Give Thanks to the Father’s Who Are There Every Day.

You as a Father matter.

One thing I’ve noticed about being a father is a lot of what you do is often not noticed- at least till much later.  Not many people see the small things, and sometimes they end up seeing the mistakes and area’s where you can improve.

Often it feels like a grinding task that is quite underappreciated. I suppose mother’s feel the same – though people care much more.

That said, Thank You, to all the father’s out there who are working their asses off trying to support their families.  Yes, no one may notice, but us fellow fathers do.

Thank you to all the father’s who devote as much time as they possibly can to their kids and to raising them as best they can.

Thank you for just being there, even when everything seems to conspire against you doing just that – for those of you who are divorced, single, and barely getting any time with your kids via court order. We know you are not a dead beat.

Thank you for the time, resources, encouragement, lessons, and memories you’ve invested  in your son’s and daughters present and future. Other people may not see. There likely won’t be any viral social media posts or noteworthy news articles posted about it.

However, your kids and your inner circle will know.

We work hard and expend all of our energy for the sake and love of our  children, families and close friends.  Perhaps no one will give us the appreciation we really deserve, but the legacy you help build matters far more. Sometimes I feel like all around me can never really see how much I am actually doing, but merely point out what I’m not or simply ignore it.

It’s at these moments when depression is trying to sneak it’s way in that I take a deep breath.  I remember to be thankful for my family, what I’ve been able to do, and the time period I’ve been born into and contemplate on how there’s never been a better time to be alive.

Don’t look toward a hostile culture and society that hates and vivifies you for satisfaction, admiration, or laudable laurels to rest on your head.  You may never be viewed by them as anymore than a sperm donor and a cog to keep working and making money till you drop. Look toward your family, friends, and members of communities who know YOU are, what you going through, all you are putting on the table, and the sacrifices that you make.

You as a father matter.

I’m sure you know the stats about the lives of children without fathers and how they are more prone to everything from crime and depression to having much less of a chance to get a good education and be successful in life.  The consequences for children without fathers in their lives can be severe – if only society really cared about that.

Thank you for all you do to try to give your kids the best lives you can. Keep on at it and slowly remove those from your lives who simply wish to undermine, downplay, and ignore what you do.  Life is short. Spend it with the people you love and your time with those who are worthy of it.

 

Six Things I’ve Learned as a Husband and Father

Six Lessons Early On As A Husband and Father

You Will Need A Support Network

I can’t understate how important this is -especially when your kids are infants and need a lot of time.  Many families often relocate to where they can get work.   What’s crucial is finding a job where you have family or close friends available that can give you a leg to stand on in hard times, but can help babysit when you and your girl – in my case wife – desperately needs a break.

One or two people wont be enough. People get busy – often when you really need them – and you will need a wide network to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and when you have two boys that are 10 months and 4 days apart, that couldn’t be truer.  Your family, her family, friends, everyone.    People we know have bought us diapers, clothes, even carseats and strollers.  Without that help, I don’t know what we would have done.

You want to avoid daycare at all possible costs, but to make ends meet these days, often both parents will have to work. It’s essential you have family, friends and GRANDPARENTS nearby who can babysit and help out.  If you aren’t able to have one parent remain at home with your kids, your family and close friends are far more nurturing and key to your kids success later in their lives than a daycare will ever be.

Lots of babysitting needed there.

With three months left of our lease, our babysitting situation and inability to get the support we needed caused us to uproot and move back to Illinois and in with some close friends of ours.  Now, with my parents nearby, my mom can give us babysitting whenver we need it.  This has been essential to both me and my wife getting work and being able to pay off what’s left on our lease back in Missouri.

Again, if you don’t get support, taking care of your kids in their infancy will become an exhausting burden, rather than a blessing and your marriage will be strained as a result.  Me and my wife have had plenty of small fights over problems created by exhaustion and the lack of people to help us out.

The fact my mom will babysit at any point means that I can finally take my wife. We can go to the Warped Tour and see her bands. A night out at the drive-in theater becomes a reality, instead of a fond memory.  We can never forget what brought us together in the first place.

Swallow Your Pride

Alpha this, alpha that. If you are an “Alpha”, you should have some pride and confidence in yourself and the decisions you make for you family.  However, when you screw up, don’t let your pride get the better of you.  If you can’t keep a promise, plans blow up, or you legitimately end up causing your wife grief – apologize.  Own it.   You are a man.

I must admit, I’m a stubborn prideful bastard.   So when I’m wrong, it’s hard to admit it.  Your wife will respect you if you are willing to admit and own your mistakes.  Key here is that you apologize when you screw up – not just apologize for her mistakes or to make her feel better. Only apologize when you do something wrong so it’s significant when you do.

Admit when you are wrong.

