“I don’t think I can parent today.” Guilty as charged.

Father_and_son_surf_lesson_in_Morro_Bay,_CA.jpgI was sending silly Snapchat videos back and forth with one of my best friends yesterday, like we usually do; and he, in jest, said that he was so tired after his day of work that he didn’t know if he could parent anymore today. He was on his way to pick up his daughter up from preschool and he was hoping that she wasn’t going to be too hyper when she got home because he was just plain tired. SO should we as parents feel guilty about…well…about being tired?

IMG_0284Daniel decided that he didn’t want to play baseball this year. He has usually been a three athlete kid but he decided that he wanted to concentrate on two sports instead of three. We respected his decision and have been patiently waiting for Football season to start. As the baseball season has been in full swing, I have noticed all of my Facebook friends talking about how tired they are from working all day and then flying down the road to get kids and drag them to this practice or that next game. So why do I feel guilty about being happy of his decision not to play baseball? We as parents are conditioned to believe that we have to do everything for our children and be happy about it…or we are bad parents. You feel as if there is something wrong with you if you really just don’t want to watch another episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
Yesterday, Daniel was following me around reading his new video game magazine and
all he wanted to do was tell me about a contest that they were advertising in the magazine. We had just walked in the door and between changing clothes to head to the gym and talking to my wife, I had yet to even take a breathe to relax. I lost my cool and told him to ‘please stop talking about video games for 5 seconds’. To a 12 year old, who was excited to talk to his dad about something that he is passionate about, it crushed him. I immediately felt the guilt and my face flushed red and I could feel myself welling up with tears. His unhappiness is the last thing in the world that I would want…and I know that I am not the only parent who just wants 5 seconds to chill. I want to tell you that you are not alone. Well moms and dads, here are some things to NOT feel guilty for but it may be a topic that you need to address.

Guilty as Charged:

  1. Yelling – I’ve done it. You’ve done it. According to Devra Renner, co-author of the book Mommy Guilt, says that yelling is the one thing that that was the #1 thing that all of the 1,300 women that she interviewed for her book revealed to be the thing that caused them to feel the most guilty. Some parents have elevated levels of communication. That’s just how they roll. Some kids know that when Momma starts talking with her teeth together and her voice is low….its time to leave Momma alone. The decibel of your communication is something that accidently comes out. We lose our temper. Sometimes, we as parents, get frustrated and loose our cool. We yell out of frustration. But when that is all our child knows…then there is our problem. If you always yell at your kids, then you need to take a step back and evaluate your manner of communication.
  2. Work – Someone in the family has to work. Money doesn’t grow on trees. I’ve had conversations with many of my friends and they always express to me that they feel like they are losing out on pivotal moments of their child’s life because they are working so much. What can you do when your trying to balance being a spouse, parent and a demanding 40+ hour-a-week job? First off…don’t let it get you down. Realize that your kids love you and after they are grown, they will realize how hard you worked for them. Take advantage of the precious time that you have with them. Know that work is important but your family needs to be a priority as well. Take time to support your son at his Karate tournament, your kid at their dance recital, or to watch your little girl at her first softball game. Take time to play with them. You don’t have to dedicate hours to playing with them or buying expensive toys or going to expensive water parks every day. Memories are made right in your living room playing pretend or by kissing your child on the forehead after reading them a bedtime story. Basically, just create a work schedule that is flexible enough for your family to realize that they are just as important to you.
  3. Taking a Break – Sometimes you just need a break. I don’t mean a Kit-Kat Bar (even though I need one of those right now), but what I mean is that sometimes you just want to walk away from the crying babies and the chaos of our lives. You of course feel guilty about it because you love your family BUT it is important to take some time to recharge. Whether it is something as simple as a bubble bath while your husband takes the kids to the park, a couple of afternoons a week at the gym, or a night at Hooters with your buddies to get some chicken wings and a beer. Some people need that recharge and you shouldn’t feel like you’re not making the right decisions. Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean that you give up being a person. You need to care about your own mental well being as well. Your spouse should respect that and not think the worst of you when you want to have some ‘you’ time (and no I’m not talking to my friend’s ex-wife…or am I).
  4. Play – I touched on spending time and playing with your kids earlier and I just wanted to touch on it once more. I know that in today’s crazy life, actually taking the time and slowing down long enough to play Legos with your son or to have another tea party with your daughter. Before you feel guilty about seeing your son or daughter playing by themselves or them complaining about being bored; I want you to remember that YOUR CHILD DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ENTERTAINED EVERY SECOND OF EVERY DAY! BUT you should dedicate some time to your child, even if its for only an hour. Some parents are the ones that will get down in the floor and give horse back rides or will pretend to be Princesses with their daughters for hours…but some are not. You should not feel guilty about that. Find something that you and your child both enjoy, so you can build a long lasting memory with your child.
  5. Acceptance – I’m not in your house but I’m assuming that you are a good parent. So you need to accept that fact. You are a good parent! Being a perfect wife, husband or parent is impossible. What we can do is realize that the photo-shopped, Susie home-maker, super-mother is a fallacy. Realize that we will fall short of scaling the mountain of tasks that it takes to reach perfection. Besides being tired from our normal lives, the last thing that we need to be is riddled with anxiety and guilt-ridden by some cookie cutter expectation. If your child goes to school wearing two different colored socks…its not the end of the world. Remember to try and be a positive role model for your children by handling the things that life pushes our way with a happy, good-humored demeanor.

