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Parenting, Practicing, and the Drive Through Starbucks

Everytime I passed a Starbucks drive through before my son was born, I thought to myself, “is it really too much effort to get out of your car and walk into a Starbucks?” I thought about this as I whispered my order into a menu screen and hoped that the transient hiss of the drive […]

Everytime I passed a Starbucks drive through before my son was born, I thought to myself, “is it really too much effort to get out of your car and walk into a Starbucks?”

I thought about this as I whispered my order into a menu screen and hoped that the transient hiss of the drive through speaker wouldn’t wake my son, Jude.  He needs to nap in the morning or he’s very cranky. I need a coffee in the morning or I’m very cranky. I can’t leave him in the car, so the drive through presents a perfect solution.  Now, I understand the drive through, but this understanding is not profound.

In fact, there’s nothing I’ve learned so far as a parent that I needed to know or that I couldn’t have learned another way.

I view my role as a parent the same way I view my role as a musician.  It’s something I’m fortunate to do, I want to do it well, I learn a great deal from it, and I enjoy it.  I consider it a privilege and I’m happy to take on the obligations and responsibilities that come with it.

Having Jude has changed my life.   My schedule is different.  I need to focus more when I’m working and I need to “find” inspiration faster.  I watch less television and I waste less time. I sleep less and I see my wife way less than I would like.

These are the types of changes that accompany any increase in responsibility.  I’ve experienced the same thing when I’ve gotten a new job or a big account.

Practicing an instrument, on the other hand, is frustrating.  Even with daily practice, sometimes weeks or months will pass before I feel like I’ve made any progress on even the most fundamental skill.  But after 26 years of practicing daily, I’ve learned that challenge and reward are inextricably linked. I think that playing music has wired my brain to feel good about doing things that are challenging, so the objectively challenging task of raising a child seems to me to be pure joy and fun… even the poopie parts.

There are parents of older children who tell me, “wait until [insert developmental milestone here] then it really gets hard.”  But I don’t believe them. This conservative sentiment that [X] will change everything is just nonsense masquerading as wisdom.  

Everything changes, and most changes occur slowly.  

Life is full of challenges and the joy of life, for me, is to meet those challenges and overcome them.  Working hard at something, like playing an instrument, doing a job, or raising a child, is my way to make sure that the inevitable changes of life happen in a direction that I view as positive.

As I pass milestones in my own life, certain inane details come into sharper focus and these details are fascinating; but understanding the utility of a Starbucks drive through doesn’t make me wiser, it just makes me a bit less cranky in the morning.

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