A long time ago my dad took me to a wildlife refuge area near our home. He got out of the car, he switched sides with me, and he let me sit in the driver’s seat. We were in a light blue 1986 Oldsmobile Ciera. It was the newest car we had ever owned, and he let me drive. I was so not ready.
This was it. I gripped the steering wheel, I glanced over nervously, and I focused. I focused hard on not screwing this up. I put the car in drive, and I slowly inched forward. Well, I attempted to slowly inch forward. What really happened was more of a car lurching forward dangerously close to a ditch.
Needless to say, a gravel road doesn’t have much traction.
This was something my dad did with me a lot though. He was patient. He got annoyed occasionally, and he believed I could do it. After all, he was the one teaching me.
My sister learned to drive using his 1970 Plymouth Road Runner. He never once let me drive it (well, except for the times he put me on his lap). I remember her getting her first car, and the dashboard catching on fire while she was driving it. I remember her slowly rolling her car into the front of our house because she was distracted. Then there was the time she ran into the back of a parked car because the sun got in her eyes.
I vaguely remember taking my Driver’s Test. I really wanted to drive to the mall first. He said I couldn’t yet. He did, however, allow me to drive it around our small town to gain more practice. He let me drive it to school and work. He believed in me, but he was scared to let me go.
The first time I drove to the mall by myself, I didn’t tell him. A couple years later, on that same highway he didn’t want me drive on when I was younger, I wrecked. I wasn’t hurt, but I did hit a guardrail going backwards at highway speed after spinning out.
I remember my first ticket. I remember my second, my third, my…OK, I stopped counting. I do, however, remember wrecking my car pretty violently. It wasn’t my fault, but it happened. My little Mazda B2500 pickup truck flipping over the highway ended with me on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance.
I have had almost too many cars to count since I’ve been driving. Had I listened to my dad a long time ago, I may have had 2 or 3 by now. Kids are stubborn. Kids have to learn mistakes on their own. They have to learn the hard way sometimes.
Putting yourself in debt over and over again is fun, right?
Driving. It’s not a right, it’s a privilege. Right? But yet, every day, kids line up to take their official “Driver’s Test.” They are all ready to be a big kid. Every day, parents have to worry about their big kid getting behind the wheel of a car.
Now, instead of a boombox sitting in my passenger seat that my parents had to worry about, I’ll have to worry about the phone sitting on my daughter’s seat. I’ll have to worry about how many distractions her friends will cause. I’ll have to worry about where she’s at, and if she made it there safely. I’ll have to worry if she’ll be able to keep a cool head, and not overreact if someone cuts her off. I’ll have to worry if she’s the one cutting someone off. I’ll have to worry about if she’s using her blinkers correctly, and if she’s driving defensively. I’ll have to worry that she may get a flat tire, or run out of gas. I’ll have to worry about semi trucks on both sides of her on a highway.
Then again, maybe I won’t have to worry about a thing. After all, I did help teach her. There’s not a whole lot I can do about it anyways.
Either way, and whether I like it or not, it’s about to happen…
It’s hard to let go. Duh. If you’re able to read this, you are probably capable of understanding the meaning of that sentence. At different points of our lives we learn that very thing. Just as a heads up, I’m typing this with a heavy heart.
Life is tricky.. First of all, none of us (not me, not you, nor anyone else that’s ever existed on this earth) has asked to be here. Yet, here we are.
Our lives are interwoven between close friends, family members, acquaintances, coworkers, and everything in between. Some of us have a hard time at this thing called life. Others have a knack for overcoming most obstacles that is thrown into our way.
Certain things make us tick, if you will. For instance, at this very moment, I have quiet piano music playing in my headphones. I almost never wear headphones, but I like to when I write. It’s something that makes ME tick.
I’ve came across many things in my lifetime that was hard to let go. In Fourth Grade, I woke up to get ready for school, and noticed my pet bird Scotty had died. I put him in a shoebox, crawled under my bed with him, and cried and cried. I didn’t want to go to school, I didn’t want to see anybody, and all I wanted in the world was for my bird Scotty to come back to life.