Bedtime_story_-_Madeline


I’m not a registered family therapist. I’m not even a perfect parent. What I do is I know a couple of things. I know that you don’t need to feed into the guilt mongers. Don’t worrymcdonalds happy meal about the judgement of the pretentious parenting police who judge you when you get to baseball practice five minutes too late with a kid whose shirt is untucked and hair is unbrushed, all while he’s taking his last bite of his McDonald’s Happy Meal cheeseburger that you picked up on your way to take kid number 3 to dance practice. We’re busy. It’s life. Just remember that it’s not about the quantity of the items that your child has or how many times that they have been to Carowinds. What matters most is the quality of the hours that you spend with your child. That is what makes the difference when they grow up and look back on their lives.


Images 

Feature Image: Father and son Surf lesson image by and accredited to “Mike” Michael L. Baird, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9176643

Reading a Bedtime story to my Daughter image by and attributed to Ludwig Bemelmans, Ldorfman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18437032

Boy with McDonalds Happy Meal image attributed to uploader. Own work. Fair use.

Big Man + Little Dog = Perfect Combo

FullSizeRender-3Image-1-1I was always a ‘big dog person’. Despite at one time having a chihuahua, I always had Country Bulldogs or I would domesticate one of my dad’s big hunting dogs as a pet. I would grow to hate little dogs due to my grandmother’s half chihuahua – half feist – all demon possessed Hellhound that would growl at us and bite at our ankles if we moved too quickly around his aging food bowl. In my adulthood, I began to make fun of Paris Hilton and her little Chihuahua accessory dog whose little head we would occasionally see pop out of her Gucci purse. So when my son asked us for a dog that would ‘always stay puppy size’, I knew what that meant. My worst fear of having a yelping, ankle biting tiny demon dog would now come to fruition.

I was against it, as you can image, but you do what you have to do for the happiness of your children. So to make my child happy; my wife & I settled on a respected small dog breeder (ensuring that they were not a despised puppy mill) and went to visit her facility. In the entryway to the facility, the owner’s husband greeted us and Image-1asked us to dip the bottoms of our shoes inside of a shallow container of miscellaneous liquid; whose Bitter solution would keep us from bringing in outside contaminants into the dog’s sterile environment. The air conditioned building’s walls were a dull gray and instead of a cages, the puppies lay on nicely padded beds inside of their own 4 foot walled rooms. As we rounded the first corner, we found the area where a Mini Yorkshire Terrier and her newly born puppies lay. Most of the tiny black and brown puppies were barking and  jumping up as high as they could on the 4 foot cinder block wall that kept them from running around the facility. Five tiny female puppies were energetically trying to gain our attention….except for their little runt of a brother who sat alone in the corner staring up at us. We asked about him and the breeder picked him up and gave him to us.

