Fatherhood Friday: Who I Am & Who I Want to Be

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I always feel lousy this time of year. And it is almost always depression, sinking its sharp teeth in me, and shaking me like a dog with a new toy. Even if I didn’t have the armload of mental issues that I do, this is always a tough time of year. The pressures of the holidays, the pressures at work, everything just becomes more intense in the winter. I do love the winter, the hush that falls with the first snow early in the morning (I often go outside early just to experience this); bundling up my girls in scarves, hats, and coats; the refreshing chill in the morning. I don’t really care for the angry motorists who don’t scrape their windshields; the cars that blow up on their owners (personally speaking); the nasty brown slush that gets left behind; wet socks from all of the snow tramped in the house; and the claustrophobic feeling that occurs after hearing your kids tear around the inside of a very small house for weeks on end. It does give me time to catch up on movie watching, of which I am and addict. It drives Sadie and the kids nuts because I like movies with blood, guns, action, guns shooting, gore, guns shooting people, kung fu, sci-fi, boobies, war epics, and scary flicks. Sadie usually puts on headphones and averts her eyes, as the sound of bone crunching mayhem makes her nauseous. Not me, the louder the better. Most of you readers are women as well, and will sympathize with my wife’s plight. Other have husbands who don’t watch such stuff, and I feel bad that they don’t know what they are missing. For example; in the new Rambo movie, blood doesn’t run, it explodes. I know, cool, right? I actually like some dramatic movies, but I can’t watch rom-coms/chick flicks. Sadie always wants me to write movie reviews, but I think most women would be bored to read about my take on “Troy”. If anyone were interested, let me know and I’ll try it. I have a few things that I want to do this year, but I don’t want to call them resolutions. I hate new year resolutions, they never get resolved. But I would like to improve myself this year. Here are a few things I want to try: Exercise often and eat healthier. I can do this, but I haven’t been able to sustain very well. Right now, my overall health is horrible. I need to get a new ipod/mp3 player with an armband holder and I’ll be set. Play with the girls more often. I’m guilty of not sharing enough with them, and I want to fix it. Play, spend time with, try to understand the boy better and spend more time with him. Right now my patience is very short with him, and I feel a little(not a lot) bad about that. Groom and maintain my yard better. It looked great for several years, but the last two years it has looked like crap. A nicely filled out and trimmed yard makes me very happy and peaceful. Have a better all around attitude, especially at work. I’m a naturally negative person, and it’s tough to be smiley. But I can do it. Be better to my wife. I’m a very difficult person, owing a lot to my ocd habits, and she gets the brunt of it. She deserves better, and I should be capable of doing better for her. I love her. That’s a few of the things I want to do. Maybe I can share more later. Wish me luck, I’m off to wok on ‘em. We’re due for a good year. ********** When I approached Archie about writing this week, he didn’t know what to write. He felt “uncomfortable” writing aobut something outside of the kids. After a little explanation that this blog is about Redefining Perfect in every way, including our own lives…I managed to wrangle a post out of him.  For those that don’t know, because I generally only mention it in passing on this blog – Archie has severe depression & anxiety disorders…as well as we believe that he actually is the genetic blueprint for Riley * her autism. That being said, I always love having Archie post on my blog, and I hope you’ll all show him some love. He deserves it most of the time 😉 Read more »

Fatherhood Friday – Being Everything

The holidays are always hard on me. I wasn’t the happiest or sunniest child, and that has carried over to adulthood. It always felt as if they snuck up and hit me in the back of the head, but then didn’t run away but stayed to continue doing it until February or March. There is some SAD to it, mixed with my own general depression/anxiety/obsessive-compulsive traits. Having kids has made it a lot better and I enjoy our Christmases together. As a parent, one of my biggest struggles has been to be upbeat and excited about the holidays throughout the year. Each year, I persevere, yet feel as if I leave too much for my wife to do. Sometimes it’s the way duties are separated in the household, each having mostly consistent roles and chores to be done. But nothing is ever written in stone. Sadie is a SAHM, so most of the household duties fall to her; like dishes, laundry, cleaning, & cooking. I will occasionally do some of those, but never cooking(I’m a horrible cook). I usually take care of maintenance on the house & cars, do yard work, and of course, go to work daily to support all of us. But when it comes to administering to the kids needs, physically and emotionally, both of us handle it together. Sadie is a bit more of a nurturer than I, but there are certain situations that I am better suited to address. And as for Sadie and myself, we have mostly balanced each other out well over the years. When I am struggling, she is able to keep from bottoming out. And when she is stressed past the limit, I am able to help her back to even ground. What is hard about this year, and we try not to focus on the negative, is that our kids are having struggles with things we can’t help them with. We’re both still shell-shocked about Brandon’s preliminary diagnosis of CF, the reality is settling on us slowly, heavily. It was just so out of the blue, we thought to have him tested, but knew that nothing would come of it. I blame myself, but most parents do when something goes wrong for their kids. I know Sadie blames herself too, just a natural reaction. He is still getting high grades, wants to continue sports in the spring, and loves Boy Scout campouts. We think he is happy, or at least as happy as a twelve year old can express. Angel having complications with her CF is not unexpected, but still is unsettling. How her function can go up and down so fast is scary, and makes us wonder if we’re not watching her close enough. Now she may have strep, although I don’t know the full ramifications of this yet. She gives us no symptoms or complaints until she is already well into sickness. However, she still has the brightest smiles and chatters about everything constantly. She can be read like an open book, but a book that you enjoy so much, you never want to put it down. Riley is,…..well….we love Riley. As Sadie has posted, she has advanced and regressed at the same time. Riley is a whirlwind at home; usually blond hair flying behind her, fighting with and screaming at her sister, and talking so fast you can’t make anything out. In school, the reports are all saying that she is remaining on task better and learning LOTS of things. Infrequently at home, Riley withdraws into herself and just seems to vacate her body. This is usually when she is peaceful at home(not often). But she is slowly coming around to talking with us(REAL CONVERSATION MATERIAL). And she can be so loving sometimes, that her issues fade into the background. I’m not saying that we have any more to deal with than any other parent. I’m just saying it’s tough, tough to be everything all the time. I have more respect now for my parents than I ever did before. Being a parent of children of special needs children is a hard job, but I have a feeling it won’t be the hardest thing I’ll ever do. That will be when they grow up and leave their mother and me. I guess all I am really saying is love your kids. Love their strengths. Love their weaknesses. Love them as much as you can. Special needs or not, we are the lucky ones. Our children are alive and fighting, and we are in there fighting even harder along with them. Enjoy your holidays! Read more »

