I'm working on a writing project inspired by James Altucher and his idea that we have four bodies to care for; physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. This framework has made me reflect on my role as a parent and how I've changed emotionally.
When I first had kids I felt emotionally weak. Like a scrawny thirteen year old (which I was) entering a gym full of weights (which I did) and struggling with weights too heavy (which I tried). As a parent I didn't understand what it took emotionally to raise kids and felt bad when I failed. I was an adult, didn't I know what to do? Shouldn't emotional maturity grow as your kid does? That person had no idea what to do.
Then I found my emotional alter-ego. The Cowboy.
The Cowboy sits high in his seasoned saddle, moving cattle from Tulsa to San Antonio. Over the plains he's seen a hundred times, he feels the change in air pressure as he crosses the hills. The dry breeze. His hat and spirit are both firm but not brittle as they ride along with the cattle.
Suddenly, a calf breaks away from the herd. In the past this was trouble for the young cow-hand. This made his heart race and grip tighten. He became worried and started to mentally run through the list of things that could happen to the animal. The calf could break a leg or run off a cliff. It could crash into a wolf den or impale itself on a hidden danger in the sagebrush. The young cowboy would gallop full steam to return the calf.
That was then. Now The Cowboy easily turns the bridle and horse and trots after the calf. There is no need to get excited, no need to worry. In a minute he's closed the distance and in the next has the calf turned back to the herd. The Cowboy has done this many times and now it is easy.
And that's how I felt about my emotions. When my daughters were younger I would get angry or frustrated and feel like I was always running in different emotional directions. Now I'm like The Cowboy. I can watch watch my emotions as they march through life like the cows. I can guide them back into the herd, not letting them dictate the cattle drive - or my life.