RSS

Tag Archives: single parent

Power of the Good

After reading Patton Oswalt’s blog post: I was compelled to not only thank him for his words, but to consider how to handle these events as a parent and make a similar pledge. Reflecting on the events in Boston, I will not allow an individual or a handful of individuals to bruise my belief in humanity.  I prefer to focus my attention on the thousands and tens of thousands of individuals who, without blinking an eye, dove to help their fellow citizens. I believe those people still
Imageoverwhelmingly represent the majority of people on this planet and refuse to let the small minority cause me to believe otherwise. Hats off to anyone who helped someone or consoled someone today. You far out number those that caused the grief.

This is also a chance for us as single fathers (and mothers), to help our children focus on the positive aspect of humanity. The dark side will no doubt burden them with fear and anxiety as it does many adults. But to provide kids the power to shift that focus to the countless individuals who acted selfishly and without cause to rush to the aid of others, to me that’s empowerment.

Throughout their lives they will encounter mean people who wish them and those around them harm. They will be made aware of horrific events around the world and be given every opportunity and every reason to lose
Imagefaith in humanity. I know my own initial reaction was, “what is happening to the world?” But then I was reminded of the 72′ Olympics, JFK’s assassination and other similar events. They will continue to occur and we will be challenged to remind ourselves that those few do not speak for the rest of the planet. And we owe it to our children to remind them of the same thing.

Tonight when you sit down with your children and they ask questions about “mean people,” remind them of how many amazingly loving people there are in the world and of all the great things that happen in their neighborhood and in the world every day. They need to be reminded of that and deserve a peaceful night’s sleep. And you’re just the person to get them there.

Peace.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sick of It!

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of being a single parent, is the fact that you are not allowed to get sick. It’s actually in the bi-laws. Chapter VII, Section IV, Paragraph III, Line II clearly states, “a temperature of 102, severe chills, cold sweats and vomiting, shall not relieve said parent of the duty of making school lunches,
sick-guyfeeding and dressing the children, ensuring teeth and hair are brushed, school field trip permission slips are
signed and everybody is out the door in time to ride the school bus.”

Forget the fact that there’s no one around to take care of you either. And as a guy, I loath doctors. Part of it is the fact that I just love paying $100 to $200 out of my pocket to have someone tell me, “you really should get some rest.”

When you’re basically the sole proprietor of your family, there’s rarely room for even a “day” of stopping. Work, kids, soccer practices, laundry, shopping, meals, all keep coming up on the schedule. E-mails keep coming, phones keep ringing, clients keep asking, bills keep arriving, kids keep needing. You were overwhelmed when you were healthy. Now what? All problems and challenges appear 15 times larger when you’re sick and have no energy.

If you’re like me, your tendency is to fight through it. As my ex used to say, “you can be miserable at home or
miserable at work.” And typically it works. I take some DayQuil, eat an orange, hydrate, get a run or two in to images-13sweat it out, and in a couple of days I’m good to go. OK, and maybe I throw some donuts and coffee in there. But as much as I try to fight it, if after a week I’m still wheezing and dragging my ass, I’ll bee line it for the Kroger clinic in hopes of getting a z-pack. It’s the only way to ensure you’re going to have the energy and the ability to forge through long term.

As a single parent you’ve grown accustomed to “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” But obviously; if after a week you’re still sick, your body is telling you it just isn’t able to recoup on its own and needs some help. Try to recognize when you need to stop and shut down for a day and act accordingly. If you have a kid free day coming up. Cancel your plans that you’ve been waiting two weeks for and take care of yourself. If you have the kids, get them on the bus and take a day off – from everything! When they get home, let them make you tea and tuck you in on the couch. They’ll love it and usually their behavior improves at the same time. You’ll be amazed at how just 24 hours of rest and taking care of yourself can turn things around for you. Your boss will thank you, you’ll thank you and your kids will thank you.

So: single parents who are sick and goin’ it alone: High Five! I feel ya. You’re doing great and your family is better for your efforts. I’m personally cyberly patting you on the back. Hopefully it’ll help break up that cough.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Losing My Mind (and my keys)

I don’t know about you, but there are days when I’m convinced my sometimes over booked life is turning me into a complete idiot. There are days when it feels like I spend more time retracing my steps in order to remember where I left my pants than I do accomplishing my to do list. We all misplace our keys from time to time but honestly, I don’t know how many times this week I’ve stopped and called myself all kinds of names
memory36969112_crop out of frustration.

