Day 157: My Time With My Kids

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Last week, I had the privilege of caring for my kids entirely on my own for a week.

OK, in all honesty, I can’t call the entire time a privilege.  I’m being perfectly frank when I say that it was seriously hard work, and there were times where I banged my head against a wall.  I am used to waking early, hitting the road to try to drum up sales, interacting with adults of all personalities and moods, and being go-go-go in general.

This was nothing like that.  There were exactly two conversations that even bordered on adult-like, and one of them was about bike parts.  While there was no true downtime, there were many moments where I found my foot tapping and my patience wearing thin as nothing got done that was supposed to be done.  Diapers, pullups and accidents were my fear, food was the bane of my existence, and sleep was a chore in-and-of itself.

At least the interaction with mood variances and waking early didn’t change!

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I wish I could provide a timeline of what transpired last week, but every day has bled into one.  I don’t know which days I went to Target (it may have been all of them), nor which nights we had grilled cheese.  I can’t tell you who wore what on which day.  I don’t even know what I wore, or when I worked out.  It’s like one giant daddy-kiddo fest in my head.  There were a few highlights and memories that stand out, which I wouldn’t trade the world for:

  • Getting my oldest daughter her first bike, and seeing the sheer joy on her face as we put it together and readied it to ride.
  • Teaching my younger daughter that she can ride the tricycle all by herself.  No one needs to push her.  The look on her face when she realized she could provide her own locomotion was ecstasy.
  • Watching my son light up with happiness when I walked into his room in the morning.  If you have kids, you know the look:  “OH MY GOSH! IT’S YOU!  I DIDN’T EXPECT TO SEE YOU!  THIS IS THE GREATEST THING…EVER!”
  • Stirring eggs with my girls as we made scrambled eggs.
  • Playing tag on the big fort at the park.
  • Hugs and kisses every night.

Seeing a pattern here?  Every one of those is what parenthood is about.  Those are what make the diapers and fighting and worry and crying all worth the effort.  I’ve known that, but I just reaffirmed it this past week.  Chances are, I will forget it again and be reminded again and forget again and be reminded again until the day comes that I realize they’re not coming back home.  Then I will likely sit down and try to remember those moments, both good and bad.  I hope I can.

I know I have it easy.  My kids are all healthy, I have a loving wife who can stay home with them, and I have “steady” employment.  There are a lot of people out there who don’t have all of those.  I realize how blessed I am.  I try very hard not to take that for granted.  I don’t always succeed, but I do always try.

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Sometimes, it takes the negative to accentuate the positive.  My week last week was the negative.  Negative not in the sense of “bad”, but in definition as the opposite of the usual.  I got a good sense of what my wife goes through on a daily basis when I’m gone at work.  I understand how hard my mother had it in caring for three kids when my dad was on business trips.  I have a great appreciation for working single mothers who have to line up everything ahead of time.  Most importantly, I have a deeper love for my time with my kids.

They are my blessing.  I can survive without my phone.  I can survive without being able to post to my blog or check facebook.  I can survive without a set workout schedule.  I can not survive without their love.  There is something about the unfettered, unbounded, unsullied love that a child has for his/her parent that is infectious.  I’ve always carried it, but it took the week alone with them for the symptoms to reemerge.

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As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 154: Quote of the Day

It has been a crazy seven days.  First, I was alone with all three kids (reminder: they’re ages 3, 2 and not-yet 1).  Next, on Thursday, my associate took off for Colorado to cheer on the Wisconsin Rugby Club in their quest for a national championship (congrats WRC on the achievement – DII Champs!).  Finally, on Thursday my phone decided to take a long walk off of some proverbial short pier and ceased to function.  I have insurance on it, but my particular model phone is $199 even with said insurance…outside of our budget.  Ergo, I have the world’s dumbest phone now in my pocket.  For someone who lives on the road, this is a severe hindurance to my workflow.

However, God is good, as my wife returned safely and my children survived the week with me uninjured if not unscathed.

With that in mind, I wanted to leave you with a few quotes I saved up during my Single Dad Experiment, which I will go in-depth with shortly.

“What it’s like to be a parent: It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.”
-Nicholas Sparks  What-a-child-doesnt-receive1

“Your children are the greatest gift God will give to you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility He will place in your hands. Take time with them, teach them to have faith in God. Be a person in whom they can have faith. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much.”
-Lisa Wingate

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“No matter how calmly you try to referee, parenting will eventually produce bizarre behavior, and I’m not talking about the kids. Their behavior is always normal.”
-Bill Cosby

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Day 66: Lessons From a Sick Mama

3:31 AM. 

