So I just became a dad for the first time. It was a bit of a scary entry into the world. He spent the first week of his life in intensive care due to high infection markers. It was hard seeing him living in an incubator with all these tubes and wires attached to him.
That seems a lifetime ago now. Little Jaxon just turned 6 weeks old. He’s bang on the 50th percentile which means he’s exactly average weight for his age. You wouldn’t know by looking at him though. He’s what you’d call skinny-fat. He’s got a plump little belly and quite the double chin. In fact, 2chinz is his gangster name.
I thought I knew what it felt like to burn the midnight oil. I’ve stayed up late many nights working on well…work: Writing articles, building out courses, mapping projects, analysing data, late-night reading and so on. I’ve had to push through mental fatigue and brain fog to get stuff done.
But there’s something about looking after a newborn that takes this to a whole new level. I thought I knew what the height of exhaustion felt like. I now know there’s a whole other level that I never knew about before. Well trust me, now I know.
Getting up every 3 hours to complete a cycle of feeding, burping, and nappy changing (that takes up to an hour), so I can go back to bed for 2 hours before repeating the cycle. Notice I said going back to bed, not sleeping. Since I’m a light sleeper, it’s no guarantee that I’ll fall back to sleep immediately. Sleeping like this really knocks me off balance as I may not reach the deep sleep phase – the part that really aids mental and physical recovery.
Before Jaxon, there weren’t many things that would kick me out of bed, especially when it’s the middle of the night and I’ve had a really long day. Going on holiday would definitely be one of them. No matter how late I went to bed, knowing I was about to jump on a plane to an overseas beach holiday was enough motivation to literally spring me out of bed with excitement at 4am in the morning.
Now I can add doing father duties to that short list. My son needs me. He literally needs me to survive. But I don’t break my sleep 3 times in the night because I have to. I do it because I want to. We often use the words ‘have to’ more than we should. I make a strong effort not to use those words because it takes away my responsibility to choose. It feels much less empowering to say ‘have to’.
I don’t have to get up to feed the little dude. I want to. I choose to. I do it because that’s what love requires of me. And I choose to love him. With every tired cell in my body, I will love him with everything I have to give. I use Jaxon as an example because, well, he’s pretty taken over our lives at the moment. But the question and title of this article extends beyond parenthood into every area of our lives.
Think about your workplace and all the relationships you have with the people there. Perhaps your work is like heaven where everyone just gets along perfectly and in harmony. Or more likely, you come across people where you don’t see eye to eye, where the stakes are high and you share different views. I’m being polite. You’re actually raising your voices, pointing fingers, and stomping your feet. In the heat of the moment when you’re hashing things out in conversation, ask “what does love require of me?”.
When something triggers you on social media, when someone sends you a provocative message or email, ask yourself “What does love require of me?” before you take any action. If you’re struggling to hear the answer, it’s because you’re still angry. So pause and then ask again. What does love require of me?
This question reorientated your compass. It makes you think about something more important than being ‘right’. It makes you think about being kind and patient and humble. It makes you prioritise the person over the problematic issue.
Whenever you find yourself in a situation where you’re struggling to move forward, with clarity in a way you won’t regret later, ask this powerful question and listen carefully to the response. I promise you, it will help you make better decisions as you go about your day, week, month, year, and life!