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The Joy and the Terror

If you don’t like this week’s title, it could always be renamed ‘The Sweet Insanity’ of parenthood.

As a nation we have just celebrated Valentine’s Day and I trust you were able to celebrate it too. Hopefully you took the Dads4Kids Valentine’s Day Challenge and you are more in love this week than you were last week.

The funny thing about falling in love with a woman is that it produces ‘new creatures’ that seem to help you fall out of love with the woman you fell in love with. Children are a product of love and yet they seem to conspire against love, or at least that’s the way it feels. If you don’t have children you won’t know what I’m talking about.

Children bring great joy to a man and a woman. Who can forget the joy of holding your newborn baby in hospital for the first time? It is a mind blowing experience, that as one big burly footballer at last year’s grand final said with tears running down his eyes, “The only better thing than winning the grand final is being there at the birth and holding your baby close”.

Fast forward four weeks, when you wife is still having problems breast feeding, the baby won’t sleep and you haven’t had sex for what seems like years, your relationship seems to be in free fall and your baby is the source of all the problems. In fact, you even start to get jealous of your ‘new baby’ because you suddenly seem to have lost the old one.

If you have experienced the joy and the terror of children you are going to really love this new CocaCola commercial. It’s only 60 seconds and I am sure, if you are like me you will play it again and again, and send it to all your friends and enemies. It cuts to the core of the challenge of fatherhood like nothing else I have ever seen. www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRqUTA6AegA

Heartwarming   Coca -Cola Life commercial showing trials and tribulations parenting – its   beautiful

What did you think? It is extremely clever, very well acted and really cuts to the core issue. I call it ’embracing death to self’.  You see, we are all born selfish. Babies are exemplary at getting you to do just what they want. Patience and good manners are foreign ideas. I can remember when I once lifted up one of my sons high in the air, without a nappy, and he peed all over me. We rarely make the same mistake twice, but with children we seem to happily make it over and over again as that advert so beautifully shows.

I think, for many men, the challenge that fatherhood brings is simply too much. They go into a kind of emotional paralysis. Some women experience this as well, but it seems to be more common among fathers.

I have a simple solution to the problem. You simply have to run towards the flame. Women are more adept at this (mine is anyway), but we can learn from them.

I remember after I had my first three of five children. I was surfing most weekends, playing guitar in the church band and playing in the local church soccer competition. I had to make a decision about who, and what, should come first.

As Larry Norman sang, with apologies to Robert Frost,

“Two roads diverged in the middle of my life, I heard the wise man say. I took the one less travelled by and that’s made the difference, every night and every day”.

You can guess the decision I made? Sadly, I had to lay my guitar down for a while and the spiders got inside my soccer boots. I still got the occasional surf, but I am glad I took the road less travelled by, and my children are too!

Lovework

Keep running towards the flame. You know that you will get burnt, but the more you receive the more you give because the flame is the flame of love. As the poet said, “Love is stronger than death”.

As we die to our own wants and needs, we rise again in love to others.

Yours for the joy and the terror

Warwick Marsh

PS. If you are like me, over the last week I have pushed myself to accept the Dads4Kids Valentine’s Challenge. I have done things that I have never done
before and I can assure you, the love tank is a lot higher than it was this time last week. My wife received a letter of appreciation, in the mail, every day for five days. We are both happier and more in love now than we were at the beginning of the week. Yes, it took effort. Yes, I had to be less selfish this week than usual, but the science of gratitude is correct. Saying thank you makes you happier. Not only that – the love fire burns brighter.

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