October 13, 2023
Pondering their own entry into parenthood, Brett and Alexa chat with Joe about the profound changes in identity, roles, and expectations that come with the decision to have a child.

02:54 The Call to Have Kids 

09:56 Increasing Your Capacity to Love

19:53 Kids as a Reflection of Parents´ Emotions

32:29 Boundaries with Children

Episode Intro: For my daughter on her 21st birthday by Ellen Bass. When they laid you in the crook of my arms like a bouquet and I looked into your eyes dark bits of evening sky, I thought, of course this is you. Like a person who has never seen the sea can recognize it. Instantly they pulled you from me like a cork and all the love flowed out. I adored you with the squandering passion of spring that shoots green from every pore. You dug me out like a well. You lit the dead wood of my heart. You pinned me to the earth with the points of stars. I was sure that kind of love would be enough. I thought, I was your mother. How could I have known that over and over you would crack the sky like lightning, illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins? Massive. The bird in this flesh must learn to bear like mules of love.

Brett: Wow. What was that poem?

Alexa: My Daughter on her 21st Birthday by Alan Bass.

Joe: Oh, that gives me chills. I love that. Yeah.

Alexa: Welcome to the art of Accomplishment, where we explore how deepening connection with ourselves and others leads to creating the life we want with enjoyment and ease. I'm Alexa.

Brett: I'm Brett.

Joe: I'm Joe, and I'm overjoyed. Watching you two is great.

Brett: If you haven't discerned this so far, today's episode is going to be on Parenthood. We don't yet know what we're going to talk about, but right now Alexa and I have been sitting in the question of when kids, how kids? What does it mean? Identity. Freedom. How do we do it? How do we do it in a way that serves the kids best and takes care of ourselves?

Alexa: Just to add to it, I mean, I didn't ever consider that I might want kids until quite late in life until I fell in love with Brett and imagined what it would be like to raise a person with you.

Brett: It's similar for me. I was not expecting to want that until I imagined it with you. So that seems like a sign. So to kick this off, one of the burning questions for me is what if we have kids? What if we don't? What are those two completely different life trajectories? And I'm curious for you how you experienced that process.

02:54 Joe: For me, it was just really clear. I didn't want to have kids. Tara really wanted to have kids. When she hit like 30, she was like, I want kids. I want kids. I want kids. I was like, no, no, no, no. Then there was a call. It was just clear. The kid wants to come now. For me it was an odd experience, and it feels kind of woo woo but I can't deny that it is true. I literally just felt like oh it's time. This wants to happen. So it was more of a calling and less of an intellectual decision to OK, now is the time to have kids. I literally felt like now is the time and we had sex. We had been having unprotected sex for years and we were being as careful as you can be being unprotected. But then we were like now it's time. I was like, now it's time. It's time. And boom, she was pregnant. It was just like that. It was so clear. So that's how it was for me. There was no intellectual decision that was being made. It was just very clear now. Then it was a very clear yes. I wasn't really contemplating whether I should or shouldn't.

I definitely remember feeling like we're not financially stable enough to have kids. But we sure as hell were not financially stable enough when we conceived Esme. Between the moment of conceiving Esme and her birth, I went from major debt, just from living because I was meditating all the time to completely out of debt in that nine month period, and making the best salary I've ever made. That's a great question. There's a saying that says that babies come with loaves of bread under their arms. You look throughout America and most kids show up and they somehow or another figure out a way to be taken care of. I think what happens is my experience with something hormonally probably kicked in for me. Tara was like, I'm going to be the breadwinner. You're going to be the stay-at-home dad. Then as soon as she got pregnant, all that shit changed. I was just like OK, let's make money and by the time the baby was born, Tara was like, yeah, I'm not leaving this kid. Fuck making money, you go do that. It was like the entire roles, what we thought was going to happen didn't happen, which was like the biggest pain.

Also, the biggest love of having children, especially in the early ages, is it felt like it was a deep tissue massage. The more you resisted, you were just fucked. So you don't resist. It's going to tear parts of your identity away. It's going to tear parts of what you think is right away. Everything just starts shifting. If you and I think that the spiritual journey of being a parent is allowing all that stuff to be let go and to have it ripped from you so that you can find out what your essence is, I don't see a lot of parents do that. But if you do that, it's an incredibly important journey to be on. That happened right from the beginning. Right from the beginning, it was just like, you think this. Nope. You think you control this? Nope. You think you control how you sleep. Nope. It was just like everything was just taken.

Brett: Yeah. I'm curious to what extent that prior to your conception, even when you started to feel that call, to what extent did you feel like that call was dragging you kicking and screaming through the field or to what extent you felt the call and you just dropped everything else and you were like, OK, I'm on this call now.

Joe: It was surprisingly like, yep, this is the time. I can't deny it. I would have expected kicking and screaming because I was like, no, no, no for so long. Then when it hit, yes, it was just so clear. Tara was going through her journey too. I definitely like, in retrospect, I see how Tara and I met in a way that also she was doing her change. She was very focused on work and she was changing. That was moving in her to the point where we could be more connected. I think that was part of what made it like, oh, this is the time, this feels right. But it was without a doubt just felt like it was like knock, knock, knock, knock. It's time, let me in. That was the feeling.

Alexa: Wow, I'm envious. I have a lot of confusion. For you, it was so clear. I feel like there are calls in both directions for me.

Joe: Yeah, Yeah. Mine was a very clear no and then a yep. OK, let's do this now. The third kid, Tara was like a very clear yes, and I was a very clear no. That was a different thing. But both Una and Esme were like a clear calling. This is it. This is the time. We're doing this now.

Brett: Yeah, yeah. I've been noticing shifting in myself, I mean. As we recently said on a recently published episode, probably by now, we were just at a grief ceremony for somebody in our community who recently lost a child. One of the things that I might have expected, hearing the story of all the medical complications, hearing the story of all the judgment from outside, hearing the story of how rough it was and how difficult and much of a challenge it was for their relationship. My expectation might have been that it would have made me less likely to want kids. Also, in witnessing it and witnessing the love, even despite various levels of potential hopelessness, just witnessing the love that was there actually made me more likely to want kids, which is kind of freaky because that feels like a process. That is not what I would have expected my intellect would do. It doesn't seem like I'd be better off putting myself in a position where I'm in hospitals all the time, caring for someone who's very likely to die before they become old enough for me to know them as a personality, and yet that story, just all of it, has done unexpectedly indescribable things in my system that make me feel more likely to lean into whatever that is, and I'm a little bit bewildered by that right now.

09:56 Joe: Yeah. It's indescribable. One of my kids is about to go to college now. I used to count her life in months, and then I counted her life in years, and now I count her life in months again. I like how much I'm going to feel a part of me ripped away when she leaves home. You're in parenthood. You are opening yourself up to unlimited heartbreak. Whether you lose the kid or not lose the kid, if you actually allow yourself to feel the thing, there's just like and it ended. Like I've said, like the breaking of the heart is like breaking it open. It just increases your capacity to love. I am 100% confident I could not do the work that I do in the world if it wasn't for having kids.

Alexa: Wow.

Joe: Yeah. All the emotional work came from raising children. All that emotional work came because seeing just kids, how they process emotions, how that's our nature and how all these intellectual ideas of emotions were off. Sitting in loving attention as my children threw temper tantrums in the middle of Whole Foods, that's what I do for a living today. That's what I do, you know? My whole capacity to love has changed deeply because of my children. They are constantly teaching me that it is beautiful and really deeply compelling. There's no regrets, right? It's the meaning I have.

I have a story. The other day Esme was coming to me asking for advice. I'm lucky. I have teenagers who come and ask me for advice from time to time. I can't remember all the things about it, but she was telling me that she was having this issue with this boy. And I remember looking at her and saying, that's me. You learnt that from me like that. When you were three years old, I did this. I was not able to be with you in this way and this way emotionally, and that created this fear in you of getting hurt. I see that happening now. I'm so sorry for teaching you that. I remember that in that moment thinking, wow, I wish I would have fucked up a little bit more so I could have more moments like this. Because when the kids are like 2 years old, you're like, Oh my God, I'm fucking it up. You are. There's no perfect parent, so you're definitely fucking up your kids here and there. But I never thought that we could actually have such a deep moment of connection over me fucking up my kids. So there's this really amazing thing that it's not just like one moment. It's kind of like the unfolding. It's a large part of the power of having kids.

