I wrote recently that I would be writing about something lost and something found. When I wrote about what has been lost (interpersonal communication), it got quite a bit of response. I actually even got a couple telephone calls! All of the feedback I got from everyone was very positive.
Now to write about something I found. it is actually something that I lost a while ago and have found again. My Faith. Not always the easiest subject to discuss. it makes many people uneasy. What is the saying: ‘two things you never discuss, Religion and Politics.’?
For many years I was not connected with my faith in any way. I was raised Lutheran, My parents married in a Lutheran Church, I was baptized in a Lutheran Church, took first communion and confirmed in a Lutheran Church. I have always believed. Always recognized the sacrifice. But I disconnected as time went on and an unfortunate event within my old church that left me very hurt. Christians are supposed to love, but members of that congregation were unable to look past some troubled times I went through and give me an opportunity within the church, so I walked away from it.
Later I had a roommate who married a very religious individual who made some very disparaging comments about her fiancé’s ‘unchristian friends'(including myself) and how much of an embarrassment they would be to her, her family and her church at the wedding. That disgusted me to no end and any hope I would have had in even wanting to reconnect with my faith were shoved aside. (A side note to this part of the story is years later, this individual personally apologized for her remarks, and took some ‘bad advice’ and did nothing about the statement at the time. I completely believe her, but at the time the damage was done.)
While new mom and I were dating, she made it no secret how connected in her faith she was. And I saw it. We would try out a church and afterward she would say how recharged she was after hearing the word. I just shook my head and said ‘that’s great’. I did not feel the same refreshment she did. But it was not from not believing, it was from being shut off due to resentment.
I warmed up through our relationship and into our marriage. But still had not really reconnected. Through some friends we found a good church we both liked (Lutheran, I know you’re surprised!) and had been going for a while. I was there physically, but not spiritually. Again, shut off.
Having a child really changes your perspective. It is part of the basis of this entire Blog, the training you go through as a new parent. One of the big questions that came up with us is how is religion going to play a part in our child’s life? We knew that faith was going to be important in his upbringing, but inside I was struggling, because I knew I had to lead by example. So I really started trying to find what I saw others experiencing. Why were new mom’s batteries recharged when mine were not? I watched members of our congregation and realized they had what I was searching for.
One week in church, the mention of the annual men’s retreat came up again. New mom asked if I was going to register, and I told her “yeah, I will sign up for that’ with NO intention of signing up. Just letting the deadline pass and then it would be “ohh, didn’t realize I missed the deadline”. The next week she leaned over and said “oh, I signed you up for that, you just need to pay for it this week” what what what??? So I was going.
While I was there, I realized a couple of things, the first being these guys that were there were going through the same struggles I was. In a couple of the sessions we had frank conversations about our lives and trials we were going through. It was very enlightening to see others going through some of the same challenges and having support for each other. But there was a moment. THE MOMENT. Someone who has become a very close friend to me shared his story. It was POWERFUL. To hear the trials this man has been through, how he too had lost his faith as well and the changes in his life since he rediscovered it.
It was a jumping off moment. It truly was the Holy Spirit working through him and reaching every man in that room. Through his words, I found what had been missing. It has not been immediate, but I have in the past couple years been working on it and can say now that I have a stronger connection with my faith than I have at any other point in my life.
It has not made everything rainbows and puppy dogs. There seems to be a misconception that being connected in your faith, being a believer will exempt you from pain, tragedy and overall suffering. This is not true. Having faith has helped me deal with issues and trials, giving me an inner peace. When I was unemployed for four months, I knew that we would be alright. I had an inner peace that was beyond understanding. When I hear bad news, it is difficult and like everyone else, I have no idea how it fits into the bigger plan, but I know that plan is out there, and it will eventually be revealed.
I hope to never become my old roommate’s fiancé, as poorly chosen as her words were, they were still said and the message was well received. I hope never to judge another based upon their beliefs (or non-beliefs) but I will share my own faith and beliefs. I will always be willing to open a discussion about it. Recently on social media a friend made statements about God that were from an angry place. When I answered this post saying how none of the statements he made applied, he challenged me to prove it. I asked him to have lunch with me, which we still (and likely won’t) have not had.
There are many more stories to share about these past couple years and the benefits (and detriments, yes, there have been a couple) of being in touch with my faith. I will be sharing those in the near future, especially the stories that have impacted me as a dad (this is what the blog is supposed to be about right?)
My goodness, all the things you have ever heard about time are true. These past Five years have just been a blur. I have written about it many, many times. Very very true. Dads out there (Moms too) please take my advice and enjoy every moment. Because they pass so very Quickly.
