It’s been about two weeks since Baby G was born, and everyone keeps asking me how Powerwoman and I are adjusting to life as the parents of three. The short answer is: We’re getting there. The long answer is a bit more raw: Holy shit, you guys, this transition is f-ing hard.
How else to explain this crazy phenomenon of now being responsible for THREE little humans instead of two?
First have been the logistical challenges. Another child means a third set of needs we parents need to meet. It also means that Powerwoman and I must establish a brand new rhythm and cadence to parenting; we had become really good at balancing two, now there’s another kid in that mix. (Some people call this “zone defense” instead of “man-to-man defense,” but I find that analogy sexist and downright lame.)
Then there have been the intangible challenges. The typical hormonal stuff (for both mom and dad) that comes with postpartum life. The emotional challenges of two big sisters working out their own feelings about sharing attention.
Finally there have been the work challenges. While Powerwoman is on maternity leave through April 1, I’m essentially back to a full work schedule. Or at least I should be.
(I work at night, so it’s actually been a blessing to have one parent awake to deal with Baby G in the wee hours. That said, it is hard to focus on writing when you’re sharing an 85-square-foot office with an adorable and wide-awake baby.)
I’d describe my state of mind most times as OVERWHELMED. And I’m not ashamed of saying it.
I had spent the better part of this week feeling stressed about the situation. That’s when I ran into a neighbor who doubles as a Zen master (seriously) and is expecting *his* third child next year.
This neighbor shared with me some philosophy one of his friends told him. In a nutshell, the philosophy revolves around the notion of surrendering to the situation and letting go. According to this line of reasoning, there’s no way to change the amount of logistical and emotional demands afoot in our family right now, so instead of fighting them, I simply need to give in to them, to surrender.
Trust me, it’s not easy to do this—especially not when all three kids are crying at once or an editor is harassing me to file that story that was due three days ago. But the philosophy of “surrender” truly works wonders; when I remind myself to let go, I feel less stressed and barely overwhelmed at all.
Sometimes, in very high-pressure situations, I’ll even say it out loud to myself, just as a reminder to chill.
The best thing about the philosophy of “surrender” is that it applies to just about everything in life. Parenthood. Work. Social situations. Everything.
In the world of travel, the lesson is that every family traveler could stand to surrender a little more in his or her adventures on the road. We all get worked up—about delays, cranky kids, hotel sleeping situations. Surrendering to those of these things you can’t control can help make them seem less daunting/irritating/vexing.
I’m still learning how to surrender. But embracing this perspective as I approach my new life as a father of three sure has made it easier. The friend of my friend is totally right: The more we surrender, the better off we’ll all be.