Monthly Archives: March 2014

Lighthouse Nomination

the-lighthouse-award1

One of my favorite blogs, Highchairs and Headaches, recently nominated me for the Lighthouse Award which is given to blogs that inspire. I am honored not because I feel like such an honor is due to me, but rather because I like Jeannine’s blog so much for her honest, humorous, and sometimes sarcastic take on parenting. One of my favorite posts by her is titled Cuteness Overload and I will think a lot less of you if you don’t like it as much as I did, which is a ton.

Having said that, inspiration is a squirrely thing. I am unsure how exactly the things I say inspire but I will avoid the rabbit hole of self doubt and simply say thanks to all who care to read the things I say. We all like to be liked.

The Lighthouse Rules state:

  • Display the Award Certificate
  • Write a post with a link back to the blogger that nominated you (I hope it works. I am a cyber ignoramus)
  • Nominate other bloggers and inform them
  • Share three ways you like to help others
  • Have fun (This last one is a little cheesy but I will go with it)

So here are the three ways I help other people:

  1. I have dedicated my entire existence to three ungrateful, constantly hungry, noisy, and occasionally smelly people. I’m not saying I’m Gandhi, but that’s mainly because I’m not from India.
  2. The other day I made fresh French bread for someone’s birthday. You know who you are, and I rock because of it.
  3. When my daughter failed her math test as I was writing this and started to cry, I consoled her. And then I made her take it again.

Here are some other awesome blogs that I follow and due henceforth nominate:

Frank’s Place

Looking Glasses

Bemuzin

Check these out!

I understand that the accompanying photo with my last blog entry may offend some, but it made me laugh so much I just had to add it. It was, contrary to this award, not intended to inspire you.

 

Yes I Keep Going to Church Even Though I Know it Sucks

yes i attend church

I didn’t grow up in church. My family was composed of atheists and I don’t care’s and the subject was never even a consideration in our house. My great grandmother went to church, but she was old so that was normal. My uncle attended for awhile but it was never discussed at our family gatherings. My babysitter took me a couple times when I was six or seven, but all I remember of it was sitting in the pews listening to some guy talk for an hour. Boring. It is still, on occasion, boring.

Why did I start going? Oh, something about the meaning of life blah, blah, blah. I was caught up in the drama of it all: angels and demons and cosmic battles. I was young and they had free cookies and it was an instant club for me who at that age was socially challenged. They became a second family to me and eventually, because my first family sucked, my primary family. I followed in their footsteps to become a pastor and at the wise old age of 22 I became the leader of a church plant to a different state. I was 22! I mean seriously, who let me do that! I was in no condition to lead people on such an ill advised adventure. Jesus himself didn’t really get going until he was in his 30’s and considering the huge discrepancy between Jesus and me, I think someone should have had a few doubts about that one.

Since then and through many other failures, for 20 years on, I have attended church, even though it sucks.

I obviously received a lot from church and the people in it so why do I think it sucks? It sucks because of all the fucking people! It’s like church was created for all the messed up, socially awkward, boundary challenged, ass backward people. People I would never personally hang out with come up to me and shake my hand and ask me how my children are doing. “Why do you care, you’re weird!” I shout on the inside, and politely respond that my children are well. I’m not going to totally question the wisdom of The Big Guy here, but sometimes I look around the church and say, “Really, really?”.

Being part of a church is like being part of the Griswold family; some of the people make you laugh and the rest are just strange (unless I happen to attend church with you in which case, of course, I like you). You still have to hangout with them though, and this is the part that makes it feel like a real family.

In a real family you can’t choose who you hang out with. We all get thrown together in a small house and have to relate with each other day in and day out. We can’t simply ignore their phone calls or smile politely and say we are busy when we are not, at least until after we move out.  We have to learn to understand them, work at knowing them, and when that inevitably fails, simply be gracious. Real families that work are a lot of work.

Really, what bothers me so much is that I am just like my church compatriots. I am an awkward, boundary challenged person who needs the support and insight of other people to help me navigate the waterways of my existence. I am the one who comes up to other people and inquires into the lives of their children. I am the hypocrite in the corner, I am the two faced liar, and I am the judgmental asshole in the back row (and I cuss sometimes).

Yes, I attend church and it sucks. It sucks because it challenges me to be a better person. It sees all of my faults and still lets me in the door. It tells me the truth with courage and love and bad breath. And it is so hopelessly human that I can’t help but see myself in all of the lost souls around me.

Yes, truth be told, I suck too.

How to Wear Pajamas All Day Before You Retire

pajamas at walmart

Ostensibly the idea to homeschool my kids was to give them a better educational experience, and to wear pajamas all day. I have succeeded on both accounts. I believe my daughter has had a more dynamic and personal education. I have also managed to live a life where I am not required to get dressed for anything. In addition to these two amazing accomplishments, I have succeeded in reeducating myself not only in who my children are as people, but what transitive verbs are and why they are important. I don’t actually care about transitive verbs even though I use them all the time, but I do care about my children and only use them some of the time, but I don’t tell them that. I just call it doing chores.

