Christmas Notes

Christmas Notes

Yesterday our youngest daughter Ella came home from school with a twelve days of Christmas calendar. Each day has a note in it whose recipient alternates between Jen and I. Yesterday was Day 1 and had a note for Jen. Today was a note for me. Jen warned me hers made her cry so I was at least a bit prepared.

My family is pretty sweet and I’m very lucky to have them. Here’s a transcription of the note she gave me today, just as it was hand written. ❤️

Dad I wanted to tell you how glad I am that your my dad. I don’t know what I would do without you. I’m so thankfull that I get this time to tell you that your the best dad I could ever have your the best dad in the world.

I don’t know if I ever told you how much I miss you when you leave for work and I hope you know that how ever long you leave for we’ll always be glad that your coming home. If I could wish for something it would be to have more wish’s but one of my wish’s would be for everyone to have the same sense of humor as you. I love when you tease me and I want you to know that how ever far away you are when you go for work I’ll always love you the same amount.

Thank you for always being there for me. I love you so much dad xoxo

Day 2 Note

Fast Forward 20 Years

Today my colleague Jeremey DuVall wrote a post called Highs & Lows of Leading a Team, if you’re not following him already you certainly should. The feelings he wrote about are certainly ones I’ve been feeling recently at work. Like many business / leadership books and articles I’ve read there are many comparisons I can make to parenting.

Parenting is certainly a series of ups and downs as well, except recently I’ve been stuck in the completely incompetent area. Some would say I had it coming as 20 years ago I was making my mother feel the same way that I am right now. At the age of 17 I left home and moved in with friends. For years I barely spoke to her. Spent my time blaming her for what I perceived as a rough childhood, thinking I was so much smarter than her. How arrogant.

Now fast forward 20 years I’m going through essentially the same thing with my oldest. As much as I tried to protect her from making the same mistakes and wrong choices I made it doesn’t seem to have worked. She’s at least doing better than I was at that age, she’s at least living with her mother instead of staying with friends and spending some nights sleeping in 24 hour Tim Hortons. The choices I made back then caused me to take two years more than it should have to complete high school and come very close to getting myself into some real trouble. It was the news of my daughter coming a long that finally caused me to straighten myself out. That makes this all the more painful.

She was able to help me through a dangerous period of my life and I wasn’t able to protect her from seeming to head down a similar road to the one that I was once on. She’s not there yet though and I’m hoping she can change course before it really effects her life in ways that are difficult to come back from. While I can learn to live with her not talking to me as long as she is happy and safe, I’m hopeful that she will have a change of heart, and sooner than I did at that age.

To my Mother, even though I’ve done it in the past I want to apologize again for the trouble that I gave you and the heart ache I must have caused. Having some experience being a parent now it’s obvious to me you make the best decisions you can. I’m far from perfect so my decisions won’t always be the right ones, but I know, like you, I’ve made them all with the best intensions.

To my Daughter, hopefully some day you will see this as well and we can have a good relationship again. I will always love you no matter what and can be patient.

 

Dance Class Parent Participation

Yesterday in the morning I didn’t end up getting out for a run as I had planned. Getting out of bed wasn’t my problem this time. I actually ended up with lots of sleep because I went to be early. 5:30 am didn’t seem so bad at all. Just as I was getting ready to head out the door though one of the kids came down upset because they had a bad dream. So instead I stopped and we cuddled on the couch for a while instead.

Later on in the afternoon was going to go out for a run, or maybe pull my bike out and see if I could go somewhere on it without it falling apart or it break down. When I went outside it was just feeling to warm and I wasn’t in the mood.

It actually turned out to be a good thing because I gained a new found respect for dancers. Not that I didn’t have one before, because I’ve always realized they can do things I can’t do. Since having my kids in dance though and going to their recitals you really see what some of these people are capable of first hand.

This week is parents participation so I went to Ella’s Jazz and Tap tech class. It is a brutal class and those 8-9 years old are so strong. The exercises they had us doing wore me out, I was sweating in no time. They even took it easy on us parents and allowed us just to watch some of what the dancers had learned so far. It impresses me that they can go for the full hour and fifteen minutes and still have energy afterwards.

While I was going I was very happy I hadn’t run and killed my legs in the morning so that I could at least not look like a total flop there. It made my work out in the evening pretty rough as well. It was a lot of fun though getting to be with her though and see all she can do. Having her teach me how to do things for a change was an awesome dynamic. She was so supportive and telling me how good I was even though it was very clear I wasn’t. What a sweet kid I have.

Dear Brianna Lynne

Dear Brianna Lynne,

Eleven years ago today, a day that will be forever etched into my memory. Some of the details and the timing of things have started to slip, but the feelings I felt that day will stay with me forever.

I’ll be honest, you were a bit of a surprise to your Mother and I. We hadn’t planned on having kids right away. Although we loved each other, in those early stages of our relationship I’m not sure either of us really knew where things would end up. Both of us had just left less than ideal situations so the possibility of things not lasting were very real. So when she told me that we were going to have a baby there were mixed feelings. I wanted to be sure that my next child was brought into a strong healthy relationship that would build the foundation for a loving and stable home.

While your Mom was pregnant with you my fears and insecurities started to subside. I was feeling much better about the possibilities of being able to provide you with the environment I knew you deserved. When your Mother said yes, that she would marry me, I knew things were going to be OK.

On August 29th I got the call at work telling me that it was time to go to the hospital, I was filled with the nervous excitement that can be expected. We spent the night in the hospital with your Mom hooked up to monitors. They wanted to watch your heartbeat as there seemed to be some irregularities, but no one seemed like it was anything too far out of the ordinary.

