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I Love You In The Whole Universe

Universe

“I Love You In The Whole Universe, Daddy”

I don’t even really know where she got it from, but my little princess repeats it to me every night before bed. I have to admit that the fact that it is grammatically incorrect actually makes it more endearing to me. She is excellent at making me feel like the more important person in the world and I hope I do the same for her and my son.

Can You Really Do What Makes You Happy?

Tragedy and Hope

I watch the video below a lot. Part of it inspires me and part of it scares me to death. Could you imagine actually chasing after your dream with no regard for whether it will actually pay your bills or not? All in the name of happiness? That’s the part that gets my knees wobbling.

I have a young family and a steady job that does a great job of keeping a roof over our heads and providing us with some security. Of course I would love to make fun videos with the Harlem Globetrotters and Disney on Ice all the time. It would be great to get paid to write about fatherhood and share all of the things that inspire me in hopes of inspiring others, but it’s so hard to picture what that life would look like. Part of me thinks this video was intended for people without young families, but maybe I’m just too scared to imagine it.

How about you? Have you followed your dreams? If so, please share your story. If not, what is holding you back? Let me know in the comments and enjoy the video.

An Unexpected Wish

Wish

I have never really expected a lot from my kids. They are only 4 and 2, respectively, and they still have a lifetime of things to learn. As it turns out, I have been sorely underestimating the emotional capacity of their young minds. My son taught me this lesson on a recent trip to the local mall.

It was as ordinary a day as they come. We made a stop at the mall to pick up some things we probably didn’t need and at some point my son and I broke off to go do some guy stuff. The mall had set up an awesome (and free) Easter egg hunt in one of the empty stores. As an aside, this mall has always struggled to fill all the stores, so the Easter egg hunt was greatly appreciated.

Once the final egg was found, my son calmly counted his loot as we moved on to his favourite spot in the mall. The wishing fountain. After all, this is the place where you can make all your wildest dreams come true and all for the low, low price of a quarter and a wish. I prepped him for the big throw by giving him some examples of wishes that ran the gamut from “more sunny days” to “new toys” but he wasn’t having any of that nonsense. No, my tiny little man looked up at me and then decided to drop this bit of awesomeness before launching his coin:

“I wish that I love my sister forever”

I know, right? I just about melted through the floor when he said it. The real kicker was that I could see by the look in his eyes, that he truly meant it. There was no reason for him to play up to the crowd because, well, there was no crowd. I slowly knelt down, gave him a huge hug and told him how proud I was of him. I hope that he could see by the look in my eyes, how much I truly meant that.

I Love Daddy

Love Daddy

It’s not what I expected to see when I got home from work today. Normally I come in the house and the kids come running to the door screaming, “Daddy!!!” as they smother me with hugs. I love that about coming home from work. In fact, it’s my favourite part of any given week. Today was a little different for a number of reasons though.

Today, before any running hugs could occur, my 4 year old son excitedly instructed my wife to get the picture for Daddy. I’d seen this one play out before and it usually meant that he had coloured a picture for me and couldn’t wait for me to see it. I love his colourings by the way and I am always appreciative to receive them. Today’s was a different picture though and one that struck a new nerve that I hadn’t used before.

The picture shown above is his very first time writing the word “love” without asking for help. When he showed it to me, he said, “I made this for you Daddy, because I love you so much”. I managed to maintain my composure in front of him but inside I was a raging ball of mushy goop. Not just because of the sentiment but also because of how great he did in spelling out the words. I’m so proud of my little man and his determination in wanting to learn how to spell. I’m a very lucky Daddy.

Coming Home

Family Photo

It didn’t take long to miss the little things after leaving on my recent journey to the land known as America. There was no hug goodbye, no “we’ll miss you Daddy”, really, there was nothing but silence as I slipped out the door at 5am on a cold Thursday morning.

