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Category Archives: Daily Life

But What If?

Last night I was at my daughter’s softball game. It was a late start so by the time the first pitch was thrown the sun had already set. Off in the distance was a spectacular lightning display as storms were raging to the south of us. I overheard a child ask their dad, “What if it starts raining?” The dad reassured her that the storms were very far away and not an immediate threat and to enjoy the game. I took the guy’s advice and just sat back and enjoyed watching my daughter play what was probably one of the best games of the season. I put all other thoughts to the back of my mind and focused on the joy of watching my kid steal third base.

How often do we get wrapped up in worrying about the “what ifs” in our lives? So much so that we completely miss the opportunity to enjoy the here and now. I’m guilty of it. Quite frankly, I’m guilty of it right now. Worried about two weeks from now to the point of not focusing on2012-10-17 21.21.03
how amazing today is and how hard I’ve worked to get to this point.

You can easily cloud your head with what ifs. They’re so easy to create as there are countless scenarios as to how things might turn out. The problem is, we typically make “what ifs” a negative thing. What if it rains? What if she breaks her ankle? What if the car breaks down? What if the check doesn’t show up on time? What if my ex gets a boyfriend/girlfriend? What if I’m unable to support my family? What if it turns out Godzilla is real and he terrorizes my town forcing us to live underground and live on beetles? Sound familiar? I believe there’s a fine line between preparing yourself for the future and worrying about the things we have absolutely no control over. Or, as I’m well versed in, creating unrealistic scenarios, many of which would make for a great Lifetime movie of the week.

Some things we simply can’t tackle until they happen. Think back to all of the what ifs you worried about during the past year. How many of them actually came to being? I’m willing to bet it was less than 10%. We cloud our heads so much worrying about things that never actually happen. We really do. Yes, bad things are going to happen and there are going to be bad days. They’re going to happen. But they don’t need to consume us before they happen.

If it’s absolutely necessary for you to worry about the future, give yourself a time each day to do so. Then acknowledge and move on. Go watch your kid play softball. Or let them teach you how to play Minecraft or demonstrate to you the value of making a list as my middle child often does. Focus on those things that you can control in the here and now. Consider the what ifs for sure, at the same time acknowledging you can only manage “What is.”

 

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You’re Not Alone

My father is 91. Whenever I see him, (he lives about 700 miles away), the first thing he says to me is how alone he feels. Admittedly, part of this is his own doing. He avoids crowds due to his inability to hear people well and tends to shy away from social situations. Keep in mind, at one point, he was the President of the New York State Farm Bureau. But big picture, most of his brothers and sisters are gone. He recently lost a son-in-law. And he’s losing his memory and finally acknowledging his age and quite frankly, he’s scared.

This past week, my sister took him to a new doctor. My parents had moved a while ago and he had held on to his old doctor despite the distance until it was becoming obvious to both the doctor and my family that he needed someone closer. And so after a bit of drama he2014-05-25 11.42.45 agreed to get someone closer.

The foundation of this blog has always been to remind us that we’re never the only one on this path. Somewhere out there is someone who is experiencing the same trials and tribulations you are. Somewhere, someone understands what you’re going through. It’s true when your seven. It’s true when you’re seventeen. It’s true when you’re fifty and it’s true when you’re 91. It’s a key element to our peace of mind. To have the knowledge that there is someone who gets it and understands what’s going on in your head. Such was the focal point of my father’s doctor visit.

Even at 91. Even with everything my father has lived through. His accomplishments. His ups and downs. His knowledge of life and what it means to be 91. Despite having family around him every day reminding him that they’re there for him, even he simply needed a stranger to say, “You’re not the only one experiencing this and I want to help.” And from what my mom and sister told me, that’s exactly what this new doctor said. “I understand, and you’re not the first one to go through this.”

I’m told he wept at the end of the visit, which from all accounts lasted nearly two hours. I can only guess, that simply hearing someone tell him, “you’re not alone and I’m here to help” brought a sense of relief to him. That’s not to say that he doesn’t already have people around2014-05-30 17.31.57-1him who love him and are there to help. But sometimes it takes a complete stranger with no history to validate your state of mind.

As divorced dads (and moms), there are times when we feel incredibly vulnerable and alone. We wake up in an abyss of unknowns, convinced our lives are a complete mess. We shy away from inviting people in wondering who would want to be a part of our mess. During those times, knowing there are others just like you, somehow gives you peace of mind and an ability to face it head on with a little more confidence and resilience. It also helps us recognize that our world really isn’t as bad as we tend to make it out to be sometimes. And yes, sometimes it’ll make you weep when the weight of feeling alone is lifted. Hearing about my dad’s experience and having watched him these past few years and having watched my children grow and navigate through their first decade has helped me recognize that in every stage of life, we’re convinced we’re the first to experience the pains we’re living through.

In that vein, this blog has been a source of therapy for me as well these past three years. Each note I receive, every comment made, reminds me that there are others going through the same things I am. And that we’re all doing our best and learning as we go. The reality is, sometimes it simply helps to know, you’re not alone.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Daily Life, Divorce

 

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Don’t Drink the Water

So, about three weeks ago my daughter and I made a trip up to Conesus Lake (one of the Finger Lakes) to visit family. Was an amazing trip and a great bonding experience for my daughter and I. She’s a great travel companion and terrific company on the thirteen hour drive eachphoto way.