I had a girlfriend in high school my senior year that was the one. I fell so hard for someone, not realizing our lives had barely begun. My life had hardly started to take shape, and there I was trying to predict a future that just was not meant to be. Needless to say, I was an absolute wreck when our relationship ended.
A long time ago, I had a friend that told me that I had been raised inside a “box.” And when I finally started taking steps outside of that box, I wasn’t going to know what to do, how to behave, and part of what he said was true. We’re all raised a little different, and he and I had very contrasting yet sometimes very similar views on the world. I think these fleeting moments of clarity between two people are what causes people to become friends more than just coworkers.
Sometimes a smile you receive as you hold open a door for someone lifts you out of a funk you had no idea you were even in.
I’ve let quite a few people into my life over the years. Some of them not much by choice (family), and others I have openly invited to share in part of my life. I guess, in a way, that’s what I’m doing at this exact moment.
Honestly, I’m a tad emotional right now, and writing is making me feel a little bit better.
I’m in a unique situation right now in my life. I’ve come to a point where I don’t want to fight anymore. Fighting hurts. I’ve got myself into trouble one too many times where words were said that hurt someone else. I remarried my wife after our divorce, because I’m done fighting. Life is too short to be mad. Life is too short to cause someone pain.
I’ve been done arguing with my ex-wife for quite some time now. We are in this together, at least for the next few years. We have to finish what we’ve started. Our oldest children are not going to raise themselves. Thank God my kid’s mother and I each found someone who complements each one of us, and is walking side by side with us as we all four tackle the challenge of raising our family the best we know how.
Be empathetic. Be humble. Be a kind person. Be a good friend. Learn. Learn more. Listen more. Love more.
These are things I strive to teach them on a daily basis. Not because someone is forcing me to, but because I’ve lived far too long without attempting to put my best foot forward in every aspect of my life.
As I’ve gotten older, I realize that my children are getting older right along side me. So is my wife. My parents. My kid’s mother.
WE are getting older everybody. Our days are limited. Our time is up sometimes entirely too soon. Last night, my oldest two daughters lost their Grandpa. Their mother and aunt lost their father. And my heart absolutely weeps with sadness for them, because he was their everything. Just last week, as I looked at pictures of him playing dress-up Santa for the umpteenth time, my oldest told me he was her best friend.
My mind keeps drifting away, back to a different time. Back to a different world that I live in now. Back to before I was ever a parent, and I met him for the first time. He appeared at the front door wearing a white wife-beater tucked into his light blue boxer shorts. His knee high black dress socks along with his coke bottle glasses made him look like a cartoon character. He was sweating. Music was playing loud from his basement, where his wife and he had been dancing their evening away. That was almost eighteen years ago.
He was protective of his girls. He always cracked jokes that made the older kids cringe, and the younger ones laugh with glee. He stepped up as a parent when he needed to. I admired him for that. My kids adored him. They have a younger sister now too, that loved him with every inch of her tiny heart.
As most of you know, life never happens like you think it will, and his was no different I’m sure. Talking to my kids on the phone last night and this morning it’s plain to see. A lesson will be learned from this. Unfortunately, I’m just not that ready for them to learn it already. He will be missed by many.
It’s just so hard to let go sometimes…I hope you truly do rest in peace.
So, there we were, sitting in Mrs. West’s first grade class. You walked in, with your long hair parted down the center. You had long legs, a perfect smile, cute little dimples, and although I had never even thought about it before, you were everything I had ever wanted in a woman. Your laugh was infectious, and I remember planning our future out before we ever spoke. Well, that’s probably because we never really did speak that much. Probably why SHE got away. But I digress…
My first grade crush had a couple of friends that were actually pretty dang cute too. I had no choice, but to like them a little bit too. They all had long hair, all of them were taller than me, they could run faster than me, and I figure they never even knew they had got away. Oh, but they did.