Just do it.   This one of the rare times, “Man up” should be said.  If you want your wife to apologize for the mistakes she does – and not blame you for them, you will have to lead by example.  I absolutely suck at this, but lately I’ve been trying to own any actual mistakes I make.    When it comes to raising my sons, this will be key.   They will look at my example and see if I do what I preach.

Now this doesn’t mean that you should roll-over.  (My wife even admitted she’s glad I don’t do everything she says or wants.)  If you have to battle, pick your battles and stand your ground when needed.

Manage Your Time

It’s so easy to be lazy and not make use of your rare downtime. I get it, but when things are tight and time is of the essence, do something useful and productive.  I love my video games, but the demands and needs of young sons come first.   This means keeping on top of giving them baths, getting them fed, changing them, and watching my oldest as he scurries around trying to touch and grab everything. 14 months is indeed an active age.

For instance, I want my wife to be satisfied with cheap easy to make food – which she usually isn’t.  To make it easier, I’ll have to spice it up, do the small things, and actually learn more about cooking. ( I work from home.)   I’ll also need to do whatever cleaning and stuff needs to be done.

In fact, there was a faucet that had to be replaced.  I had to get some extensions for the water supply valves to reach the faucet ends, but I took forever to get around to it because I was lazy.   We needed that faucet ready to go. I finally did it, but far later than I should have.

Luckily with that SUPPORT NETWORK that I mentioned earlier, time is a bit easier to manage when they boys are being taken care of by my mom and I’m able to get whatever I need to done around the house that me and my wife are staying.

Me and my wife have sex every single day.  That’s no accident. We ENSURE we have the time – that and my wife demands it with her high drive.  No matter what happens that day, we MAKE time.   If you really value something, you can and will do the same without excuses.   This also means that I have to stop making excuses for not getting things done that I should.

Laugh, Love, Live

These are great slogans, but people are usually either too busy or self absorbed with life to actually participate in these.  A great support network will help enable you to actually live life.    The house me, my wife, and the boys currently live at is the home of my best friends parents who are like my second parents.  It’s very similar to living in a multi-generational house and the benefits are immense and tremendous.

We actually talk to each other over food.  Laughter, great stories, and that noise of “happiness” can be heard constantly.   We are never “Bored”, unlike so many people.  There’s always something going and someone to hang out with.  Great conversations occur. Often friends and grandparents are over. Board games, bonfires, barbecues outside are staples of our lives. Beer taste better when you are enjoying it with people you love.  Having a Wii with Mario Party and Brawl is suddenly a phenomenal thing.   We are our own Brady Bunch.

My best friend’s family had four kids and my best friend and his wife have a 3 month old son.  (I’d like to think we inspired them to get going) We are going through almost the same stage of life. The naive dream of me and my best friend hanging out with our wives and raising kids is actually happening.  I feel like I’m living my own version of Second Hand Lions.   It fills me with joy everyday and makes me look forward to waking every morning.

All this makes it easier to raise our two boys with the love, help, and input that my best friends family gives us. I’m constantly learning new things as a dad because of it and me and my wife fight MUCH less than when we lived on our own in Missouri.

One interesting realization is that there’s other people who can hear those fights, so we have to mediate our differences calmly and quickly.  It prevents arguments from blowing up into nasty fights and has allowed us to get needed space and conversation with others in the house to take our minds off it.

Regarding that love part; the daily sex that I mentioned earlier helps resolve those fights and constantly bond us together to overcome if either of us have had a bad day, her emotions are at a low, or just our libido is going crazy.  It also boosts her confidence in herself and her body – very necessary after having two kids back to back.

When my wife’s particularly cranky,  she’s mentioned how she has a stick up her ass and that she needs sex to get rid of it.  Sure enough, it works every time.  Never forget that little fact when you wonder why she’s mad at you for no reason and you can’t logic at all with her.

Do The Small Things

1. We can be great at having the big picture in mind, but it’s the small details and living of our daily lives that makes all of that happen.   It’s those small conversations, memories, and emotions that shape our futures.  It’s easy to let the days blend together until you can’t remember what you did last Thursday.

Do something small each day to make it different.  Tell you wife you appreciate what she does.  Make her a small gift, come up with a quick movie list, and tell her you have a surprise for her – just don’t tell her what it is to the last minute. Never let that spark of romance get lost in the gritty routine of life. Make a date night each week.

2. Plenty of fights me and my wife have gone through were often because she wasn’t feeling “loved”. Every time it comes up, I think to myself, “Seriously?”  Simple stuff like saying, “I love you” in the morning, a kiss when she wakes up, a sincere compliment here and there. If she’s looking really good during a moment of the day, TELL HER SO.  You’d think that she knows you already love her and think she’s beautiful, but she needs to be reminded of it.  She needs your validation and appreciation.

