Posted in coping mechanisms, death, Family, Family Time, growing up, life lessons, memories, Uncategorized

Goodbye, Old Friend…


Last week, my mother invited me to go out of town with her. When I left Kansas City, I didn’t realize I would be seeing my grandfather for the last time that week. I guess I’ve always been a pretty optomistic guy, and although I knew he was not doing well, he’s always persisted in the past.

On our way to Illinois, my mother and I conversed about anything and everything. As we crossed the Mississippi River, leading into Illinois, the tone of our conversation became a little more serious. The doctors had given my grandfather possibly, a couple more months of life on earth. Turning down small country roads, we passed through St. Elmo, and we wondered if that was where “St. Elmo’s Fire” was filmed (I looked it up — it wasn’t).

As we pulled in front of his house, I was a little uneasy. We had visited numerous times over the years, and he had met my oldest four daughters. I hadn’t been to his house, however, since high school. He had moved since then, and it was surreal seeing my grandpa through a different set of lenses. My mother told me that more than likely he would not ever be coming back to this home. It hit me pretty hard as I walked through his house trying to learn about him through his acquired possessions.

Walking into his home, I was greeted with oxygen tanks next to the doorway. A grandfather’s clock hung on one wall, a rifle next to his rocking chair. Sitting on his coffee table, was a picture of our family we took at Christmas this past year. Another wall displayed a picture frame with my nephews and my oldest four kids. His coffee table reminded me of my other grandparent’s coffee table. There was a small office space, and a small guest room. One of the closets was filled with Western genre books.

I have never read a Western novel, but I do enjoy watching them occasionally. In his bedroom, his cowboy boots filled the bottom of his closet, and his clothes were neatly hung. Although he was already fairly small in stature, as he aged, he appeared even smaller.

My mother invited me out to the back yard, so we could take a look around the property. We spotted the well, and the old outhouse. There was a large barn, with a broken-down tractor, and a dilapidated bike. Into the edge of the woods, an older bus had been tucked away. IMG_20170731_154733 We walked around to the front of the yard, trying to avoid the hornet’s nest we had awoken when we first arrived. His garage told the biggest story about him. His main passions in life were fishing and hunting. In the small guest bedroom, you probably could have guessed he liked to hunt, by the amount of rifles that were in there. However, if you hadn’t guessed that by now, maybe the amount of antlers hanging up on the garage walls would have given it away. In the back of his pickup, a single fishing rod was still hanging out, just hoping for one last trip to the water.

After a few minutes of looking around, we headed to the hospital. Since he lived in a very small town, we had to drive over an hour to get there. Seeing grandpa lying in the hospital bed, he looked even smaller than I had remembered. He looked up at his daughter, his grandson, and smiled. Although he was having an incredibly hard time breathing, he insisted on talking with us. He sat up, had dinner, and inquired about the girls. He was doing better than I had thought he was going to be, and we had a good conversation. I shared the newest pictures I had of all the girls, and reminded him of just home much they loved him. He said he loved them, too and it felt so good to say those words, and hear them reciprocated back.

On the way back to his house, we stopped at his sister’s house to visit with her and her husband. I may have met her when I was a child, but I cannot recall. Either way, after spending a couple hours with them, I felt so much better about the quality of my grandfather’s life. I know he has been in good hands with them. In fact, they had been taking that hour-long drive back and forth to the hospital every day, and helping him with anything he needed. I am truly thankful he had them looking after him.

With life, the only thing guaranteed, is death. It is inevitable. Too many times in our lives, we lose people, just to have regret over something we said–or didn’t say. As a younger person, when I was just eighteen years-old, I lost my grandfather on my dad’s side. We all said our “goodbyes” to him in the hospital, as the doctor’s said he may not make it through the night. However, he willed himself out of the hospital, and back into his own home for a couple more months. Not one time, did I go back to see him. In my mind, I had already told him goodbye, and I have lived with regret ever since.

When my mother told me last Thursday night (after I had driven home), that the doctors had given her dad only seven to ten more days to live, I had a little bit of regret creep back in. Although she had spent hours at the hospital that day, without him even waking up, I still felt like I could have maybe seen him one more time. I could have hugged him one last time. I could have told him one last time that I loved him.

