1 to 2 and 3 to 4

We welcomed our second baby a week and a half ago. I thought of the three things that I expect to happen this morning.

First, I expect to learn a ton about myself as I adapt and change how I operate. I expect to struggle through the process of more developing more flexibility and more patience while understanding how and why I make decisions the way I do. It will be a fascinating process.

Second, I expect to understand and appreciate the sheer magnitude of my wife’s contributions to this partnership a bit better. Research has shown that we all like to think of ourselves as above average contributors. While I know I’m not above average in this partnership, I expect to learn I’m likely still overestimating. We’re now at eleven years since our first date and approaching five years married – we’ve both learnt a ton about what it takes to be good partners. I don’t write enough about the importance of marrying a true partner as we’re both pretty private and wouldn’t want this blog to start having frequent public displays of affection. I slip every once a while. It is hard not to as she is a true, un-credited, co-author.

Finally, I hope to re-commit to Kahlil Gibran’s profound passage – “On Children.” It is our aspirational parental philosophy.


On Children by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


Our son’s name is “Ved” (pronounced “bathe” with a v). It means knowledge. It felt fitting…

The years are short

I shared a video in 2012 called “The Years are Short” by Gretchen Rubin. She’d published a book called “The Happiness Project” and someone who’d liked her work had shared this video.

While I never got around to reading the book, the video has stayed with me. The idea that “the days are long, but the years are short” is one I’ve thought about and shared many a time.

There’s a moment in the video when Gretchen realizes that the seemingly mundane bus ride with her daughter was “it.” “It” was parenting, “it” was her daughter’s childhood and life itself.

I’m very grateful for that realization as I’ve had the benefit of carrying it with me since I became a parent. It is something I think about nearly every time I find myself doing something that seems mundane with my daughter.

Thank you, Gretchen.

A formula for mentorship

I’ve been coming across formulas for mentorship and “wise” parenting in books I’ve been reading over the past few months (Grit, Mindset, The Power of Moments).

My go to is the one from “The Power of Moments.” Great mentorship = Trust + High expectations + Direction + Support.

Trust is the first step because it is the foundation of any relationship. You can’t shortcut trust. Knowing and understanding a person are pre-requisites for trust.

High expectations is the easy part. However, it doesn’t work as often or as well if you are thrown into the deep sea without any direction.

Support is what is assured when things don’t work. Support feeds right back into trust.

The powerful part about understanding these elements is that great mentorship need not come from conventional mentor-mentee or parent-child relationships. Once you know what you want to learn from each other, friendships and teammate relationships can be (and often are) mentorship relationships.

Lessons from my first year as a parent

My favorite passage on parenting from Kahlil Gibran says this on the subject of learning – “Strive to be like them. Seek not to make them like you.”

In that vein, here are the top five lessons I’ve learnt from watching our infant become a walking, babbling one year old.

  1. Be clear about what you are optimizing for and be engaged when you’re pursuing it. Babies have a high level of clarity about what matters to them at any given moment. Sleep matters most. If sleep isn’t taken care of, all else is futile. Food comes next. Again, if their stomachs aren’t full, they pursue that single mindedly. And, if they’re playing, they’re fully engaged in doing so.

    I’ve found that clarity and engagement to be very inspiring. This is coincidentally the year I decided to engage on my engagement with life. I didn’t realize then that my role model for engagement was right at home. “Strive to be like them” rings very true.

  2. The natural thing to do after a fall is to get back up. When kids learn a new skill like pulling up or walking, they’re extremely comfortable with falling. They expect to fall and pick themselves up each time. When our daughter learned to pull herself up, she’d do it 300 times a day. It was mind blowing. A great reminder that failure is not the falling down, it is the staying down.
  3. Find delight in simple things. The bar for delight is low. If it isn’t a simple game of peek-a-boo, it could just be a bunch of stacking cups. I’ve become more aware that our happiness is simply a measure of our reality compared to our expectations. If our expectations are low, it is really easy to be happy.
  4. Be ready to smile, love and trust – if people prove themselves worthy of it. In a wonderful post about parenthood, Jeff Atwood wrote –