Go beyond her outward beauty and look to her as a whole. It’s easy to see what your spouse does wrong – especially during arguments, but you often forget to compliment and appreciate what she does right.  She needs to know everyday that she is making you happy and that she is worth it.  Appreciate your wife for the great mother that she is and that the effort she puts in everyday.

You can do it

So many men have become jaded and believe that marriage isn’t worth it and fear losing any kids they do have to divorce and eventual child support via a vicious ex.   The risks are there, but the rewards of choosing a life you want to live are there as well.

I don’t make much money.  Neither does my wife.  But with that support I keep shouting about, anything is possible. You don’t have to be financially “stable” – most of us won’t be for years to come – and in your late 30s till you can get married and even think about kids.   Against the current grain, I would advise getting married young and having kids.

It’s far easier to deal with the responsibilities of kids when you are young, then when you are in your 40s and your back is killing you. You also enjoy the wife of your youth in your prime when you are full of energy, hope, and that “spark” that seems to fade as people age.

That essential support network can let you live a life worth living.  Be your own man and if a family is what you desire, don’t look back.  Keep striving forward.  Even though I’m new at being a dad, my boys already have an advantage – they will grow up with a father who loves them, will lead by example, and will always be there.

 

 

 

The Oasis: The Unappreciated Gem.

When you hear the words, “The Oasis” mentioned in certain circles, you can see the look of disdain already emanating from faces. Commonly raised points include: You can’t swear, can’t hate mosh, and can’t smoke near the building. Oh, the horror! The things they don’t permit at a Youth Center! Well actually concerning that last complaint you can usually smoke at a reasonable difference from the building and no one actually says anything. Obviously, Joyce, the owner of The Oasis,  just wants to be a killjoy when she sets Oasis policy. Question; Have any of you who have criticized Joyce actually talked to her? You may find out that she isn’t a strict and harsh  nun who frowns deeply upon words like, “fun” but actually cares deeply about the nearby community, hence the reason why The Oasis even exists in the first place.

For all of its supposed faults, there are many important things about The Oasis that should stand out. First, The Oasis is an actual youth center in Lake County that is not tax-payer funded. Let me repeat that. The Oasis is an actual youth center in Lake County that is not tax-payer funded. I’m almost tempted to repeat that a third time for obvious emphasis. In fact, The Oasis is completely funded by donations from the local community and the events that it hosts. What does this mean?

No hate moshing!

When the Oasis raises donations it does so by promoting its mission which is the youth of the area. It is for this reason that The Oasis is and will always primarily remain a youth center, rather than just another music venue with stringent rules regarding moshing and crowdsurfing.  Shockingly, parents want their pre-teens and teens to be able to go to Oasis and not get hate-moshed by over eager dancers. Apparently the whole, “You’re gonna get hit if your not moving at a show,” doesn’t apply in parents minds when their 12 year olds are there.  Yea, none of us saw that coming! The fact that the Oasis has so many shows is because its crew (Jon, Ryan, James, ect.) and Joyce actually want to promote the non-existent and devoid music scene we have here.  No, being a self-proclaimed world class DJ doesn’t count toward musical creativity and ingenuity for our music scene.

The Oasis allows for parents to send their kids to a supervised place – yes I shuddered as well as a teen when I heard the word “supervise” – where they won’t be “hanging out” at their friend’s house which is obvious code for sneaking/doing something their parents don’t approve of.  How else do you think some of us saw a certain scene from the Titanic in our early teen years?  (Pro-tip: Hanging out at one’s friends house always occurs when their parents are assured to be occupied and out of the house.  Kid’s, especially teens are actually quite smart.) As much as we all did, and still do despise supervision, this is one of the main features – dare I say purposes – of The Oasis.   Kids can go there and generally not get into trouble that will make them stare at the floor while their parents squirm and ponder upon disciplinary measures that will hopefully work.

In fact, with this recent teacher’s strike in the Grayslake area, The Oasis will most likely become a main supervised place for kids to go and hangout.  Unfortunately, not many other Community’s have a place like The Oasis, so please appreciate it for the rarity that it truly is.  I wish Fox Lake had a place like it instead of a series of parking lots, poor excuse for a lakefront park, and decaying buildings where the local highschoolers go to smoke weed and try out new drugs.  Well, I’ll admit that our library isn’t too bad.

The point to my possibly incoherent ramble is that we should appreciate the Oasis for what it truly is – a youth center – and then also appreciate its secondary accomplishment; being a music venue.  In today’s scene with the lack of venues that will even hold anything slightly metal and book most unknown local bands, beggars can’t be choosers. Before you bash a place, think about the main reason that place exists.  One of the reasons we can’t have nice things a.k.a. “shows” almost anywhere is because certain people can’t have respect for the local venues. Often we end up losing those venues and the so-called “hardcore” scene that exists in Lake County is banished to the dark dimly lit corridors of “basement shows”.  So please, enjoy the venue for what it is – not what you want it to be.