There are 5 balls – work, family, friends, health and spirit…
Thursday was not a good day. And when I say not a good day I mean it was the absolute pits. I’m talking the sort of day you only have once every few years, maybe. Some of you may never have felt like this but I’m fairly confident most people reading this can relate.
It’s a day when you have been feeling run down with the enormity of everything in your life. People around you may have noticed a change in your mood and attitude in the run up.
Now, the funny thing about it for me was that there was not one thing that I could put my finger on as the reason for how I was feeling, but I was truly lower than a snake’s belly on Thursday.
Small things add up
The truth of it is this: everyone struggles from time to time and everyone has their own problems. Everyone’s problems are different and sometimes it feels like your issues are totally insignificant compared to that of others. It can make you feel almost guilty for feeling blue. Let me tell you, a hundred small things can weigh just as heavy on a person as single, more serious issue. This was the case for me on Thursday morning.
From the minute I woke up my mind was consumed and frankly overran with a tonne of seemingly insignificant, small problems. In hindsight, when I strip it down, the problems are obvious, and each of them surmountable in their own right. Work had been stressful, as always; education is a tough industry to work in these days. The Poo Monster had still been poorly, meaning we were on day 13 of regular vomiting and poop explosions and consequently very little sleep and a lot of worry. On top of this I had been trying to learn the new skills needed for this blog in whatever time I can find. As a new dad only 6 months in, I was feeling the strain.
This had led to a build up of pressure that I didn’t actually see coming. I knew I had been a bit down, feeling what I can imagine a large number of working fathers must feel. Coming home to a baby that is both grumpy and tired, you feel you’re missing out on the best bits. You’ve done your shift at work and you’re exhausted. You come home and things aren’t as they were before the little chunk arrived. You’re tired, Mum is tired, baby is bored or restless. It is rarely the perfect picture you see on the Pampers adverts when you are dealing with the days many stresses.
At work, the endless deadlines, aimless meetings, frustrating encounters, and scrutiny will take their toll on the most hardy soul, especially when those around you are feeling and demonstrating the same emotions. But you just deal with these things, don’t you? Well most of the time, Yes. I can usually prioritise, cut through the bullshit right to what is important. I can manage all these things if work is the only issue. As soon as anything else is slightly out of sorts then your resolve can be weakened dramatically.
So, it’s Thursday morning and I’m driving to work, already troubled with the weight of all of the aforementioned. Then, driving over a stretch of barren ‘A’ road, comes Mr ‘Black VW Passat’ tearing up behind me. Now, I must say I try to be as level headed in the car as possible. I can deal with driving errors and the occasional cut-up without getting too out of kilter. But this guy… He was literally inches from my rear bumper as I did 70 mph to overtake a lorry. The prick was practically in my back seat. To say the red mist descended is an understatement. I was seething. I slowed down alongside the lorry so he couldn’t get past, I put my hazards on, I turned in my seat and berated him and threw some hand gestures in his direction. I decided to let he bell-end past so I could flash and gesture some more. He drove off seemingly unaware that his shocking driving etiquette could potentially damage a family beyond imagination.
Still livid, I arrived at work, not realising I was in the midst of a mini-meltdown. Acting like a loose cannon, I furiously went about my draining duties of checking e-mails etc…(Workload Mounting) when a couple of colleagues asked how I was. I could barely muster a response, my head full with 1000 stressors. With no way to release them, and with no way to channel my frustrations, I reached saturation point. I simply couldn’t articulate how I was feeling. Through sleep deprivation, changing sheets and nappies in the night, seemingly constant crying, deadlines, duties, meetings, x,y,z it all came to a head. A colleague relieved me from teaching 1st lesson; the man who stood before him was broken. I went to my desk, slumped over and sobbed like a child. Meltdown.
It took kind words and hugs from colleagues, and what was probably a terrifying phone call to my wife, to begin to rebuild a tired and defeated man.
It’s OK to talk about this. I find it cathartic and I am in no way ashamed of what happened. I feel no less manly for articulating my feelings. I was able to talk through my problems with people who genuinely care for my well being. I was able to re-prioritise what needed to be done and came back to something resembling my ‘normal’ self. Mental health is just as important as physical health. The people in your life are too important to let other things impact your time with them. Life is both fragile and precious.
And this leads me towards the point of this post, the incident that saved my day and made my week. It was the little man, of course it was. He is 6 months old now and I already rely so heavily upon him in times of need. I came in from work and obviously talked things through with The Wife. She knows, she understands, she calms me in a way no-one else can as she is my rock.
I was holding the boy and staring at him. He rarely engages in eye contact when you hold him. He will squirm and look away. Not in a ‘I don’t like you’ kind of way, more of a cute, shy kind of way, so to get a kiss is out of the question. He will wriggle and you get a snog of a chubby cheek, which I am fine with.
But today, a day like no other I had known since his arrival, was different. “Can daddy get a kiss?” I asked as I went towards him lips pursed. And on this occasion, out of all the times I had done the same thing, instead of turning his head he leaned in towards me smiling with his mouth open and gave me the most precious moment of his first wet, sloppy kiss. A feeling like no other swamped my body and fully renewed my spirit. You can cope with anything when that is your reward. Priceless. I can’t wait to tell his future partner(s) how daddy was his first kiss!
I will leave you with this thought which was shared with me by a colleague a number of weeks ago. It is from a 30 second speech by Bryan Dyson (Former CEO of Coca-Cola)
“Imagine life a game in which you are juggling five balls. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit.
You will soon understand that Work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will NEVER be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.
Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest.“
Thanks for reading.
Your comments and feedback are always greatly appreciated.