Man I look around and notice that alot of marriages are struggling. I see alot of parents struggling. I see single people struggling. I struggle to. I struggle in my marriage, my parenting and my finances like the rest of America right now minus the super well to do.
I speak the truth when I say that alot of people could use some help. I plan to address what tiny part I can play in that.
A little background first: I have a wonderful wife who is currently carrying the fourth child, we have been married almost four awesome years and we are learning daily. The big things that we do to strengthen our marriage are: talk daily, touch often, praise frequently and love. The big things we do to strengthen our children are: teaching them critical thinking, problem solving and how to behave civilly in an uncivilized world.
These things are very difficult to accomplish and even harder to carry out with absolute routine. Things happen, life changes and we get as busy or frustrated as anyone. We try to use logic with children (not generally working), we try to instruct them patiently and calmly (doesn’t always work) and we falter like anyone else.
Looking around, however, I notice that we are 78 percent happy with what we have and cherish it. I’m not even good at this stuff but I know that we are doing better at certain times of the day at this stuff. I know that people I see who are married and eating out are more worried about checking something constantly on their phones or yelling at their kids and it saddens me. If they were to simply put the phone on silent and enjoy the meal as a family, they wouldn’t have to yell at the kids quite so frequently. If they were to catch the kids doing the good stuff and praise them for that, the kids would really turn out quite well behaved and awesome in public. Trust me, I’m aware that the children are hard to manage in public, while eating, and you as a parent have a twenty seven minute window, if lucky, to accomplish this task. That includes the amount of time for the Chik-fil-A server to take your order and arrive it in your hand with a “my pleasure” following your “thank you”.
Then the next 17 minutes, well, 8 right now with long lines and protesters doing more to promote business than slow it down, to feed the hellions(I jokingly refer to them as that periodically and I should pry stop doing that). If a parent fails to do so within that time frame, all hell will break loose if the parent only worries about the negative and focuses on that aspect. That situation goes from great the kids are munching to oh crap lets throw that in your purse honey and save this for later. Yes, it has happened to you to? Then the wife’s purse looks all sorts of yummy days later when you realize that in the swing of life and leaving before the full blown ruckus, you forgot the food in there.
Here’s a different approach that may be of help to some. This is tried and true and expands your window of opportunity in nearly all situations except dire emergencies. For some reason, children slow down when you need them to go faster. They are quite lost as little people in those times you need them to go faster than they can handle.
For instance, my one son has seizures and several times we have barely heard him go into one which yanks us from our dead sleep. Several times have been severe ones and included him turning blue and our children all sorts of HUH? at us as we try to adjust to this scary situation. The little brother in the crib is screaming his head off because he knows bigger brother just had something go wrong, the sister to the brothers is screaming and whining over being woke up quite early, there is only us the two parents to deal effectively with this crazy situation. Have you ever tried to focus with screaming children in an emergency? Yeah, its tough to do and will test the reserves of even the greatest of people.
I find it very annoying but I still have to focus. That is tough. I can’t stress that enough. Here it is Who Knows early in the morning, pulled from dead dreamy sleep and now there’s a life threatening situation and kids who can’t stay quiet or out of the way are all up your tookus when you really want space and quiet. But it is all worth it. I praise God daily that our son is alive. During his last one, he turned blue and shook uncontrollably and did the limp noodle responses. Scared the fun right out of us. He, afterward, looked at us and said “I’m so sorry, I didn’t fight off the monster.” That broke our heart. Literally, here we were crying and broken hearted and I can’t describe the full experience but it’s enough to drop a grown man down to his knee and just cringe at the boy. It drops tears from the ‘manliest’ of men and really affirms life right there in that moment. I don’t know why he feels guilty because of these but man, if anyone has any tips here to help him overcome this, I’m all ears.
The point of all this is quite simple. This may sound like something a person doesn’t want in their lives but it is exactly the thing that will test your mettle. It will make you push ahead and be vigillant and guard your relationships with intensity. It will make you look at your spouse and praise them for going through this suffering with you and give you a shoulder to lean on and learn from. It will make you look at your kids and the God who gave them to you with wonder and know how little you can do to change things in this life and truly how powerless we are at every single moment of every single day. This is not everyone’s marriage sadly or parenting. Some abuse their kids without remembering how truly special and unique and even challenging this ride with each of them is, but man, oh man, IT IS WORTH IT!
I gave up wanting to be a rockstar guitar player because this thing right here that I have and I’m being hypervigilant to protect. My marriage and my children. Even being there as a father when a child rolls out and knowing that women just grab the thing and act like they know what they are doing. Guys sometimes don’t even try because they feel so inept. They feel so unlearned and unable to hold the thing because of a superstitious fear they will hurt the thing.
Here’s the other secret, God designed the little ones resilient. They are going to be ok if you are a daddy and pick them up and coo to them. At that moment and thereafter you are freed to laugh and giggle and make funny sounds at each and every turn just to make this precious bundle look at you. Know that you as a parent are going to do everything in your power to do right by them. There are no guarantees in this life but as you flip through this or peruse it off handedly, the secret still is this. God is good.
As a single person, I had seen and done plenty of stupid noteworthy things but sadly, I never lived till I got married and had children. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not for everyone, but for those who get the idea and the practice of that idea right, things are just awesome. Even the twenty two percent where the train feels like its about to come unglued and jump the track to collide with the nearest hard shatterable object, I remind myself that I won’t find another like the ones I already have in my life. They are irreplaceable and they are my friends and family and great to me.
Christ has given me patience where there used to be a hot fiery anger just seething at the breaking point. I used to be that guy that would yank his children away from what they were doing ‘wrong’ to nitpick and belittle. For that I am eternally sorry and that is why it is so important for me to change. I know alot of parents who fail just as I have, but seek no guidance and read not up on it. I know that I don’t have a clue how so I needed help. Gladly, I found what could help. I tried it in the bottle, or through a joint, but the peace I found usually comes from the love that I’ve found. That love has a name.
I have to work at my marriage, my relationship with my children just to figure out how to make it better. Some things in life are good but with a heart bent on understanding and wisdom, that good becomes great. I found the right Why and now I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.
Recently I read an awesome book Good to Great by Jim Collins and I like his concept of getting the right people on the bus, getting the wrong people off the bus and getting everyone in their right seat on that bus. His premise is for leadership roles in corporations but that principle can be applied everywhere as is all great wisdom. The other interesting thing he applies is once all the right people are onboard and in the right seat, your why becomes apparent and glaringly obvious to you.
Sorry for the long post but enjoy those parts that you feel drawn to. This is me, this is my heart pouring out to the blank little internet notebook and capturing my thoughts before my internet is replaced by more books and music. I just love writing and I sincerely apologize. The average popular blog post is 400-500 words in length, has one action and call to action and is very picture driven. I fail epically at that and even writing to be popular. The few readers I have are awesome though and I hope someday I get to peek into their thoughts like they get to peek into mine. “God be with you till we meet again.”