This year for our little guys birthday we took him to LEGOLAND California. He had a BLAST! And I got to experience the joy and thrill through his eyes. We didn’t tell him where we were going, only that we had a surprise and wanted to do something special. When we arrived he was VERY excited.
When I was young, I was always afraid of amusement parks. Ok, not afraid, but I was afraid the rides. Roller Coasters scared me. My dad always tried to bribe me to ride them with him. If I could do it all over again, I would have gotten on them with him and rode all day. We used to go to a park named Kings Island, just outside of Cincinnati Ohio and I would never ride the rides. I would just watch everyone else or go to the Arcade and play video games.
This is another lesson I have learned as I have gotten older. I don’t want to miss any opportunity with our little guy. I eventually got over my phobia of roller coasters and enjoy a good thrill at the park (although I do get intimidated every now and again, there are a couple at a local Park (Knott’s) that I haven’t gotten the nerve to ride…yet), but a little too late, as I only got to ride a couple of times with him later in life and I regret all the opportunities I missed with him…
…this is something I absolutely do not want Xavier to say or something similar. I have written about my own father before, and the lessons he has taught me. Both positive and negative. This is a hard lesson of missed opportunities. A lesson I learned at the cost of memories with me and my dad.
Back to our big day.
A great time was had by all. New Mom had a great day as well. We got to ride MOST of the rides, some of them twice! I would say it was quite the success. He especially enjoyed the fire truck ride and the driving school. He was quite the natural behind the wheel.
But one of the highlights had to be the roller coaster he wanted to ride. He was great, after the first hill, he looks at new Mom and says “that wasn’t what I was expecting!”
Although he may look terrified, I promise you he really did enjoy it very much. And as you can see, new Dad has conquered his fear of roller coasters!
A hard lesson learned, the opportunity to not repeat the mistakes of the past and memories that will last a lifetime. Although the time is going fast, I am trying (and even sometimes succeeding) to enjoy every moment of it together with my family.
In the upcoming days (hopefully even tonight) I will be posting about something that has been lost and something that I have found.
We are also preparing for our little guys’ FIFTH birthday. He is the reason that this entire Blog exists, and I am happy to celebrate each birthday. It astonishes me every time we celebrate another year, that another one has passed. Although there seems like there are many times where he annoys me more than anything else, I love both him and his mother more than anything else in the world. I am blessed to have such a great family.
Right? Starting to write again, like riding a bike? I am going to find out as I try to open back up and write again?
So much time has passed and as any parent with a young child will tell you, it is like having a new child every week. They change so much. Their vocabulary expands exponentially and so does their comprehension.
When I last wrote back in Feb 2016 he looked like this…
…And he has grown up so much!
as with everything worthwhile, there have been many challenges. Some more difficult than others. The same challenges may parents face, some challenges just dads really get to face (I really can’t put your socks on? REALLY?? Only mom can do it?).
But there are amazing things with these changes, you start to get to really know their personality, and hopefully they only drive you crazy part of the time (if they don’t drive you crazy, you might be an alien!). You get to see them accept new challenges, learn new skills, and it takes you back to when you were learning as well. I can’t say I have loads of memories at his age, but he is getting to the point where I remember aspects of my own childhood. Of course as a parent, you want to protect and keep them safe, while at the same time give them enough space to make mistakes and hopefully learn from them.
I have many stories to share over the next days and weeks.
This site is always in the back of my mind. Really, I promise. If you were to look at this site, you might be tempted to call BullSh!t. I had no idea it had been over a year since I have posted anything to it. Literally over a year. 401 days OR 1 year, 1 month and 7 days.
I have no valid reason as to why this has happened. None whatsoever. I wish I could say I was kidnapped by extremists, held against my will by a cult, imprisoned for a crime I did not commit, but none of that is true. I just…stopped. It is not from a lack of anything to say, I have so many posts rolling around in my head, ready to come pouring out of my head and onto the screen, but just no drive or motivation to do it. New mom said something to me about it a while ago where she said to me “I thought this was as much for you as it is for Xavier, so when he is older he can read about what was going on from your perspective”. This is a true statement. That is one of the main purposes of this blog, to share what is happening from the perspective of a man who is learning what it means to be a dad. I also wanted to share stories of one of my passions, running (I have not been very passionate recently, more on that soon.). But I have failed in my vision. I have missed a full year. Which I will attempt to backfill as best I can.
