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In Ten Years

In Ten Years

As I reacted to the natural call of my offspring (“DAD!”) for the 1,528th time this weekend, I recognized that I was starting to sound annoyed in my responses. Annoyed. Annoyed with what? Being needed? Loved? Not alone?

Overall I consider myself to be a pretty good dad. But every once in a while I stop and see myself as being a complete ass. I allow my ever evolving, busy life to cloud my judgement and get in the way of valuing what’s really important. It’s the moments when I’m in the middle of something personal or maybe working from home (which I’m remarkably fortunate to be able to do from timeIMG_8576 to time), maybe typing an e-mail, that the adolescent piranha that can be my children, all seem to peck away at my aura simultaneously each with their own specific need, ie.”DAD can you make me a snack,” “Dad, my computer won’t work,” “Dad,where’s the remote?,”  “Dad I’m bored,” “DAD!, blankety blank didn’t flush,” “dad have you seen my … oh there it is.”

I’ve at times asked them to give me a minute so I can focus on the task in front of me assuring them that I’ll be with them in a minute. By the tenth time, I know I can come off somewhat rudely. Something about the same question being asked ten times within five minutes will cause that.

Yet, it’s those moments when I get made at myself for reacting that way. Because the truth is; in another ten years, I’ll miss the beckoning. I’ll long for just one, “DADDDD?!!!” And wish to God one of them would need me to find the brush their sister took without asking.

Remember, the days with our kids are limited. Embrace every moment, answer every question and once in a while, let the rest of the world wait and be the dad!

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2016 in choices, Uncategorized

 

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One Giant Leap For Divorced Mankind

I think, just as either you or your spouse did when this whole thing started, you realize at some point something needs to change. There’s a little “ding” that goes off in your head that tells you; this isn’t working and it’s time to move on. I think for a lot of people the frustration sets in when they can’t decide what that means or what direction to go.

After a divorce, your first item of business is to survive. Your entire focus is adjusting to the new reality and overcoming the fear that your world is going to completely crumble. This is especially true if yours was a twoUnknown-1 income household which is suddenly down to one. Your mind is consumed with how this is going to work. When will you see the kids? Who pays for what? How do I juggle work and childcare? Can I afford it? Is it going to be a daily battle? All of it can scare the crap out of the strongest and most secure individual.

Through the ups and downs of the ensuing months, you find an offbeat rhythm and find yourself kind of making it work. But it still feels uneasy. Your first thought is, it’s time to move on and build a new life. And as anxious as you may be to create this new utopia, walking away from a marriage and attempting to start over is easier said than done; both physically and mentally. And everyone sees it but you.

Eventually, at some point, you wake up and realize you’re in divorce purgatory. You’re no longer married but you haven’t quite rebuilt your life either. You’re sustaining yourself, but not really progressing the way you had been prior to the divorce. You’re kind of stuck somewhere in the middle trying to figure out what’s next and how
do you get to a place that feels like you’re living again. You may even be sitting there wondering, “Is this it? Is this what my life will be from now on?”

Well, you can look at it that way. But to me that’s a sign that you’ve reached a new plateau. Your mind has wrapped its head around the situation and you’ve come to terms with some things that had been difficult to let
images-5go of. Perhaps it was guilt or aspects of your relationship that you were holding on to. In all likelihood you’re ready to move forward, albeit with a very small well thought out step.

I think what you have to decide now is, where do you want to go? As much as you may feel held down by the baggage you now bring to the table, the truth is you’re probably freer than you’ve been in years. You’re making choices and decisions you haven’t had the prviledge of making on your own. Whether the courts decided your time with the kids or you and your ex did; at some point your children will have a choice. The foundation you create today really is up to you. How you move forward is truly your decision, although it may not always feel that way. You can look as things as either a tether or as a blessing. It’s really up to you. Embrace your relationship with your children and ALWAYS put them first. Nothing else matters. I truly believe that. Just remember, there is a balance. You have to have faith in the cosmos. When you have to let go, let go. Just remind your kids how much you love them and how much you love it when they’re with you.

I was once told by a very insightful lady that we attract in life what we truly believe we deserve. At some point you’re going to recognize you deserve better. You’re going to recognize you have more going for you than you realize. You’re going to realize that what you’re managing is awe inspiring. When you reach that plateau and find that inner strength, you’re going to find it much easier to let go of the past and move forward. When you hit that point you’re going to want it all to happen tomorrow. But give it time. Trust it; and yourself. A divorce has a way of forcing you to man up. And once you find that strength my gut says you’re going to find it in you to take that first big step toward building a new and much better life for yourself AND your family.

