“Life is pain, Princess. Anyone who says different is selling something” – Wesley (The Princess Bride)
The Dad Bod, a term I only recently became familiar with. Many pull at straws to pinpoint its exact definition. Some say it is the body of a father who is “flabby”, maybe a bit round in shape. Others say, it’s a father who is just fit enough to not be overweight, but still has a man gut looming over his belt. Whatever it may be, it’s a term that will soon be found in Webster’s dictionary, whatever the exact definition. Unfit and unhealthy fathers has become an epidemic. Lack of sleep, time and poor food choices sculpt these dads into their plump existences. Many fitness gurus have emerged from the woodwork, hoping to redefine the Dad Bod. Inspiring dads to get in shape and show off their 6-packs while toting around a toddler. The aesthetic appeal of these “Dad Bod” programs is quite attractive to many fathers looking to get in shape. And, I commend such actions, this site was launched to combat the Dad Bod; however, there is another epidemic lurking in the shadows of fatherhood: The Dad Fog.
The Lethargic Existence
The term came to me as I began to see some fathers, including myself, in an apparent fatherhood “fog”. A fog carried by going through the motions. Momentum just carrying them across thier days. They appear dormant, lethargic and disconnected. Heads buried in phones, zombie stares while watching a football game and “honey” the baby is crying being emitted from their lips. The Dad Fog can be defined as a lethargic existence. It’s symptoms include a lack of gratitude and excitement in the role of fatherhood and life. A lost sense of awe.
Fatherhood can prove difficult. It requires much of our attention. Those suffering from the Dad Fog just don’t have the bandwidth to provide that attention. Sometimes the bandwidth is all but soaked up by daily stresses. The house needs to be cleaned, dinners cooked, and jobs worked. We have all been in the Dad Fog at some point or another. Daily life has the ability to wear you down to the nub, if you’re not careful. And, sometimes, that bandwidth is dominated by other thoughts. It is often the social media comment thread or the obsession with the latest gadget. It’s safe to say the Dad Fog can be caused by an attempt to escape our reality. We mentally disconnect from the people around us because we are having a hard time finding happiness in our lives.
Maybe you’ve seen it or maybe you’ve felt it yourself. The Dad Fog can really affect any of us to varying degrees. I’ve been there. My head filled with so much fog I miss the actions and words of those around me. Maybe my head was buried in my phone, my mind thinking of my career or my concern with the spaghetti stain on the crown molding (how the hell did spaghetti get up there?) It’s in those moments of fog that I need to rip myself out of my head and into my life. It’s not easy. I am lucky to have a wife who calls me out on my fog. Like a lighthouse on the shore in a foggy seaward adventure, she is there to smack me in the face, highlighting my bullshit.
Maybe, your wife isn’t enough to pull you out of the fog. Maybe you seek something that doesn’t immediately appear. You can’t find the reasons to be there. It’s just too much. It’s just too cloudy, it’s just too busy. Cutting through that fog needs to be your priority. Don’t miss this, it’s too important to float by. The fog needs to be cleared and here are some tips on how:
We don’t always have everything and truth is we never will. Many of us pursue goals with a grave thirst. We demand more in our lives. We demand a bigger TV, newer car, and that promotion at work. It’s part of human nature to pursue, but sometimes we are so busy fixing what’s missing in our lives we forget to see what it is we already have. Start every day with gratitude, as Lewis Howes once said. Take stock in the people around you, how much they mean to you and you to them.
Get off that Facebook feed! The relentless information and frivolous comment banter drives us into madness. Never rely on social media to give you a social dose of dopamine. Those doses are like empty calories, giving our minds a diabetic dependence on shallow internet interaction. Look up and look ahead, your life is far richer.
Moments of silence can be few and far between. When those moments of peace occur we find ourselves rushing to get things done; but, maybe this is a good time to stop and slow down. Leave the dishes in the sink for a bit, forget the legos scattered on the floor and take in the time we have in stillness. They don’t come often.
The human condition in 2018 has many of us riding on momentum, going though the motions. Caught in the momentum of everyday life, we just roll through the day, the week and even the year. Things are bland and life takes a turn toward the common. Disrupt that momentum, do something that requires new action. Drop it all and head to beach, the trail or the park. Take on a new challenge or something outside the realm of comfort. Disrupt momentum.
I remember the first time I saw my son’s face. He stared into my soul in that very moment. His eyebrow raised as if to examine his new world. That awe we feel on the firsts of our lives often fades as we re-enter the day-to-day life of parenting; however, awe is still there. It exists in the moment of chaos as your toddler throws a wood block at the new LED 4K TV or when your kids play nicely in the corner, allowing you to enjoy a cup of coffee. It is all amazing, if you really think about, so… think about it. Remember to reignite awe daily.
Break through your fog
Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and it never will be, anyone who says different is selling something. The reality that all of our days will be the greatest, isn’t a valid perception of reality; but we must understand that finding the happiness in the day-to-day operation of our lives is what keeps us out of the Dad Fog. Although the day may not seem perfect and the nights are long, our life is what we make of it. It’s how we perceive our world and it’s how we act in it. Our time is finite and cannot be squandered while our heads are in a fog. If you see a problem, fix it. Never become satisfied in momentum, lethargic acts, or frustration. Instead, seek gratitude, awe and real connectivity. Escape your fog.