As I held him in my hand, he laid his tiny head down on my thumb and went to sleep. IMG_2254Tears filled my eyes and my heart was broken. The walls of animosity towards tiny dogs was gone. The angst and fear of having a yelping ankle biter had dissipated. As a tear rolled down my cheek, I looked over to my wife and we instantly knew. We knew that we had found the furry addition to our family and that puppy that would never grow too big for Daniel. Seven years later, our little Deacon (that’s what we named him) has been joined by another Yorkie that we rescued named Ginger; a fat, energetic English Bulldog named Annie; and a skittish, fawn colored Chihuahua named Cookie that we rescued from an abusive family. I went from closing my heart to little dogs to having a wife that laughs at me because the ‘big tough man gets out of his big four-wheel drive truck after working out at the gym after work, sits down in his big manly recliner only to pick up, hold and commence baby talk to a 2 lb. dog in his arms’. Sounds like a perfect picture to me. 🙂

via Photo Challenge: Friend

Stairway to Heaven

322px-Jimmy_Page_earlyMy older cousin was in a heavy metal band that opened for a lot of big named bands in the 80s and 90s. I remember when he would come home from being on tour in his Porsche 911; we would all sit in his bedroom and ask him to play his guitar for us. He would sit on his oversized Peavey amp with his legs crossed at the knee; his long brown hair cascading down onto a cut off Guns N Roses t-shirt while his boney fingers flowed across the strings of his white Fender guitar. It was from him that I fell in love with rock music but he wasn’t my only musical influence. I grew up surrounded by all forms of music.

I lived in a house with a Motown loving father and I remember the nights, laying on his bed with him while we listened to The Temptations and The Four Tops. I also remember riding with mother to garage sales and flea markets; along our way, who despite being a renowned Southern Gospel singer, she made sure that I was introduced to Elvis, the Righteous Brothers, and Simon & Garfunkel. I spent my summer days with my grandparents and my grandpa introduced me to Country Western greats like George Jones and Merle Haggard; along with concreting a passion for Bluegrass music.

Agulha_record_playerMy grandpa had a wooden rocking chair with a green cushion and a big Record player console in the back bedroom of his house. I would spend most rainy days or lazy afternoons sitting in that rocking chair listening to old records. I would listen to his classic George Jones, Buck Owens or bluegrass albums but occasionally I would bring some of my records from home. I would bring my favorite rock albums and play them quietly on his vintage machine, while rhythmically rocking in the cushioned wooden rocking chair. I went through a period of time in my childhood where I was obsessed with Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (an obsession that has carried itself into my adulthood) and I would listen to my Led Zeppelin IV album at my grandfather’s house on that old vintage germany_atl10103_bdmachine. I remember one time in particular when I was listening to Stairway to Heaven and my ‘Papa’, as we called him, came in and asked, “What in the world are you listening to?” Not sure how he would respond, I told him that I was listening to a song called “Stairway to Heaven”, so he sat down on the bed that sat at the other end of the room and asked me what the song was about. I explained the premise of the song and being the religious man he was says, “well thats not really how going to Heaven works but it does sound like a nice song.” He smiled at me and walked away.

640px-BEOGRAM_1202_(19218616158)I think about him every time I hear that song now-a-days. Despite the amazing singing and playing ability of the members of Led Zeppelin, I am reminded of the sweet disposition of my grandpa and despite his disapproval of the type of music that I listened to, he always supported and loved my individuality. I wish for that day that my Stairway to Heaven comes, so that I can see that sweet man once again.