Peace!

 

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Tone Deaf

It is probably stated in every parenting magazine, blog, book, thesis, study and hallmark card. It’s up to parents to set the tone and whatever tone you set, your kids will follow your lead. And yet, how often do we as parents set the wrong tone? We let work, laundry, family disputes, traffic, finances, lack of sleep, all of it, provide the basis of the tone we set within our very own home. Weimg_4204 establish an environment of stress and anxiety and then wonder why our kids are stressed out or why they react negatively toward each other.

What’s that? Oh … it’s just me?

Ah yes. I forgot; we also then get down on ourselves because  everyone else’s home is all Ward and June Cleaver.

I’m still convinced it comes down to awareness. Recognizing that something’s getting under your skin that has allowed you to set the tone at 11 and that adjustments need to be made. Acknowledging that you may be partly responsible for your child’s anxiety is a tough one to soak in. But listen; better to recognize it and fix it than let it grow and fester. I’m telling you it’s amazing to watch your kids respond to a dad who makes a point of staying calm and helping them through a difficult day. That moment when you recognize that your daughter isn’t really freaking out because you’re out of cherry popsicles is epic. And nothing is more rewarding than when she confides in you five minutes after stopping to “listen” that it was actually something someone said to her during recess. Oh but getting angry is SO much easier isn’t it?

We all know what it’s like to start the day off rushing to get the kids to the bus, with one of them freaking out because their homework isn’t finished or they can’t find their other shoe or they hate the clothes they have on and decide as you’re walking out the door to change. We’ve all experienced the stress, the tension and the
OldManualToneSettingsshear exhaustion of pulling everyone together to make it on time. And we’ve all pulled out of the school parking lot mad at ourselves for not doing a better job of holding it together.

Let it pass. Acknowledge there will be days like that and move on. At that very moment, stop and consider what you want tomorrow to be like and create a “preset” in your head. It’s hard as hell. But just try to remember, your kids need you, not only to set the tone, but to protect their little egos. To support their little minds. And to teach them how to handle stress and anxiety. You’re their rock. Protect them. Teach them. Again, no one said it’s easy. But as long as you’re aware and can catch yourself; that’s half the battle.

I’m not saying the tone should always be the same. Honestly; for someone who’s lived their entire life wearing their heart on their sleeve, that’s not realistic. However, there are appropriate tones for different emotions. Settings that can teach your kids (and you) the proper way to express disappointment, anger, frustration, joy, happiness, love and peace. As long as respect is the root of any tone; you should be good to go.

So go practice. Yeah – that’s right; practice. Create some presets in your head. Visualize the morning, dinner at the restaurant, shopping. Whatever the situation you’re preparing for, establish an expectation for how you’re going to handle the worse case scenario. What tone will you set? How will you deal with it? Think ahead. Prepare yourself and visualize the end result. Just promise yourself you’re going to do what you can to prevent yourself from becoming tone deaf.

 

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Aside

So, how’re you holding up? Keeping it all together?

Sometimes I have a difficult time coming up with a topic to write about. Today is one of those days. And yet I feel compelled to write to you and encourage you to keep moving forward; to keep the faith and to fight throughhow_you_doin whatever negativity you might be dealing with. Some days we simply need someone to tell us we’re amazing. That what we’re doing is epic. Sometimes it’s just nice to hear someone say, “I don’t know how you do it.”

Just the fact that you’re there for your kids is something to be both proud of and thankful for. Some dads leave a divorce and put it all behind them, including their kids. I wish there was something I could say to those dads, but chances are those dads probably aren’t reading this blog. I feel bad for those fathers because they’re really missing out on one of the most amazing experiences life has to offer. Keep in mind I’m not talking about dads who want to be there, but have limited access to the kids due to the courts. I’m talking about the dads who just don’t care. Because they would if they knew what they were missing.

But it’s not easy and it doesn’t come without an effort as you well know. It doesn’t come without battles, compromises and standing up for yourself AND your kids. There is a reason why you get up every morning, idadjpg-85702c75c414f9a9make school lunches, stay up late washing a special pair of jeans your daughter wants to wear to school in the morning, coach a soccer team or teach your kid how to make the perfect pancake. There’s a reason you stop what you’re doing when you tuck your kids in at night to spend 30 minutes talking to them about their day. It’s because once you see your kids smile due to your efforts it becomes infectious. When you sense the impact you’re having on your kids you become astutely aware of your true purpose.

