Saturday: 18.March.2006

Rad Dad Tradition: Early Morning Sauna

Starting this month, I get the little guy (Rad Jr, 1 yr old) for 3 days/week .. one extra day each week. Even tho it's nowhere near half the time I want, it's still way more than what I had last year .. and (for some reason) feels like a *lot* more time than last month.

I pick him up early in the morning, and bring him back late in the afternoon.

On days when I have him, I've developed a peculiar habit, which has become something of a tradition: I get up extra early (4:30) so I can stop by the club (on the way) .. and take a long, luxurious sauna.

Interestingly, I only do this on days I have the little guy. Not sure why, but even on days when I decide to sleep in (e.g. tired the night before), I still wake early, and can't get back to sleep ..

.. as if something is *making* me do this. I don't work-out these mornings, only sauna & shower. The sauna is kinda surreal at 5AM, while I'm still half asleep, sweating rivers.

In discussing my quirky behavior with friends, it was suggested I could be doing this to de-stress, pre-emptively, so I don't transfer any of my stress to the little guy.


Surprisingly, this theory actually feels right. Certainly I have plenty of reasons to stress. You might recall the medieval rash I had last month (see entry for 20.feb), which some attribute to stress.

I've always felt my parents handled their stress poorly, taking out their frustrations on me. (Mom was just 19 when I was born. Both died well before their time.) This is something I'd rather not emulate.

My goal as a dad these first few years (which are foundational & developmental in so many ways) is to instill in the little guy - on a deep, emotional level - the knowledge that he is loved .. unconditionally.

If I can accomplish that, I'll feel satisfied as a dad, since all other considerations are secondary. And I feel I'm off to a good start.

In my family, there has been a history of, uh, 'tension' between fathers and first-born sons. Not sure why. I have only theories. But it might be why I have a problem with authority. And this is something I desperately don't want to perpetuate.

You may've heard the phrase break the chain. Well, that's exactly what I'm determined to do. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes.

But this is not easy. You basically have to re-invent yourself .. on an emotional level. In order to walk away from all that old programming, you pretty much have to walk away from the old you.

Now it's one thing for Madonna to re-invent herself as an entertainer every few years .. but for a person to re-invent himself (or herself) .. well, that's a bit trickier .. because it's not simply an intellectual thing. Have to go much deeper in order to reprogram the behavioral circuitry. Reminds me of what Jesus said in John's gospel.

I've always had the most respect for people who've managed to break the chain .. cuz I know how hard it is. You have to overcome a nearly 20 years of flawed programming. Heck, I even admire people who TRY.

I genuinely feel like the chain is already broken, having re-invented myself. But I don't want to take anything for granted, so I'm ever vigilant, watching for old, familiar patterns.

Back in the early days, I didn't really know what I wanted from life. But I knew what I *didn't* want. And I knew I didn't want to perpetuate what was perpetuated on me.

And if I never had kids .. well, that was one way to accomplish my objective. A little severe, I admit. But effective nonetheless.

I hold no grudges. My folks did the best they could, with what they had, and they succeeded on many important levels, for which I am grateful. But the fact remains that I couldn't wait to get out of there .. soon as I could.

Soon as I graduated from high school, I was off for the Navy .. so I could be on my own .. out from under their control .. making my own money. Not surprisingly, life improved the day I left. The sense of freedom: delicious. I still had troubles, like anyone else, but the sense of chaos was gone. The military brought structure and a rationale I could understand.

I've always envied people who grew up in carefree homes, but I have trouble relating to them. I think that's why I jive so well with the Dog. Not only did he grow up under adverse circumstances (much worse than mine), but he also managed to overcome them (much better than me). He gives me hope, inspiration.

Now that I am Rad dad, I am more determined than ever to break the chain. (Whatever it takes.) And so far, I am quite pleased with how things are going. Everyone who knows me, comments on how good a dad I am. In fact, there's only one person who has ever accused me of not being a good dad.

Anyway, the worst part is bringing back the little guy on Friday afternoon. It's such an un-natural act, so dissatisfying .. leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Afterwards I have to be alone for a few hours to deal with the emotional funk.

Sometimes I go for a walk on the beach to help process the yucky feelings. Yesterday afternoon, it was raining like mad, so I went to the local coffee house. (Can't go home, cuz the empty crib there makes it worse.)

I called the Dog, who is always good at helping me deal with the funk. Then I started this entry (I find it therapeutic to articulate my feelings). Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed somebody walk up. When they stopped in front of my table, I looked up. There was Miss Julie .. smiling real big, looking good, having coming straight from work (.. she didn't even stop home first).

Surprise. What a sight for sore eyes (open since 4:30 AM) "Come on," she said, with a little jerk of her head, "I wanna take you for a beer .. to celebrate St. Patty's day."

Instantly my funk evaporated. We drove to the Hotel Laguna (walking distance), which has a great view. Place was packed. Only two chairs remained empty - big, cushy ones. We pushed them close to the fireplace, settled in and had ourselves a glass of Hotel-Laguna's specialty brew. Yummy stuff.

What perfect timing. It was just what I needed. Had a great time, stimulating conversation. Sometimes spur-of-the-moment ideas can be the best.

Posted by Rad at March 18, 2006 04:01 PM


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