There are three things in this world that I love participating in more than anything else.
Riding a motorcycle (any motorcycle)
Peaceful water cracking against the hull, birds of every variety flying overhead, some even landing near our boat. Seals breaking the surface to say hello and cattle off in the distance grazing quietly. Sitting silently with two lines in the water my eyes dart back and forth between the fish finder as I monitor the water temperature and the picturesque surroundings on what had to be one of the most perfect mild temperature, no wind kind of days. The only thing that would have made it even better? A bigger boat so I could duck inside and take a nap! Ha!!! Old guy perfection right there baby!!!
So why is this so important and why would you the reader care?
The other day while speaking to someone the topic arose as it usually does in regards to personal, family oriented, doctor/cancer related struggles that life had become unmanageable. We all have struggles in our lives, some more serious than others and even that severity can be tempered through one’s own personal perception.
We commiserated over many of the same issues in regards to holding things together when all seems lost or hopelessness abounds and as I switched from a willing partner in the gripe arena to sound listener I could not help but forward some very sage advice after asking if any advice offered would be received. (I mean I DO have a little experience in this arena) Thankfully the answer was yes.
I reminded this person that as life is crashing around and people are no longer meeting your expectations you may need a break. As the hill gets harder to climb and you find yourself crying more than laughing your brain is saying enough. When the only thing you care about is the immediate and everything else can just go to hell it is time for an intervention. So what must this person do to quench the fires as it were? You must remember exactly who you are, don’t ever forget WHO YOU ARE! It is time for you to do something for you!
Take time to find that one thing (or three) that reminds you that you are you! I guarantee that stress combined with an overachiever mentality and over time you will forget who you are! Overwhelmed by the many tasks that lay before you on a daily basis you eventually end up putting little old tired you in the closet while hiding behind this public persona superhero cape! It really beats you up no matter what, but if you’re the type that’s not a quitter in any way, shape or form the weight upon you is enormous! So do what you have to do, but find that thing that makes you, you!
You were somebody before you got married! You were hopefully somebody you even liked and enjoyed hanging out with before life came crashing down! I know in the beginning you are going to feel guilty, but tough shit!!! In time that guilt fades, you begin to balance back out and when the world is spinning out of control you have the fortitude to handle it!
For me it was an accidental stop at a local eatery in town for breakfast on one of those “spinning out of control” days. I felt guilty walking through the door, I felt guilty spending money on myself for breakfast, I felt guilty because I needed to leave for Stanford, and after I sat down, alone, I felt guilty that my wife wasn’t with me, and that I was eating out without her!
But you know what else happened?
I felt better after the first cup of coffee that I didn’t have to make. The waitress was kind and could see I needed to be alone. I turned off my phone and watched the news in the bar next to my booth. I ordered what I wanted (yeah cholesterol be damned) and ate it slowly, with a smile. It was 40 minutes out of what turned into a nightmarishly insane day and it was worth all 2,400 seconds. I walked out, sat in my car and realized I had forgotten who I was.
After that day I made a point to remember to ride a horse, go fishing with or without kids, and ride a motorcycle.
You see without knowing who I was, how on earth could I be anything to anyone else? I could try, but instead of success I was merely adding more to an overflowing plate. If I spend time at any one of those three things, from a few hours to a day or two, there is nothing I cannot handle when I come back. I know who I am, my feet are firmly on the ground and I have said; its ok to give myself a timeout now let’s tackle the world.
So today a fishing trip turned into a recollection which turned into a blog post which turned into me being able to put my head down tonight, get a good night’s sleep so that tomorrow I can wake up, smile, put my feet on the floor and tell the world it’s ok, you can throw what you want at me again.
On a side note, you don’t have to be struggling mentally, physically or living through some personal hell to remember to take care of yourself. Life is hard, and for some reason we make it harder for ourselves by forgetting the only person who can help us navigate our very short time on this earth.
That person is you! Make the change, then when the hard times do come you are miles ahead of where I was in November of 2013 when our world came crashing down.
A day centered upon, or celebrating being a father. I have always wondered how this national phenomenon came to fruition and after a little a research I found my answer. So before I ramble on with a long overdue edition of “Betty” let’s take a moment to enlighten our minds. If you already knew the answer please don’t ruin it for everyone else.
The nation’s first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in the state of Washington. However, it was not until 1972–58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official–that the day honoring fathers became a nationwide holiday in the United States.
Mother’s Day: Inspiration for Father’s Day
The “Mother’s Day” we celebrate today has its origins in the peace-and-reconciliation campaigns of the post-Civil War era. During the 1860s, at the urging of activist Ann Reeves Jarvis, one divided West Virginia town celebrated “Mother’s Work Days” that brought together the mothers of Confederate and Union soldiers.
Did You Know?
There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States.
However, Mother’s Day did not become a commercial holiday until 1908, when–inspired by Jarvis’s daughter, Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honor her own mother by making Mother’s Day a national holiday–the John Wanamaker department store in Philadelphia sponsored a service dedicated to mothers in its auditorium.
Thanks in large part to this association with retailers, who saw great potential for profit in the holiday, Mother’s Day caught on right away. In 1909, 45 states observed the day, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson approved a resolution that made the second Sunday in May a holiday in honor of “that tender, gentle army, the mothers of America.”
Origins of Father’s Day
The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.”
On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday.
The next year, a Spokane, Washington, woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910.
Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day.
Today, the day honoring fathers is celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June: Father’s Day 2017 occurs on June 18; the following year, Father’s Day 2018 falls on June 17.
In other countries–especially in Europe and Latin America–fathers are honored on St. Joseph’s Day, a traditional Catholic holiday that falls on March 19.
