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About 3 years ago I was still living in the buzzing urban centre of Tel Aviv. I remember driving in the car with my wife, then pregnant, and seeing 2 different men walking down the boulevard with they’re little loved ones. They were young, city men. Good looking, but different. The first man had that “young city guy” look. He walked with his head up — not bearded, but not shaved. He had some sort of joy of life in his walk. He was fresh. The second man, on the other hand, looked like he was about to succumb to life. He was a bit bent, had a frowning face, untidy shirt and walked with unwitting steps. They were very similar men in a similar situation, but there was something very different about them. And it’s not what you think. The second, tired guy, was walking with his kid. The first, fresh guy, was walking his dog.
Three years and 2 kids later I have nothing smart to say about raising kids, but a lot to say about how it feels. No good advice to give for staying fresh, but a lot of insight about the importance of fresh appearances in life.
It’s all about letting go. But not the “letting go” that self help guru’s tag as important. It’s about letting go of who you are. As a young guy working in tech and feeling fairly cosmopolitan I had tons of dreams about life. The world looked like a great party, and I wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to drink all night and wake up late, I wanted to read that Dostoyevski I never got the chance to. I wanted to hack my way through an iPhone app that will make me millions, or just start an awesome startup and become a world traveling CEO (actually, I’m more of a CTO type).
It’s all dreams, I know, but I felt that this is the world I can have and that those night-crying, poop-generating, money-grabbing little kids will only stand in my way. And then my wife got pregnant. It wasn’t all chance, we tried like hell, but trying was easy. The thought that soon I’m going to learn how to change diapers was hard. Until I realized it’s all about letting go.
Becoming a parent is, essentially, suicide for your ego. And at first, your ego is not that interested.
Becoming a parent is letting go of your present self. Because even though in reality you still have time to read the Dostoyevski, you are letting go of a major chunk of yourself. And that is why becoming a parent is the worst thing that can happen that you — it’s, essentially, suicide for your ego. And at first, your ego is not that interested.
The acceptance of the fact that my present self is being slaughtered helped me get through. Because I suddenly realized that “self” is … unrealistic at best. And so, letting go of my present dreams, that are actually carved out of very partial views of the world, became a positive thing. Just letting life do to me what it does when I fulfill my biological destiny. It is a luxury young city men hardly get. We spend our lives avoiding constraints. And letting life make you realistic kind of focuses you on what’s important. So here’s a small list of things I got to feel with my 2 daughters that made my life awesome:
I Appreciate Sleep Like Never Before
Suddenly, I go to sleep early and realize it’s actually what I always wanted.
I Wake Up Early
At the beginning it was hard, but then I found out there’s a whole day before 10 AM.
I Became More Focused
If you have motivation to do what you want, you suddenly find the time and the focus to do it. There’s no kidding around when your child need you, so when she doesn’t I just focus on what’s important to me.
I Found Unconditional Love
I’ve always read books, poems and blogs. I watch TV and see cannes festival films. But I never experienced anything the resonated with a fraction of the force of love I have for my daughters. When my child smiles at me, any burden is lifted.
I Found A Soft Side
Now, I know it’s not all positive, but as I get to be more around my daughters my emotions are heightened. It’s as if they’re an emotion amplifier. And it’s actually quite nice.
I’m More Forgiving Towards Myself
It comes with the depletion of my resources because of all the time and effort spent on my daughters. Suddenly I stopped being hard with myself on every thing that’s not perfect — I don’t have the time to whine. I just forgive myself and move in a more rational, pragmatic fashion.
Every Little Thing My Child Does Makes Me Proud And Happy
I learn to restrain myself and think of my reactions towards my child’s actions. The intimate connection and the empathy towards a baby’s cluelessness allows me to look at every mistake my daughter (any one of them) does as a lesson to be learned. And through that I see life’s simplicity. I learn about myself from my reactions and emotions to my kid’s actions.
Above All, I See The World From The Point Of View Of A Child
Seeing the world from the point of view of a child, at the age of 32, is something priceless. It doesn’t really matter that you don’t look “fresh” because you didn’t sleep and didn’t have the time to buy a f***ing shirt in the last 6 months. I see the world as a given trueness, a place to learn and live in. I see people as a variety, as grown up children. I know I can still chase my startup CTO dreams, just in a different way.
I stopped looking for my way to conquest the world. I just look at the world as a playground for me and my family, while making sure we get along. And if we get along, everything is awesome. And my daughters are the best thing that ever happened to me.
Guy Harpak is sharing parts of a journey through life, tech and being a human being. He is 32 years old, happily married, raising 2 daughters and a dog.