The following morning, my dad called me to let me know my grandfather had passed early in the morning. My oldest two had already been told of his recent situation, but my middle two were out of town. My youngest, being only one, will have to rely on pictures and stories to know her great-grandpa. That night, was my twenty-year class reunion. I tried my hardest to suppress any sadness, and enjoy my night. Although I truly enjoyed seeing my classmates, it didn’t take away the fact that he is gone now.

My middle two children were out of town last week, and my wife and I agreed that their first day back should be a day of relaxation, happiness, and them telling us stories of what they did on their trip. Yesterday afternoon, my wife and I had the talk that no parent enjoys having with a seven and eight year-old. My wife was cool, calm, collected, and worded everything perfect for them to understand. Perfectly-formed words, however, do not turn away tears from a child’s mouth, and hurt from their hearts.

It was a pretty rough week for my mom, and she is still out of town tying up all the loose ends. For a few more days, she is still battling hornet’s nests and his neighbor’s twenty dogs who like to show up unannounced in the pitch-black. My mother has worried about him for years since we lived so far away, and now the worry part has gone.

grandpa

We all love you grandpa. Goodbye, old friend.

Posted in confessions, coping mechanisms, dad

Life Is Good For Most Of Us…


Bailey-18 (1)

“Life is good for most of us.”

I love that quote. I didn’t come up with it though. One of my kids did. She’s six. ūüôā

You know, it’s been a little while since I’ve written one of these things. It’s not that I don’t have anything on my mind. On the contrary. I think I may have too much on my mind to even sort into words.

Anyways, here goes…

Every year seems harder than the last. Seriously. If this trend continues until I’m an old man, I will be the most resilient S.O.B. you’ve ever met.

Yet every day, I am greeted at the door when I get home from work from two of the happiest little kids in the world. A few days a week I am greeted with big hugs (usually) from a couple other kids of mine. It makes me wonder when did it start to happen? When exactly did life hand me lemons? And why haven’t I made any lemonade yet?

I don’t remember too much about life before I started elementary school. I lived pretty close to the school, though, so I felt as if I owned a part of it. I played on the playground more than the other kids, I rode my bike across the freshly painted dodgeball circle before anyone else. Heck, in my yellow and black five-speed mountain bike, I popped a wheelie and drove the entire radius of said dodgeball circle before anyone else!

After school, I practiced hitting walnuts with my baseball bat from my front yard and I’d try to make them go over the garage at the end of the yard. Every time I did it? Man, you couldn’t tell me nothing! I was the s.h.i.t.

I had more game than Parker Brothers growing up (in my mind). *Note: If you fact-check me, an error message may appear on this last statement*

Either way, I thought I was smooth, man. My license plates didn’t say fresh, and there were no dice in my mirror. However, my license plates DID say BGDDYJ and there was a boombox strapped in with a seat belt on the front seat because my radio didn’t work. By the way the BGDDYJ stood for Big Daddy J, NOT Boogedy, like my dad thought. Sigh…

I had a basketball goal in the middle of my yard on a telephone pole. I had bushes to climb through, and trees to climb. My dog’s name was Alf. He was the coolest dog ever, except for when he had “special time” with my football.

Speaking of that football, I could throw it all the way into that basketball goal from the other side of the yard. Seriously. No, really. I did it multiple times. Come at me bro.

I had the BEST friends. If I would’ve known how much they meant to me back then, I would’ve never let them drift away. We had nicknames. Oh yes, Big Daddy J was mine. But there was also a Bobby K, a K-Dog, a J-Smooth. There was the kid who I played with in the creek all the time. The kid who let me play his Nintendo if I did his homework for him first. Man, we thought we ran our town.

School was cool, too. I had multiple crushes, none of which liked me back. I didn’t care though. OK, maybe. Sometimes. OK, sometimes I cared, but not all the time. Geez…

School? Easy. Schoolwork? Easy. Life? Easy. I got a job…Life was even more easy.

So, what the hell happened???

Oh yeah, now I remember…

A girl liked me back. Somebody actually liked me. Like, we went out. We went on dates. We became a couple. It didn’t work out. That confidence boost landed me in another failed relationship. Then another. Dating was fun. Dating was stupid. Dating was fun again. Then it was stupid again.

Girls. Girls. Girls. THAT was my problem!

You know what will probably never stop being said to me when I mention to them that “yeah, all four of them are girls…?”

“Wow, you must be getting payback for something! Ha ha ha ha ha!”