Father’s Day: Controversy and Commercialism
Many men, however, continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”
During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park–a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.”
Paradoxically, however, the Great Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards.
When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.
In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
~The History Channel/A&E~
Ok 1 billion a year on father’s day gifts? Where is my cut of that pie!! Of course Father’s Day was derived from Mother’s Day because without mom’s we would all be lost! And lastly its just like men to deny any recognition for becoming a father! There are so many baby momma and deadbeat dad jokes there I’m going to let you create your own! I do think an all parents day would be kind of cool, you know a consolidation of the whole thing. But that’s neither here nor there at this moment.
I am proud to be the father of four awesome kids! I know everyone thinks their children are awesome which makes that last remark a bit of a cliché, but in my world it is true.
My children are wicked smart, each in their own way. They are personable as hell, compassionate, loving and kind. They are also stubborn, temperamental, cranky, selfish and can be a complete pain in my ass when they want too leaving me with ulcers and migraines! YAY PARENTHOOD!!
But you know what? I have said it before and I will say it again. I have always wanted to be a dad so I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t know why I have always wanted to be a dad, it is something that has burned inside of me forever. The thought of raising, caring for and mentoring children through adulthood has always seemed to be the ultimate human responsibility. A challenge worth accepting.
Now as we know parenthood is hugely romanticized on television and in the movies. (Thank you Disney and Lifetime) Parenthood is also used to create lifestyle fantasies within the advertising industry to help ease you into parenting via the almighty dollar. But those of us who have walked that line know it is all crap! A child’s room does not need to be perfect, painted any specific color or arranged to create the greatest learning curve or challenge them mentally! They will love you no matter what! There is no way, no matter how you sell it to ever make changing a diaper, disposing of human feces, cleaning up pee or wiping spittle and vomit from your clothing ever look romantic or enticing! Although the endless humor that comes from these events can be priceless. You do not need to go on the perfect family vacations every year spending thousands of dollars to create a picturesque childhood of joy. The reality is the only thing you need is love, patience, creativity and a good glass of wine or beer at the end of a day.
What parenting is? Parenting is hands down the hardest job I have ever held and I have held quite a few temporary career choices that quite simply sucked ass! They can and will drive you crazy these loves of your life, apples of your eye, chips from the old block! There will be days you just want to run and hide but you don’t, even though every fiber in your body is screaming to do so! In the end you know deep down inside running away accomplished nothing because in reality what you would be running and hiding from is not your children, but yourself as (whether you like it or not) they are a mirrored reflection of you. Whoa! Mind blown huh?
Parenting is the most rewarding experience in your life if you put in the time. Don’t expect wonderful results with minimal effort. Parenting is learning how to turn disappointment into positivity. Parenting is learning how to say no when the child within you wants so desperately to say yes! Parenting is standing your ground until it is time to no longer stand that ground. Parenting is understanding why your parents raised you the way they did. Parenting is allowing them the privilege of failing or losing at something while letting them figure out the best way to recover with a little advice from you. Parenting is to give every bit of yourself to another little human being without (and this is very important) forgetting to put your significant other first. Keeping your relationship alive inspires trust and comfort within your children, and teaches them how to become good partners. Parenting is admitting when you are wrong, in front of your kids not just to your partner. Parenting is learning how and when to apologize. Parenting is teaching your children to laugh, at everything. Parenting is showing never ending love, even when you want to strangle them. Parenting is a testament to your foot print left here on earth for all to see.
I am proud to be the parent of our four children. They truly inspire me each and every day to try my hardest, be the best dad I can be, learn from my mistakes and do my best to evolve as a father and human being. I may not always have the answer for them but I will try to get it. I will always be there for them when they fall, helping to guide their way with advice whether warranted or not and I will no matter what love them unconditionally while doing my best to stand behind any life decision they choose.
Cody, Jake, Jessica and Parker thank you for being my children and allowing me to become a part of Fathers Day simply by becoming your dad.
And to my dad (who is no longer with us) and all the dads who ever took an interest in me, looking over me, correcting me when I was wrong and whooping my ass when I was completely out of line, thank you. Thank you for taking this very special job seriously, and knowing in your heart that to become a father to one, you inadvertently became a dad to all. It takes a village.
Being a parent is hands down the hardest job any human will ever hold and yet I have always known that I wanted to be a dad. When I was younger I can remember always thinking; when I am a dad things will be different! As if parental wisdom had been bestowed upon me at birth. What a joke, right? But strangely I still knew.
What the hell was I thinking?
These creatures produced through the magic of birth (yes I know how they were created I took part in the process) can bring us so much joy, but just like the picture perfect families we portray upon our Facebook pages there is the dirty underside no one sees that also exists. They test us to our emotional limits from the second we hold their little, chubby, cherub frames. Oh they get away with a lot at first, I mean come on it’s a slobbering, pooping, peeing machine with no real concept of right or wrong. One smile, one drool, one gurgled word and it is all over for us! We turn into puddles of loving goo! But as they grow older their sponge like minds absorb, evolve, become wiser and learn quickly how to turn the tables on us every chance they get!
Fast forward a few years and they are teenagers
The hardest part of parenting is not the monotonous daily routines. Yes getting a child to rise from bed every day is a pain in the ass! What is especially frustrating is when it’s a hunting or fishing day, then that same child miraculously doesn’t need an alarm clock to rise, dress, pack a lunch and be ready to go at 4 am. Also struggling with homework, cleaning their rooms, getting them to come home on time, and not only do their chores but do them well will always be difficult! No the hardest part of parenting is watching your child stroll down the same life path you chose, unless you are of course incredibly successful, then NONE of this will make sense to you!!!! Where was I? Oh now I remember! Even though you have done everything humanly possible to keep them from traveling that rocky road, you nudge them, guide them, you flat out at times push them with all the force you can muster. They do it anyways and it is very painful to say the least.