Featured Image:

The Led Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg catching fire on May 6, 1937 at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey image by Gus Pasquerella – http://www.lakehurst.navy.mil/nlweb/images/1213d.gif, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=632191

Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin by and accredited to Dina Regine – http://www.flickr.com/photos/divadivadina/465006376/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8005350

Aguhla Record Player image by and licensed under the Creative Commons Attibution 2.0 Generic License, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52890

Led Zeppelin IV album cover image by and accredited to Atlantic Records, http://www.ledzeppelin.com/photos/memorabilia/45s-7-sleeves?page=1

Full resolution macro shot of vinyl record image by and accredited to Project-128 – BEOGRAM 1202, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46688419

Logan: My new favorite movie (spoiler free review)

As the last minutes of Logan flickered on the movie screen ahead of me, tears strolled

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20th Century Fox

down my face. I didn’t try to wipe them away because I knew I was not alone in my complete emotional breakdown. From the grown, middle-aged man behind me sobbing uncontrollably to the woman in the row in front of me puffing on her inhaler after her crying had induced an asthma attack to my son sitting beside me with tears welling in his eyes or my 65 year old father who sat with a somber look of disbelief; it is needless to say, the movie touched everyone in that theater. Despite hearing the F-bomb 7,010 times; Logan had everything that I would need or want. It made me laugh, cry, and I was entertained to a point where I verbally expressed my amazement. (Yes I’m that guy.)

 

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Grant Brummett, Wikipedia Commons

I won’t post spoilers because my wife didn’t go with us to see it; and since she reads my blog…I will refrain from giving any spoilers. I merely wanted to take this time to say that over the past 17 years, Hugh Jackman has theatrically represented a character that I have loved since I first started reading comics in the 80s. Wolverine even gets his own special
blog
every now and then on this blog site but now that the latest solo Wolverine movie aka
Logan
has taken its spot at the top of my ‘favorite movie list’ (A slot formerly held by the 1993 Western Tombstone); was replaced Sunday afternoon when the credits started to roll after the completion of Logan.

As I said earlier, Logan was the perfect blend of action, CGI, emotion and comedy…this movie has it all. I urge everyone to go out and see Hugh Jackman’s final portrayal as our

logan-one-sheet

20th Century Fox

favorite Canadian mutant, Wolverine. Go experience the roller coaster of emotions that is Logan and bear witness to some truly amazing acting from both Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart. The storyline may not completely follow any of our previously loved X-Men comic book story-lines or necessarily be a direct link to any of the previous movies (despite slight nods throughout); the movie is beautifully well written.  The Western-esque film tells a truly personal story about a flawed hero who is suffering from the wages of the war that was his life who is taking care of the ailing Professor Xavier in a Mexican border town hideout. His attempts to stay low-key and away from the world are thwarted when a young mutant comes into his life and how he must venture out into that world once more to save an innocent life from a new villainous team.

You can come with me to see a movie that truly honors the on screen death of Wolverine if you’d like; because I’m sure that I’ll go back and see it at least two more times before it leaves the theater. I hope to add to the already clocked in estimate of over $88 million in its first weekend sales; which has caused Logan to become the 4th best R-rated domestic opening of all time. If you’re going out…go out in style. 🙂

logan black and white

James Mangold


Featured Image – Logan Twitter banner image owned by and accredited to twitter.com/WolverineMovie, pbs.twimg.com/media/C6RwBXVUYAI-zGV.jpg

Logan solo movie poster by and accredited to 20th Century Fox, s3.foxmovies.com/foxmovies/production/films/132/images/posters/519-film-page-large.jpg

Hugh Jackman Image by and accredited to Grant Brummett, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41853505

Logan holding hands movie poster by and accredited to 20th Century Fox, s3.foxmovies.com/foxmovies/production/films/132/images/posters/509-film-page-large.jpg

Logan black and white Press release image by and accredited to James Mangold, i.imgbox.com/kdYsBKB3.jpg

“…and remove all doubt”

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool

than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

-Abraham Lincoln

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My uncle (my dad’s brother) held a lot of influence during the formative years of my life. His daughter (my only cousin on that side of the family) were only 11 months apart and grew up more like siblings than cousins due to the fact that we were both only children.

Due to us being that close; a close friend group formed and would always meet up at my aunt and uncle’s house. I remember when in high school, we were all trying to sew our wild oats; my uncle sat me and one of our friends down and plowed some words of wisdom into our rebellious minds.

