Dad at 40

Fitness, Nutrition, Parenting, and Life

Archive for the month “February, 2016”

The Sacrifice of Parenthood – Disabilities and Children

Parenthood is a very challenging experience. For so long in our lives, we truly only responsible for ourselves. Certainly, we understand the concept of love. We love our family and friends, but it is different from the love we end up having for a partner. We then have a relationship (sometimes several) where we discover an external love for someone not family. We fall so deeply and so passionately in love that we decide that we want to have a child with this person. You start the journey of pregnancy with some visits to the doctor and you get some ultrasounds. These scans tell you whether everything is good with your baby. Now, back when Josh was born, I recall the scan being sooner rather than later and I recall my relief when I heard the technician say that we had a healthy baby boy on the way.

But…and this is a big but, what if the technician had been silent? What is he or she had said the doctor will need to speak with you? What if the doctor had said that she saw some problems with Luke when he was in utero? I think about these things as I look at all the babies out there that are abandoned. You may say that babies are not abandoned, but I recently spent time looking through a listing of the children available for adoption and my heart broke at what I saw. Most of the children seeking a forever home had profound disabilities – physical, cognitive, or emotional. Of that group, the most noticeable were those with profound physical and cognitive disabilities. One child had the need for 24/7 nursing care, needed to be close to a hospital at all times, and needed a parent to be home with him almost all the time.

Now, when I started this blog, I said I would always speak honestly and openly. So, I would ask those of you that might read this – is that a gift from God or a prison sentence? Life is precious, I know, but we throw it away in this world of ours so frequently for people with no challenges. I am very lucky in that Luke was born healthy and without any issues. But what if he had not? Would I be able to give so selflessly? And if people think children are such miracles, why then are so many children in the state foster and adoption system children with profound disabilities? I am lucky to never have to be faced with giving up my child, but I see so many parents that do. I do not see these children being adopted readily. This is not to say that they do not find homes eventually. But, what if they do not?

So, this brings me to the topic. Medical termination of a pregnancy when you know that your child may have a profound disability. Some parents decide to have their child anyway, which I completely respect. Some lose their child soon thereafter and take with them memories of their little loved one….a love unlike that of a family member or your partner. It is a powerful love that can overwhelm every part of you. Those parents take with them to their dying day those memories. Other parents do not lose their children. Instead, they raise them. These children lead a long life. I recently saw a couple at a restaurant with a child that had down syndrome. This child was not highly functioning, but still high enough to behave quietly. The catch – the couple had to be in their 70s or 80s and the child looked to be in his early 40s. Somehow, I felt like this was their life.

I read an article about a mother with a child that had a disability. She was so grateful for an iPad because it distracted him. Her thought was that as a small boy, he was fine and so sweet and gentle. But, now, as a grown man standing about 6’4″, she was deathly afraid of him losing it in public. She had been at her daughter’s recital and her son started to lose his cool. How would she control a 6’4″ 300 pound child without it being a safety concern? Luckily, the iPad calmed him down and she was grateful for that, but she said this would be the rest of her life.

So, at once they are a gift, but they can also be a prison sentence. We, as  a society, cringe at the thought of medical termination. Make no mistake, I am not saying this for a child missing a hand or limb. We are talking higher level stuff here. These are questions you need to answer before you jump into parenthood. As you look at your spouse and you two decide to take this road, you have to ask yourself what are you willing to sacrifice for it? Are you willing to give up your independence? Are you willing to sacrifice your time? Your future? Are you willing to give so selflessly that you put others to shame with your sacrifice?

I know we were not. We discussed it and we decided that we could not do that. To some, we might be monsters, but we knew the limits of what we could reasonably do. You have to find your limits. You have to have that talk. One couple I heard about had a child they knew was going to be disabled, but then got upset that they did not get more government support. These people knew they would not get support based on their income, but then got mad that they did not. Rather than pay for it themselves, they just stopped working so much so they could qualify. I am not saying that will be any of you, but what will you expect? Who will shoulder the burden if you decide to proceed with the miracle of life? More importantly, what if you do all this and then decide you cannot do it any longer. Remember, most of the kids in foster and state care have these profound disabilities. I wonder how many of those people thought a child was a miracle and would not entertain the idea of a medical termination.

This is a hard topic and to those parents that do this…that made those sacrifices. I have nothing but respect for you and your sacrifices. Truly. I am simply stating that prospective parents have to think about these things. These are issues that impact you and your lives for the rest of your lives. Give this real thought. Yes, life is a miracle and perhaps you would be out of favor with your god, but you will spend a lifetime doing what you have to for a child. Just give it some thought…real though. Have a conversation with your spouse. Know what you plan to do if the situation presents itself. I certainly hope it never does. Good luck out there…..

Parenthood and Psychological Warfare

I was in the military many years ago. I recall hearing about this thing called psychological warfare. Then if you fast forward about twenty years, you will possibly recall the issues the U.S. had with Abu Ghraib. I remember reading the things that they did in that prison setting. Now, I am not getting political, but I am going to explain what I am getting at here.