I have always tried my hardest to teach our children from my mistakes. If you read this blog on more than one occasion then you know I am very open about my past. Teenage years sneaking out of the house, staying out all night, never telling my parents where I was and not caring about the retribution that awaited upon my return. At 16 I thought I knew it all. I had a truck which meant freedom and I no longer needed anyone’s advice. My nights were filled partying with my friends, drinking way too much, and throwing the middle finger to the rules and requirements of a 16 year old boy. I was a child of the eighties and damn proud of it!
My parents on the other hand, not so pleased. I put them through hell. Not quite sure when my father officially gave up on me but he did. Many nights I am sure they worried about where I was or what I was doing, but these were the days of no cell phones, no abilities to track my location and since I refused to adhere or conform I am sure at some point they just became numb. Now on the flip side, my dad knew every cop/Sherriff/CHP officer in town because they all ate at his restaurant. So the only consolation I have for my horrible behavior is these guys were constantly keeping tabs on either my green 64 Chevy or my blue 81 Chevy. Still no excuse for my lack of respect or behavior.
Yes I was a problem, yes my parents let me know I was a problem as they well should have, but what’s killing me is the thought of history repeating itself. All that time screwing off cost me big! All that time chasing others dreams and never having any of my own ruined my youth, all that time thinking only of myself and not others took me years to acknowledge and reverse course. All of my raging against the machine, living life the way I wanted while taking no responsibility for myself or my actions robbed me of much deeper experiences in life. I quite literally fucked myself over and I regret every moment or decision to this day! Where others talk about how great the old days were, I think; yeah it was fun, I did have experiences, but at what cost? While others regale themselves in stories of grandeur, I look at them and think, well at least you were able to do it all and finish your education, follow your dreams, live life before life ran you over. I was not. As others recount the amazing friendships they made along the way, I wonder just how many I ruined by traveling constantly to the next best thing? I was always trying so hard to be something besides myself that I never even found out who I was! I followed friend after friend’s dreams instead of having any of my own. If I was dating you, I supported your aspirations or at least helped you if I could but never found who or what I wanted to become. When things got tough, I found it easier to drink, become someone else and hide behind the hatred I had for myself because I felt I was too stupid to accomplish anything on my own. Of course you would never know that because rest assured I would tell you in conversation just how smart I was or how something should be handled. Why? Because I was terrified you would see right through me. And as one would expect, on more than one occasion people I cared about did, driving them away. It made me sad.
These are things that happen to a young man when left to his own devices.
I see this in the young men that come through our fire academies. I spot the frauds a mile away because I was one. I can tell when you are at the end of your rope and feeling like a failure while hiding behind bravado, whether you know it or not you stand out like a sore thumb. When I see you, I am immediately drawn to you and depending on how our five minute conversation goes I know whether or not you are ready for assistance. I still try.
These are skills that I have acquired over the 32 years since I was considered a young man. I want to help you so bad! I want you to see the value in yourself, because if you don’t see it how will another? I want you to know you are not alone, an angry ship fighting against a raging sea of phony social expectations. You need to do you, but you need to find out so desperately who you are, what you want to become and then YOU need to grab ahold and make it happen! No one else is going to do it for you! You can never succeed off others aspirations, others actions or dreams and without knowing who you are it becomes even harder to find those dreams and make them a reality.
I say these things and yet it feels as though it never makes a difference. Maybe my words are heard, maybe some of this sets in and changes are made. Maybe.
But I know this, I am angry at the time lost. I am bitter about never finishing my education, I cannot stand the fact that I am ten years behind the curve in life due to choices I made, and I feel as though there is so much more for me out in this world than what I am experiencing. Aren’t those the important lessons that our youth should learn? Shouldn’t these lessons of failure help shape a positive future for them to adhere too? Shouldn’t they understand the pain and sorrow that comes from making the very same mistakes over and over and over again without a course adjustment? Shouldn’t my word be enough to turn that tide of brazen youth and re-hone it into a productive, active young person who freely understands the risks, the hard work and the just rewards for chasing YOUR dreams and not the dreams of others? Shouldn’t they look into my eyes, judge the wrinkles of sadness and lost opportunity and realize instinctively that I speak the truth? Because god damn it I am screaming it to the heavens hoping you hear it!!!
Oh parenting is so freaking hard! I know you think life’s not fair and you are right, at times it’s not. I also know you’re thinking when you too become a parent or mentor, things will be different! But know this.
I want nothing but the best for my children both paternal and those taken under my wing, I ask for nothing more than I think any of you can handle, I am there for you all if you need help. I will become frustrated, it doesn’t change my love, and I will never leave your side no matter what may happen. But most of all, no matter how much you or anyone else may hurt my feelings, no matter how angry you or anyone else may become, no matter how hard life feels to you at that very moment I just want you to remember. I have never lied, I will always listen to you for I have walked in these shoes, and if you will just listen to me, listen to what I have to say I have a plan and I promise when you are older whether I am alive or not, some day you will thank me.
Because I have always wanted to be a dad.
The panicking part just takes some getting used too.
What the hell? What the holy freaking hell??? I mean I get it, kind of, they eat; they eat a lot! But I mean I never figured it would be like this!!!!