    I wasn’t sure how to explain meeting new people to Henry, so I decided to just tell him we’ve met a new “friend” every time. Now, understand that this is not at all the way I view the world. I’m extremely wary of strangers, and of new people in general with their agendas and biases and opinions. I’ve been burned too many times. But Henry is open to every person he meets by default. Each new person is worth greeting, worth meeting as a new experience, as a fellow human being. Henry taught me, without even trying to, that I’ve been doing it all wrong. I realized that I’m afraid of other people, and it’s only my own fear preventing me from opening up, even a little, to new people that I meet. I really should view every new person I meet as a potential friend. I’m not quite there yet; it’s still a work in progress. But with Henry’s help, I think I can. I had absolutely no idea my child would end up teaching me as much as I’m teaching him.

    So. True.

  5. Change is the only constant – so, be willing to adapt. There’s a certain amount of flexibility that comes with having a baby around the house.  They have a rough schedule but they may or may not stick with it. The good news is they’re just as open to changes in your plans as well – change is expected.

    This has been the toughest learning for me. I wrote about this a few weeks ago in a post titled “It giveth and it taketh.” From that post –
    There are these moments of sheer awesomeness interspersed with moments of “Oh god – there goes another one of my well laid plans.”

    That’s the interesting thing about what “it taketh” – it says a lot about me and my expectations of the process. The more I plan and I expect, the more I feel “it taketh” and the more I find myself needing to learn to let go and grow.

    In that sense, parenting is a lot like other great journeys (school, challenging projects, engaging jobs, marriage, etc.)  – it is what you make of it. The more you give, the more it takes out of you and the more you grow in the process.

Year one has been a fascinating learning journey. Looking forward to many more.

It giveth and it taketh

My response to the “how has it been going as a parent” question these days is – “It giveth and it taketh.” 

There are these moments of sheer awesomeness interspersed with moments of “Oh god – there goes another one of my well laid plans.”

That’s the interesting thing about what “it taketh” – it says a lot about me and my expectations of the process. The more I plan and I expect, the more I feel “it taketh” and the more I find myself needing to learn to let go and grow.

In that sense, parenting is a lot like other great journeys (school, challenging projects, engaging jobs, marriage, etc.)  – it is what you make of it. The more you give, the more it takes out of you and the more you grow in the process.

On parenting

My wife and I became parents 4 weeks ago. Parenting promises to be the mother of all learning journeys. And, my main emotion is one of gratitude after witnessing a miraculous process.

As we headed toward this parenting journey, a few folks tried convincing us that “nothing can prepare you for this.” But, they also told me that before our wedding, graduate school, and other such important life moments. And, they were always wrong. So, that didn’t really deter us.

Our preparation went a really long way in making this as smooth a transition as we could have hoped. As all those who prepare know, preparation can never prepare you for 100% of reality. But, it’ll take you 70% of the way by giving you a good sense of what to expect. And, that 70% makes all the difference in the world come match day.

In the spirit of sharing lessons, I’d like to share a parenting resource that I have been updating since we were expecting. I plan to keep it updated for the foreseeable future. It is a Google Doc I call “A Learning a Day Dad Notes” and is accessible on http://bit.ly/aladdadnotes. In it, you’ll also find a link to my wife’s doc for moms that she has generously agreed to share as well. These notes contain links to another Google doc where we also shared our pre-arrival shopping list. The pre-arrival shopping list was an intense process because expectant parents are a very profitable segment for retailers. And, it took us a lot of effort to separate the signal from the noise and ensure we were spending our money on stuff that would actually matter.

My notes are true to style, i.e., brutally honest. So, I hope you find it useful. You’ll see multiple resources mentioned in the doc. But, I’d like to give a shout to the one website we found incredibly useful – Lucie’s List. Thanks, Meg, for a wonderful website. It is my go-to.

Finally, I don’t want this post to just be a resource dump. So, I’d like to share a passage by the Lebanese American poet “Kahlil Gibran” whose parenting philosophy I hope to live –


On Children by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.


The depth of this passage always blows my mind. Our daughter’s name, Samvita, means “consciousness” and her name will be a reminder for me to conscious about the many wonderful ideas this passage points to…

Onward.