Brett: Yeah, what I'm struck with there is also the gift that was for her, because so many of us have whatever upbringing we have. We come to love our parents as they are and wherever they're at. Also, we often go and do the work on these patterns that I adopted and now I'm going to do the work on freeing myself of those patterns. As I free myself from those patterns, I can love my parents as they are, but I don't necessarily expect them to, in their context, in their generation, having different access to these tools or like the culture around them self-exploration that they're going to, that we're going to have a healing moment in that way. But to the gift for her as a teenager, to be able to have that experience with you, where you're owning your piece shamelessly and with love is a really cool thing, makes me feel a lot less concerned about whatever ways we might impart our patterns on our kids because those are just opportunities for that experience.

Joe: Yeah. I also remember going, oh, it's healed. As soon as I said it and as soon as she accepted it, I'm like that pattern is healed in her. It was just something that I don't see very often, like, oh, if there's actually that acknowledgement, it actually heals really quickly, which is cool.

Alexa: Yeah, that's amazing.

Joe: That was three or four months ago. I haven't seen it come back up again. That's the opportunity of having kids. They will with a big knife poke at everything, everything that is unreconciled in you. I remember early on when we found Hand in Hand parenting, it was the first time that I felt like I was doing it right. It was the first time that I felt like, oh, this is how I'm supposed to parent. So one of the things that I discovered through parenting was like listening to, oh, does this feel right? Because when I had such a clear understanding of what parenting was, and then when it went, oh, that feels right. There was this moment of oh, this is how you do life. You keep on iterating until you go that feels right, and hand in hand parenting and that part of parenting was the first time that I had really felt that. It was another big lesson for me personally. I can't say enough good stuff about Hand in Hand parenting or about Tara, who insisted that we use it. So I was a little reluctant at the beginning.

Brett: Yeah, I really enjoyed that. At the beginning of our 18-month course, that was the first reading. It was like I presumed it to be a business course, and the first book was from Hand in Hand parenting, and it was about how to be with kids. I see this is also how to be with CEOs. Totally is. I'm also curious at what ages for Esme and Una did hand in hand parenting come up and prior to that what? What are some of the patterns that you were in? What were some of the ways that you were parenting that ultimately imprinted on them and that you've learned from?

Joe: Una got Hand in Hand parenting pretty much from birth. Esme didn't get it until like 2 1/2 years old. That's actually what I was apologizing for was stuff that had happened before that moment with her. For me, I was very much in that the right way to parent is the way that I was parented, which is like most people. 90% of what they're doing is what their parents did to them and then 10% is something that they had a problem with their parents and so they are over correcting. I just see a lot of that happen in society. At the beginning of parenting I was more quick to shame, I was more quick to abandon, more quick to punish, more quick to have them listen to my voice rather than her own voice through compliments or through anything like that. Through the Hand in Hand process, they don't talk about any of this stuff. It just happened through the Hand in hand process. Like we don't shame our kids. They might feel shame sometimes, but like we actively make it a practice not to shame them. We don't punish them. And you've met our kids. It's not like they're like full mayhem out in the world. They're doing great, cool shit in the world.

Alexa: They're amazing.

Joe: Yeah, self sustained. None of that shit was required. But I was definitely doing that kind of stuff at the beginning, getting very frustrated.

Brett: Yeah, so resisting the deep tissue and massage they were trying to give you.

19:53 Joe: Yeah, exactly. Thinking that there's a weird way in which children can raise themselves. The weird part is like if you can be in loving witness of children and you can draw boundaries, which is often challenging, the rest of it, they can almost all do themselves. It's when you start taking away their excitement. Settle down, Johnny. When you start taking away their sadness, when you start taking away their temper tantrums, then you stop them from being able to actually navigate the world. I think that's one of the biggest things that I see in parenting generally is that people treat 2 year olds, five year olds, seven-year olds, 12 year olds, 16 year olds, and 18 year olds like adults. they're not. it's like you don't intellectualize with a 2 year old. Their brain isn't online. They're prefrontal. They can't do imaginary thinking. What's actually happening?