My only “girlfriend” in elementary school got away before two weeks into our relationship. I hardly knew anything about her except her name and her smile. I also knew it took an army of friends to convince her to be my girlfriend. We had one, yes ONE conversation on the phone that lasted about oh, I don’t know, two minutes maybe. I’m sure to her it felt like an eternity. Her friend (yes, one of the ones from the paragraph before) informed me of the break-up. But after SHE spoke to me (even if it was to break up with me for her friend), I have fond memories of kicking the back of her chair in sixth grade. You know, to let her know I was *wink wink, interested. Yeah, SHE got away too.
There was the girl who lived right next to the elementary school and the sisters who lived a couple of blocks away. All of ’em got away.
There was the girl named after a month of the year, that I always fancied a little bit. As I got into middle school, there was a plethora of young women that got away. There was the one I sat next to in English who I thought never noticed me. She ended up marrying a MLB pitcher. Can you believe that? Well, she got away too.
There was the one who I accidentally made cry by laughing at her when her KEDs got stolen. I really didn’t think it was funny, but I was always a little nervous and indecisive when it came to talking to the ladies. So yeah, she got away too.
I had a couple of young ladies get away from me in band class, and we all played the saxaphone. One of them was mentioned up there a few paragraphs ago, and yes, she was the one who could run faster than me. The other one stuck her knee so hard into my private area after band one day, she single-handedly took away every chance I ever had at having a boy. ;-)
There was my first grade crush again in my ninth grade English class. We graded each other’s papers sometimes, and I talked more to her then than my whole entire Elementary career. As I sat with a back brace on for scoliosis underneath my shirt, braces on my teeth, and a face full of craters, however, it was no wonder she got away again.
The next year, although I never told her, there was the principal’s daughter. By my sophomore year, I had definitely moved into the “friend zone” as I tried to figure out how to talk to women.
There was the girl from my typing class who looked like a grown 25 year-old woman that got away. There was another girl from typing who worked at Pizza Hut, and I used to beg my dad to take me there so I could see her. Totally not creepy. Not at all.
As I got a little older, the braces came off, my back brace came off, and I got a job. Right about this time I thought I’d send flowers to a young lady I was rather fond of. Thanks to a friend of mine, he got her address for me. Not creepy at all. Yeah, she got away too. There was the young lady who used to write hundreds of notes to me, and her mom was my preschool teacher. She was the one I actually dated the longest, and I was pretty devastated when she got away.
There was the gym coach’s daughter, a couple of other ladies from my old Youth Group. There was a couple of ladies I met because of Kentucky Fried Chicken (my first job).
As I went through high school, and memorized just about every pick-up line in the book, I realized I had let so many people get away.
So many women, too little time. Maybe it was a lack of commitment on my part, maybe I wasn’t cute enough. Maybe I lacked ambition, maybe it was just the wrong time.
Years have passed, “actual” relationships have passed, and I’ve grown up. As I’ve grown up, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve learned some very hard lessons. I’m not the only one though. Thanks to Facebook’s popularity, I’m able to keep in touch with some of the ones who’ve gotten away. I’ve got married three times. Twice to the same woman. I guess one of the biggest things I’ve learned over the years, watching my life pass me by, watching my kids grow up, is I don’t want to let anyone get away now.
I don’t want to nonchalantly watch as someone I care about goes off in their own direction, and leave me to fend for myself. I text my wife the other day because I had a random thought pop into my head. It just made me happy when I thought it, and I needed to share it with her.
I asked if she remembered when we got divorced and we were both single again. I told her I realized something about her. That she was damn near irreplaceable as a mother to my kids. And that I couldn’t let her get away.
So, to the one(s) who got away, I wish you all the best in your lives. Thanks for the memories.
I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time she left. Then it was another one that left. Then another. Then yet again, another left.
Being a parent to little girls may not seem like a big deal to some, and although I don’t personally know, I imagine the feeling is the same with little boys. It just seems that from the first time you lay your eyes on your baby, you hear that cry, you see the nurses and doctor cleaning them off, you can’t help but fall in love.