We as a family talk about how hard times come and go and right now our budget is squeezed a tad, we talk about the importance of shopping carefully, utilizing sale items, never being brand loyal and understanding the list dad has when he shops is because I have taken the time to figure out exactly what we need, when we need it so as to fall within those budgetary restraints! We talk about overeating along with understanding there are 3 meal times a day so you wont die from starvation if your little tummy pangs an hour before dinner! Apparently after all the long, loving, conversations held with temperance while speaking using the silky smooth stylings of Mr. Rogers some fucking remedial training is in order!
I went into the underground cavern better known as our basement to watch television while partaking in my nightly ritual of laundry washing, drying and folding. (Apparently I am still a maid) As I began retrieving small piles of lovingly folded clothes from the day before off the floor (no one ever knows how they got from the table to the floor) while swearing like an angry Irishman, my Clint Eastwood, squinted fuming Dirty Harry gaze leveled down upon our pantry. Now this is no ordinary pantry mind you! This section of shelving is more than capable of holding a months’ worth of supplies to feed these two legged heathens and yet there is sits, almost empty..
I built cabinet doors, complete with locks to keep them out! They broke these crafted masterpieces, lost the keys and our honest little children swear they don’t know how any of that could have happened. I stored food in a manner that left bait food out front while everything else was hidden on the edges and in the rear. The bait food has been the last to be consumed while a small tornado seems to have traveled across all shelves leaving pasta and cans of soup on their side much like the remnants of a trailer park after such a storm. The middle shelves once glistening with ample product lay barren as the desert, nothing to show but dust and torn paper!
I stood straight up to make a play for our beloved angels, hitting my head on a rafter which further fueled the already raging fire consuming my being! Turning to march up the stairs I take a quick body check as to not add insult to injury upon my already throbbing noggin by clocking it again on the very same rafter!!! Carefully negotiating the piles of laundry strewn upon the basement floor I am headed up to rip some ass! Some apparently over eating fat asses need a stern talking too, because by now it has become abundantly clear their mother and I have laid no tantalizing tongue upon any of the delectable delights stored inside the sub cavernous residential pit! As I reach the stairs a little voice yells at me; look in the fridge! What??? Look in the fridge? There is no way our brooding hoard of teenage hormones has in any way decimated the fridge as well, I tell myself! My right foot hits the first stair and then my left foot makes the turn! My body has taken over, I am not sure if it is out of anger, curiosity or the little voice in my head has taken control. But quickly I am in a 180 headed straight towards the downstairs fridge! The ice cold box, filled with beer, sparkling waters, left overs, milk, sometimes candy and fresh fruit! Yes this will be fine, I begin consoling myself that 3 days ago when I filled both fridges and the pantry with five hundred dollars’ worth of supplies from our local grocery store and produce market it was going to last at least a week! A whole week, long enough for me to have retained half a paycheck, and there would be plenty for mother and I to feast upon when needed!
Opening the door my eyes cast upon a field of clear plastic shelving, like gazing through a frozen lake and yet instead of witnessing trout moving back and forth all I see is one lone grape, an empty plate of some foreign substance and beer, lots of beer. I mean thank GOD they aren’t swilling my only true inebriating pleasure, there may be at least one ray of heaven shining from within this glacial wasteland.
My anger intensifies!!!! I am headed upstairs again TO RIP SOME ASS!!!! Between the disrespect shown for the hard work in the laundry department and now this! Oh yeah, daddy is coming unglued, unhinged, the devil is shooting fire from my eyes!!!! I turn, slamming the fridge door, I’m angry, and to quote the HULK; you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!!!!
Taking another step toward the stairs I promptly clock myself on the second rafter in our dungeon of delight!! There is a very small tunnel to which I staring, sounds coming from iPad are that of my new favorite show Bosch, yet to me they sound like eagles crying overhead! I’m sweating, hot and nauseous. The tunnel grows vastly smaller and I find the overwhelming need to hold my breath and bear down hard as to not lose consciousness. The world right now is NOT my oyster.
Coming around I find I am firmly planted on the staircase. It takes me a second to remember where I am at and why I am in the basement. Shaking it off while slowly getting to my feet I stare at the lovingly folded laundry which has somehow made it to the floor and begin picking it up while quietly cussing about our lazy children who don’t appreciate everything there father does for them. As I stand up my eyes throw a Clint Eastwood/Dirty Harry glare upon the empty cabinets that are our pantry and find myself in disbelief after stocking them not more than three days ago. I stand up as rage enters my being and scream what the bloody hell!!!!
I hate the basement…..
P.S. I came to realize after about ten minutes, there was a reason I knocked myself silly. The first time was Gods way of getting me to relax, take a hint. I didn’t listen. The second time was Gods way of saying, sit down and shut up!
I heard him loud and clear. Although our children can be frustrating, infuriating at times, and more than their mother and I can handle. We both know we have wonderful kids, we know they are going to become amazing adults, and I guess that means if they eat us out of house and home every now and again. Well so be it. No one ever said parenting is easy…
Today a woman honked at me as she passed by my right hand side to enter the freeway! While doing so she gave me the old high handed Italian salute with the meanest deadlocked eye stare I had seen in quite some time! Now quickly being one to find fault with myself first I rapidly recollected the previous 2-3 minutes she had in fact been latched to my six and whether or not there was any way I had in fact wronged this poor desolate soul. I mean had I finally reached the dreaded old guy status while driving? I am not even eligible for my AARP card yet so the thought of a gray haired man swerving back and forth while traveling at 15 MPH under the speed limit with a Morgan Freeman grin upon my face just didn’t seem to fit the profile for this lead foot driver! I continued to ponder the ramifications of some unjust action cast upon her poor misunderstood self in regards to me having done something egregious?
