train. Again.

It's at that moment you really start to realize that this ride is a rocketship and it was all along. It wasn't slow in the early days after all. Those first four weeks turned to eight in a flash - they really did - and then she was six months old and you were at Disney World already and hey look - she's walking! - and now she's stringing a sentence together and then several and now she's requesting cupcakes for her second birthday and it's out with the crib and in with the mattress she'll have until she moves out.

I look up and see the fan continue to rotate. Slowly. Methodically. And then I get up, walk to the door, turn off the light, and wait for her to come home from school to see her giant bed, knowing in that just a few years - which will fly by shooting stars - it won't be so big any more. I want this ride to slow down but that's not an option. Parenthood is lived in the fast lane. Actually, it's more like the supersonic lane, traveling at the speed of life.

My hope for you is to rest this week

To my American readers and followers: please leave the office tomorrow (or today, even) and stay gone - physically, mentally, emotionally - until Monday.

That email can wait (hopefully, the person on the other end is taking time off, too).

No phone calls. People hate phone calls any time of year.

The holidays are coming. They will smack you in the face with their stress and guilt and travel. Breathe easy now. You'll need it.

Do as Sarah Peck suggests and tell yourself to "take the time I need to be the person I need to be, completely."

Family. Your work is in vain if you don't have the purpose of it providing something better for those you love the most.

Make sure to eat. Food will be aplenty the next few days. Taste the turkey or tofurkey, the mashed potatoes and the sweet potato pie, the cranberry crap from a can and whatever else your aunt makes that people eat out of politeness. Drink deeply with people you think of often.

It's a fine time to be reminded of these words by Anna Quindlen:

You cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are.

That's right. Even the top players have more to them than a single-minded devotion to output. Use the rest of this week for input - to put inside of you the downtime, energy, memories, hope, enthusiasm, and optimism you need for the rest of 2012.

Enjoy your week. I'll see you back here on Monday.

Where is work?
Transient

A few weeks ago, Kivi Leroux Miller posted an infographic detailing how we're all working when we're not at work. While I love the ease and convenience of technology, the facts in the infographic are stark:

  • Just 3% of people say they don't work while on vacation
  • A whopping 98% of workers send emails on nights and weekends
  • And almost 60% of us make business decisions at home

The trick, of course, is to stay balanced. If checking email on vacation lets you actually spend time away from an office for longer, then go for it. If you can attend to pressing personal matters during a typical work day because you can make up for lost time after the kids go to bed, then kudos.

But just because we can work from anywhere doesn't mean we have to work from everywhere. Check out more info in this video:

What do you think?

Is work just a state of mind now? And if so, is that a good thing?

Time, Family, WorkSam DavidsonComment