I remember as a kid, my brother and I would often ask Mom, "which one of us do you love the most?" Of course, she would always tell us that she loved each of us equally. We were both different in so many ways. For instance, I was a neat freak and my Bro was a complete mess. He would literally walk in the door and and start undressing on his way to his room, leaving a trail of clothing behind him. We shared a room and tiny closet for the majority of our childhood. Half of the room was neatly organized and tidy, while the other side was buried in mounds of toys and clothes. The same was true for the closet as well. To this day, some 30 years later, I still actually have dreams......or maybe nightmares, that I'm in that childhood room digging through clothes trying to find my car keys. Shane's inability to pick up after himself drove my Mom nuts. Though it didn't take away from the love she felt for him, I'm sure, in those moments, she wished the school bus would have dropped him off somewhere else.
Our Mom left my biological father when Shane and I were very young. Years later, my Step Dad came into the picture and when I was 8, along came Stacey, our new baby sister. It didn't take long for us to realize Stacey could do no wrong. She got away with everything. As we got older, we really saw the difference. Our curfew as driving teens, 9:00 pm. Stacey's curfew once she was driving, hell, I'm not really sure there was one. We didn't even have to ask anymore, yep.....Stacey was the favorite child!
Now that I'm a father, I get these same questions from my children. My response is always just the same as the one we had always received. I tell them, "I love each of you exactly the same, because I love each of you unconditionally." My oldest never knew her biological father who was murdered when she was an infant. When I married Emily, I adopted my daughter. My middle child's bio Dad is still around, sends gifts and has spent time with him, but lives out of state and has a family of his own. My youngest is my biological son and my namesake.
I try to treat each of them equally, but when I take a step back and think about it, I'm not sure it's possible. Each of the three are different in many ways and some of them have habits that bother me or act in a way that I don't understand or relate to. I'm sure at times it may appear I'm favoring one or two, more than the other, because I'm getting on to one more often than the others. Obviously little H and I have something between us that I don't have with my other two, but I also have a Father/Daughter bond which I can't have with my boys. My middle son and I are very different, but I feel like I try the hardest with him. I am proud to have each of them call me "Dad", and I am equally proud to call them my sons and daughter.
For those who may be wondering, my bio son, little H, comes home each day, undresses himself and leaves a trail of clothing all the way to the bathroom. The kid is an absolute slob and it drives me crazy!
My inner Meltdown...
When Emily and I were married in 2010, I became a father of a 5 year old boy and 6 year old girl. I fell in love with them just as much as I did with Emily. It was a whole new world for a bachelor of so many years. There were growing pains and I had a lot to learn each and every step of the way.
As the kids continued to grow, and my beautiful daughter started to go through changes, I found apps and other resources to help explain things to her. Emily worked full time, so I was the one who got to field a lot of the questions and try to figure out the answers. A lot of things they were asking were related to things they were hearing at school, so some of it was so off the wall or inappropriate, that I had to say, "let's save that conversation when we get home and Herbie is not around." I always tried to be as open and honest with them at all times. My brother and I were never afraid to talk to our Mother about almost anything growing up, so I want my kids to feel comfortable enough to open up about whatever.
On November 24th, 2015, when I got the call that I needed to rush to the Hospital because my wife would probably not survive, there were many thoughts racing through my head. What would I say to the kids? How would I handle taking care of 3 kids on my own? How would I survive raising a teenage daughter? This was the worst and scariest day, week, month of my entire life.
One thing I did not think about, was the fact that my daughter was turning into a young lady, and with that.......well, you know. My daily routine was waking up with Emily in her hospital room, helping her with breakfast and then rush home to take the kids to school. I'd go back to be with Em for therapy, then leave to pick up Herbie after pre-school. I'd take Herbie to go hang out with Emily until it was time to get Alex and Leah from school. I would take them home and get them fed, then we would go back to the Hospital and help Emily with her dinner at 5pm. I would take the kids back home, do homework, I'd shower, and I would leave the kids with whomever I had lined up to stay with them for the night. I would head back to the Hospital to sit with Emily until she fell asleep, and I would sleep in the fold out chair next to her. This was the daily routine over the next 3 months. One evening amidst all the chaos of this routine, my daughter came to me with a look on her face that I'd never seen before. She wanted to tell me something, but was struggling for the words. I said "Hey, what is wrong?" I probably asked her three or four times before she just came out with it, "Dad, I'm bleeding." Now, you have to understand, this is not something I had been thinking about or anticipating with everything else on my mind at the time. My response was something like, "Oh did you cut yourself? Did you stub your toe? Where are you bleeding?" She just stood and starred at me like I was clueless, which unfortunately was correct. It finally dawned on me what she was talking about. In that moment of realization, I had a complete inner melt down. I'm talking Britney Spears shaved head, Charlie Sheen "winning" melt down. On the outside, I was as cool as the other side of the pillow. I'm not saying that my immediate advice was the greatest, but it would give me time to collect myself and figure out exactly what needed to be done. For whatever reason, I said, "Leah, go upstairs and fill the bath with water, and just take a warm bath." While she was taking that bath, I was googling. This wasn't the greatest help, because now I'm trying to figure out the difference between pads and tampons and what the heck is toxic shock syndrome? I decided I had better just ask if she knew anything about what she was supposed to do. Luckily, she had a class in school recently and they handed out some pads. She said that she had also talked with Emily about this at some point, so she knew what to do. Thank the Lord!! This process could have gone a lot smoother had she just told me she knew what to do in the first place, I would have been saved from the inner turmoil and near heart attack I almost suffered
My daughter is now almost 14 and the world of teens and smart devices, texting, social media and face timing scares the hell out of me. I feel like I've done my best to make Her comfortable enough to know she can tell me anything and keep an open line of communication, but seriously things are so much more different than when I was that age. I just recently saw a text between her and another boy who was asking her to text a nude pic. She responded with a "No" and stopped texting the kid for the night. She knows that I drop in from time to time to check in on things like that, so in the next day or two, she told me about it, and that he was her "boyfriend", but she broke up with him because of it. I was so proud of her.
