I’m kind of scared this time around. I don’t ever really recall too many feelings of doubt or uncertainty the first four kids, but this one seems different to me. Way different. It should be no surprise that Jeremy at soon-to-be 36 is a different Jeremy than he was at 21. By the time the newest addition to my family will be here by the end of the year, I will have a Freshman in High School, a Seventh grader, a First grader, AND one in Kindergarten.
Now, I know what you guys are all thinking—self-inflicted pain, right? Wrong. Having a baby is not really that painful for the guy. In fact, if you don’t count me almost passing out at each one of my daughter’s births, they were actually really simple for me. However, from a purely emotional aspect, having a baby is quite possibly the happiest feeling I’ve ever experienced.
After all, having a baby is an extension of you. You see a little bit of you, and a little bit of your significant other rolled into one bundle of pooping, peeing, crying, cooing joy. Sure, some days are better than others. Hell, some days aren’t even a little bit good. Once you have a baby though, and you watch the baby start hitting milestones like rolling over, holding their heads up, smiling, crawling, it all changes. All those days spent thinking they weren’t even a little bit good, help YOU, as a parent, do better. Be better, if you will—for them. Kids are an absolute joy. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, but really, they are. Look into a baby’s eyes sometimes, and try to tell me they’re not. I’ve done plenty of soul-searching by staring into my kid’s eyes when they were young. If I try it now, I’m sure they’ll just assume that I’m having a staring contest with them.
Now, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job so far with my four daughters. There have definitely been moments I’ve felt like a complete failure, but also many times I cannot help but beam with pride for who each of these kids are becoming. They make me proud, they really do. The milestones they hit now, are signs of maturity. It sets a spark off in my heart every time I sense a growing/learning opportunity that is actually noticed by them.
I feel like this year is a make or break year for me, if you will. It’s not enough to ensure our kids have a place to live and eat. It’s our job to nurture them, to help them grow, and to pick them up after something doesn’t go their way. A long time ago, when I needed an extra “push” in my life, it just wasn’t always there. It’s not that my parents didn’t care. The contrary, actually. My parents have always cared about me, but they’ve always shown it in a way that didn’t always help me.
Now, I know my mother reads this blog sometimes, so I’m going to put out here for the whole world to see that I love my parents. Not one time in my life have I not appreciated everything they’ve done for me, everything they do for me still, and everything they’ll do for me and my family in the future.
My kids are in a critical learning stage for me, especially. They’re at the part in their lives where they need to learn about things that school doesn’t always teach them. I’m not going to lie, when I was younger I almost never had homework. Well, that’s what I told my parents anyways. For some reason, they believed me. However, I was smart. I got good grades. I slept in class a lot though. I stopped turning in half of my homework. I breezed through school the last couple of years by taking classes I was probably too smart for, therefore acing all my tests and classroom work. Genius, right? I know, I know. Trust me, by now, I know.
What I really lacked growing up, was someone forcing me to come inside, sit down, do my homework, challenge myself, and ask questions of them—like what they felt they had done wrong so far and what they had done right. I lacked someone who took a keen interest in what exactly my plans were for after high school. Sure, I had a job at KFC, but a KFC manager is not what I wanted for a career.
I had plans, big plans. I really did. I wanted to make a lot of money. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the amount of hard work it took to make a lot of money. I didn’t realize the severity of dropping out of college not once, not twice, but three times. I got some bad advice from people (not my parents), telling me to not worry about certain bills, because they’re always going to be there. I got horrible money advice from others, and eventually I started giving that same advice to myself because I became adjusted to living a certain way.
After getting an awesome job opportunity at the ripe old age of twenty at the United States Postal Service, I still squandered away money. I squandered away a marriage. I squandered away an opportunity to be the best daddy I could be for my oldest two kids. I made mistake after mistake after mistake, and no one stopped me. I was an adult and I could do what I wanted. Hell, I even walked away from THAT job.
Unfortunately, what we want is not always what’s best for us. In hindsight, I go back to my high school years over and over again in my head. What a wasted opportunity high school was for me. High school for me was about hanging out with my friends, going to gym class, and what I would be doing after school that day.
I REFUSE to sit back and watch my kids go through the most important years of their lives breezing through school, and not preparing them for the future. Their adult life does not need to be hard. I live a hard life every single day. I wish I could tell you I’ve totally changed my life around and I’m all better now. That’s just not the case. I struggle every single day, so my kids don’t have to.
Bringing another child into this world will without a doubt be the most challenging thing I’ve dealt with in my life. I’m prepared mentally for the baby. More importantly, if my older two kids are reading this, I’m more than I’ve ever been prepared to deal with you two. I will never allow you to feel unimportant. I will never allow you to feel like you can’t come to talk to me. I will always be a dad, no matter what else happens in my life. Although, the pay sucks, it’s the best job I guy could ever have.
Taking baby steps to get my life in order starts with me, and trickles down to each one of my amazing kids. Man, it’s going to be a big year…