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.

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Posted in Family, finding your way, life lessons, love

The Path…


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.

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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 empathy, expectations, Family, Family Time, fatherhood, imagination, Inspirational, Kids, memories, Parenting, Relationships, responsibility, The Meaning of Life, Uncategorized

The Best Things in Life are Free…


“The best things in life are free.” It’s such a simple statement. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is not familiar with that quote, or something very similar to it. It was a song, then another song. It is the title of a movie, and is the subject of many popular “feel good” images here on the internet.

It really is a lovely statement. If you think about it, and I do mean really think about it, it rings absolutely true.

In forty-five short minutes, one of my children will turn eleven years old. Although it is only forty-five minutes away, this kid has yet to really ask me for anything for her birthday. She gave me a little list to give to my mother and sister, because they insist on lists for birthdays. As for me, her father, however, I get nothing.

I have taken her to numerous stores, mentioned her upcoming birthday to her a few times, and still I get no hints. I get asked for nothing of financial value from her. No, she asked me to make her a lunch tomorrow of nothing but junk food. She wants donuts, cookies, pop, the works; just as long as it’s not healthy. She insists it’s only for one meal out of one day, and for that one day she’s going to be the star of the lunchroom.

When her oldest sister turned five years-old, I took her sister to Branson, MO and Silver Dollar City (just the two of us). For years now, she has reminded me that I took a vacation with her older sister, and not with her. She has come to realize that her dad is by no means a wealthy man, and has not only accepted it, but tries to live in a more humble manner because of it. She knows I have three other children, and she has trained herself to be more wary of my finances than I am sometimes.

For example, if we go out to eat, she almost always orders last. She listens to what everyone else has ordered, and then almost always orders something way cheaper than everyone else. If her sister orders an overpriced drink, she asks for a kid’s meal that comes with a drink usually, or she asks for water. Every time we discuss where to eat, I can hear her have a discussion with her oldest sibling on where it will be cheaper for dad.

I’m not poor, mind you. Like I said, I’m also not wealthy. This child of mine has taught me more about believing in myself than just about anybody I’ve ever met. She’s taught me to love my surroundings and be grateful for everything that I have. She believes that one day, the grass on our side of the fence will be greener, and I hope know that she is absolutely correct.

She’s beautiful from the bottom of her tippy toes all the way up to her lightly freckled, bright, blue-eyed face. Her inner beauty is truly a work of art, it really is. I’ll never be able to fully communicate just how much she means to me, but I hope she realizes what a vital role she plays in my life. She is just one of four, and they are all four very special to me in their own unique ways. Her sense of selflessness is one of her best traits, and she probably doesn’t even realize it yet.

photo (8)She is a comedian, no doubt, and she loves to be the center of attention. She is definitely in the top two for the backseat dancing awards in my family. The kid simply puts a smile on my face every time I see her face. She loves me more than I could have ever hoped she would, and I appreciate her more than she ever thought she could be appreciated. I hope she continues to shine bright wherever she decides to go with her life.

Today at the park, while her older sister and her friend played, she and I took a walk around the trail. Near the end of the trail she made us stop, pick a dandelion, and make a wish as we blew them into the wind. She then crossed them on top of one another, and placed them back intertwined together back into a hole in the ground. She placed grass on top of them, and it was probably the most sincere I’ve ever wished on a dandelion.

I won’t state what my wish was, because I believe that might break the “dandelion-wishing code of honor,” but I do know that my wish was very heart-felt.

I hope she knows, I want her to laugh more. I want her to give people second chances. I want her to learn to be patient with others. I hope she knows every day won’t be a good hair day, but some of them will be. I want her to be trustworthy, and I want her to be open-minded to other people and their ways of thinking. I want her to think for herself, and be the amazing person I know she is capable of being. I want her to find her purpose in life, and use her talents to bring it to fruition. I want her to appreciate the little things, but be willing to work for the bigger things. I want her to be happy beyond her wildest imagination. I want her to respect others, and I want her to earn other’s respect. A good reputation, a happy home, and a happy, trustworthy personality are all very good things in this life to have.

Everything you may ever want in this world, may not come to life, but plenty of it will if you just work hard, play hard, and enjoy the best things in life. After all, they really are free.

Posted in Family, fatherhood, Inspirational, Kids, learning new things, memories, mommyhood, moving on, responsibility, school, teaching, Uncategorized

I Saw the Most Beautiful Smile Last Night…


I saw the most beautiful smile last night. No really, I did. Its curves made her cheekbones ball up into little spheres right below her sparkling brown eyes. Her whole face lit up, and you could just “see” the happiness overflowing out of her.

You see, last night was Kindergarten Roundup. Although it was my third one attending(fourth if you include mine), it was her first. She was anxious, nervous, excited, happy, and who knows what other emotions she was feeling.

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We sat on the front row for the initial presentation, and then it was off to tour the school. We stepped into one classroom, then off to the next. We looked at the desks, the chairs, the engaging posters on the walls. We looked at the games, the laptops, the massive amount of crayons the children get to use. We noticed her school mascot is a Wildcat, which also used to be my mascot when I was in elementary school.

My ex-wife and I admired the creative spelling children use as we walked through the halls and recognized just how much potential this place carries inside of it each and every day. I imagined kids from every walk of life roaming the halls, checking out books from the library, standing in lines, learning new rules. A set schedule, boundaries, discipline, a caring support group is what every child needs and deserves.

Sometimes we think as parents we can do it all. Heck, some parents DO it all. That is not the route that we are taking, but I admire those that do. We are entrusting our children to a collective group of people to nurture, teach, and care for our kids while we ourselves tend to our daily duties, be it work, play, or a little of both.

Letting go of our children into the big scary world of public schooling, does not mean we are not doing our part. Getting a little help is sometimes all that we need to restore peace and order to our very own lives. That help can come from numerous places, from different people, and from various circumstances.

I’m at such a different place right now emotionally than where I was five years and seven years ago. I am so done going through the motions of being a parent. Now, I am enjoying each and every single moment of it. There are plenty of bad moments to go with the good. However, teachable moments are everywhere around us. Take those moments and learn from them, and you and your children will be better for it.

I am so freaking excited for my daughter starting school this summer. Although she isn’t technically a Kindergartner until August, she is being allowed to start summer school in June. She is already brilliant, talented, and an extremely fast learner, so I know we have nothing to worry about. Over these past few years of getting to know her, I know that this is a huge deal to her.

I can’t wait to do it again next year with my youngest daughter, so maybe I’ll have a chance to see that beautiful smile once again.