As we were leaving she said, “Oh hey! I need to get a bottle of lake water for science class.” So we grabbed an empty “Kroger Water” bottle I had lying in the Jeep and she went and filled it up. I typically have no fewer than eight to ten full bottles in the Jeep. My kids are always asking for one when we’re on the road and I myself try to make a habit of keeping hydrated.

Flash forward to this morning as I was getting out of the Jeep and grabbing my backpack and running into the office. As I was closing my door I grabbed a full bottle and closed the door.

I was browsing the Web, eating my lunch and wrapping things up when I looked down to see some residue at the bottom of my bottled water. It was then that I realized that I had just finished three quarters of the lake water from the bottle that never made it to science class. Should be an interesting evening.

I’ll have to ask my daughter how science class was.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Daily Life, Divorce, fatherhood

 

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When I Grow Up


Yesterday, as I was on the couch watching television with my son, I looked at him and the oddest thought went through my head. I sat their looking at him, thinking, “Holy crap! I’m his DAD.” I repeated it in my head a few more times. “I’m this kid’s dad.” For some reason, I was having a difficult time wrapping my head around it.

After twelve years of being a father, I still look at my kids and am floored by the simple concept that, “I’m the dad.” I’m that guy. I’m the one they’ll talk about through college and when they’re on their own. When they’re talking to their grandchildren, I’m going to be the “dad” they talk about. Out of nowhere it hit me like a brick and suddenly, this thought became remarkably difficult for
IMG_1846me to comprehend.

For the most part I would consider myself a fairly involved father and am confident that most who know me, including my ex-wife, would agree. I did a 2 am feeding or two. My first child spent many hours with me at the office during her first year. Even had her own pack n’ play there. I’ve been the soccer coach. We’ve traveled together a lot. I’ve taken a million pictures, videos, etc. Done my best to be there as much as I could. And yet, it’s taken twelve years for the idea of being a father to start to sink in. How is that possible?

I’m having discussions with my eldest that are becoming more “life philosophies.” You know the ones. The talks that are more about the type of person they want to be when they grow up. I think such discussions smack you in the face with, “Well buddy, what kind of person do YOU want to be when you grow up?” And then it hits you. You’re the grown up. You’re the guy they’re going to look to as the reference point.

As dads we screw up a lot. Both as fathers and as human beings in general. We make mistakes and have to hold ourselves accountable for those errors in judgement. We do the best we can and base our decisions and our approaches on decades worth of research living our own lives. Still, we’re far from perfect. But I think the very idea of being “dad” should, if nothing else, force us to become increasingly introspective as to the type of person we are beyond just being the dad. By that, I mean, we should take this amazing opportunity to grow as individuals and ask ourselves, “what kind of person do we want to be when we grow up.” Because it’s impossible to ask a twelve-year-old what type of person they want to be when they grow up and then help them get there, if we aren’t asking ourselves the same question and working to get their as well.

I’m looking up at pictures of my kids that are hanging up in my office. It still amazes me to think that these are my kids. That I’m the guy who’s been entrusted with the task of being their father. And I love the fact that it continues to blow my mind even after all this time.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2014 in Daily Life

 

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Get With The Program(mer)

It is never lost on me, that each of my children are hardwired very differently. Each has their own way of approaching things and each their own interests. Sometimes these overlap, but more often than not, each has a unique set of triggers in just about every aspect of their personality.

If one of our jobs as parents is to help our kids find their passion and create a series of goals to motivate them, the first task is to recognize what it is that gets their motor running. Notice I said, “their” motor, not yours. That’s the hard part, as more often than not, what’s enticing and interesting to your kids is completely foreign to you as a dad (or mom). Or we attempt to push our own interests on them,Screenshot 2014-09-17 10.57.43 primarily because it’s easier and admittedly, who wouldn’t want their kid to show an interest in what they do. But in my house, unless you’re Beyonce’, Peyton Manning or Tom Ford, you’ll typically get a “ho hum.”

Currently, I have a fashion designer, a singer and apparently a video game developer living under my roof. It would be easy to roll your eyes and say, “sure honey, you can be a singer.” But truthfully both my fashion diva and songstress have proven to maintain a strong interest for an extended period of time in both interests. Enough so that both their mom and I are looking at ways to support the interests while giving them a well rounded understanding of both the creative and business side of their pursuits. Which leads us to the last one on the list; the video game developer.  We’ve been waiting for him to find a “calling” of sorts and it’s a somewhat new discovery that basically came about by having to answer the simple question, “Dad, how do you make a video game?”

Now, ask me how to make a music video or a bologna sandwich and I’m your guy. How to make a video game? No idea. My initial reaction was “Well, you study hard in school and go to college to learn how.” Seemed reasonable enough. The answer went over like a Flappy Bird hitting a giant lead pole as my son proclaimed, “But I want to make it NOW!” I then mentioned something about having to learn how to write “code” and escaped to the kitchen to make dinner.

My son returned about fifteen minutes later with an entire page of code he’d written in his own computer language. Obviously, this idea wasn’t going to go away any time soon.

So after I put the kids to bed I started searching on line and low and behold, there are a TON of ways for kids to learn computer programming and development. What appears to be at the top of the list is code.org, a site that features Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates along with a plethora of other computer scientists, programmers and developers all eager to help us all (not just the kids) understand computer programming. There is even a lesson on how to build your own version of Flappy Bird. This morning I showed it to my son and he went bananas. And when he’s not on the site, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m on it learning a thing or two myself.

What really gets your kid’s mojo working? Do you know? What have you done to encourage it or maybe discourage it? Would love to hear your experiences in the comments section below.

 

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