As I hit the road that morning, I had a nervous excitement about where I was headed and the experiences I would have. Still, there were constant reminders of what I was leaving behind. A miniature hockey bag on the floor made me think about how great my son’s first year of skating was going and of how proud I was of him. He wasn’t floating on air like Gretzky but maybe Wayne himself got off to a slow start.

There were warning signs to turn around as well. The first was the eerie squeal of the tires as they tore across the metal of the International Bridge. This was followed by 65 mile per hour winds that did everything but knock me right off the road. The two blizzards that followed served as a reminder of the fact that I was not in charge. No, SHE was in charge and it wouldn’t be the last time on this trip that I would be reminded of this.

I was not even three hours in and I was already wondering if my family missed me as much as I missed them. As I sat in the terminal, staring at the giant hunk of aluminum that would soon propel me 38,000 feet above land, I thought only of them. Airplanes. My arch nemesis. My kryptonite.

The flights were surprisingly easy; aside from the constant thoughts of us colliding with another aircraft, that is. I quietly read about Neil Young’s life story and his inspiration was enough to keep my nervous twitch subdued just long enough for the wheels to hit the tarmac. I love Neil. He has helped me through many tough times even though we have never met, and most likely never will.

Airports, Hotel, Conference, Karaoke, Cabbies with Guns; All of it wonderful and exciting and new in its own way, but something was still missing. I got a preview of that something at the midway point of my adventure courtesy of my wife. Here it is:

Yeah… I don’t think I need to explain what happened next, do I? By the end of the video, my room resembled the falls in Niagara as I instinctively clicked play, again, and again, and again. Each time noticing something familiar and wishing I was back there, in that moment, with my family. I knew I couldn’t leave just yet. I came here with a purpose, after all, and wouldn’t leave until I had proved to myself that I could face my fear and conquer it, which I am proud to say I did.

The long trip home was filled with road blocks. Airport confusion, flight delays, freezing rain, darkness, sleet, snow, aliens, gremlins, Super Bowl black outs & even the Stay Puff marshmallow man! You name it, I saw it, but nothing was going to stop me from getting home to those three smiling faces from the video. The kids were dreaming of princesses and Skylanders by the time I got home but I enjoyed the quiet catch up with my wife, whom I missed dearly.

Then, as if she could read my mind, my daughter popped her head around the stairwell and smiled. It was one of those smiles that make you realize how important someone is in your life. It was love. And I was wearing the exact same smile.

The Thin Line Between Love and Hate

Father Son

The sting was more than I had I anticipated. I knew this day would come but not this soon. Not now. It seems like just yesterday when we were playing outside in the snow, running, laughing and loving each other’s company. Actually, that was, literally, just yesterday. How did we get from that to this…

“I Hate My Daddy and We’re Not Friends Anymore!”

Of course, I played it totally cool the moment it happened even though my ears and my heart were burning up. All he had to do was say he was sorry to his little sister, who he had just shoved in a fit of anger. It seemed like a reasonable enough request as far as I was concerned, but his refusal landed him in his room for timeout.

Four. That’s how old my precious little bundle of joy is. Four years is all it took for him to go from falling asleep in his rice cereal to figuring out the keys to victory in a showdown with his old man.

Four. That’s how many minutes his timeout would last, unless he was willing to come out and apologize; which he was not.

Four. That’s the amount of minutes I had to sit outside his door and think about a life where my son hated me. It felt like 4 years and I almost caved a number of times but managed to stand my ground.

Where did he even learn that word? It’s not like he knows what it means; at least not in its truest form. We also try not to use any of the no-no words in our house. You know the ones: stupid, jerk, loser, hate, Caillou; see George Carlin for the rest.

He’s bound to hear them all at some point or another. If it wasn’t from me, it was going to be at school or on television, where even toddler programs seem to be pushing the envelope for reasons I can’t explain (I’m looking at you, Arthur).