There was nothing.
In fact the only fault I could find was my ability to stay ever so slightly under the posted speed limit while traveling extra cautiously due to several containers of fuel teetering precariously in the bed of my truck. This of course was due to the absence of ratchet straps (I forgot them) to secure these containers. I also had stopped for a full three seconds at the stop sign (gasp) prior to heading up the overcrossing for which she held no intentions of tapping her brakes judging by the way she moved as though I was towing her through the intersection.
So after carefully deducing the situation it meant apparently she was truly upset because I was in fact fully impeding her day.
How thoughtless of me! How irresponsible was I? I mean shit, I guess the first clue for myself that something was amiss should have been when her Acura symbol was trying to hump the RAM on my tailgate? Not many in such tiny disposable automobiles would ever dare challenge the mighty RAM for fear of self-destruction at the braking foot of an otherwise in desperate need of anger management male driver! Yet here I was doing my best to find Zen, stay centered while breathing carefully and calmly as to not inflame the continuous chest pain I live with on a daily basis. No I instead held strong, ignoring her pushy, NASCAR style bullying undertone! A selfish, grotesque abuse of automobile etiquette I was hoping would not ruin what had been an otherwise superb morning! I tried to think maybe she was having a medical emergency or family disaster which led to her rudeness behind the wheel, or maybe she was going to lose her job because she is late all the time and today was the last straw? Yeah, that could be it, after all it was not my fault she couldn’t get her ass out of bed on time, or maybe ran late because her kids moved like snails (probably also selfish little heathens)! OOOORRRRrrrr it’s simply because she is a hot headed ass who doesn’t like not getting her way on a minute by minute basis so in turn she makes everyone else’s day shit to appease her selfish needs??!!! Yep pretty sure that’s hitting the proverbial nail on the fucking head judging by the California wave I received as she passed on by! Heading onto the freeway where I am positive her negative attitude and poor driving skills probably molested and ruined many others mornings before she exited her 3000lb anger machine to become a two legged devil raining a shit parade upon all who fell beneath her shadow! So, far be it from me to let this one little act of indiscretion on her part ruin my morning, my perfect, once every two or three months, NO KIDS FIGHTING, OUT THE DOOR ON TIME, CHEERFUL GOODBYES AT SCHOOL DROP OFF GOD DAMN FUCKING SUPER AWESOME MORNING!!!! IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!!!!! NOT UP IN HERE!! N O T U P I N H E R E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yesterday, from the passenger side of my truck while Cody drove, I slowly raised my feet and stuck them out the window to rest against the mirror support. Seat back, shorts on, flips on the floorboard my feet hanging out the window feeling a warm breeze running between my toes while I watched the world travel by at 65 mph.
I felt 16
(From here I start rambling, please forgive me)
My mind wandered to a time when I had no cares. My biggest worry was whether or not I could earn enough money during the week to keep gas in my truck or purchase lunch or help pay for beer. I worried constantly about how much trouble I would be in for poor grades or not coming home on time. I worried about a kid who felt like he wouldn’t live to see 25. Life was good, life was free.
I never understood just how free my life was.. Everything when you are young is important, blown out of proportion, lost in the minute. You behavior is strewn with emotions, feelings that you really have no control over! You are loud and obnoxious, hyper and animated, life is just beginning to open up for you to explore with not only yourself but your closest friends as well. You just want to make a difference, be taken seriously and to be heard! You really don’t know what you want to become or who you are but you cannot wait to find out. You look forward to the future.
I am turning 50 in roughly 10 weeks the future is here and I still don’t know. I still feel deep inside as though there is more!
My life has become heavy, tiring and I can’t think straight. There is so much to do around here and I just don’t want too. That is not me. I don’t know who I am, or what I want to be when I grow up and I wonder how to convey that urgency to my children. Luckily they all say they know what they want to become, hopefully they are right. I am depressed. It is hard to admit but I think I am. Writing this right now, my heart hurts and I want to cry. I want to hide. I want to go camping and not come back. I want to run into the woods like a spoiled child avoiding their parents when reprimanded! I want to disappear. Disappear onto the Pacific Crest Trail hoping to find myself once again. To feel the confidence I once held at 25.
But I cannot, life gets in the way doesn’t it?
For a long time now I have been pushing my feelings down, shoving them deeper into some void, doing my best to keep one foot in front of the other, smiling, hoping, and trying for everyone. My wife is my world, she has been my friend, confidant, lover, and advocate; of course no marriage would be complete without her also having been a staunch, frustrating at times adversary. But in the end she has always been there for me in one way or another and these last 14 years. I too have been there for her (even more so these last 24 months) and continue to do so taking care of her anywhere, anytime.
I am a convoluted mesh of emotions. A walking mess. I cannot sleep yet when I do I cannot wake up. My stomach hurts all the time and it only stops when I eat, so I eat, a lot. My inner self hurts which makes my outer self-hurt as well. Exercise was once an escape, now it pains me to walk to the corner and back. I haven’t worked a horse in almost a month, it has been easier to have others do it for me. There is so much to do, so I choose to do nothing at all. I am a whiney complaining, ball of self-doubt. I cant seem to escape.
But as I write this, I know what I am going through it not ok, but ok at the same time.
To everyone who will undoubtedly dissect my inner emotions, claiming I need therapy or some form of self-help assistance. I know these feelings are ok. Not healthy, but ok none the less. It is ok to feel the way I do, yet knowing doesn’t help me right now. I was raised to not complain, to cry only when it really hurts, to rub dirt on it and walk it off. So even sharing this with all of you is painful and embarrassing to me. It admits defeat and leaves me fearing being judged. I know I have lost nothing, I know there was no competition for me to lose at, but the man I have grown to become, laid upon the fondation of my upbringing feels confused and utterly defeated.