So, I think back to all the times I was wronged, and all the times I was uhhh, righted? Is that even a word? It is today.

Anyways, I think maybe they could be on to something. I think maybe I can teach these kids a thing or two about a thing or two. I can teach them to play catch with a football. I can teach them to spin a basketball on their fingertips (I got mad globetrotter skills, bro). I can teach them to do sweet jumps on their Barbie bikes.

I can help with their homework, I can read them books. I can show them that men can fold laundry too, and that boys know how to vacuum. I can show them that boys can care about a girl, and try really hard not to hurt her feelings. I can show them that boys shouldn’t be too proud to apologize and definitely shouldn’t be too proud to cry.

I can wear my emotions on my sleeve, and let them see who the real me is. That little boy that they may relate to one day may be somebody just like me, or he may be somebody the complete opposite. But you can bet your ass I’m going to teach them about both versions.

Most importantly, I can teach them to treat others with respect. I can teach them to command respect in return. I can help them establish borders and guidelines with people they become close to both in the friend sense, and in the “other” kind of friend sense.

One thing that we parents forget sometimes is just how HARD life is as a kid. Sometimes, when we look back in our minds we block out all the bad stuff. Like I just did up there at the beginning of this blog. Like when I mentioned how easy school was.

What I failed to mention was that I was one of the smallest kids in my grade. The only guy shorter than me was the most popular kid. He was funny. He lived in a nice house. He was on Student Council. And ASPIRE (for the smart kids). The other short guy (me) lived in an old house. I had to take Speech class because of my stutter. I had gigantic buck teeth. In fact, they’re still kind of big. I had freckles. Lots of them. I had bifocals. In fact, I was Harry Potter before Harry Potter was ever in J.K. Rowlings imagination.

I failed to mention that when I entered seventh grade, in my first math class the teacher was calling roll-call, and it came to my name. When my name was called, three girls in unison sighed quite audibly. Funny, how twenty-three years later I can still remember who they were.

I failed to mention the back brace I wore for scoliosis, and how people called me Iron Man. Or how I had to wear it for 23 hours out of every day for a couple of years. I forgot to mention how I couldn’t play any sports growing up besides tee-ball in kindergarten because of my asthma and scoliosis. Oh, and it cost money, which wasn’t as readily available to my family as it was to others.

I forgot to mention the multiple failed attempts at a college education, because THAT is the very kind of these we adults try to forget about. We try to forge on in our every day lives, and make our selves better.

It is all of those years of experience, both the good and the bad that I have been trying to keep in mind every time my kid does something dumb. Something regrettable. Something awesome. Something funny. I remind myself of the little kid, then the teenage kid, then the adult kid that I was. I try to put myself in their shoes. I relive it a little in my head.

I think back to some of the things I did and just cringe. Then I think about the consequences I could have faced had I been caught doing those things. Then I think what consequences my children should face when they do something cringe-worthy.

All I know is I will be doing my best in reminding them of one very simple thing…

“Life is good for most of us.”

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Posted in confessions, coping mechanisms, Divorce, Family, Kids

“Words Alone Cannot Express…”


Words alone cannot express my feelings about certain things. ¬†However, since I’m currently writing a blog, I thought I’d give it a try. ¬†Don’t be too alarmed if you¬†find a picture or two along the way though.

A few days ago, I had a little one on one time with one of my daughters. ¬†As much as I’d like that kind of thing to happen more, to be honest, it just doesn’t happen very often. ¬†It doesn’t matter which one of the four it is, when it does happen, I don’t take it for granted.

This particular kid is about to turn six years old next week. ¬†She’s smart. ¬†She’s not just smart for her age, but she’s pretty intelligent if she was about to turn 8 years old next week. ¬†She talks “older.” ¬†Does that make sense? ¬†She’s still a kid, so of course she is still very inquisitive about things a six year-old doesn’t know yet. ¬†However, she just seems to have a lot of intelligence about things they don’t necessarily teach in school.

At Panda Express
At Panda Express

So, there we were, eating our Chinese food when randomly she states “Dad, I’m glad you and mom aren’t divorced anymore.”

“You are?” I asked in return.

Smiling, she said “Yeah. ¬†It’s a whole lot easier now that we don’t have to argue about which house we want to stay at. ¬†Now we all just go to bed together in the same house, and we wake up together in the same house!”

