Have you ever watched someone sit and play with a little kid for hours? Like totally engrossed, never checking a phone, never rushing, never getting bored or frustrated, never pulling the adult card? Maybe your spouse can do this, maybe you’ve seen a grandparent do it, maybe you’ve pulled up and watched the teachers at a daycare do it (or maybe you’ve watched them calmly, quietly put 10 kids down for a nap at the same time).
When you see this sort of effortless presence and patience, it’s humbling. It’s an incredible feat of human endurance and focus; one that doesn’t seem to come naturally to all of us. And that’s the point: It doesn’t come naturally. Like all other feats of endurance and skill, it takes work. You build the muscle before you can use it to move mountains…or put a dozen toddlers to bed.
But here’s the real question: Are you actually putting in enough of that kind of effort? Or are you just throwing up your hands and saying, “That’s not me. I can’t do it.” You would not be alone. But you would also not be more wrong.
Try. Start small and try.
Leave your phone in the car when you come home. Play LEGOs for the next hour, with no interruptions. Write the rest of the afternoon off. Put as much work into this parenting thing as you do with your work. Try to be all-in, just for a bit.
See what happens.