We sat and talked after the timeout fiasco. We talked about why we should never use that word and how much it can hurt other people. I don’t know if he understood the conversation but he nodded along and then apologized for saying it and for hitting his sister. Oddly enough, I may have been the one who learned the biggest lesson out of all of this. No matter how hard we try to shield our children from the bad things in this world, they are eventually going to find them, so it’s best to be mentally ready for these situations well ahead of time. So far, the only true method I have found to be effective is love, patience and understanding, which I hope rubs off on my kids as they grow older and wiser.

I’m also happy to report that after our chat, my son let me know that we can be friends again, which is all this Dad really needed to hear.

Have your kids told you that they hate you before? If so, what age were they?

Cheers!

There Is No Greater Love Than The Love Of A Sibling

I’m not sure if it’s a normal thing among siblings at a young age, but the love my children show for each other can be emotionally overwhelming for me, at times. In thinking back to my childhood with my brother, there weren’t too many moments I can remember that didn’t involve something sharp and dangerous being hurled at one of us, while the other ran for their life.

With my children being only 2 & 4 years old respectively, I can’t possibly expect them to fully understand the value of loving and respecting others. Especially given the fact that they live in a house that doubles as a home daycare and have to watch all their worldly possessions get played with by other children, 5 days out of each week.

Yet, they have transitioned seamlessly and I dare say that this is one of the main reasons they have grown so close in such a short time span. My son, the older of the two, is constantly checking in on his little sister to make sure her needs are being met. When she cries, he almost always runs over to rub her back and ask if she’s okay, which usually causes me to pause in amazement at his brotherly awareness.

Sure, they have some battles too but the majority of their interactions are positive ones. To watch my daughter come down stairs in the morning and immediately head to the couch my son is sitting on, so they can cuddle, absolutely melts this Dad’s heart. I see it in a lot of their daily interactions and I smile each and every time something happens.

I don’t know the exact science behind it and I am absolutely not complaining. My wife, who is with them almost 24 hours a day, is clearly doing an excellent job of teaching them the importance of loving and treating each other with respect. I am eternally grateful for her decision to quit her job in order to stay home and raise our children. I don’t know if you have ever worked in a daycare setting, but it is not for everybody (me) and might be one of the toughest jobs out there.

This probably comes off as a sappy Dad post and may even seem like I am bragging about it. I can assure you that it is simply done out of pride. Maybe this is just how all young siblings behave and I am in for a very rude awakening, very soon. Even if they forget it somewhere down the line, I will always have these memories to look back on and to share with them. In the meantime, I will continue beaming with pride every time they find their way into each other’s arms.

Cheers!

The Smile That Stopped The World

It’s no secret that as our children get older, they need us less and less. I’ve already begun to see the signs of this with my 4 year old son as he sets out on his path to independence. He recently started his first “no parents allowed” swimming class and it is devastating and exciting all at once.

For some reason, even though I’d been through this with my boy, I thought that my little girl would be, well, my little girl, forever. Every day that passes I see her learning more and gaining the ability to do the little things that Daddy used to help with.

She can do up her own seatbelt in the wagon now, Daddy used to help with that. She doesn’t need Daddy to help her much at the park any more because as she says “No, I Can Do It!”. She doesn’t even need me to help her down the stairs any more, even though I still stand there, hovering over her, sometimes even hoping she’ll slip up a bit so Daddy can catch her.

That sounds harsh and it’s not that I want her to get hurt, it’s just that I want to show her that I am still useful. I want her to need me as much as I need her to need me. I know there’s a next stage of her life, where she’ll need me for a lot of other things, like riding a bike or eating an ice cream cone but I’m just not ready to go there yet.

There’s something about the sincere joy in her eyes when she sees me come in the door from work, that makes my heart ache for the day when I walk in and she just nods and carries on with her day. I dread the day when her excited screams of “Daddy, Daddy!” change to a “What’s Up?” as I enter the room.

She doesn’t know it but she has the ability to stop my world on a dime with a simple unforced cuddle. With a smile, she takes away all my worries and troubles, even if just for a split second, which is long enough.