You entered this world at about 11:00 am on the 30th and it really wasn’t until then that we realized things might not be as routine as we expected. Another team of nurses and doctors rushed in and hooked you up to life support systems. It became obvious that you were not well. They figured you must have become infected with some sort of virus.

The team of doctors were more than amazing. Even though they were delivering horrible news to new parents, the care they gave to you, your Mother, and even me was outstanding. Very early on they told us that due to the lack of oxygen they weren’t sure if you would suffer brain damage as a result. They had to resuscitate you numerous times, but you fought.

At a relatively quiet point your Mother convinced me to run home, shower and grab a few extra things. Before I made it I had to pull over. I was alone now and had no one near who I felt like I needed to fake strength for. I’m unsure how long I stayed there on the side of the road. The emotions flowed and tears with them. I prayed even though I wasn’t convinced there was anyone listening. Finally, I regained enough composure to continue on my way but didn’t even make it home before I received the call telling me to get back to the hospital.

The doctors filled us in on the situation. Things were not good. Regardless of how hard you fought, even in miraculous scenarios, life for you was going to be a painful struggle. Somewhere around 8:00 pm your short and trying life came to an end. Our little girl with hints of blonde hair and blue eyes had left us.

It’s been eleven years since you came, and that was still the hardest day I can recall. Your short time made a huge impact on your Mothers and my life and subsequently your sisters and brother as well. Even though I wasn’t sure in the beginning that I was ready to add children to our lives, you showed me that I was ready, and in fact I wanted to grow our family. Going through the pain and emotions we felt during that day and the days to follow brought your Mother and I even closer together. We are stronger because of you.

We were ensured months later, after they investigated what happened, that the tumor which grew and took over your liver was likely not something we had to worry about with future children. They don’t know what caused this to happen and of course no one can answer why it had to happen to you.

Time does dull the pain but I still think of you and a part of me hurts. This anniversary each year brings your memory back to the forefront. This one in particular I’m trying to focus on the good, which is how you helped start the foundation of our family. No one knows how life would have turned out if that day didn’t occur the way it did, but I do know that your life was part of the path which has led me to where I am today, and for that I thank you.

Love Dad.Foot Prints

Undeserving

UndeservingShe was very proud when she gave me my award, and with good reason. She is so artistic and creative. When she puts her mind to it, and puts the effort in, she can do great and amazing things. Things I wouldn’t have the patience or the talent to do.

Of course I love the gift itself and the gesture behind it, but at the same time I can’t help think that she doesn’t really believe the words which are written on it. “First place for being the best Dad in the whole world.” How could she? I certainly don’t. Out of all my children she should be the last one who should be giving me an present like this.

It’s not because I don’t love her or don’t try, completely the opposite. She is my oldest, yet my baby girl. Our personalities don’t always mesh, we don’t share many of the same interests. In part it probably stems back to the first few years of her life. Her mother and I only stayed together for a couple years after she was born. Our relationship wasn’t ideal. Partly as avoidance I attended school during the day and worked a lot, so even then I didn’t spend enough time with my baby. When her mother and I separated it didn’t get any better. I’d like to blame it on my youth, but there is no excuse for not taking the time to build a strong, lasting relationship with my child when she was young.

She no longer splits her time between her mothers’ and our home, and it’s been this way for years. My wife, and mother of my other three children, was instrumental in making the transition to having her be with us full time. Had it been her given the award for best mother, or step mother, there would be no doubt as to whether it was deserved or not.

Sometimes I feel that the majority of our interactions are me criticizing her or chastising her for something. School has always been a contentious topic for us. School for her is hard, she has ADHD along with a learning disability. In the last few years especially she has made very good progress in school, but it’s been a battle. It’s hard for me to relate, school always came easy to me, she struggles just to get by. Her reading level is well below her grade which makes everything more difficult. This became especially evident one night when working at math homework a subject she despises. After some time of her “working” at the questions I checked on her and there was barely any done. Spending a bit of time explaining the questions and what was asked of her and providing examples turned the night around. In no time at all she flew through the remaining questions. Not everything was correct, but I’ve never asked for that, just full effort.

Given the difficulty she has, as well as our past, I know I need to work extra hard and spend extra time building our relationship. Already a teenager I see and fear the time for me to do this slipping away. With so many of our interactions negative why would she want to spend more time with me? In my mind I know that her wandering mind, which can cause so much of our frustration, isn’t her fault. Why do I tend to treat her as if it is? This must be the first change.

Changing the way I see things is going to make the difference. She is young for her age and at times I fault her for that, “why can’t you just act your age?” I should be happy that her interests are in horses and not boys and parties. In just a few short years she will be the same age her mother and I, as well as both sets of her Grandparents, were when we became parents. If she can hold onto her youth for as long as she can it make a much easier life path for her to travel.

Letting go of my selfishness is the next step. So what if I don’t like horses? She loves them. That is my obvious in with her. It can be something we can share with each other. So I’m going to embrace horses and barns despite being so much more comfortable behind a computer screen. I’m going to make sure there is time we can spend at the barn together. It makes me wish I was in the position to buy her own horse, but for now we have access to go groom and care for some. There is no excuse to not make this happen.

While I know I’ll never be the best father in the world, I’m certainly going to work at getting closer to it for the rest of my life. Hopefully someday I’ll look back at this present on my wall and maybe I’ll believe that she really does see me as deserving first place.