by Sarah Cass

Multi-published author. Mom of 3 special needs kids. Wife to 1 good man.
Redefining Perfect every day.

Fatherhood Friday – Catching up with Archie

Thanks to a little prodding early enough in the week, we’ve been granted a visit from Archie this week. I need to try to prod him more regularly. His posts are always a pleasure. This week he gives us a bit of a ‘state of the union’. My wife likes me to write a guest blog occasionally, I lack the initiative to make it a regular thing. But I made it here today, so let’s see what obnoxious thoughts we can pour out of my head, without tainting you all further. Sadie’s dad and I took Riley and Angel to the Father/Daughter Fall Ball this past weekend. I’m hoping that this will be the start of many, and that the girls will come to view it as special time with the old man. Right now, they were more interested in balloons and dancing to some teeny-bop music than slow dancing to “Butterfly Kisses” with their dad. But they had fun. I did too. We then started the week with a meeting with the school psychologist for Riley. Nothing particularly revelatory, stuff we have known for a while and have been dealing with. But every time the diagnoses and the accompanying criteria are spelled out in front of us, it hurts just like the first time I heard my little gator was not okay. Monday was no exception. But the school has an IEP meeting scheduled for us next week to address Riley’s issues and how proceed in her best interest. I have more faith in our school system than Sadie, but that’s tentatively based on how Riley accepts the adjustments. What it really boils down to is that we are both concerned that Riley will fall in the cracks and get forgotten, and we are working to find the best option for her with the least amount of collateral damage. The other kids are well. Sadie posts often that the boy is really growing up, and I couldn’t agree more. He is turning into a fine young man, and humility and decency are really starting to come out in him. He has always been smart, and he doesn’t seem to be afraid to use his intelligence. We couldn’t be prouder. Right now he has a broken arm and pneumonia, and although I am tired of hearing Nintendo DS and Mythbusters marathons, he still makes me very happy to have as a son. Unless he were to clean his room. Ever. Angel is……..well, we love Angel. She has the widest range of emotion in all of us. She is the most charming child in our household, and represents our happiness at its core. We are lucky to have been given such a bright ray of sunshine, to light our faces and warm our souls. She alone represents the best in us, and sometimes the worst. I worry about her sometimes, but she usually makes me forget that by smiling in the most disarming way. This week at Angel’s cf clinic, we discovered that her overall lung function has dropped alarmingly. She is now back on a whopping dose of medicines that she neither likes nor wants, and we as the parents have to make sure she toes the line. Thing is, we have not noticed any of the usual signs that she might be in distress including labored breathing, wheezing, tiredness, lethargy, etc.. She has less than a month to improve, and if she doesn’t, she will have to be admitted to the hospital. See why I worry about her? With her brother sick, I feel like hovering over her, even though that will likely irritate her. I love Riley Children’s Hospital, but I don’t want my baby there for Christmas. She needs to be home with her family. If she can’t be, then we will have Christmas at the hospital with her. Period. A sometimes blessed, heartbreaking, chaotic, neurotic, emotional, and never quiet household. It helps to take my mind off the world at large, with all of the horrible things people do to each other in all forms. My heart bleeds when I read the news, but when I come home, I only need the three faces of my loved ones to smile at me and it all goes away. Even if just for awhile. I am trying to write(fiction), but it is tough. I had a really good thread started, but it disappeared from my computer and I’ve been reluctant to start again. I envy my wife’s ability to create, but then women are made to create. I like working with old cars, although my skills are limited to finish work. I like to blow sh!t up sometimes too. Or shoot something with a gun. And drink a beer while doing any of the preceding. I belong to a good family, that always has room for more, if not in our house then certainly in our hearts. Come see us sometime. Read more »