Her facial expression changed from a big grin to a rather solemn one almost immediately after saying that, followed with a “I feel bad for my older sisters though. ¬†They still have to argue about where to go sometimes.”

Swallowing hard, and looking into my kid’s eyes, I just felt like she “got it.” ¬†It was almost like this kid understands something some adults never do. ¬†Some adults are so damn stubborn, and some just don’t care, and some just up and leave when the going gets tough. ¬†When that happens, some kids just “get it.”

They get that divorce, or breaking up is hard. ¬†They don’t always fully understand the “why it happened” usually, but they know that it sucks. ¬†They know that they have feelings that sometimes aren’t being accounted for. ¬†They know that sometimes one parent or maybe even both parents have feelings that aren’t being accounted for. ¬†When you talk to different age groups of kids, I’m sure they will all give you a varied response about divorce.

Every single divorce is different. ¬†Every circumstance in every divorce will never be the same as someone else’s. ¬†Different people are in every one of our lives. ¬†Some kids may have the best family in the world, and at the same time, be going to the worst school district in their state. ¬†Some kids may have an amazing education, and nobody at home that even notices.

Bridging the gap between education, friends, family, necessary activities, and extracurricular activities is sometimes a huge integral part in helping children with divorced parents, or broken homes. ¬†Some kids are expected to go to college because their parents did. ¬†Some kids are expected to go to college because their parents did not. ¬†Having a support team in place is vital in our children’s lives. ¬†It’s crucial that we, as parents, recognize when their support team is lacking, or wavering.

My wife does not know her biological father. ¬†I cannot even start to imagine what that feels like, yet she is far from alone in this world. ¬†Having a divorced parent who has joint custody is a far cry from someone you never see. That being said, I can tell you sometimes it feels as if my older kids are on the other side of the ocean even though they’re usually in the next town.

At the bowling alley
At the bowling alley

I talk to my older kids a lot about more grown-up things, so it was a rare moment I shared with my younger daughter.  I was impressed by her words, and inspired by her wisdom.  Words alone cannot express the feeling I get when my kids share their thoughts, their feelings, and their real, honest opinions about things to me that mean a lot to them.

My youngest
My youngest
My oldest
My oldest
Daddy's Girl
Daddy’s Girl

I am super proud to be their dad. ¬†I know they know that now, because I tell them on a regular basis. ¬†I try to show them just as much. ¬†Hopefully I’m on the right path, that well after I’m gone they’ll think to themselves “Words alone cannot express how much my father meant to me.”

Trust me, words alone cannot express just how much they mean to me.

Posted in confessions, coping mechanisms, Divorce, Ex Wife, expectations, Family, Family Time, Husband, Inspirational, love, Marriage, My Wedding, Relationships, responsibility, The Meaning of Life, Uncategorized

Can We Talk About Love?


Can we talk about love? Is that OK? I know some subjects may be a little taboo; and love may very well be one of those subjects, but I think we should talk about it. Cool with you? Good…

Love has a lot of stages doesn’t it? There are good days and bad days. There are so many different types of love that it would be impossible for me to hit on every single one. Let’s go over some of them though…

There’s the love you get from family. There’s the love you give to family. This type of love is usually there for a long time. Even when fights break out, arguments occur, divorces happen—usually “family love” is a pretty lasting feeling.

There’s the love you have for your friends, and that they have for you. This love feels pretty amazing usually. No matter what, your friends have your back, and you have theirs, right? Maybe…This type of love sadly does not stay forever in most of our lives. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely exceptions to this. I’m just saying, don’t automatically assume that when you have a friend in Kindergarten, that they will be crying at your funeral.

Then, there’s the love you have for certain things. Every single one of us loves something. Maybe it’s quiet time on the front porch watching traffic drive by. Maybe you love reading a certain author, or type of story. I have a kid that loves purple! She really does! Maybe you love a certain food, or a certain type of car. Maybe you love Taco Tuesdays. Maybe you love watching baseball. I love this kind of love! See what I did there?

When you first see your newborn child, and you zone out, and just look and stare at them…That’s an amazing love. That kind of love is reserved for your older years. When a kid sees their newborn sibling, or another baby at the store—they usually think “Aww, that baby is so cute!” They don’t normally immediately start thinking about where that kid will be in twenty years, what they’ll look like, what job they’ll have, how many babies they’re going to produce, etc…

When we go to school and start meeting other kids, sometimes we get a boyfriend or a girlfriend. Sometimes your age, a lack of maturity, or naivety play a part in making us think we’re in love at a very young age. Nothing I can say to my kids will ever truly make them understand that, and that’s OK. My job as a parent is to guide them by example, teach them right from wrong, and trust that they will make good choices along the way.

