Parenting

All posts tagged Parenting

I recently took down a blog post for the first time ever. If I thought the post were merely poorly-written or I was wrong about my position, I wouldn’t have taken it down.

But I draw the line at hurting people who are genuinely doing their best.

The post tackled the very sensitive subject of mothers working while raising children. I don’t feel I gave the proper context around my opinions and beliefs and a close friend told me the post hurt her feelings. I spent a good deal of time thinking about it and talking it over with Heidi. In the end, I decided to take it down and give myself some time to think about how I wanted to approach this subject that I feel very strongly about.

Instead of tackling just the subject of working mothers, I’ll step back a little and start with a broader context: families. Because my opinion on mothers working stems from my feelings about the family.

Okay, down to brass tacks. Why do I think families are so important?

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Like anybody, I like a good night’s sleep.  That usually means 7.5 hours, starting at 9:30pm.  Tonight, my head hit the pillow at 10:30, which was good.  For the past three nights, I’ve been drifting off at about 11:30, even though I was laying down at 11:00.

Exciting things are happening and they tend to keep me awake.

So, when my head hit the pillow at 10:30, I expected to be sawing logs in seconds.  But, again, I found myself unable to sleep right away.

But tonight was different.

I wasn’t thinking about exciting things.  I wasn’t thinking about anything at all.  For some reason, I just couldn’t sleep.  I could hear our youngest, Scooters, peep every once-in-a-while, but that didn’t really keep me up.

I decided to get dressed and do a couple of things in the office, in hopes that they would help me sleep.

While in there, Scooters’ cries got louder and more sustained.  I kept telling myself he’d go to sleep.

He didn’t.  He just cried longer and louder.  I told myself “he’s cutting teeth, he needs to learn to sleep through it.”

But after 30 minutes or so and a particularly heart-wrenching cry, I went in.

Boy, was I glad I did.

Somehow, his heater had gotten turned up to…90 degrees.  Let me type that again.  90 degrees.

It was 11:30 and his bedtime is 6:00.  His room had been 90 degrees for 5.5 hours.

I grabbed Scooters and his hair was sweaty and matted and his huge cheeks were as flushed as you can imagine.  He felt like he was on fire.

My first instinct was to get Heidi and figure out what to do.  But then, I realized she was tired, too.  And I don’t always have to consult somebody else before making a decision.  So, I let her sleep.

I opened the door, turned the heater down and turned the fan on.  Then, I took Scooters and we went outside and sat on the porch (it’s pretty chilly tonight, like 40s).  That helped quite a bit.  Then, he acted hungry, so I took him in and got him a bottle.  I also washed his head and face with a cold washcloth, which I then put at the back of his neck while he drank his bottle.

Finally, after all that, we went up to his room and checked the temperature.  85 degrees.  Unacceptable.

So, I opened the window and we sat there, in the dark, for 15 minutes or so, while the room began to cool down.  We talked and played and then I gave him some more Tylenol and put him back to sleep.  This time, the door was closed, the fan was on and the window was still open.  I’ll go back in there in a few minutes and check the temperature and close the window.

It was horrifying to see my little guy in that kind of condition.  But it felt good to make it better and still let my hard-working, exhausted wife sleep.  Plus, Scooters and I connected some more and had fun.

Typically, I would let Heidi take the lead in fixing those problems but it felt good to do what made sense.  Sure, I can think of a few things I could have done better, but I felt more like a parent tonight because I let my love for Scooters and my instincts take over.

I love parenting.

Being a dad is tougher than I thought.  But not in the ways I thought it would be tough.  Don’t get me wrong, all the things I thought would be tough, are tough, including the early morning diaper changes, the spitting up and the horrible newborn poop that requires a pressure washer to clean.My family!

For me, though, there are harder things than sleep deprivation and “the icky stuff”.  It’s hard for me to know if I’m spending enough time with my family.  Heidi and I joke about boy #1 never letting me sleep in past 6:00am  with the phrase, “play with me, Daddy”.  It’s so cute, it’s nearly impossible to turn down (unless I’m actually sick).

He’s also fond of asking me, almost first thing in the morning after he wakes up, “Are you going to stay home?”  I can’t express how hard it is to hear that, right before I got to work or school or church.  I know I’m doing everything I can to spend time with him but I never know when it’s enough.

Then there’s the balancing act of trying to spend enough time with #2, who’s still 7 months and can’t tell me when he wants me to play with him while spending time with #1, who can tell me.  I already feel like I’m not able to focus as much on #2 as I was on #1 and I worry that I won’t be as close to #2, who I love every bit as much as #1.

My hope is these things balance out in the end.  School ends in June, so that’ll free up some time.  Plus, I’m going to make sure to spend one-on-one time with each kid, every month or so.  Throw in working together in the yard and the garden and making home improvements, as they grow up, and we’ll probably do okay.  I figure as long as I really do my best to spend as much time truly focused on my family, as possible, they’ll recognize that.

So far, this perpetual ambiguity around whether I’m meeting my family’s needs has been the hardest part of the job.  And I figure that fact alone means I’m very blessed.

Being a dad is tougher than I thought.

And I love every second.