Homeschooling my oldest child for two years now has taught me that educating children is hard. I’m not going to go into the whole teachers rock kind of thing because honestly some of the public school teachers I have experienced suck. They’re horrible at what they do and when it is your child who is in their class you feel like accosting them with a dull pencil and eraser; I’ll let you imagine how that would go down. Having to be a parent and a teacher is hard and considering that the salary is nothing and I have to put up with a lot of shit, I feel a little underappreciated.

I must be attracted to thankless jobs because between marriage, parenting and teaching I get nary a thanks out of it. It may come as some surprise, but my daughter does not bound out of the study everyday and say how grateful she is that we covered the volume of a cube. My five year old does call me “the best cooker” for the meals I put on the table which makes me feel good, but it is without the appreciation of what it took to make that meal. He just likes the way it tastes. But I digress…

What I have learned is that spending copious amounts of time with your children does not mean that you know them. Nor does it lessen the feeling that time progresses and some things are lost to that ever proceeding tide. It does, however, occasionally add to the feeling that I am trapped in a very small space and I cannot get out, but that is in my lesser moments. Spending a lot of time with people I cannot physically get away from tends to make me a little crazy on certain days. Still, time in itself does not lend knowledge about anything, except the knowledge that time in itself does not lend knowledge about anything. That’s it. Beyond that, I have to try to know who they are as they grow and change seemingly, and thankfully, before my eyes.

Being given the opportunity to homeschool my daughter, I have tried to know her for who she is and not for who I want her to become. Of course I have dreams about who she can grow to become, but if I fail to listen to her own dreams I have simply understood myself and what I want for her, and mistake that for what she wants for her own life. As a parent, this distinction is critical for me. I am not a person with a heavy load of expectations of others, but I do have a lot of hopes and if I am not careful my hopes may transubstantiate into expectations. I’m all for miracles, but that is one miracle that may do more harm than good.

Aside from the embarrassing fact that reviewing the fourth and fifth grades has done wonders for my personal education, I am mostly grateful for the time that has given me the opportunity to know her better. She has decided to return to the public school forum next year and I am in support of her doing that, but I will miss her. She will be gone from the half of my day that I have the most time to spend with her. Next year she will be one of three voices getting off the school bus competing for my attention and I will have to portion out my time equally and fairly as all parents do. We will adjust.

Maybe the hardest part about her going back to school is that I will have to permanently retire my pajama uniform. I envision folding it up neatly and setting it on the shelf in my closet. I will dress myself for my new vocation which has yet to be defined, and walk out of the house with a renewed sense of physical freedom. But I will also long for the days when she sat next to me for hours on end, in our pajamas, together.

I think I will try to talk my youngest into staying home…

On Why You and I Are the Perfect Parent

Steve's Phone 029

I am ready to receive the hate mail. I don’t mind the nasty comments. Being great at something does bring out the jealousy of others so I am prepared for the onslaught; bring it on. I can’t help it and I’m tired of hiding it so here it is: I’m the perfect parent.

I know it’s a little hard to hear. We are all trying so hard to attain it and to finally find someone who has reached such lofty levels is hard to bear. But there’s good news. The good news is that you are too.

How did I finally attain the nirvana of parenting? How is it that I have come to such an elevated status you ask? I started to read the posts of all the other parents out there who are trying really hard to get it right and I found that I am just like they are, or you are, and therefore I must have reached the highest level a parent can reach; the level of someone who cares to try. Since this is the highest level that I have ever seen any human being attain, it must be human perfection.

Yes, I know, the little voice creeps up and says “Yes, sometimes I do a great job, but not always.” We already know that people! It’s not possible to always do a great job. That is not what defines perfection as a parent. Perfection as a parent is to love your kids and do everything in your ability to pass that love onto and into them in a way that they have the best chance of understanding

Idealistic perfection is a figment of our imagination. It is unattainable. Unattainable. Unattainable. It does not exist.

I have finally grown tired of the daily grind of guilt and inadequacy when it comes to parenting. The only thing that feeling guilty has ever done for me is make me feel guilty. That’s it. It hasn’t made me a better person. On the contrary, the feelings of guilt and inadequacy have made me a worse parent by muddling the moments I spend with my kids. It clouds my true joy and makes me grumpy.

We are loving our children and they feel loved. That is what’s happening. We are doing great and awesome things with our kids. We look at them and listen to them when they speak. We hold them and comfort them when they are upset. We counsel our children when they are confused about how to negotiate a relationship with a friend and we have the wisdom to tell them something of real value. We consider their physical health and well being and stay up all night just to watch them breath. We protect them from harm as best as any parent can and ask them questions that will lead them to a better understanding of their own safety. We watch out for their latent talents and hidden gifts and drive their butts all over town to lessons and book clubs and sporting events so that they might find the joy in who they are as much as we do. And we do all of these things and dozens more every day. Every day! For years on end.

Come on people, we’re perfect parents!