Most of the time when I get asked that question, I just smile and tell the truth. “My kids are just so great. They make it enjoyable.” That’s really the truth. I am just fully in love with my kids. They are my best friends. We are the type of family that does life together. Of course I try to encourage their own individual interests and set aside special time to devote solely to each of them, but most of our time is spent as a group. It’s just how we make it work. I think that’s one of the reasons I always give credit to my kids. Of course they argue and fight. Each of us has our own issues, but that’s the beauty of it. We work through it all together. In our house, no one will ever have to go alone. I just love the idea of that. No matter what happens in my life or how horrible of a day I might be having, I have four little people who believe in me and actively show me love.
However, it wasn’t always second nature to me. To be honest, at first the realization that this was “real life” for me was beyond intimidating. Waking up early to get four kids ready for school as well as getting myself ready for work, juggling all of the home and my career responsibilities, taking on the full financial load of a family of five with no extra income besides what I bring to the table, picking up and dropping off for every event, school day, doctor’s appointment, parent/teach conference, etc. and finally acting as dad & mom in my house just seemed too much. Finally after months of trial and error and praying/thinking about what my little crew REALLY needed, I realized that my kids just needed me to be there. They can do without fancy clothes, extravagant vacations, and the nicest toys. Each of them simply want dad to be fully committed to their lives.
Besides the fact that my kids are my favorite people in the world, there are a few other tricks that I utilize to keep my sanity:
1) Don’t sweat the small stuff.
2) My definition of “the small stuff” was dramatically changed over the past few years. Hahaha. Now it’s more like “the medium stuff”. Basically, I just added a few things to the list for me not to worry about (random piles of junk laying around my house, matching socks, separating whites from colors in the laundry, making it to every event we are invited to, etc) I just do what I can do. Besides that, I honestly try to just not worry about it.
3) Figure out exactly how each of my kids show/receive love and laser beam focus on that junk. I don’t have time or resources to do everything I would want as a parent, so I need to make sure I’m ultra-intentional on how I do spend those things.
4) Find the joy in every situation. There will always be something sad/frustrating/annoying in every single aspect of life. It’s not that you shouldn’t acknowledge those things, but I like to make it a point to highlight to myself and my kids something positive in everything we do.
5) Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Haters gonna hate. So I just do me. I mean I’m a single adult male who drives a mini-van. Hahaha. I couldn’t care less about that people think of me cruising up in my 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan.
6) Embrace practicality. When I learned to cut out the fluff and frou-frou, things got way easier for me. My dream Christmas present? Pay my monthly water bill :) hahaha.
All of this being said, I do rent a permanent seat on the struggle bus. Do I think of myself as a perfect parent? HAHAHAHA!! No. Heck no. No times infinity. Geez, I probably screw up more than most everyone reading this. There’s only so many times a human can slip in spilled chocolate milk before they kinda lose it ;) If you’ve been around me in person, I’m sure you seen me lose my cool with my kiddos before. When they act out, and I don’t always respond in the best manner. I over react quite a bit and don’t always dive into each situation as I should. There’s normally always someone whining, crying, mad or upset. Bottom line, they are kids. Also, they are kids who’ve went through emotional trauma. They are bound to act out because their little, sweet brains don’t know how to deal with some of these crazy, hard emotional situations that surface from time to time. Seriously though, every parent in the world is flawed. We just do what we can and try our 103% best.
Now, another question… Do I think of myself as an awesome parent? ---- YES!!! Is it because of anything I say or do? Nope. Honestly, it’s just because I’m there. Being there makes anyone an awesome parent. It’s not some special secret formula. Whether you spend thousands of dollars taking your kid to Disney world or just sit and color imaginary animals with them, to me it’s all the same. Just devoting time to them makes you their hero.
Tonight, I was putting away dishes and Titus walked up to me & asked if we could lay together on the couch. So we did. After a few minutes of us just talking and watching a movie together, he makes a really serious face, looks at me and says “Daddy. Would you ever leave us?” I smiled and said, “Of course not buddy. You are stuck with me.” His face stayed serious while he said, “No. I’m serious. What if we don’t clean up the house good enough or I do something bad? Would you ever leave us then?” I paused for a moment and looked at him & said “Buddy. I'm never, ever going to leave you. I promise.” He just smiled and wrapped himself up in my arms on the couch. Really that’s what it all boils down to. Regardless of what happens, I’m there. That’s how I parent four kids solo. Screw ups and all, I’m still just there, and they are there for me.
Be Blessed and Be a Blessing,