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.