Testing. Testing. Does this thing work?
Sometimes, in my brief stint as a parent, I feel like I’ve been speaking into a microphone that hasn’t yet been powered on, and in return, my audience is left without the capacity to understand what I’m trying to say. And when this happens, all I know is that the people staring at me want something–but what is that something and how will I answer the call?
Many people have a great fear of standing in front of a crowd and delivering. I share that fear to a degree, but I rather enjoy the stage, and while nerves find me as they do anyone else, I try best to harness the energy. But the stage or platform that parenthood has provided is unlike any other. It has been less predictable than anything I’ve ever experienced, and while up to this point it has been mostly diapers, feedings, sleeping, some crying, and a few other variables that you might well imagine, I’ve been caught off guard by the needs of my child.
What does he mean or want when he stares quizzically into my eyes? How do I stop him from crying when it seems like only my wife can comfort him? How do I explain to him that I am a very likable and trustworthy fellow with good credit and a fairly solid driving record? And what in the world is he thinking when he sees me and feels me? How can I decode the wrinkles of his forehead and clutches of his pint-size grip? Does he want to sway? Should I talk to him and share stories about giraffes and elephants? Are some of my efforts bound to be futile regardless of my intent? I can easily stand in front of hundreds of people and feel completely in command, yet this little butterball can stare me up and down and make me feel more vulnerable than any crowd I’ve ever seen.
So what do you do when you don’t know what to do? A colleague of mine once told me that this question can define a person’s life and achievements. How do you respond to the unknown, the stress it can carry, and the fear it can breed? I’d love to hear some of your stories about how you’ve connected with your children, some of the hardships you’ve encountered, or anything in between–because whether you like to stand among the audience or flaunt about the stage, we are all drawn to the light that simultaneously brings out our finest qualities and greatest faults.