You'll see these parents and they'll be like, OK, Johnny, well you shouldn't do this and you should do this. The kid is two years old, but the kid is just 100% responding to the emotional presence of their parent. They're not responding to the words, and that was the amazing thing is to watch kids just respond to how you are emotionally. It's amazing. Like you get wound up, they get wound up, you calm down, they calm down. I remember Una, if I was non present, she would come over to my lap, grab my face and point it towards me and make me have eye contact with her and maybe she would say, I love you, Daddy. Our field is not coherent right now. Our field is not relaxed right now. My job as a kid is to get us back into connection. Wow. I see that with kids all the time. They're constantly looking. They're like they feel safe when there's that connection between them and their parents and if they don't have it, they freak out a little bit and then need to regulate through emotions.

Brett: Wow, that that breaks my brain because my perception is always of like parents are just trying to be well regulated and the kids are like I have milk on the floor, cry, and the picture you just painted is much more of like that of an emotional support animal, which like just is totally not my perception of kids, but I can see it. It's that they are relating in the early years only on an emotional or physical or embodied level. That would be such a beautiful invitation that's constantly there to mirror that if you're listening to it is a really beautiful guide and grounding to emotional presence. If you're not listening to it, it'll be everything that I described in the previous frame.

Joe: Yeah, yeah. They do it. What's really weird is to know that they do it when they feel safe or they have no choice. Our kids would hold it all together when they were somewhere else. And then like when they get home, they'd be like raah, and to me be I learned to interpret that as, oh, they feel safe now. They feel safe enough where they can get back into emotional regulation through releasing a whole bunch of emotions. To see it as, oh, they're releasing emotions so they can get back to connection instead of they are releasing emotions because they're out of control or because they're bad or because they're naughty or because they can't control themselves. To see like, oh, they know exactly what they're doing. They're releasing a whole bunch of emotions so that they can get back into connection. They would do it consistently. If you just sit in loving attention of their emotional experience, they will come back into connection. They just know how to do it. The bigger problem was that like they would do that and I would get dysregulated by their emotion because I feel responsible or because I would feel overwhelmed by my own version of that that I wasn't letting out. That was like the big blessing of parenthood for me, was that like every single emotion that I was not OK with, I saw that in my kids and I learnt how to be OK with it. I learnt how to release it. I learnt how to love it because of my children because I could see my children. They welcomed every emotion.

Alexa: Oh, I want everyone to hear this.

Joe: Yeah, one thing that's bringing up for me is common tropes that I've seen out on social media or common advice if people are like, enjoy your kids while they're in the stage where they love you because eventually they're going to hate you.

Brett: They're going to eventually. They're going to be 16. They'll despise you and they'll move out.

Joe:  t's just like, oh, that's such a common reality. That’s not my reality. Not only that, like I notice like all my kids, friends who know us want to be around us.

Alexa: Oh yeah, I believe it.

Joe: Yeah. What I want to say is something, I don't know if it's true, but what comes to mind is like, hey, don't hate your kids and they won't hate you. There's something about when the kids hit teenage years, which hand in hand parenting doesn't really go into. But when the kids hit teenage years, there's something that happens where their job is to push against the pool. It's their job to push off against the edge of the pool and you're the edge of the pool and it's their job. If you give them the kind of the lane to swim in, that's all that's really necessary. In the lane, you treat people with respect. You contribute. You treat people with respect. when you show that, you can take responsibility, and you can have the freedom, That's all that seems to really be necessary. If you haven't completely emotionally fucked them up by telling them that they can't have certain emotions as kids and then they've never learned to regulate themselves, but that's all that seems to be really necessary about it. But most of the time, the kids who hate their parents have been told their whole life that there's some part of them that's not OK. It's not OK for you to be sad. It's not OK for you to be angry. It's not OK for you to be scared. They've been told that they're not OK and why the fuck should they want to be with or not hate somebody who's been telling them that they're not OK on some level for years. No parent is logically saying you're not OK. I mean some parents are criticizing all the time, but that's the weird part, is that the parents actually love the kids, but they're sending the signal that they need to be adjusted, mostly because the parent is sending themselves the signal all the time that they need to be adjusted. And so to not do that to your children requires you to love yourself. You don't want to fuck your kids up. Love yourself.

Alexa: Yeah, and that sort of the trick for most people. But, it also seems like there's another way of putting it.