So I promise when I say I still love this site, love sharing my stories and want to continue doing so, it is true, and not Bullsh!t!!!
When you read the word LOSS it has so many connotations and meanings it is really hard to really wrap your head around. I hate that my first post of 2016 has to be about loss, but I have really been impacted by it in the past week.
Over the last four years, my entire world has changed so much with the addition of my son to both my and New Mom’s lives. But this post is about loss, not gain right? Yes. but watching my little guy has allowed me to observe the world through an infants/toddlers eyes.
As I noted in the opening of this post, loss has so many meanings when you just say the word. if you were to play word association games with a group, you will likely get a lot of different responses to ‘loss’. The other night new Mom brought the little guy home from nana’s house and after a while he was playing and stopped, looked at me, gasped audibly and said in a panic “I left my blankey at nana’s!” this was not true, we actually unpacked it and put it in his room, but he did not know this. the situation quickly turned to near hysterics with cries of ‘I lost my blankey’ from a panicked young guy. after some soothing and assuring that the blankey was indeed fine and in our home, I got to thinking about what loss means as a toddler or infant. This made me realize that loss is a lesson we never stop learning throughout our lives.
When you are an infant or toddler. Loss is generally exactly as I just described it. You realize that something is amiss or gone and have a panic attack about it (trust me, this will continue throughout our lives, just see me if I can’t find my phone!). The situation is usually quickly resolved through deflection or locating the missing object. And then often (but not always) forgotten as other distractions are presented. It really is our first lesson in loss.
As we get older, we get into school and loss starts to occur in other ways. Sometimes you lose a friend because they are going to another class and made other friends, or for whatever reason, they move away. This loss sticks with you longer. You are reminded of the loss over and over when your friend isn’t there to be able to play with you. As we advance in school we learn of love, having our first crush, first girlfriend/boyfriend and often those relationships run their course, resulting in lost loves, never an easy lesson. We love and lose again, but never forget our first real heartbreak.
Advance a few more years and you start to experience your first true loss with the passing of extended family members. Hopefully you had great experiences with grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, ect. I myself only had three surviving grandparents when I was born and was 35 when I lost my final one (Grandfather on my Dad’s side). This loss is profound, and has a much deeper impact. Time always wins and the lesson loss teaches you is that of mortality.
Then as time moves on, we start to lose friends, other loved ones. If you are fortunate, you will not be impacted by tragedy, and the losses will be from natural causes. Our understanding of loss is there, but sometimes accepting it can be harder. I lost my own father a couple years ago and I still struggle with the void that is left behind. That is a loss I still feel the most of all.
I noted experiencing loss in the past week. I lost a very dear friend after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. His name is Richard. I knew him through the Ohio State Alumni Club of Orange County. Both he and his wife Peg made me feel welcome here in California when I first got here and became involved with the club. I felt very close to them both. When I was informed that he had cancer, I was absolutely crushed, like being punched in the stomach. It was very hard. He had battled this very deadly cancer for well over a year and every time we saw him at an event was a blessing. We found out a short time ago that he took a bad turn after thanksgiving and was being admitted to hospice care. He passed away over the weekend. The loss I feel is very deep, as this was a very religious man who was a great friend, husband, father and grandfather. The type of man who sets the bar high for other men to aspire to.
The final type of loss I will talk about is the loss we experience when someone (not related to us) that we idolize or respect passes on. The day after Richard passed on, one my (and many others) musical icons, David Bowie passed away. This loss is very different. Its a strange feeling, when one of your idols passes on. When we lift these individual to a higher level. We hang on their every word, treat what they say or write as gospel. when we lose one of these heroes, we take it pretty hard. It feels like a part of that era of our life has left , even if our outlook has changed.
Loss will never stop teaching us lessons, and unfortunately I was in class this week.
I am sure I am a lot like most parents, we love the hell out of our kids, most of the time.
I would move heaven and earth for my little guy. I would take a bullet, jump in front of a moving object, rush into a burning building to save him.
…there are those times. The times when I want to see if it is not too late to leave him in front of a hospital or fire station (I checked, it is too late). Every parent has those moments. Whether it be the tantrum in Target where you just want to leave the little one screaming on the floor and walk off (can’t do that either, and DON’T try) or the kid that makes your heart stop because they were there one second, gone the next (trust me, it is that quick and the scariest moment(s) imaginable, until you find him in the middle of a clothes rack or wandering through the toy section). It drives us (parents) out of our heads.