Parenting can be stressful, difficult and hard to do, but at the end of the day it is 100% worth it. It's especially rewarding when you realize they have made great decisions based on what you've tried to teach them.
We have all heard the horror stories of parents and their children pooping everywhere in public, or kids saying things in public that are embarrassing. The more kids you have, it's more likely that something like this will happen. I have more than my fair share of these stories, but I'll share this one first.
I'll start by saying this, all of my kids are different in so many ways. I've had to learn how to read each one of them when it comes to different things such as not feeling well or coming down with something. Herbie will just flat out tell me when he is sick, Leah thinks she is always sick or hurt and Alex doesn't seem to have any idea until it's too late.
It's been about a year now, but one morning as we were eating breakfast, Alex told us his belly burped while he was peeing. This made Herbie laugh, which created a domino effect of laughter at the table. I chalked it up to the boys being silly and forgot about it.
That evening, everyone decided they wanted pizza, so I took the family to the local pizza buffet which also has a game room the kids like to play in. I have a rule that the boys have to at least eat two plates of either salad/pizza/pasta before they can hit the game room. If not, they would eat one slice of pizza, go play, then come back for three plates of desserts. Both boys finished their minimum food requirements and ran off to play. Emily, Leah and I slowly ate and enjoyed our food when my stomach sent me a message that things were not right. I made my way to the men's room and into the stall, when I heard a bit of a commotion outside the bathroom. I sat down and began to wonder, did a fight break out at the buffet line? Is the place being held up at gun point? What the heck is going on? That's when I began to hear the words "Dad" "Dad". They were faint at first but getting louder. As the person came closer to the bathroom, I realized it was Alex calling out for me. He pushed the door open and Immediately threw up in the doorway. He was crying and had vomit dripping off his chin. I asked if he was ok and tried to settle him down. Between the tears, snot and goo dripping from his face, I could hardly understand a word he was saying. He finally settled down and tells me, not only did he throw up on our table in the dining area, but he also puked on the table of some in innocent bystanders on his mad dash to come find me. It was in that moment, that I realized his burping belly was so much more and I should have paid better attention.
The bathroom doorway is now blocked by Lake Alex and smells a lot like a turkey farm in the middle of July. Since I don't have the ability to just hop over it to exit the room. In my mind, I have two options. Option one, walk through it, find my family and try to get the heck out as soon as possible. Or, option two, wait in the bathroom until someone can clean a pathway for me to get out, then face the destruction Alex had left behind. Leah, who I'm sure was dying inside of embarrassment, had rounded up the others, so they were all ready to go. I then heard someone ask Alex if he was ok, to which he replied, "yes I'm ok, but my Dad is trapped in the bathroom." Well.....there goes option number one! Thankfully the staff along with those whom were affected by hurricane Alex, were all great and understanding. They told me to get him home and not worry about the mess left behind. I'm sure what they wanted to say was, "Get that kid out of here before we lose all of our customers." Needless to say, this is a restaurant I try not to go back to if at all possible, though that list continues to grow unfortunately. I'll save the Belgium Waffle House, Chinese restaurant and Dillons stories for another time.
If your child ever has a "burping belly", you may want to think about staying home and having soup and crackers for dinner.
In November of 2015, my wife suffered a traumatic brain injury which has left me as her caregiver along with being a father of 3. Emily and I were married in 2010, and I instantly became a Dad to Alex and Leah. We added Herbie in February 2011. As I look back, I don't think I was putting in much of a fatherly effort. I left too much of the responsibilty to Emily, who was also working full time. I stayed at home with Herbie and made sure he was taken care of, but that's about it.
After Emily's accident, something inside of me was awakened. I all of the sudden wanted to be a better husband and father for these 4 people who were counting on me. For four months I was at Emily's side at the Hospital each and every day, while also spending a few hours of quality time with the kids and trying my best to help them through things as well. Once we were able to get Emily home and our lives got back into a routine, I new I had to do more for our kids while at the same time, caring for Emily throughout her recovery.
Back in 2007, I was in an accident of my own. I was single with no kids and almost lost my life. In fact, most people who rupture their Aorta in a car accident do not survive, I was lucky. My accident left me in a wheelchair, walker and finally to a cane. I've had several medical issues since, including back problems, problems with my feet and more. I would say I felt a bit sorry for myself and I allowed Emily to do far too much when it came to taking care of the house and the kids.
I now know I am everything a Dad should be to Alex, Leah and Herbie. I cook their meals, I clean their laundry and toilets, I am their driver, I help with homework, I am their counselor, coach and at times referee. I am now involved with their PTA and on top of what they are doing in school.
It is amazing and unfortunate that my wife's accident has made me a better Dad, but I think we all have it within ourselves to be better. Don't let an unfortunate event bring it out of you.