It doesn’t happen right off the bat necessarily. And I think that’s where some dads struggle. You can’t just wake up one day and expect your twelve year old kid to be your best pal. It takes time for both you and your kids to find your groove and to respect each other. It takes time to accept certain aspects of being a dad and get comfortable with others. And even when you do, there are going to be days when you struggle to keep the focus where it needs to be. Because along with your kids, there are a thousand other people pulling at you, needing you, expecting things from you. You get lost in a project, or invariably everything lands on the same day between 10 am and noon. That’s when the school calls to let you know your daughter has a temperature. Or your ex texts you to see if there’s any chance you can best_job_ive_ever_had_being_a_dad_mousepad-p144662381049604604eng3t_400meet the kids at the bus stop today because of an emergency.

It’s a balance that takes time to master and even then it’s not always easy when you’re getting it from all sides. So I’m here to tell you you’re doing great. You’re a great dad and your kids need you, typically when they seem to need you the least. But they need you because of the amazing things you bring to their lives. They need you because you’re the only dad they have and over time they’ve learned to appreciate everything you do, even when they tell you you’re the worst dad ever because you made them turn off an inappropriate program or made them clean their room or turn off the computer. They need the boundaries you set, the hugs you offer, the reassurances you give them that they’re awesome and not a freak like so many of their school mates make them feel like sometimes.

They need you dad and they need you because you’ve set the bar. And now that you’ve set it to not maintain it would be letting them down. And the fact that you’ve set the bar is the strongest indication that you’re doing a great job.

How YOU Doin’?

 

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Hey Four Eyes!

When you have more than one child, life quickly becomes a multiplication equation. For example, “If one child wants to play soccer at $125 per registration and then her two siblings decide they want to play too; how many home cooked meals will dad have to prepare in order to balance the monthly family budget?”

When you consider something for one, your head automatically multiplies it by the number of children you have. So when my son decided he needed eye glasses (despite no suggestion from teacher observations or his annual physical) I immediately pulled out my Logarithm Table and began budgeting for three. Even if the
Snellen Chart.moo.Tweens.Teens.Fun.Ideas.other two had no interest they would quickly take note of the funds expended and find a way to subtly demand equal love.

So I searched out a reasonable eye exam, which ended up costing me $45.00. (We have health insurance, but I balked at vision). We took the exam and sure enough, while developmentally he was in great shape, the doctor suggested some reading glasses to help his eyes as they “developed” further. “I TOLD YOU DAD!” And off we went to pick a pair of frames.

I’m going to cut to the chase here and tell you that the grand total (frames, lenses, warranty, exam, non-scratch coating etc) was over $400! I was floored. How did a $69.00 pair of frames suddenly become $400? It was double what I’d paid for my own pair a year or two ago. Trying to hold in my distain for what felt like a con job, I advised the “sales associate” that I would pay for the exam and go “shop.”

We went to a competitor and found something very similar for well under $200.00 which got me scratching my head. That seemed like quite a difference. So I did a quick search on my phone and low and behold I found Web site upon Web site of eye glass options for kids that were in the $30-$50 range. This included frame, lenses, case and a money back guarantee.

So the question was, “how is this possible?” I did more reading and sure enough, more and more people had grown tired of paying $400 for a pair of eye glasses and were turning to the internet for other ideas. And from all accounts it had become a viable option.

So, my son and I spent an hour or so looking on line at different sites and he found several he loved. Some bluegummysites have measuring tools you can download, some have options to upload a picture to see what glasses will look like on you. Some even offer to send you samples to try on. It’s amazing. The site we worked with (coastal.com) had a chat option to answer questions and walk you through the process. It was easy. It meant waiting for a week, but we turned that into a lesson on patience and being smart with your money. Eight days later my son had his glasses and was beyond excited to receive them in the mail.

All told, and I’m not making this up; the grand total for EVERYTHING was $48.00. (Quite a difference from the initial $400 plus.)

As a parent we have to be smart and sadly, trust no one. I remember walking out of the first place we stopped feeling like we were being taken for a ride. It just didn’t make sense and I was immediately being charged for the mack daddy version without any consult. They saw the excited kid and subsequently saw opportunity. That was very disappointing especially when I discovered through some simple research that even 100 yards down the hall was an option that 50% less. Even more so when I found a perfectly fine option for 90% less.

It just shows you yet again, how a little time and effort, a little research and stopping to think for a moment can provide opportunities to teach your kids (and yourself) the value of being patient and shopping around. In the end we all learned some lessons and truthfully can see the world a little more clearly.

 

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