The next kind of love I want to talk about is the grown-up kind. The kind of love that makes you willing to do almost anything, sacrifice almost anything, to ensure their happiness in life. This kind of love unfortunately doesn’t reach every soul. Life happens, death happens, and sadly but truly sometimes love ends because of that. Temptation is a word I wished didn’t exist, because without it I’m sure a lot more “love” would last a little longer.

Grown-up love is pretty cool. By the time you fall in love the grown-up way, you’re usually mature enough to realize it. You hope/assume that the other individual in the mix is mature enough to realize it as well. Now, you guys know I’ve been divorced from my older kid’s mother for almost eleven years now. We got married pretty young, and if either one of us knew what grown-up love was yet, it sure wasn’t apparent. By the time either of us figured that part out of life, we had long since parted ways.

When I met the woman I’m with now, I had no idea that over eight years later we’d still be acquaintances, let alone be husband and wife. Sometimes it’s like that. When I used to tell the story of meeting her, I used to say it playfully, and I got into way too many details. Nobody wanted to hear that. Not for real. Maybe they did kind of want to hear that, because they hadn’t found that grown-up love yet, and they think that I hadn’t either.

Somewhere along this road of life I’ve been traveling these past thirty-five years, I found her. I found my grown-up love. She is amazing. I really do love her. Not only would I do almost anything, or sacrifice almost anything to ensure her happiness in life, I made a vow to her a long time ago to love her, to cherish her, in sickness and in health. I meant it.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I separated. We spent a lot of time apart from each other, and we ended up filing for a divorce. Being divorced is not the end of the world. However, when you love someone…like really love someone, it’s pretty hard to forget. There were many days I would literally have tears in my eyes almost the entire drive home after dropping our children off to her for the night. However, I wasn’t the only one who had fallen into that grown-up love. Luckily, she had too.

Realizing that we still loved each other after every argument, after every disagreement, after every hurt word said—was one of the happiest feelings I had in a very long time. I started asking her to “hang out” with the kids and I for lunch, or the movies. I thought I was being slick, and honestly not very sure in myself if my plan was even going to work. Winning your wife back is hard work people. It’s not like you can just divorce someone, act like you don’t care about them anymore, because they started acting like they didn’t care about you anymore, and then think they’ll just come running back into your arms like nothing happened. That’s not how life works, and that’s definitely not how love works.

Love is earned. Period. You earn love, or you don’t. You prove yourself, or you don’t. You be the man/woman he/she needs you to be for you and the family, or you don’t. You put in the time, or you don’t. You put in the effort, or you don’t. You make them feel special, or you don’t. You help them succeed, or you don’t. You become one entity, or you don’t. You make a pact, you raise a family, and you love each other the way you want to be loved—or you don’t.

My wife is beautiful. She is smart. She has a very dismissing attitude towards some people, and she does not take kindly to people who pry too deep into our life. Our lives have been exposed through this blog, and through our “BaileyLiving” YouTube Channel many years now. She can sing very well, and she can cop a mean attitude even better. She loves our children we have made together, and more importantly, she loves my oldest two daughters just as much. She is an excellent mom, my very best friend that I’ve ever had, and I grown-up love her.

I hadn’t truly realized how much I meant to her until she proposed to me. Yes, you read that right. She proposed to me the second time around. She sang to me, she was sincere with me, and I absolutely loved the proposal. She started working on wedding arrangements almost immediately. I swear, it was like a day or two later, and she had already planned the entire thing. Just typing this out right now makes me smile so big thinking back to her voice on the phone telling me all about it while I drove home from work one night.

November 20th, 2014 I married my best friend again.

US!
US!
There wasn’t a lot of people there. There wasn’t a lot of hoopla about the event. We went to Las Vegas, we saw friends and family, and we got married. When we came home, life is just life now. It seems a lot better now. I like looking down at my ring on my finger. I look at it a lot and feel a sense of relief come over me.My Family

Love fixed my broken family, and made me feel whole again. I freaking love that!