I’m proud of what I accomplish every week. It’s a lot. I consider myself incredibly productive. But man, sometimes I just stop and wonder what’s going on inside my brain. I had always had a history of laying things down in odd places and then completely forgetting. I learned over time how to stop, retrace my steps and then figure it out. And for the most part I’ve done a great job of doing it. But then there are times when I actually walk into the kitchen and completely forget why I was going there.

Does this happen to you? Do you forget things?

I remember driving to work one morning. I had just gotten off the phone with my mom and started thinking about the upcoming weekend and everything that had to get done. There were a couple of softball games, a birthday party, a project that needed some extra attention, yard work that needed to get done. Started thinking about an upcoming trip with the kids and then suddenly I realized I’d completely driven past my exit and was heading toward what was an old job I’d had seven years ago.

Stop right now, close your eyes and ask yourself what color socks you have on. Do you know? I’m telling you, our lives as single parents can really put a strain on our ability to keep up with everything. So it’s no wonder we drive off with our coffee mug on top of our car from time to time or go through seven to eight names including the dog’s before calling our kid the right one.

I would love to offer you a cure all. Like, have a place you keep your keys, wallet, phone etc. Put things you’re
DMLgroup.jpggoing need in the morning where you can find them the night before. Do crossword puzzles to exercise your brain. But honestly, I think there are just going to be days (sometimes several in a row), when you’re going to have to be aware of everything going on and give yourself a moment to stop, think and be cognizant of what you’re doing or where you’re putting something down.

It’s so easy to get so lost in our schedules and the hustle bustle of our days that we completely forget ourselves and what we’re doing. I’ve literally put dishwashing detergent in the refrigerator and have gotten out of the shower only to realize I never rinsed my hair. It’s easy to start thinking you have a brain tumor or alzheimer’s. My guess is I just overload myself from time to time and most of what I’ve read assures me that everything I’m experiencing is completely normal for a 40 something with three kids and four jobs. A lot of recent studies also show that stress is a major contributor to memory loss. And Lord knows, if you’re going through a divorce or trying to get back on track, stress just comes with the territory.

So, my only advise is to first stop every once in a while and give yourself a moment. I’ve found exercise helps on many levels. And make a point to try and recognize when you’re in a state of confusion and make an extra effort to be aware of what you’re doing. Slow your brain down a bit and try to focus. Lord knows I tell my kids to do it enough times every day. This is one instance where practicing what I preach can really come in handy.

So anyway … I’m sorry; what were we talking about?

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Suck as a Dad!

Come on. You’ve said it at least once. And while in most cases you were probably being hard on yourself, on occasion it was probably true. And you know what? That’s OK. You know what else? It’s going to happen again. And that’s OK too. mistakes11

Being a dad isn’t about being perfect and always having the answers. If your goal is to be the perfect dad you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s that simple. If your goal is to be there for your kids and for them to know you love them then you’re on the right track.

I personally think it’s important for kids to see us fail. They need to see us suck at being parents now and again. They also need to see us forgive ourselves and move past it. Because when it happens, they know it. There’s no denying it and they’re not stupid. So don’t try to cover it up. But be mature enough to recognize it, admit it and then acknowledge and move on and make the right choices moving forward. For a kid to see you recover from a mistake, own it and then move on let’s them know that it’s OK to be human as long as you recognize it and make the proper adjustments.

You’re going to burn the toast (and then try to hide it with more butter). You’re going to misjudge. You’re going to get the wrong kind of bread (or not the kind mom buys). You’re going to forget to send in the permission slip. You’re images-5going to ruin their favorite sweater by putting it in the dryer. You’re going to miss a call now and then or blame the wrong kid. You’re even going to over react once in a while (hard to believe I know). We all have bad days and take it out on the kids by yelling at them for not cleaning their room. You’re going to hurt their feelings on occasion. The truth is we all lose it. But how we lose it is up to us. And how we recover is also up to us. How we react to the negativity, to our mistakes, to our downfalls is being watched very closely.

Listen, sucking as a parent is an art form. One that comes quite easily to most of us. So welcome to the club. It’s a very, very, very large club. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat with my head in my hands as I’ve envisioned one of my kids in a therapist’s office recanting the events of the past thirty minutes. I’ve beaten myself up more than once for how I handled a situation knowing I could have done better and need to do better next time. No one’s been harder on me than me (yes even harder than my ex wife). And that’s usually about the time one of the kids comes over, gives me a hug and says, “it’s OK dad.” It’s then that I realize maybe I’m not doing that bad a job after all.

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: