Family

Divorce, Family, Life, Parenting

Is It Too Late To Capture This?


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These past few weeks have been stressful leaving me feeling particularly anxious and I have a hard time sleeping lately.  The truth is I have a lot on my plate right now with the divorce, trying to work things out here as a 50/50 parent, work stress  and kids who are being more than a handful.

I knew this would impact them, how could it not? Divorce is harsh even when the divorce terms are not and the communication is polite and reasonable. When kids see their family broken apart they don’t have a say or a choice other than to go along with it and just deal with it in some way. I think the impact on kids is the most unfortunate thing about a divorce. They act out in anger, hurt and resentment and I understand that but there’s a line.

This is most evident in my teenage daughter who over the course of the past year and a half to two years (even before divorce was considered) has progressively gotten meaner and more disrespectful, this is most evident in her interactions with her mother. The lying, stealing things from the other kids and her mom, sneaking around online as if I don’t know etc. But it’s the lack of remorse that gets me the most. When caught she simply does not care or apologize at all. I’ve tried to be understanding, to look for answers and hope that she will at least make an effort but it never ends. At times I feel completely lost in what to do.

Yesterday was another episode of lying by sneaking on social media using a basic flip phone. I really thought we removed any chance for that but as usual she found a way. So what now? I’ve taken things away, made her do chores etc. you name it but nothing seems to work. Her mother told me when she’s there it’s worse. The level of disrespect with her mother has gotten to the point of outright refusing to do something and saying, “no” and “so what if I don’t?” I can’t really understand that BUT again I look for the answer and hope there is one. “She’s a teenager and this is what teenagers do” I tell myself but this goes beyond typical teenage years rebellion. Is it a cry for help I have to wonder?

When I think back to my childhood and the anger I felt, I know that anger was rooted in feeling lost and without stability in my home. The environment didn’t feel safe to me and it wasn’t. I felt like I needed to build up a wall of anger for protection and as a result I acted out in a very similar way my kid is acting out now. So then I try to imagine how she must feel. A father who can be overbearing, angry, stressed often and perhaps worse of all poor at saying or expressing love and approval. For me I always felt like I needed to direct my kids to what’s right and allow their mother to express love.  She must feel like I’m always on the verge of yelling at her or looking for ways to scold her, she doesn’t make that hard that’s for sure but what’s missing?

The responsibility is in part mine. The larger effort needed is really on my part. The chance to capture something I felt was lost on me as a kid. She’s never had to face the things I did as a kid and she never will but the lack of connection with her own father is a travesty I think. I’ve tried to provide everything reasonable for my kids but it’s not the house, vacations or any of those material things it’s the love that matters most. I need to be better at expressing that last part. I’m not naive and of course I know she will continue to be a teenager who gets on my nerves and tests me on occasion but I also know as a parent I have to step up and try my best to let her know that while I won’t be walked over, I do in fact love her.

Sunshine

Divorce, Family, Michigan, Nature, Photography

Sleep


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Lake Michigan
Stearns Park Beach – Ludington Michigan

When the sun goes down and I lay down to sleep It’s then that my mind won’t let me rest. The thoughts I fight to ignore during the day are unbridled. I dream about my marriage but never the divorce. Still in my dreams I know things are slipping away and I wonder why. I wake up and realize it’s over. For the better I tell myself but not the best.

Family, Michigan, Nature, Photography

Sunset


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sunset
SUNSET

This weekend was awesome. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the 80’s and plenty of sunshine. I’ve always enjoyed a hot sunny day when you spend the whole day outside until the sun goes down. Yesterday we sipped cream soda and watched the sunset. I felt content to be with my kids knowing I still had all Sunday to spend with them. There’s joy and sadness in that because I knew Sunday would come and go and I would miss them again. I miss them.

Family, Parenting

Wandering Eye Doll


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Wandering Eye Doll
Wandering Eye Doll

The youngest is always content with dollar store items. Given the choice between candy and a cheap toy she will almost always pick the cheap toy. Yesterday we stopped by the dollar store, part of my plan to spend less at the market,  for a few things and as always I let her browse the toy section where she pointed out this doll. I guess the quality control for a $1 doll isn’t the tightest.

Family, Life, Parenting

Fatherly Advice


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When told my marriage of 18 years was coming to a close my dad said, “When you come visit me this weekend I’d like to talk to you, I have some advice for you.” I’ve always gone to my dad for advice because I respect his opinion. In my eyes he’s always been a solid person with a voice of reason.

Generic 1960s pic of a father and son scene.
Advice

Over the years I think I can count on one hand, no make that two or three fingers, the number of times my father has offered me advice without my asking for it. One time was years ago concerning my family. He said something in the way of, “Don’t work too much and spend time with your wife and kids as much as possible.” Sorry I blew that one dad but I always wanted it to be that way it’s just that I guess I didn’t take your advice soon enough. Honestly I always did what I thought was the right thing for my family but..

The second time came more than 15 years later when I went to visit him. I was waiting in anticipation for his words of wisdom because unsolicited advice from him was so uncommon. I think there’s a lesson in that. In the days prior to the visit I thought about what he might say and how he could relate to my situation. My parents divorced when I was only one or two so I knew he could understand what it’s like to watch your wife walk away and to see your kids half the time, how much that sucks and how much you miss your family.

When I arrived we went for a ride in his work van to run an errand and the conversation started. The first thing he said was, “I’m really sorry things have gone this way for your family, are you sure there’s nothing that can be done?” I’ve never, as an adult, shed a tear in front of my dad but when he first spoke I had to pause before answering. It was dark so I was quick to wipe away the tear and then answer in a fake controlled voice. “I’m sure there’s nothing because the choice is not mine and I can’t make it not happen.”  He then made a comment about wishing he could just talk to her and perhaps reason with her but I knew there was no point and it would not make a difference anyway. It’s not like a bomb had been dropped suddenly, more like a bomb was floating overhead for too long then finally dropped after more than enough warnings. Then came his fatherly advice to me.

With a smile my dad said, “Don’t worry too much about it. You will get over this, trust me, and besides I was just getting started at your age.” We both laughed.

There it was. The advice I had been waiting for. The words of unsolicited yet appreciated wisdom but certainly not what I expected to hear. The conversation quickly turned to talk about science fiction authors and corny jokes. I love you dad.

Family, Memories, Michigan, Parenting

Park


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20140423-204310.jpg
Park

All work and no play is not an option or at least one I won’t take. Yesterday I took half the day off to hang out with the kids. We went to the park for a metal detecting adventure.

My daughter said metal detecting is and old person hobby. Shortly after I found coins in this crater but she still laughed. I guess I have an old person hobby.

Family, Memories, Michigan, Nature, Parenting, Photography

Give Thanks


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I love the feel of the warm sand under my feet. Last year we were up north and the sand was actually so hot we had to stop once in a while and stand on the dune grass or a towel, yes soft feet from not going barefoot much was the main reason. My son loves being buried in the sand. He said, “dad bury me up in this sand.” My reply, “alright but close your eyes real tight so you don’t get sand in your eyes.”

I used to like getting buried in sand as a kid and have been under it on this very beach.  As you grow up things change. The idea of getting sand in certain places takes away from the appeal of warm sand covering your body. My trick was to jump out of the sand and run into the water to rinse off but still I would have sand in my hair for days after.

There are so many things that we do differently as adults compared to when we were kids. Some of those things are out of changes in responsibility, maturity, and social expectations but I think there are some things we should never lose sight of.

Have you ever believed in Santa or the Tooth Fairy? How about monsters and dragons? As kids we see magic in things. As adults we tend to see logic and reason in things. I’m not at all saying you should believe in the above, that’s alright if you do, or throw logic and reason out the window but I’m saying we should see life as magical. Life is a gift to be enjoyed each day. Wouldn’t it be nice if we woke up each day and instead of focusing on all the adult things we have to do that can be a drag, we instead looked at life as an adventure and something to be enjoyed? Today I am thankful.

Sand
Sand
Family, Parenting

Happy Dance


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Happy Dance
Happy Dance

Allowing me to grocery shop is like saying, “here’s $400, go nuts.” My idea of grocery shopping has always been to walk down each aisle and purchase whatever the hell I want. I’m the guy the grocery store loves because all those things placed at eye level to help encourage impulse shoppers to overspend, I like all those things.

I’m a list maker because I know there are things I need to buy, it’s the other things I just want to buy; cookies, four Delmonico steaks, 15 pounds of pork chops, artichokes that I don’t know how to cook, assorted home goods like cleaners we don’t need, quail eggs…it goes on and on. All the things I need combined with the other stuff that costs $295.00. I’d proudly bring home my loot and get laughed at. It was funny but in a pathetic out of control way like how you laugh at your friend who’s has one too many at the pub.

Today was the first time I’ve ever gone grocery shopping as a single dad, or single anything for that matter, who has half of the kids each week. I made my list vowing to stick to it. The idea of making dinner for half the number of people was considered when making my list like, instead of two packs of hot dogs I got one. Surely that would help me to keep the spending down. I also decided to first stop at the dollar store just in case they had some things there. I’ve been to the dollar store before but it was for cheap toys and candy. This time I walked down each aisle, sticking to my list, and purchased 18 things. My bill came to $18.54. Most of those items were non perishable and my guess is I would have spent more than tipple that at the grocery store. I walked out with a smile on my face. Will l like the dollar store body soap I wonder?

My next stop was the grocery store and the real test. I walked in feeling determined but that’s where the Sandies Pecan Shortbread cookies are, right at eye level. Instead of walking down each aisle browsing, I followed a patch directly to the things I needed making sure to keep my wandering eyes focused straight ahead. Heading down the bread aisle I saw the damn donuts. They also keep them close to the milk isle, smart marketing, but I only noticed them at the bread isle. The temptation was strong, I even stopped in front of them and almost reached but I moved along. I walked away and felt good about it.

Heading to the checkout lane I felt confident having stuck to my list. I’ve never just purchased what’s on the list but I did it. My total bill came to $83.24. Leaving I felt relief in not just sticking to my list but knowing I can cut back. I think I can make it.

*edit

I have a confession. I bought one Cadbury egg in the checkout lane. The wait was long there and the chocolate eggs were piled high with shiny wrappers.

Family, Pets

Faithful Otis


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Otis
Otis

The move yesterday was quick. As the hours passed Otis (our dog) kept staring out the window. A car drives by or car door shuts and he raises his head in anticipation then lays his head back down facing the window.

Last night, in the early evening, she stopped back by to pick something up and Otis jumped up on the bed near where she was standing and sat there waiting to be acknowledged. I know he was happy. He’s content  just to be near her.

Saying bye must have been so hard for her knowing how much he truly cares for her. I wonder if he could sense something was different this time and that she was saying bye in a different way? He just stared at her studying her face. She was visibly upset so I think he was wondering about that.

Late last night he sat on the steps for a long time just high enough so he could see out the window on the top of the door. The house was quiet and empty, something he’s not used to. I call his name but he won’t look back at me. He will wait for a long time I know because he loves her.

Nothing makes Otis happier than the idea of being next to her.  I understand how he’s feeling but he doesn’t know what I know. She won’t be coming home anymore. When the garage door is activated he will jump to his feet barking, tail wagging and hoping she walks in but she won’t. In his eyes there’s no one who can take her place.