Posted in Ashleigh, Audrey, confessions, coping mechanisms, dad, daddy, Divorce, Ella, empathy, expectations, Family, Family Time, fatherhood, Inspirational, jobs, Kids, love, memories, mommyhood, moving on, Parenting, Relationships, responsibility, Taralynn, The Meaning of Life, Uncategorized

You Can Judge Me…


You can judge me…after I’m dead.

After my life has finished here on earth, by all means, judge away. However, I don’t want you to judge me by my accolades. Don’t judge me by the amount of trophies I won, or the amount of certifications I earned. Don’t judge me by my social status. Don’t judge me by my place of employment. Don’t judge me by the amount of hair left on my head, nor by the changed color of it.

After I’m dead, and you start your judgement, don’t judge me on whether or not I went to church. Don’t judge me on whether or not I finished college. Don’t judge me by the type of car I drove, or the house I lived in. Don’t judge me because I thought differently than you. Don’t judge me because our politics didn’t align. Don’t judge me because I talked differently than you. Don’t judge me because I got divorced. Don’t judge me for falling in love. Don’t judge me for falling out of love. Don’t judge me because I didn’t understand.

Don’t judge me because you’ve seen me drink in excess. Don’t judge me because you’ve seen me places I shouldn’t have been. Don’t judge me because I didn’t have as much money as others. Don’t judge me because I had more money than others. Don’t you dare judge me because of the way I looked. Don’t judge me because of the way I looked at you. Don’t judge me because I didn’t ask, and don’t judge me because I did.

This may seem like a fairly long list, and rest assured, it should definitely be a little more lengthy. However, the list is there for a reason. It’s there because like every one of you, I have a side that is not the prettiest. It’s not the most insightful. It’s not the most handsome. It’s still me, don’t get me wrong. Just be sure to understand, that it is not the only side of me.

As I’ve gotten older, and the years go by, I’ve learned a lot. That, you can be sure of. I’m still a work in progress as are each and every one of you reading this right now. I do have many things I’m proud of. Some of them are accomplishments. Some things I’m proud of are intangibles. You may not be able to see every side of me at once. In fact, you should consider yourself lucky if you catch the majority of them as I pass by your lives.

As far as accolades and trophies, you’re right—there’s not that many. I’ve earned a diploma, sure, and I’ve even received a few certifications in a few things after that. I’m not a wealthy individual, but I do work (a couple of jobs) to ensure I’m not in poverty. I’ve actually worked lots of jobs over the years, and I don’t regret a single one of them. I may not go to church every Sunday, but that does not mean I do not strive for what’s morally right in most cases. There have been times I’ve been fortunate enough to have a pretty decent car, and other times that I went months without one. There’s been times when I’ve lived in a nice house, and others where I was fortunate people cared enough to take me in.

I’ve fallen in love at last count at least 145 times—and that was just the first year of high school! I married young, divorced young, and didn’t learn a thing from it. I married a little older, divorced a little older, and learned lots from it. Am I happier now? Yeah, most of the time. I have been drunk. I have thrown up all over the side of a couple of my friend’s cars because of it. I’ve thrown up in my house because of it. Some of those times I was younger and thought nothing could phase me. The other times I was older and thought nothing could phase me.

I’ve been in numerous places I probably shouldn’t have been. If you saw me there, then before you judge, let me hold the mirror up for you. Sometimes I thought I was rich, when really I wasn’t. Sometimes I thought I was poor, when really I wasn’t. Either way, money is overrated, and I hate that we have to use it to get things. I’m all for going back to bartering for stuff. Sometimes in life, I’ve taken good photos. Like, really good ones. Ones that made me take a second glance, because that model looked a lot like me. Other times, I’ve taken some not so flattering ones. Especially recently. Maybe it’s because I’m gaining weight. Maybe it’s because my hairline is retreating inland like a hurricane is on its way in. Maybe it’s because now when I look at a picture it’s just “me.” That’s what I look like now. Life, in general, has made me look like this. “This,” by the way, is NOT like a model.

Anyways, back to this judgement people like to pass on towards others so much…Here’s what I’d like you to judge me on:

thegirls

My kids. Judge me by THEM. Judge me by their kids. Rest assured, my life at some point in the last few years went from “me, me, me, me, me” to “I have to protect them, love them, be there for them, love them some more, study with them, teach them about boys (trust me, their moms don’t know the half of it like I do), and love them even more.

