“Necessity is the mother of invention”
or so they say – my modification is: “Laziness is the mother of invention.”
The other day, on the way home from the beach, we were talking about this. Somehow we got on the topic of lawn mowing and I was explaining to my Wonderful Wife why I enjoy mowing the lawn. First, there is the sensory deprivation and the alone time. Like running a backhoe or other piece of heavy equipment, it leaves me with time to think and process. Of course I’d rather be on some secluded mountain top or lonely forest, but given the drawbacks of living as a hermit, I’ll take the noise of an internal combustion engine and the isolation it affords.
The other reason I enjoy this experience is the mental challenge of being efficient and creative. I am constantly seeking ways to move the mower around the yard without overlapping previous passes, finding ways to avoid obstacles as I incorporate them into the flow, and remembering the paths that worked and those that didn’t. Every time I mow the lawn, it is like working a puzzle and trying to find a more efficient way of doing it.
“I’m constantly seeking to make it energy efficient.” I said.
That’s when my Wonderful Wife had an aha moment. The book she is reading, Marriage Shock, mentioned that men are always calculating energy – primarily their own. It clicked – it’s not just me.
Could this be why my Dad and my Father-in-law are always sharing their MPG scores and the price they just paid for gas? Is this why men are obsessed with sports scores, or always want the biggest, baddest vehicle – which may not be, in fact, the one with the largest wheels or the highest horsepower; it might be the one with the best MPG, or hauls the most kids?
I don’t know about all that – but after she mentioned this, I can see it many aspects of life. And I know it affects much of my attitude, personality, and behavior.
When we were deciding how many kids to have, for me it wasn’t an emotional decision – it was about energy. Being an introvert, with a relatively low EQ, and a history of brokenness in my past, I knew then, and know now, that I only have so much energy to contribute to the raising of children. My joke is, “I don’t want the kids to outnumber the adults, in case there is a mutiny.” Or, “I want to stay in a man-to-man defense rather than a zone defense.”
The real reason is, I know I need a certain amount of alone time, quiet time, and time to recharge. I know that if the noise level grows too intense, I get grouchy. Does this mean I couldn’t handle more kids? Absolutely not. If the Lord chose to shower us with more kids, I would step up and continue to be the best father to all of them. However, optimally, I know my limitations.
And now, due to a recent graphic and article I discovered, I realize as an introvert, I base a lot of my choices around energy conservation. According to this article, extroverts gain energy from others, and introverts are always giving away their energy to others. So, this makes me selectively social.
When I’m asked to attend a social event, I assess how much fuel (energy) I have in my tank, and how much energy it will take to interact with those at the even, then I decide whether I can attend or not. My wife is energized by crowds and social situations, so for her, she automatically wants to attend different events; but for me, I have to assess the energy requirements and my supply.
This is why church attendance doesn’t always fit my schedule. If it’s been a hard week, I will get more spiritual support in spending quiet time alone, rather than among a crowd of strangers. This is why I wish there were more church worship services that catered to the night owls of the world. I’m just not quite ready to face the world before noon.
This is why our first couple of years in Scappoose were so hard. Our life was in disarray, and we lived a life of exhaustion, I just didn’t have enough energy to complete the marathon of a day at the church – and that was the one day everyone expected me to be on.
This whole idea of energy conservation is an amazing one to me, and a great revelation. Have you noticed this about the introverts and men in your life? Men, fathers, have you noticed how this affects your interactions with your family or others?
I realize now, than if I’m going to be a man with a positive Daddytude, I’m going to have to conserve enough mental, social, spiritual, and physical energy to be with my family – I can’t give to them the leftovers of a an empty tank. I have to serve them from a tank that can still go the distance.
I would never attempt to climb a tall mountain without being well rested, nor would I fail to get enough rest before a major job interview; but for some reason, we think we can be dads and husbands without enough energy in our tank. That’s wrong – parenting, and being a good spouse, are far more important than any job or mountain climb!