It never gets old. The births are never the same. Falling in love is a pretty good feeling. I can’t imagine too many more emotions that could beat out good old-fashioned love.
It all happens so quickly, you know? It’s like one day they’re in the hospital, being swaddled over and over again by overzealous parents, learning how to eat, learning their parent’s voices, and one day it happens. One day they talk. They say “dada,” or “mama,” or “f word.” The first words are always so special, because as a parent you have been spending every single day of their young life trying to get them to utter a word. You just want to hear that voice. When you hear that voice sputter out what sounds like an actual word for the first time, it truly sounds magical.
As the months pass by, as you watch their hair grow, their senses develop, their willingness to walk exceeds their capabilities, yet another phase of their young life passes you by. Their crawl has turned into a waddle, and a year later, a kid speeds past you in the hallway yelling out somewhat intelligible phrases.
As a parent, you spend countless hours talking to, singing to, and trying to teach your little human, your precious mini-me letters of the alphabet. You try to show them how to write their name, you teach them your home address, and your phone number. You help them learn to put on their clothes, and you teach them how to make the little rabbit ears out of the shoelaces and finally tie them.
We parents are responsible for a lot. These tiny humans are special. They really are. Each individual has a unique voice, a unique persona, and a unique soul. We parents are supposed to find out what makes our child click, what makes them yearn for more teachings, and what does not work with them.
We teach them how to use the potty, how to brush and floss their teeth. We teach them that eating healthy is good, but an occasional snack is OK. We teach them to help out with small chores, and this whole entire time we are doing these things, our children are becoming ready for one thing.
School. The dreaded, the revered, the highly anticipated Kindergarten.
My youngest daughter did it everyone. My baby definitely isn’t a baby anymore. Following in her three older sister’s footsteps, she finally did it. On to her next stage of life.
“Well, maybe they’ll act tomboyish and you can still do boy stuff with her.”
“I feel so bad for you, what are you going to do with all those girls?!”
Things like these are what they type. Things like these are what makes me want to tell people how I really feel. If you know me well, however, you know I’ll never do that.
Non-confrontational. Peaceful. Endearing. These are a few traits I would like to think I embody. With these traits I cannot allow myself to succumb to the pressures of society and respond individually to each and every comment pasted on the comment section of a YouTube video. In fact, since my wife started our YouTube channel seven years ago I have yet to respond even one time to a comment.
I almost feel like responding to those comments gives people an inside look at me. Parts of me still want to be private. Parts of me want to be super liked. Parts of me wish I was famous. Parts of me wish things were different. See, responding to these comments would let people see my vulnerabilities, and let them see I’m human.
I do have feelings. I am a very emotional guy. I cry. Not every day, but I’m definitely a guy that tears up when something hits home to me. Empathetic. That’s what I am.
That’s who I strive to be, at least.
So, in trying my best to let people see how I feel about having a fifth daughter, the answer is really simple. I write blogs on occasion, and this is the one where I answer these pressing questions.
I have been blessed beyond anything I’d ever imagined for myself by having children. Really. When my first daughter was in her mom’s belly, it was literally all I could think about. I was so freaking nervous! I had just turned 21 when she was born. Two and a half years later, her sister was born. Those couple of years in between was a very difficult time for me. Their mom and I fought over the weirdest stuff, and we even separated for a while. Having children with someone you thought you’d be with forever, and then not being with them forever is hard on a person. It’s hard on both parents.
My ideal life had already started to crumble and I had two children under the age of four. Following the divorce from my oldest two daughter’s mother, I floated by like a balloon being tossed back and forth from the wind. It was like I had no real direction, and every time I looked down to find a good landing spot for my life the wind tossed me a different direction.
It was 2006 that I met my current wife. I had no idea just how much she would change my life. When I talk about changing my life, keep in mind I hadn’t even landed from my balloon ride yet. The start of our relationship was not perfect by any means. I had been a loner, for the most part. I had dated. I dated a lot of different types of people. Not one of them really made me want to be with them.