TARA
TARA
I have to teach them every single thing I know, both good and bad. I have to teach them to trust themselves, believe in themselves, and to be GOOD people. I have to teach them to reach inside their souls and find something, anything that they have a strong passion for, and to follow their dreams.
ELLA
ELLA
It’s such a thin line, we as parents toe each day, as we strive to LIVE through them. Watching them grow, watching them play, watching them learn, watching them argue, debate, cry, laugh, whatever it is.
AUDREY
AUDREY
It is my life. They are my life. They truly are my everything. And I guarantee that by the time you decide to judge me, after I’m gone…You’ll see that I did OK. I am so freaking proud of my children in everything they do. I delight in the smallest things. They make me laugh like you would not believe.
ASH
ASH
They give my life a purpose. Because of them and their acceptance of me, as their dad, I will never worry again what others think about me.

Go ahead, you can judge me…after I’m dead.

And He Loves You
And He Loves You
Posted in confessions, coping mechanisms, dad, Family, fatherhood, Inspirational, Kids, learning new things, memories, Relationships, responsibility, The Meaning of Life, Uncategorized

The Worry Rock


photo“Dad, I forgot to bring something with me. I got you something yesterday.”

Walking through the mall together with my fifth grader, she goes on to tell me that she saw the counselor at her school the day before. The counselor gave her something to give me.

She said she had set the appointment up for the week before, but she was sick on that day. Without trying to be too nosy, I asked what she talked about. She didn’t go into too many details.

I know she’s going through a tough transition period right now. She’s moving to a new house next month with her mom. More than likely, she will be switching schools. She informed me today, that she feels as if she only has a couple of “real” friends. One of them is possibly moving away also.

She has such a hard time being a younger sister, that sometimes I think she forgets that she’s a big sister too. photo (1) We all have strengths, we all have weaknesses. One of her biggest weaknesses is the same as her older sister’s (getting along with the other sibling).

Sisterly Love
Sisterly Love

I wish I could explain, in terms she would understand it, that life is what you make of it. You cannot control everything around you, but you can make the best of certain situations, even if you can’t control each individual situation.

I am PROUD of my children. In almost every aspect of their lives, they have taught me something new about them I didn’t know existed. They are kind. They are loving. They venture to places I never knew existed when I was their age, and in some cases, even at the age I am now.

Behind their beautiful smiles, are even more beautiful spirits. So when my daughter told me tonight she went to the counselor yesterday, I was confused. They usually come to me to talk. I definitely don’t have all the answers to everything, but it’s nice to know they see me as an option usually.

She told me the counselor said she is too little to be worrying about such big things. From what I took from it, one of the “big things” is ME. She told me her counselor gave her a rock. It’s called a worry rock, and she’s supposed to carry it with her and put all her worries in it. When asked if there was anyone else that could benefit from such a thing, she told her “My dad could.” So she got me a worry rock, too.

Needless to say, we went back to her house to pick it up tonight. You know why? Because she’s right. I really could use it.

This past Saturday, she asked for some alone time, just her and I. As we looked at books together at the book store she did something I will never forget. She stopped walking next to me, got in front of me, and wrapped her tiny arms around my waist. As she nestled her face against my chest she looked up and told me she loved me. She told me that although I don’t have to, that I spoil her and her sisters. She said something like “You don’t hardly have anything, but you give us everything.” She had tears in her eyes when she said it, the hug was real, and the tears in my eyes I fought back were very real also.

I love the person she is becoming. I love her honesty. I love her innocence. I love her thoughtfulness. I love her beautiful blue eyes almost as much as I love my new worry rock. photo (2)

Posted in coping mechanisms, Divorce, Ex Wife, expectations, failure, Family, Kids, losing, love, Marriage, memories, moving on, Parenting, Relationships, responsibility, Uncategorized

Ten Years Apart…


January 29th, 2004.

Although I was twenty-four years old, I look back now and realize just how childish I really was. A lot has happened in the past ten years. I guess that’s to be expected, really. Just wish things were different sometimes, that’s all.

Ten years ago, I stood in front of a judge. She stood next to me. Our youngest daughter was only eight months old at the time. TaraNot really looking towards the future was one of my biggest downfalls. Not realizing that every time she asked about us, there would BE no memory of US. Well, for her at least.

