Thoughtfully Awake

As a parent you are always looking to be a better human being in order to serve as a better example for your kids.  Sometimes you can become a better person simply as the result of maintaining some piece of your dwindling sanity.

My oldest daughter hated sleep for the first year of her life.  It was either that or she liked my wife and me so much that she couldn’t bear to be away from us for one minute, even if she had mercifully fallen asleep.  I tend to think it was the former because I’ve met me and the latter just isn’t that likely, but that is inconsequential.  She would only sleep while laying on one of us for at least that first year (I’m still not sure exactly how long it went on because my memory of that year is pretty cloudy – 6 hours of sleep a month will do funny things).

Eventually, though, her sleeping improved slightly, that is to say she would occasionally sleep by herself for short stints.  It was during this time that my wife and I developed the first two rules for our house in the era of children:

Rule #1 – Don’t wake the baby.

Rule #2 – Seriously, DON’T WAKE THE BABY.

There were grave consequences were either of these rules to be violated, too.  Primarily, you would have a baby that was awake.

Further complicating the sleep situation in our house, we somehow became pregnant with our second daughter, Lemon, when Bug was about 6 months old.  I say ‘somehow’ because, as I mentioned, that first year of Bug’s life is still pretty fuzzy.  So, now I was living with a baby who was clearly hostile to sleep and a pregnant wife who was increasingly hostile to being awake.  It was incumbent upon me to put every effort forward that I could possibly muster to ensure sleep happened in our house.

My part of the solution was to become the most considerate human being that has ever walked the Earth.  I would take any precaution – unplugging appliances, disconnecting phones, aggressively thwarting possible door knockers, putting socks on the dog – but mostly I got into the habit of going through my every motion mindfully so as not to disturb even a cushion of air that I passed.  I trained myself to go about each moment of everyday thinking of others first.  Mind you, some of the motivation was largely in the interest of the salvation of my sanity, but the results were the same.

Sleep happens in my house now, or at least it is much more routine than it once was (as far as I can remember), but the lessons leading to my constant consideration of those around me have remained.  And while such vigilance had a specific purpose in the beginning, there has been an unexpected and enduring by-product – happiness.  The practice of thinking of others before I thought of myself, of selfless consideration, has directly led to me being a happier person.  As my ego fades, my light grows – and the Thoughtful Pop walks on, smiling.  No amount of sleep could ever feel this good.

*Author’s Note – It would be grossly inaccurate to imply that I found my way alone to a considerate life.  I was given an enormous head start on that path long before I was a Pop at all by the original Thoughtful Pop, my Dad.  Allen Brown is consideration embodied and exemplifies the life of “service above self”.  Thanks, Pop – as has been so clear to me throughout my life, my happiness can be traced back to you.

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About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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15 Responses to Thoughtfully Awake

  1. Jared Karol says:

    another great post, Mitch. I guess we see greatness in people that exhibit characteristics that we know we can’t find in ourselves. We were lucky that Juliet starting sleeping through the night at four months, and Max not too long afterward. Your post was refreshingly – surprisingly? – clear of any mention of aggravated swearing, kicking and throwing objects around the house, and getting into petty useless arguments with those you love. . . how do you do it? Or did you leave those parts out? Of course those tantrums were just things that I’ve heard other people have done. . .

    As always, looking forward to the next post. . .

    Occasional thoughtful pop, Jared

    • Oh, my friend, that subject matter will be covered. It was left out of this one because Holly and I seriously remember very little from Ro’s first year (and probably didn’t have the energy to erupt in the first place). I would even question that Nina was mine if she didn’t look so much like me and have an utter disdain for authority.

  2. yara says:

    Mitch – I love this. I love that you are doing this. so great!!!! can’t wait to read more.

  3. Brenda says:

    Mitchell:
    What a wonderful example you are for your “little women” to follow. I can see why Holly loves you so much…she has nothing but loving appreciation for you and how much you help her and your family to be the safe haven it is for all of you. This post was forwarded to me by my daughter Jessie, and I’m so glad she thought to pass it on to me. I didn’t know who had written it until I saw Nina’s name, after having seen Rohen’s, and thought, “could this be Mitchell?!” What a treasure! Please give my love to Holly and know how important you are to your 3 girls.

  4. Darren says:

    Good stuff Mitch. Nothing like having an adorable little girl watching every move you make to create some accountability in our lives to be a better person. The benifits of fatherhood are endless.

    • Thanks, Darren. Well put – I am constantly surprised by how much I can learn about myself through these two little beings. They don’t miss a damn thing and, honestly, I’m glad they don’t. Congrats on being a new uncle.

  5. Kami says:

    Really great post Mitch! Granted I never really had a chance to get to know u well but I always thought of u as this type of person. I’m glad that you are getting the chance to experience it as a father. God Bless you and your family.

  6. Eric Bresnick says:

    You got me hooked Mitch. I’m up to speed and ready for the next one……

  7. David says:

    Socks on the dog? That’s a new and desperate level. Great credits to your Dad. I am going to love reading you.
    Namaste,
    David

  8. Pingback: My Magic Wand | Thoughtful Pop

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