(Why am I awake and staring at the ceiling?  He’s not crying, and neither of the girls are stirring.  So…why am I awake?) 

“HRUUGGGGHHHHH!” 

(Oh.  She’s puking.)

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Sicky the stomach bug made a guest appearance at the house today, incapacitating my wife.  While no one else has gotten sick yet – knock on wood- an important lesson which we all learned as children was reiterated in a big way: Mammy matters.

I like to think I’m a good dad.  I change the diapers whenever there’s an opportunity.  I do most of the dishes.  I do most of the cooking.  I try to be home every day at a good hour and spend as much time with my kids and wife as possible.  I dote.  I spoil.  I discipline.

The fact still remains, however, that no matter what I do, I’m not Mommy.  I interact with my girls on a different level than she does.  Likewise with my son.  She (my wife) tells me about their cuddle sessions at night, in the rocking chair in the room, where the girls stroke her face and nuzzle and caress her hair before falling asleep.  In the same scenario, I get a hug, a kiss and a “I love you, Daddy” before they nuzzle into my chest and fall asleep.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining.  I cherish those drool marks just below the armpit.  I’m just illustrating the difference in my relationship from my wife’s.  My son doesn’t cry whenever he hears my voice but can’t see me, as he does with his mom.  He smiles and comes crawling to me whenever I enter the room, and I was the first one he officially “reached” up for, asking to be picked up.

I interact with the progeny in a different way from their mother.  In some cases I discipline more harshly, and in same cases I sneak them the cookies under the table.  My kids get some of what they need and require from me, and my wife provides the complement.  We are a tandem machine, running a household and raising kids in a soul-enjoined partnership.

And when the better half of that partnership breaks down…let’s just say bad things happen around the house.  Dishwashers break, snow remains unshoveled, diapers disappear in one room, only to reappear in another…get the picture?  I swear that I left the room for 5 seconds to turn off a tea kettle and when I returned, my son had the remote in his nose, my eldest was doing the Harlem Shake and my middle child had flown up to the top of the entertainment center.  And I still don’t know where the cheese stick went!

Weird things happen when Mom is sick.

Weird things happen when Mom is sick.

I’ve learned, and am still learning, that I can’t go through this life alone.

  • I used to think I could do my job by myself.  Now I’m learning that by asking for help I am far more efficient.
  • I used to think I could raise my kids just fine if I was alone.  Now I’m learning that I can only fill half their actual needs.
  • I used to think I knew all the answers.  Now I’m learning that I barely even know the questions.

See where I’m going here?

As fiercely independent as I am, I have needs that I can’t meet on my own.  On the rugby pitch, I rely on my teammates to get me the ball when I need it.  At home, I entrust my wife with bills and bank ledgers.   I trust FedEx.  I trust my car mechanic.  I depend on the weatherman.  I need, they provide.

We all have needs to be met throughout life.  Recognizing those needs is paramount to overcoming obstacles placed in front of us.  Some of the needs are tangible: a delivery, an answer, etc…  Some are abstract: knowledge, encouragement, and so on.  If you came to me tomorrow with a need, I might be able to assist you.  I might not.  It depends on what your need may be, and what my skillset is in relation to you.  I’ve received a half-dozen emails regarding my Overcoming Discouragment post this past weekend.  It seems the right words were written at the right time.  I’m just trying to do my part in encouraging you to seize control of your life.  I’ve been encouraged, I just want to pay it forward.

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I’ve got a great bechamel sauce recipe, if you need it.

Today, my wife was sick.  Ergo my whole household was “sick”; it wasn’t functioning properly.  I need my wife.  She completes me, our house, and our family.  I want to be present and help anyone else who needs it.  If you need advice, a board to sound off on, encouragement, or tips on better bechamel sauce, I’m your guy.  Don’t hesitate to email, leave a comment, or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.  I respond.

Why?  Let’s put it this way.  The wife managed to get my car stuck in a snow covered driveway last week, and a good Samaritan driving by helped plow her out.  When we contacted him to properly thank him and give him something to show our appreciation, he simply replied that we pay it forward.

That’s why.  I just want to pay it forward.

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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