Joe: Something about not feeling ashamed of yourself, yeah?

Alexa: Because I got to say one of the ways that all of this is landing for me is this actually sounds amazing. I want to do this, but it seems easier if I could just be away from everybody else during this time. It seems no problem for me to be in loving awareness with my kid having temper tantrums in my own bubble. But if I'm in an airport or something like that, I don't know how.

Joe: I don't know how to handle that. Those are the best moments too. I mean one of my favorite stories was in the Whole Foods. As I mentioned, Esme was just kicking and screaming and I'm containing her so she doesn't knock shit off the shelf. I'm not holding her tightly, but I'm like being a blocker to the three-year old so she doesn't rip shit off the house. I live in a kind of hippie community, and this little old hippie lady, she's like, are you OK, dear? And Esmet stops dead, looks at her and goes, I'm just having my emotions, and then she went back and did like her temper tantrum. Fucking awesome. Yeah, I say that, but they're hard. We're doing this right now in a Whole Foods or in an airport on an airplane and you're worried that everybody's going to be like. And they are. If you have a kid cry on an airplane, then they just look around. You can tell who was told they couldn't cry as kids. They're the aggravated ones in the airplane and and those are the places that erode away like that, like that caretaking that eroded away the codependence. It's the thing that erodes you protecting your reputation. You are never going to parent and not have people tell you that you're a bad parent. People told Tara and I were bad parents. The people who told us that right now will say to us, wow, you got really lucky with your kids like we had nothing to do with it. It was just hilarious.

Brett: In some way, you had nothing to do with it. You just submitted to the deep tissue massage that they were offering lovingly.

Joe: Yeah. That's not what they mean by it. But yes, that is true.

Brett: But there's also, there's all the times that I've seen somebody in public with their kid and saying, like, no one wants to hear you cry. I'm just imagining them saying I don't want people to see you cry. I wouldn't let people see me cry. Like what are the different statements that they're actually making there? That's where one of the things I think people get hung up on so much saying this as a non parent aware of that is that people will insist like, no, no, no, I love my kids so much and that's true. As we talked about in the episode, how love gets confused, what that means can mean a lot of different things. For a lot of people, loving their kids means controlling them.

Joe: Yeah. Managing them in the way that they were controlled and managed or the opposite.

Brett: Or the opposite, right?

Joe: Yeah, or being unboundaried with them. That's love. Love is to be without boundary and let them do whatever they want. That's another version of the same thing.

32:39 Alexa: This is the second time you've brought up boundaries as being something that can be pretty challenging. I would love to hear more about that.

Joe: In general, I find that the boundaries are a little bit harder for the mom than they are for the dad. Generally, that's not always true, but that's what I noticed to be the case, that deep maternal thing. I think it's a more challenging thing. The way I would say it is that there's like a part of a kid that's like, I want to be independent, I want to do my own thing. There's a part of the kids that says I want to feel safe and I need boundaries to feel safe. And those two things create friction inside of the child. if you don't give the boundaries, they feel unsafe. they start acting out more, more and more to try to get the boundaries. And so the boundaries can be really gentle and they're not to be done at a distance. It's like stay close and insist. So I wouldn't be like, OK, brush your teeth. I'd be like, we're brushing our teeth now. We're going to go brush our teeth now. it's not like you need to go and do this. There's like a support and a gentleness in the boundaries.

I think one of the places that boundaries don't get held in our society a lot with kids is kids start yelling at their parents and you wouldn't let your kid yell at anybody else like that. So what makes it OK that they're yelling at you? I see you're angry. Let's get angry. Cool. Great. No problem. And we treat each other with respect. this is like, I'm not letting you do this. but the strange part is, if you're doing that, then you also have to treat them with that same respect. For me, I remember this moment of imagining if there was some 1000 LB ten foot man or 20 foot man yelling at me at the top of their lungs. What would that do to my system? Like a grizzly bear. Just be like whoa. Freaked out. Yet that's what this little 2 year old's dealing with. If I'm getting angry like that, I am huge, I am loud. when the kids were really small, I would always nibble on them and it was all cute and everything, but then they would start nibbling on me. But it was biting and I'd be like they shouldn't be biting me, but I was biting them. you want your kids to treat you with respect, treat them with respect. it's a very boundary thing, but it's also a very respectful thing. That balance is a little hard to find at times. But one of the big tricks is to treat them the way that you want to be treated. Treat them the way you want them to treat others. They will mimic you way quicker than they will do what you tell them to do.

Alexa: So definitely, I've seen that in kids for sure.

Brett: I'd love to get in like an example boundary. If your kids are yelling at you, what are the different ways that that boundary could be drawn that's not forcing them to stop somehow in some controlling way or abusive way, but also drawing a clean, respectful boundary?

Joe: It would be hey, so that's not how we talk to each other. But if you're angry, let's go get angry. I really want you to be able to be pissed. then let's come back or if you just can talk to me with respect, let's do that.

Alexa: It's so sweet. How would you help your kid get angry?

Joe: I might even get angry with them like we might go pound on a bed together. We've definitely gotten angry together and sad together. Something that really hit me about that morning ceremony, this new idea that's been coming to me is that people want to know that people are with them in it. They don't want to be given advice or told what to do or judged or anything like that. People want to know you're here in this with me and it's a basic principle, but that's very true with kids too. Kids want to know that you're in it with them. if they feel that, if they feel like you're in it with them, they have a lot of respect for you. But if they feel like you're doing it to them, giving them advice, I see that a lot with teenagers. I see a lot of teenagers shut down to their parents because the parent isn't in it with them. The parent is telling them what to do. The parent is giving them advice. The parent is worried about their choices. The parent is trying to control what they're doing through influence or whatever instead of just saying oh yeah, that sucks. all your friends have just gone to a party without you. I was on this hike recently where I just watched these two young college students talking and then the adults just talking to them like I know something, instead of listening to the wisdom of these two young kids. When you were in college, no college student wanted to be spoken to like that. When you were a teenager, you didn't want a whole bunch of advice from your parents unless you asked, especially if that advice came with I told you so's or you haven{t done that yet or anything like that.

Alexa: Yeah, yeah. I love how much this is a different reflection of how I see you with people in so many different scenarios, situations and how I think about your coaching.

Joe: Yeah, yeah, I'm in VIEW with my kids a lot. one of the things that that does is it creates the space for them to be also your teacher.

Brett: For them to do the tissue massage on your rough edges, your knots.

Joe: Yeah, this morning Tara's like, do you remember that time when Esme said to somebody, just let me have my feelings. It was like 6 months ago. Do you remember that? I'm like, yeah, it was me. She said it to me. We were around the dinner table. I was trying to fix something. Then that's the beauty of having kids and there is this weird piece about also realizing they can't have like theoretical thought until they're usually like whatever it is, I think that I think it's like 15 or 16 years old, but parents talk to them like that. Their intellect isn't really even online until they're like 8. They still believe in Santa Claus and that. But we're talking to them rationally and they're just like full feeling machines. They're like in a dream state. It's an interesting thing because part of parenting is that you have to live from their point of view. You can't live from your own point of view on them. That's like a deep lesson in itself, too.

Brett: Yeah, I'm circling that back around to one of my original fears and resistances around kids is, but I'll have to grow up or something, something along those lines. there's actually this other frame of that, like I'll have one or more baby Yodas opening me up into my emotions and that dream state like reality to the extent that I can meet them there.

Joe: Yeah, that's beautiful. don't make any mistake about it. you will be exhausted and you will be pushed to your limits and you will not have time for yourself and you will lose yourself. All that stuff happens, too. That's part of the deep tissue massage. Yeah, you'll be judged.

Alexa: I'm also afraid of what it will do to our relationship.