When I met my wife, I thought she’d be good practice for getting back into a relationship. I actually cared about her. I told her I loved her. She reciprocated with the same words. Within barely more than one year of knowing each other, she got pregnant. I was ecstatic. She was the nervous one this time. It was old hat to me, and I did my best to reassure her that everything would be OK.
You know what, though? Everything was not OK. She had a blighted ovum. We lost our baby before we ever got a chance to see their face.
Shortly after that, we split up. There was a lot of depression in both of our lives at that time. We wondered why things like that happen. We tried to tell ourselves that something must have been wrong with the baby, and that’s why the baby didn’t survive. We tried to tell ourselves that everything happens for a reason. We worked on ourselves, and found our way back to each other a couple months later.
Shortly after that, we tried again.
*Side note–She denies the “trying part.” Trust me, “I” was trying. :-)
I don’t know if I thought having a baby with her would make “us” better, but I definitely thought it would make “me” better. When my third daughter was born it brought us closer together than we had ever been. It made me appreciate my fatherhood even more. Since I have joint custody of my older two daughters, I had been splitting time with their mother. Like I said I had been a loner. It really did feel like that every single time they left to go back home to their mother’s house. At least with this birth, I would have a chance to be there for every single milestone. I didn’t want to miss a thing.
13 1/2 months later, my fourth daughter was born. She had to stay in the NICU. It was scary. Having her made me realize how much of a chance we take every time a life is born into this world. It’s not just how much of a chance we take with all the outside stuff that happens in society, on the streets, and in their life in general. No, it’s a real chance physically HAVING that baby. Trained medical professionals or not, having a baby is scary and beautiful at the same time.
These past five years since my last daughter was born, has been quite the learning experience for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned what matters to me is not always what matters to others. That’s OK. We are all individuals, we find our own happiness One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I really LOVE having daughters. They bring out the sensitive side in me, yet they understand the silly side of me. They have taught me some pretty sweet dance moves, and they have tolerated my inability to do hair. I have stocked my car with Midol, tampons, and pads, and I have lent my shoulders to cry on. I have given advice, and taken some as well. I have learned more about life from them than anything or anyone else has ever taught me.
As far as this new addition coming to my family goes, I think it is safe to say she will be the last child for me. It wasn’t a matter of “If it’s a boy, I could quit” or “If it’s a girl, I’ll have to try for one more.” No, kids are expensive, I am not wealthy, and I enjoy the ones I have. In fact, I am quite a bit in the middle of relishing every single moment with them. I guess that’s just the stage of life “I’m” in right now. I love them entirely. When my newest daughter is born later on this year, I have no doubt that I will appreciate her just as much or maybe even more than all of my others. She will fit in just fine, and I cannot wait to shower her with love, affection, and hugs.
As far as my wife goes, on the way to the sonogram the other day, she said she really did feel it in her heart that it was going to reveal another daughter to us. I know she is happy.
I know I am happy. I also know that she is the one doing all of the work right now, and it looks absolutely awful. She has been in constant pain, throwing up, and just having an overall very tough time with this pregnancy. When it’s all said and done, my kid’s mothers have done nothing but change my life for the better, the whole time stretching their bodies to the max (literally). The pain and suffering they went through for me is more than any man should ever ask. My wife is amazing at a lot of things, but I honestly don’t think she minds at all that we’re NOT gonna try for a boy now.
There’s this path that I’ve been traveling on. It’s pretty cool, I suppose. It takes me this way and that way. Sometimes it goes straight for a long time, other times it feels as if it goes around in a complete circle. Either way, I’m not the only one doing this on a daily basis. No, every single one of us is going down a path.
If you were to take a walk in your neighborhood, you may know what to expect on that path, but occasionally you may be surprised. Say, for instance, a dog barking at you may take you aback. A car backing up out of their driveway, maybe a police cruiser or ambulance speeding by may get your attention.