My personal favorite, and the one that drives me from zero to crazy in the shortest amount of time is this phrase: ‘not you dada.’ I hear this DAILY! the little guy has a clear sense of what dad does and what mom does. At least when we are both present. When it is just me, there is no issue, I am able to do everything, but when we are both here, it is all new mom, all the time. Drives me crazy that I am cannot:
Take him to the restroom
Put him in his car seat
Take him out of his car seat
Brush his teeth (or monitor him)
Those times I feel like an extra, not a participant and it drives me absolutely crazy. Completely out of my head. I have to admit, I don’t take it very well. I want to be a part , to contribute, and when this occurs, I definitely feel excluded and out of the loop. I try to not let it get to me, but it is a hell of a lot easier said than done.
I love my little guy, and would do anything and everything to keep him safe, even if I am not allowed to put his shoes on, because “momma do it” and I just want to lose my mind.
I got a bit of traction on this post and a few people reached out to me to provide some feed back. The overwhelming message is that I will be dealing with “no, momma do it” throughout my entire life. I was even told of some good friends 15 year old son who came into the kitchen at 6:30am and asked my friend where his mom was. This friend explained that she was still sleeping and he replied, ‘OK, but where is she?’. His reply again was ‘she is sleeping, in bed, what can I help you with this morning?’ The sons response was ‘nothing, I will go get her’ and off he went. Definitely a shaking my head moment.
I really, really like to run. Really I do, I promise that is not a lie.
…if you were to see my training log, you would see that I have not run more than three miles or more in a very long time, nor have I run more than twice in a week for the past three months.
So if I really (really) like to run, what’s my damage?
I wish I had an answer that involved an injury, or a prolonged illness that has me incapacitated or living in a decontamination chamber. Unfortunately the truth is not quite that exciting. I really have no excuse nor reason as to the drought I have been going through. If anything, I should be running more than I have been in a long while.
I have been unemployed for the past couple months. I spend a good portion of every day in front of the computer, and when I am not looking for new employment, I am watching our little man. I am very appreciative of the time that I have been spending with him during this transition and I know I will miss it once I am working again. This post is not about the time I AM spending wit my son, it is about the time I am NOT spending on the pavement.
So as I just said, I have been unemployed for a couple months. It is starting to get a little old. I am ready to go back to work. When you are unemployed, you tell yourself ‘I am going to workout twice a day, run so many miles, etc.’ but the reality sets in. you find your day fills up quite quickly. Your priorities change and your good intentions of becoming an elite athlete go by the wayside. Another amazing thing happens when you are unemployed, you feel like you would have loads of free time, but it disappears at an alarming rate, and not on mundane things. On actual things that need to be completed.
I have gotten so bad that replacing my running shoes ( I am LONNNNGGGGGG overdue) has taken a backseat. Partially because of the cost involved (I have expensive tastes in running shoes) partially because I have not been making the time to run, so why am I going to spend the money to have a perfectly good pair of running shoes sit in the corner, taking up space?
Part of this is nothing but pure, unadulterated laziness. I should be getting up, lacing up my shoes and getting out for at least 3 miles every morning. As any runner will tell you, you have to keep doing it, your stamina will drop off so quickly. I can barely get a mile in before stopping to walk. that is completely unacceptable, I user to be able to go much further before stopping. BUUUUUUTTTTtttt, I haven’t been doing that. The weather being colder has definitely been a factor as well (and any runner will tell you, unless it is dangerously cold, that is about the LAMEST excuse (not a reason) in the world). I enjoy being comfy in my bed in the morning, when I should be out there hitting the trails.
SO I feel the pull to get out there, but my lazy behind just would rather stay in bed. I will make an effort to get out there to finish 2015 with a some sort of effort. If I can do this, maybe I will find a way to justify the purchase of a new pair of shoes!
We will see…
Today the entire Los Angeles Unified School District made the very difficult decision to close EVERY school today due to a credible terrorist threat. In light of what happened not too long ago in San Bernardino, I am sure they were erring on the side of caution. and I applaud that.
As part of the collective, I wanted to know as much as possible and when San Bernardino was unfolding before our eyes throughout the day, I wanted to watch the news, to hear the latest. Our little guy kept asking “dada, what happened? Did someone get hurt?”
How do you explain something like that to a three and a half year old? I turned it off and told my little guy; “Yes, people got hurt and the police and paramedics are there to help those who got hurt.” I even asked my pastor how do you tell a three and a half year old that evil like ISIS exists?
When I saw this:
I know I am not alone. I thought this was a great response to the events of today. Every parent is different, but I am happy to have read this perspective. I hope you do as well.