Joe: I was 26 years old before I met Tara. I went out drinking, and typically the way I would pick up women at the time, very dysfunctional. I would just sit down early in a bar and I would drink until somebody hit on me. I sat down and there was a couple, and they were an older couple for me at the time. So I think they were probably like 35 and they just had this really great marriage. They were drinking and partying, which was interesting, but I found out that they had kids. I was like give me your advice, tell me how you have such a great marriage. It's clear you guys love each other, you have a great marriage, you're intimate and you're partying. Their response stuck with me for my whole life, which is the most important thing in a marriage is to take care of yourself, then take care of the marriage, and then take care of the kids. Sometimes you have to sacrifice yourself for taking care of the kids or taking care of the marriage. But the priority is always take care of yourself first, take care of the marriage second, and take care of the kids third because you can't be in a good marriage if you haven't taken care of yourself and you can't be a good parent if you'd haven't taken care of the marriage. That advice sticks with me. I love it and it's such an inversion of what most people say. It reminds me oddly of a Southwest Airlines thing where they say employees first, customer second, shareholders third. Because if the employees are happy, the customers are happy, the customers are happy, the shareholders are happy. It has always struck me, that inversion, and it's very true and it's very hard to execute. It's very hard, especially in the first two or three years, to prioritize yourself. It's really, really hard. But I remember when I think the second one was like 18 months old, it was really hard because we had been sleep deprived for years at this point and we were questioning the marriage. We were like we can't fix anything and some friend was just like you need a weekend. You have not had a weekend together in like 5 years. You just need a weekend. So we figured out how to get a weekend, which we were not good at, and it was like at the end of the weekend all of our problems were gone. We slept like 18 hours, 3 days in a row, and we just connected and it was like, wow, really, it was just about connecting and getting sleep. It was just that practical.

Brett: There's the part of me that's like, if you hadn't done it for five years but you were able to do it, why not be able to do it once a quarter if you actually prioritized it and planned for it? But then I hear everybody with kids be like, oh, it's been three years since we did any travel without our kids. also people don't want to. I imagine there's like, I don't want to leave my kids. The moment I leave, I miss them.

Joe: There's some part of my brain that always wants to be like oh there's a way to hack this and there are people who are really good at hacking it. I'll tell my clients to get somebody 20 hours a week to help just in any way that you can. That makes a huge difference. have a grandmother or somebody who's always wanted a baby. But however you can get help, I think it's really, really important. I think the other really cool little hacks are take turns. Like I've noticed there's been people that we know who have kids. They get overwhelmed and then they get divorced. somehow or another they used to both be working full time and now they're both working halftime. if they would have been working half time when they were married, they might not have gotten divorced. There's this thing that happens where you're just so tired and all your focus is on the other person doing as much as me. then everybody has to be working all the time instead of taking the day off. I got today. Tomorrow I'm going to take off l. It is far healthier to give each other both a day off. there's just tricks like that. You can do all that stuff and you're still going to be overwhelmed by your kids at times.

There's one other thing that I just noticed is one of the coolest things that made being a parent such a strong spiritual practice for me is to notice that every time I was triggered, I was projecting onto my kid. If I wanted to say you're selfish, then I was being selfish. If I wanted to go, why don't you just listen? And then I wasn't listening. If I was saying you need to calm down, then I needed to calm down. To see that every single time I was triggered, I was making that child into my trigger. I wasn't just projecting it onto them. I was making them like you need to calm down. That tells a kid that they're not calm. You're naughty. That tells a kid they're naughty. you're defining them. It's literally the mechanism to make them into you, to hand over your patterns. if you really see that, it's such a cool thing because it's like every time you get triggered, you're like, right, That's me, right? That's me, right? That's me.

Alexa: I see how raising kids was such gold for your journey. What an amazingly tight feedback loop.

Joe: Yeah. Wow.

Brett: I can't wait for our kids to listen to this.

Joe: Tell us how far we have fallen and you can be like, yeah, and I'm sorry that's not how I wanted to be with you. Oh yeah. then you'll cry together. That feels like a good end.

Alexa: Yeah, really beautiful. Thank you so much.

Brett: Yeah. Thank you, Joe. You're welcome. Thank you, folks.

Joe: Yeah, good to have you here. More Alexa, please.

Alexa: It's so good to be with you.

Brett: Yeah. OK. Thank you everybody for listening. I'm going to say that with more feeling. Thank you everybody for listening. Thank you for laughing over me, Joe.

Joe: One more time and I'm going to leave.

Brett: That idea one more time with feeling. Thank you.

Joe: Thank you everybody.

Brett: OK, I'm really grateful that people listen to this and I'd love to hear how it impacted you. If there's somebody that you think would enjoy it, please send it their way. Or don't. Or shoot us a question or leave us a review.

Joe: Love you all.

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