I’m not sure what brought this on tonight. Whether it was the terrible things happening in the world right now or the realization that kids get older and need us less; or maybe a combination of both.

There is one thing I do know though.

I danced with my little girl this afternoon and as I twirled her around in my arms, in that moment, we were both completely and utterly happy. Most likely for different reasons but happy all the same.

I realized today that it’s okay for my kids to get older and it’s okay for me to be scared about that. What really matters is that I take a moment every now and then to stop and truly appreciate everything I have in them.

There’s no way of knowing what’s in store for them, so all we can do is show them that we are here for them when they need us. To give them all the love that a parent possibly can and hope that someday they are able to share that love with a family of their own.

Kids may grow up and need us less but until that happens I am going to continue to enjoy the moments that bring my world to a stand still.

Cheers!

Wanna Tell You About The Girl I Love – To My Wife On Mothers Day

Yes I know, if you know the lyrics I’ve quoted in the title, they are not really about “True Love”. Let’s try and get past that because that specific lyric, on it’s own, happens to fit quite nicely.

I would also like to state for the record, that I love my Mother and wish her a very Happy Mothers’ Day! This post happens to be about someone else on this particular day though.

For as long as I’ve been a father, there’s been one constant that has kept me in my children’s good graces.

One thing that has kept me from imploding due to the sheer magnitude of being in charge of another life form.

Well I guess it’s not really a thing at all, is it? Here she is!

This is my rock! My Knight in Shining Armor! The Keeper of the Gates of my Childrens’ Love and Well Being!

Too far?? Not in my mind.

For all the great comments I get on my site about how great I am as a father, there is someone else who is even more deserving of that praise and who doesn’t get enough of it.

My wife gave up her career because she wanted to stay home to raise our kids, which was a huge sacrifice. Please don’t take this as me judging people that don’t because I understand and respect all people’s situations and decisions.

Point is, she decided to quit her comfortable job and enter the world of home child care. It’s probably one of the hardest jobs I could ever imagine doing. As a shift worker, I am home a lot with the daycare and trust me when I tell you that it is not all bonbons and circle time.

 

 

 

 

 

Lesson planning, meal plans, activities, outdoor time, walking some to school, picking them up, consoling upset children and trying to spend enough time with your own to make them feel special for having to share all their stuff. I’m sure I’m missing some things but you get the idea.

She is an amazing woman!

Remember this post about my son’s 4th Birthday Party? I looked great as the cool Dad dressed up like Super Mario, right? What you didn’t see in there was the planning, invites, decorating, loot bags & food that my wife took care of while I was in the bathroom rehearsing my Super Mario lines.

When the kids are ill, the world stops for her until they are feeling better. When my daughter can’t sleep, my wife will happily lie in bed with her and comfort her until she dozes off. And absolutely No holiday goes without decorations and a celebration!

My wife is the perfect portrait of someone who loves her family over and above everything else in her life. She would literally do anything for us and for that we are eternally grateful! She gives us the best of everything she’s got and asks for nothing in return.

Even when I told her that, for Mothers’ Day, we were sending her to a nice hotel to relax and get some much needed rest, she needed to be convinced that it was a good idea. I’m still not sure she agrees with it but I know she’ll love it!

I know there’s so much more I could say about her but she’s away relaxing and Daddy’s got kids to entertain, LOL!

Let me just close by saying to my wife, from myself and the kids, that we appreciate everything you do for us.

We hope that you don’t think we take you for granted, because we don’t.

Life would be a dark, lonely place without you in it and we want to say a great big, bear hug wrapped, chocolate covered Thank You for everything you bring to our family!

On a personal note, I am thankful to have found you. You make me want to be a better father every single day and you have no idea how you positively impact our lives.

We Love You!

Happy Mothers Day!!!

PS – Enjoy your time of rest and relaxation, the daycare opens back up at 7am sharp on Monday morning ;P

PPS – Where’s the Ketchup?