Our oldest daughter was barely more than three years old. She was full of questions that I had no “right” answer for. I made up plenty of things to appease her tiny mind. As she’s gotten older, she’s asked harder questions. AshI’ve yet to venture out and tell her just every stupid thing her dad has done in the past. I’ve yet to lay out in detail every harmful thing I said, and every stupid, childish reason I left.

As these past few years have gone by, our lives have taken dramatically different turns. Turns out that sometimes things are best seen from a distant lens. Looking back, in my memory, is the best lens I have now. Ten years is a long time, and every day that goes by makes my vision a little more blurry.

I DO, remember how we met, however. Without going into too many details, it involved a party. It involved a party that ended with leftover alcohol in my trunk. Halfway through the week, her friends figured out who had the alcohol, and I was called at my job with strict instructions to bring alcohol to a different address that following Friday night.

I remember her boyfriend walking out the front door right as I pulled up, and seeing her and her two best friends at the door. I had a bunch of alcohol in my backseat thinking it was for a party. Turns out it was for these three young ladies. Luckily, they allowed me to join them in their drinking shenanigans, while the parents were away.

Throughout the course of the evening, two of them left with a couple of guys, leaving her and I alone in the house. We talked about her boyfriend, and school, and how her prom was the next night. She told me she was going to break up with him probably the next week, but she couldn’t do it yet because he had already spent money for the dance, and she didn’t want to miss it.

Standing beside her in the kitchen that night, making ramen noodles together, I had no idea that we would fall in love. I had no idea that we would bring two of the most amazing people I’ve ever known into this world.

I do remember our first date being a double date. I remember playing miniature golf with her. I remember getting our first apartment together. I remember every single car we owned together. Every single place we lived. I remember how much my grandmother loved her. I remember so many good things about her, that sometimes I forget why I ever wanted a divorce.

It’s easy to find fault in others. For a long time, that’s what I did. Trust me, there are definitely reasons why we didn’t work, but I was to blame for almost every single one of them. I have blamed almost every hardship I’ve had financially on her, because that’s the easy way out. I put myself where I’m at.

I’ve tried to fall in love again. It’s not near as easy as you’d think when you already have one ex-wife and two kids. It’s not impossible, but it’s definitely not the ideal scenario either. Trust me, however, when I say having TWO ex-wives and FOUR kids, isn’t the most ideal situation either.

I have dated just about every single type of woman in this world, and I’d have to say that none of them have ever made me feel “complete.” I’ve been remarried, and I’ve been divorced a second time. Even the woman I’ve written this blog about never really made me feel complete. Maybe it’s me. I do know one thing, losing them sure does make me feel empty.

I’m feeling sentimental, because ten years is a really long time to know somebody. The fact that we knew each other for years before that, means I’ve known her for a long time. We don’t normally knock on each other’s doors and ask to borrow a cup of milk, but when it comes to our children, we both have their best interests in mind.

There has been numerous times I have seceded a decision to her, because I just wasn’t sure what the right answer was. Likewise, there has been numerous times in which she has done the same. The kids are older, they both have figured each parent out, and they know what to expect from each one.

She has a very important job. Mine, gives me money, but not really that important. She has financial stability, whereas I am still searching high and wide for it. She sets rules, gives punishments, acts as a taxi, and is responsible for half of their smarts, and their adorable looks. I too, set rules, give punishments, act as a taxi, and am also responsible for their smarts and adorable looks.

However, it’s different. It’s different because of our individuality. I am very laid-back. I am definitely NOT as carefree as she may assume, but I have since had two children with someone else. I realize that some battles just aren’t worth the fight. I do not believe that I am a pushover dad, but I will agree that I am not the most strict parent in the world. I have very high expectations of my children when it comes to school, and life lessons are my favorite thing to teach to them.

She has been the perfect yin to my yang, so to speak. We are co-parenting without a handbook, and so far, things are going pretty good. She has since had another child as well (ALSO a girl), and we are all learning as we go.

She has been with the same man for about 8 years or so, and he too, has been a pretty stand-up guy. We’ve had words a couple of times a few years ago, but overall, we respect the boundaries that are there. It sucks that stupid mistakes I made years and years ago, helped him find his happiness, but…I digress.

A whole decade has separated the rings on our fingers. A whole ten years apart has taught me more things about her than I ever knew while living with her. Hopefully, those ten years have done the same for her about me.

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