If there was some way to clear my head, to take away the confused, angry, afraid, emotional, distressed feeling I wake up with every day? I would do it in a heartbeat. But unlike a computer I cannot hit delete or save as and place it neatly in a folder labeled “crybaby” for future reference.
I wonder how many people struggle on a daily basis with trying to overcome these types of feeling inside their heads. A feeling of hopelessness, like you can never get ahead, achieve solitude or even make it through the day successfully without just quitting? I wonder how many turn away from friends and family finding alternative methods hoping to quiet the voices of despair. I wonder how many pray at the beginning of each day to feel as though they can take on the world again.
I selfishly wish to fall asleep and wake up to my wife pre-leukemia. Not for me, but for her. It is tearing me apart inside watching her hurt. She hates looking at herself in the mirror, she wants so desperately to be her old self again. She cries at the thought of only having enough strength to get up and down the stairs once or twice during the day. She is terrified at each and every visit to Stanford that they will tell her it’s time to be readmitted into E1 for long term treatment. She is sick of feeling like a prisoner in her own home. She is exhausted from everyone telling her what to do or how she should live. She is horrified at what this has all done emotionally to our family, friends and most of all her children. She just wants so desperately to get better, to be better, to excel the only way Jacy knows how! She is and always has been a winner! She isn’t feeling that way right now. It is tearing her down.
She misses her students.
I cannot begin to explain to what depths this woman misses her students! It is as though a piece of her has been amputated. She can feel the appendage as if it was still there, but she can no longer see or touch what was once hers. It has handicapped her spirits, her self-worth, and her ability to thrive inside. Every moment she is alive, she believes is one more step towards having a classroom to herself once again. Every moment her body takes a step backwards she feels it slipping from her grasp. I will never forget the moment she was offered a job at this school. We were in Vegas, the phone rang, and she answered, five minutes later she was bouncing off the walls! I can honestly say it was one of the happiest moments I can recall. These children, your children, the children of people she doesn’t even know, they all breathe life into her! You see them as your children, she sees them as our future. Each and every little personality there to grow, expand and blossom simply by being themselves.
This has and continues to be a long arduous journey. I guess all this rambling comes down to a few points. Thank God for everyday. Even though it doesn’t sound like it, I am thankful for each and every day. I get to spend them surrounded by my wife and children. I can never take a day with her or them for granted. You never know what you can handle until it is time to step up! Every day is a challenge for me right now, but I am making it. Some days are incredibly harder than others, but I am still here. Jacy is handling it, some days are incredibly harder than others, but SHE is still here! At the end of the day sometimes that is all that matters. Know you are not alone! I have my writing, but I also have prayer, and a huge support network. I still feel alone at times, but I know I am not! When your day is shit! Just remember things could be worse. Look around on the inter-web, there are plenty of people who have it much worse off than you or I. Last but not least, thank God for faith, otherwise think of how hard this thing called life would really would be.
To the (three) people who actually read my blog. Thank you. Thank you for allowing me to ramble incoherently as I did today, to share my thoughts and feelings without judgement, to simply be. Today’s posting held no real significance other than to purge my endless inner long winded musings along with some of what is painfully shoved down deep inside hoping to offload enough that I may gather my inner Betty once again.
Last night I did one of the hardest things I have ever had to do…
I left my son at college.
Hold on you say: THAT is one of the hardest things you have ever had to do? Through all your life experiences, work related and personal, all you have had a hand in or dealt, that was one of the hardest things you seriously have ever had to do???
Cody James Franceschi was born on July 11, 1996. He came out with the cord wrapped around his little neck and an interesting shade of purple illuminating his hue. After 30 seconds of delivery room panic he was placed in front of me. The moment I held him, I swore I would never leave his side. I didn’t care if he grew up a monstrous felon, I would never, ever leave this boys side.
and I haven’t… Until now.
Having children is a cruel fucked up joke! You spend all this time planning, preparing, and making lists. You swear to all within range he will be better than you, raised properly and through due diligence turn 18 and head off into the world a well rounded individual due to those 18 years of unwavering efforts. The little bundle of joy arrives, you hold him and instantly this macho, puffy chested, kick a puppy bravado melts away.
What was I saying about being tough, having a firm hand, kicking his ass out when he is 18? Boogie, boogie boo! What a sweet little man; is he cooing? Did he just make a pee, pee? YES! MY BOY JUST MADE A PEE PEE!!! HE IS A GIANT AMONGST MEN, A LEADER OF THE PEE PEE FREE WORLD!! LOOK NURSE, LOOK! NO OTHER LAD HAS PEE’D SO FAST AND SO WELL IN ALL OF YOUR CAREER! RIGHT???
You bring him home, don’t sleep for nights, but one look in their faces and its all ok isn’t it? Over the first couple of years there are more sleepless nights, something like 5,000 dirty diapers that need to be changed (didn’t know you held a degree in waste water management did you) snotty noses, first trips to the doctor, and the crying, oh my goodness the crying; and thats just you around midnight in the fetal position on the floor, let alone the kids whimpers.
Things move along, they go to school, make new friends, have parent teacher conferences, a few teacher, teacher conferences that you might find out about later, and in the middle of it when you are struggling to help them with homework because lets face it, your college education is out the window; unbelievably after all this you can barely function at a fifth grade level! Then what?? You and your spouse come up pregnant again! Whoopieeeee!!! Oh well we got this now so whats one or 3 more over a 10 year period. Right?