Just know, that you are not alone. Nor am I.
I wonder about the path I’m on though. I really do. Am I taking an easier path than necessary? Maybe I’m turning into the woods when I should be heading into that open field. Trying to find things that make you happy in this world is necessary. Nobody wants to be grumpy all the time. Unless your name is Oscar. If your name is Oscar, you have my permission to be grouch every once in a while. I think happiness is an achievable feat. I really do.
Finding that one thing, or maybe it’s multiple things that draws your heart to happiness eludes many of us. Sometimes it’s elusive for many years. When you do find it, sometimes we realize that our happiness acts like a drug to just ease our pain for a little while. Thinking back to things that make me happy, I can think of many things that no longer would have that same effect on me if they occurred at this stage of my life.
I hate seeing people fail. I really do. I would never wish ill-will upon a person, even if I didn’t like them that much. I may wish they’d do better, or be better perhaps. In all honesty though, I want nothing but the best for most of us. I’m not in a competition with anybody else, I’m just along for the same ride that they are.
I have a hard time judging people these days. You never know what someone is going through. You never know what may be burdening them, what may be tearing them up on the inside. Many of us have become oblivious to the pain that we once used to feel and may not even realize all the bad vibes we may be giving off.
I try to remain positive throughout each and every day, and some days i succeed and other days I fail miserably. Yesterday, was one of the latter days. I had a bad day yesterday. I questioned the path I’m on. It’s not like I’ve never second or even third-guessed myself, buy yesterday was painfully obvious to me, and probably to most that was near me.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it. Yesterday I was not at my best. So far, today has been much better. My oldest daughter yesterday could tell I was having a moment. I cannot, and for the most part will not tell her every single thing that’s going right or wrong in my life. She knew, however, that her dad was vulnerable for a little while. I hate that. I hate not being Superman when I need to be. My other kids didn’t really seem to pick up that vibe, and by the end of the day my path was clear once again.
It really is a neat thing if you really think about it. Just imagine, if you will, leaving your house one day and not getting in your car. Imagine all of your neighbors just walking out of the house and onto their paths. You look down and see your feet going one foot after another down yours. Sometimes you’d have people to chat with on the way to where you were going, and other times you would have plenty of time to enjoy a little solitude.
What if your children, instead of walking to the bus stop, walked on their own little paths? I like to think of that, and just imagine what is on each one of their paths. I bet my oldest would pass by a lake, maybe a pool. It’s probably filled with friends, money, and cute boys. My next oldest one would pass by photography studios, the YouTube headquarters, friends, her family…oh, and probably cute boys. Next in line, my six-year old’s path would probably be filled with butterflies, sweet dance moves, cooking shows, and plenty of paper to draw on. My youngest daughter’s path, I imagine, would be filled with her family, her pretend “purple grandma,” her toys, my phone, and loud noises.
Then I think of my wife’s path and I imagine it being filled with her family. All of them. I know she misses them and doesn’t get to see them very often. I think of her hopes and dreams, and I see her path being filled with a loving home. It’s filled with all the expert DIYers and home flippers on HGTV, FYI, etc. I see her in her wedding dress again, looking at me like “You better get it right this time, Mister.” I envision her holding our new baby, and making sure our other kids are being taken care of. On her path, I envision her being truly happy.
When I look down at my path it is filled with love. Plain and simple. I want love. I want to feel loved. I want other to feel like they are loved. Even strangers. I want us all to succeed in this life. Not just my family. I want certain member of my family to do better than they are of course. I’m sure they wish the same of me. I look down at my path and see a new home my wife and I can call “ours.” I see me doing home renovations making it everything we want in a home. I see smiles on my kid’s faces, and see them going through every stage of their lives. And do you know what? I sense myself on this path I’m carving enjoying every single second of it.
To anybody reading this, just know that there are empathetic people out there. There are people who care about you, even those you may not even know. Forge your own path people. Find your happiness. Hold onto it.