He wanted to urge us to remember that ‘our name’ is important. Not meaning that our 381px-advice_to_a_young_artist_by_honore_daumier_c1865-68name is significant based on who we were named after but the weight that our name carries. He continued on to tell us that he is not saying that we should care what people think to the extent that we don’t live our own lives, but that we should live our lives knowing that our actions affect those who are attached to our name. The fact that if I, as his nephew, and mine and my cousin’s friend went out and did something terrible that it would not only negatively affect our name but look bad on everyone around us. It sounded so selfish when he first said it but the more that I thought about it, tears welled up in my eyes. The realization that my ignorance and ‘tomfoolery’ had a blowback effect on everyone around me.

miedo-ajenoI wouldn’t know if my old friend remembers it, because we don’t talk anymore. Heck, I don’t even know if he remembers sitting us down on the couch that afternoon but I remember the emotions that I felt and the tears that fell on that throw pillow in their den. That knowledge has resonated in my psyche; and it has already been passed on to many of my students, friends, acquaintances, and most importantly my son.

 


Images:

Featured image – Good advice image by Frank Kovalchek from Anchorage, Alaska, USA – “This reminds me of my Vulcan side giving me good advice”, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24473423

Advice image by and accredited to Honoré Daumier – National Gallery of Art, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11497763

Crying image by and accredited to RayNata – Mis documentos, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5270246

Springing to Life

640px-father_with_tow_babyAs my son gets older, I miss the little things. I miss him crawling into my lap to watch cartoons. I miss his little hand reaching up to hold mine when we were walking somewhere. I miss hearing him giggle when we would tickle him. But it doesn’t have to be the truly beautiful things in life that you miss. I miss quickening in the middle of the night. You know, that springing into action. The sprinting down the hall to his bedroom to see why he was yelling out ‘Dad!’ I think that that’s because you know that at that moment, that he knows that he is safe because you are there to protect him. Whether it was an upset stomach or a bad dream, it was important for him to know that you were there for him. You can’t always be there with them though. Even though the controlling part of you as a parent wants to be. They have to grow up. They have to develop and most of all, they will know pain. Their first love will break up with them. Someone will call them a name. We can’t protect them from the ever changing world.

The one thing that I have always wanted to ensure in Daniel was the knowledge that he was loved. True parental love is a multifaceted tool at which some parents, regretfully fail. Parental love consists of a warm smile or friendly look at which the child can feel empathy 640px-Happy_child_finds_joy.jpgand good nature. The physical affection felt through a hug or kiss. A parent must be attuned and responsiveness to the child’s needs. Now I know that not all parents are huggers or show their emotions in that way; just ensure that your kid knows that you love them. Now you condescending parents who are scoffing at those parents who don’t show love like ‘we’ do, I’m sure that every one of ‘us’ did things perfectly. Right? Wrong! I have witnessed well-meaning parents insensitively scolding their child for missing a ball during a game or ignoring a playful moment that left the child scarred and hurt. Now before you get on the defense, I’ll tell you that most of us, as parents, are telling the truth when we say that we’re doing the best we can. Sometimes that dad at the ball field has the best intentions when he yells at his son for not swinging the right way or the mother who scolds her daughter for not pivoting her foot right during a pirouette.

159px-happy_childWe will make mistakes as parents, just like our parents made mistakes with us. But it is important for our children’s future to not view our children as our replicas; and we must properly externalize the components that will positively affect our children. Remember that your good intentions are not a substitute for love. Being able to throw a football is not more important than the love that you see in your child’s eyes. As the Beatles said, “All you need is love.” Because when you truly love your child…everything else will fall into place.

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Featured Image: H. Ambrose Kiehl and his daughter, Laura Kiehl, on a bicycle photo by and accredited to UW Digital Collections – https://www.flickr.com/photos/uw_digital_images/4951162891/, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53410386
Father with son and Daughter by and accredited to Niriho khoka – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49572330
Happy Child Finds Joy image by and accredited to Hillebrand, Steve, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – http://www.public-domain-image.com/public-domain-images-pictures-free-stock-photos/people-public-domain-images-pictures/children-kids-public-domain-images-pictures/happy-child-finds-joy.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24874186
Happy Child image by and accredited to امید رستمی نیا – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3623295