Middle school comes and you watch his heart break over a girl who moves away, you stay tough, tell him she wasn’t the first and she wont be the last. Spend countless hours sharing tales of the heart and the woe involved hoping he can glean some valuable information. But he remains strong and yearns for her anyways. He does date a few other girls, but lets face it, you always remember the first girl you liked.
We begin to see his excellence arise as he comes home with awards, both scholarly and athletic. His whit becomes sharper, his laugh is developing, a voice changes.
Then one day he is in high school and you are left wondering how this happened? Four years, you have four years left with what was a, 9 pound bundle of joy just yesterday. Thats plenty of time right? Yeah, four years is a long time so all is right with the world.
Four years of 0 period, cross country, band practices, the fair, raising pigs, FFA, homework-tons of homework! You look around and it feels as though life is spinning out of control! His dry whit has now formed an attitude which in reality is his testosterone testing the proverbial waters. He becomes an avid bow hunter, loves
taxidermy, duck hunting and fishing. He is running at a 100 miles and hour and so are you! Helping coach his team just to spend more time with him, meeting more kids you think are awesome and their equally awesome parents. You keep trying to make his hobbies a priority but with three others at your beck and call, all in their early stages of adolescent development those moments he held your sole attention are becoming harder and harder. He gets his drivers license and a hunting dog, then just like that it begins…
He slowly starts heading out without you. He doesn’t need you anymore to get him out to hunt, fish or mountain bike, and you being the ever busy, trying to be all to everyone dad let it happen.
Another thing starts to happen as well. You trust him. No accidents, no tickets, he is where he says he is going to be, comes home when he says he will be home, takes care of the house for you while you are gone, and stands side by side with you when building fence or the barn, or fixing something all without you asking him. He doesn’t have to do it, he particularly doesn’t care for the ranching side of things, but he wants to because its valuable time he is sharing with you, without making it a big deal. He has befriended a wonderful man through his mom who owns a kennel and a 3 year friendship, work equity relationship arises. This man (Steve) teaches him how to train bird dogs in exchange for work. He takes Cody under his wing and treats him like a son. A father couldn’t ask for more.
He still leaves the shop a mess, and forgets to mow the lawn occasionally, drives his mom and I crazy while exerting his unrequited knowledge on occasion, but he is always there at home. You watch him branch out into training and boarding his own dogs. His love for canines, all canines is amazing, they all flock to him without question and he can get them to do pretty much what ever he wants. “Thanks again Steve.” He idolizes you, your training abilities, knowledge of classic cars, guns and stuff. Every boy should have that one adult that is not his dad or mom to look up too. Just so they know dad/mom aren’t completely full of shit.
End of the year parties, graduation, kids you both have watched from 5-18 all still friends patting each other on the back happy to have finally finished high school. Its an amazing time, filled with laughter, high hopes, and the prospects seem endless. What college will they be accepted too, what branch of the military are they joining, where is the Tech school they are attending. The conversations are inspiring and so fun to listen too.. You smile, proud of them all, feeling like they are your kids as well. An accomplishment for sure.
Then it happens.
You arrive one Thursday morning with another family to move him into his dorm. He is rooming with a life long friend. The son of one of our closest friends, so it feels extra special. The excitement is palpable, the boxes are torn apart, belongings placed carefully around the dorm. Then it hits you just a little, this is THIER room. Not a room in your house, not a void of space for which they can hide and try their best to avoid following the rules. This is THIER room. It is perfect. It smells like 30 years of boys who came before them, the carpet and tattered dorm furniture are mid 80’s at best. But they have arrived, 18, adults and out on their own 5 1/2 hours from home. They are free!
I am proud, so very proud of the man Cody has become or is still becoming. I am overwhelmingly proud of all he has accomplished through his tenacity, his mothers help and besides my fumbling self. 18 years ago I felt I had all the time in the world with this boy, now as I sit and write this, my head is filled with every single wonderful thing we have done together and as a family. His brothers are going to miss him so, Parker idolizes Cody and Jake has really needed his guidance this last year. I have not seen them yet to see how they are handling this huge change in our family dynamics. But even with all the memories, the family time, the brotherly and sisterly bonding. I feel like I may have missed out on some things.
And this is where raising children becomes the cruelest of jokes. I have also come to realize, he doesn’t need me anymore..
Oh I will always be his dad, he will hopefully call me for advice and want to talk now and again. But he no longer NEEDS me. It is devastating and crushing my heart….
Here is the second cruelest part of the joke.
Somewhere over the last year, he became my friend. I didn’t realize it until this morning when I was making coffee and he wasn’t there, strolling out in his shorts or PJ bottoms. You see pretty much every morning I am home he walks out and says; what’s up pop? Then has a cup of coffee with me and we talk about hunting, or guns, or cricket (his dog) or the fire department. We talk like two grown men as opposed to a father and son.
My friend has also been there every evening to say goodnight as both of us are always the last to go to bed. I took it for granted, and today I realized short of school breaks the first year, then trailing off as he gets his own place next year and develops his own life, he will no longer be there or here or what ever the case may be. He wont be stopping by the station anymore to say hi and hang out for a while between school or practice, or asking if we can go fishing, hunting, shooting bows, another series of events I assumed would always be there. He wont be around anymore to save my bacon when things fall apart schedule wise around this busy ranch. He is grown, we fostered him, loved him, guided him, argued with him and now he has succeeded and is gone. My son, my friend, is on his own and the silence within these four walls this morning is deafening.
So many asked yesterday if I cried?
Well I am glad to say I held it together, that is until this morning when I tortured myself by walking to his room ( a reflex response to our daily coffee routine) looking in, seeing only his hunting dog, lying on the bed, sad, wondering why Cody’s truck was here, I was home and Cody was not. It was more than I could take; she doesn’t understand whats happening, the boy who slept alongside her everyday for three years since adopting her, is now gone and I cant explain to her why or that he will be home in a few months or that she will move with him next year when he gets his own place. The emptiness of the room became the emptiness within my heart, knowing he will never truly live here 100% again. This will always be his home but no longer will he reside within its walls everyday, something apparently I have taken for granted for 18 years.
So there I stood, shoulders slumped, no Cody lying on the bed, room half empty of his belongings and a sad dog who had surrounded herself with her favorite play-toys.
Stay-at-home dads: More men choosing kids over career!
Really? More men choosing their children over a career? What is this world coming too!!
Among fathers with a wife in the workforce, 32% took care of their kids at least one day a week in 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which looked at families with children under 15 years old. That’s up from 26% in 2002.
Holy cow stop the presses!!! Did I read that right! 32 freaking percent took care of their children ONE WHOLE DAY A WEEK in 2010!!! ONE * WHOLE * DAY * A * WEEK!!!! I am flabbergasted! Shocked! Speechless!
Well HURRAY for all men across the country! That is right guys, put down your beer cans, drop your poker cards, shut off Monday night football, switch of NASCAR because 32% of you are putting in the effort at least one day a week! 32% of you are carrying the overburdened workload so the other 68% may continue roaming freely! Traveling through life without a parental care in the world! Continue down life’s road as nothing more than smoking hot sex machine sperm donors! Why? Because you fellas (32%) are caring for your children ONE WHOLE DAY A WEEK!
And up from 26% the year before, well…
Good for you!
Now for the what should have been the main headline.
Of those with kids under the age of 5, 20% of dads in 2010 were the primary caretaker
Still a pathetic number. Listen I get it! We live in a biased society that thrives on male success while underscoring the vast achievements of women across this great nation. Salaries are still skewed in favor of male gender. Women still don’t hold a major market share in leadership roles. (Although I just finished an interesting article in Forbes covering the rise of women in powerhouse positions.)
It is assumed; no it is expected that when a couple starts a family the woman will automatically stay home to raise the children and take care of the house. She birthed them, so she’s raising them; and if a man does stay home he is automatically labeled a deadbeat. Of course the number one excuse always thrown out there is; My wife makes more money than me so it was a logical choice. Although I don’t fault that explanation, don’t use it as an excuse! Would you hire a babysitter with a short temper, no patience and sleep apnea to watch your children? Of course not! Your decision as a couple, as a family is always based on wants and needs. Yes you need the extra money the leading breadwinner (male or female)in the household can bring, but do you want to raise your children? A resounding yes is usually the answer! If you didn’t want to raise your children; let me rephrase. If you felt uncomfortable and ill-equipped to handle raising your children, it wouldn’t matter how much money you or your spouse earned, you wouldn’t take on the challenge.
Now lets address the other portion of this article that chaps my hide.
Choosing kids over career!
I am not so dense as to misunderstand the sentiment. You are definitely choosing one for the other. But for some reason it still chafes me when I read articles of this fashion. Raising children is a career choice. You are the CEO, CFO and human resources officer all rolled into one! There truly is no greater calling! Oh I have seen those ridiculous stories about cost of living, salary vs overtime, and benefits all leading to a “mom” (never a parent or dad) earning $240,000 a year if someone was to pay her.
Why are we as a society so shallow that we need to put a cost on raising our children? As if raising our children were taking this dream salary straight from our pockets! As if having children has barred us from financial prosperity and we should all be upset with our little bundles of joy! Poppycock!
So to all you lazy, deadbeat, sperm donor dads that make no effort at all! You should be the ones making up the 32%. One damn day a week is not asking too much! Get off your ass and go see you kid. Good bad or otherwise, man up, take some responsibility and rejoin humanity. Just because you know how to have sex, apparently don’t know or understand the premise of a condom, or chose to have kids without choosing the responsibility associated, doesn’t mean you’re granted permission to skip out on your kids.
To all you dads that make an effort with your children while working 40/50/60 hours a week. Let me just drop this little bug into your ear. You get one chance! Your children grow up so fast! They look up to you, and look forward to seeing you when you get home. Put away the bad mood, financial blues, and teeth grinding. Put a smile on your face and spend some quality time with your children. Mold them, love them and show them the way to a better life. Better than you could ever have achieved for yourself. Its your primary responsibility, make the right choice, its your duty as a dad. You accepted it the minute you agreed to have children. You embraced it the minute your child was born. Dont let time and the trappings of life weaken your resolve.
To all you dads who are the current 20%, primary care givers! My dream is to see a day where that number is on par with women. A world where the position is split 50/50 and men do it with absolute dedication and pride. A world where commercials about household products, baby food, children’s clothing and all things associated with caring for a family are shown with dad in the lead role as well as mom. Our children love us, our children need us and yes our children want us in their lives every bit as much as mommy! There is no such thing as perfection in child rearing. If their was both parents would stay home raising their children to the highest standards of education, humanity, ethics, and compassion. Since that’s not possible its our job as parents to fill those voids, doing the very best we can with the tools we are given. But understand this; as a dad you are valued, as a dad you are worthy, and as a dad you are more of a man than most.
Being confronted with adversity in your life is inevitable. Just keep in mind that it does not have to defeat you. Adversity is often short lived. Giving up is what makes it permanent. As a certified fitness professional, this blog is my way of helping you feel capable of anything.