Parenthood is a lot like psychological warfare. Let me explain this perspective for a minute. At 42, I want some peace and quiet in my life. I like things to be ordered and flow in a natural progression that makes sense. However, children are not like this. I can live with that. But, when you get into infant territory, you are in what I like to call “holy shitsville”.

Luke is an amazing child, but he brings the pain. See, every time that he wakes up, he is screaming bloody murder. It is his thing. He does not like waking up and he lets you know it. He will randomly just start going ballistic. Once again, no rhyme or reason, just a small, screaming machine. He will do this at various times throughout the night, causing sleep deprivation. Just as you start to drowse off, a blood curdling scream is let loose into the bedroom and you are pulled from that comforting envelope known as sleep into a dark and depressing place.

So, we are starting to get into the psy ops stuff here. Sleep deprivation. That is a biggie. Then, he will want to be held while you stand. Not sitting, but you must stand and follow a specific pattern. I have flashbacks to seeing a poor prisoner standing on a box holding his hands up to his side. I am standing and holding this child in a position that will hopefully keep him calm and prevent him from crying. It sometimes works. Most often, I move incorrectly and cause him to start the screaming cycle again.

Then we get into the crazy stuff. Poop and pee. Seriously, this kid should be a sharpshooter with the aim that he has. And what the hell? Where does a two and a half month old get that much pee? He is a peeing machine and if you give him just a second, he will put you on blast. Poop….goodness. It is scary when he cries havoc and slips the dogs of war. He becomes the perfect machine to torture you. Now, I have it easy, but my poor wife is stuck with this way more than I am.

You may be thinking that I am crazy to make this comparison. But keep in mind, there are some significant parallels in the actions here. Intent is a different story and actual torture is a malicious act that I would not make light of. However, a child does much the same to a parent but because we love our little bundles of joy, we just quietly accept it. My wife often states that she did not read that part in any of her parenting blogs. I tell her that no one wants to talk about the hard side of parenting….the long nights with a screaming baby. Poop and pee parties that really leave you questioning your sanity. Walking laps in your living room because your child is going ballistic.

The reality is that parenting is hard work. It is not for the weak-willed. It takes courage and commitment. So many people have children then do not live up to the responsibility associated with being a parent. Kids and babies will push the limits of what you can reasonably handle, and then they will do it again. If you ever read those stories where a parent hurts a child, you will notice it is because the child is screaming and the parent loses his or her cool. This in no way condones any hurtful action towards a child, but it makes sense that a person could lose his or her cool if they did not know how to handle a small child.

Parenthood is scary. It is scary because there are a lot of unknowns. The scariest unknown is yourself. What will you do when you are stressed out and your child is screaming bloody murder? What will you do when you are tapped out and your child will not stop? What will you do when you cannot give another inch and your child needs a mile?

This leads into another topic I want to discuss soon enough….but I am trying to figure out how to word it. Stay tuned for that one…..it will be a tough one to discuss.

Bad Kids or Bad Adults

I have been pretty quiet for the last two weeks. Work and life got in the way. It happens. However, I am back with a much lighter load. I still do not know if anyone reads this, but this posting is something I take very personally. So here it goes….

Much is made about children acting up in public. This posting right here illustrates the problem. I was not there and the owner could have handled it a bit differently, but the point that the owner makes is accurate – the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. If you are not interested in reading the article, I will sum it up. Family in restaurant. Kid starts screaming. Owner screams back. Kid is quiet. Family is outraged. Morality police scream bloody murder. Restaurant owner says all my other patrons bothered, and I did what I had to do.

I get this. Last night, we were having dinner at Dan’s, a local burger joint. Luke was chilling in his car seat and we were trying to enjoy a meal. Not necessarily quiet, as the din of the restaurant was clearly present, but it was just families having dinner with their kids. However, one family came in and turned it all around. They had several small children. Again, I was not too worried because they seemed to have it under control. Then it started. A little girl of about 3 or 4 just lost it. She went nuclear over something ridiculous. The first minute was understandable, as I can give some people time to deal with a child and try to calm them. But this went on for about 5 minutes. The mother just kept reading on her smartphone. The aunt, I think, started trying to talk above the screaming child. This brought her voice up to a yell – in a crowded restaurant. The child was not in pain or being done wrong in any way. The child was simply throwing a tantrum.

The mother finally stands up and asks the child if she needs to be taken outside. Finally….some common sense and respect for others. But that was it. It was an empty threat. I noticed the look of relief on faces when she said this and then the look of disappointment when she sat back down to look at her phone. Meanwhile, the aunt?, just kept raising her voice. The child just kept screaming. They kept acting like nothing was going on. This went on for a good 15 minutes. Then, once the child quieted down, the aunt kept her barnyard voice and kept hollering how she was an excellent referee and kept the calm. At this point, two women sat in the booth between us and them and I waved at them and told them to move. They had no idea why and I explained to them how loud those people were. They started to get up and sure enough, the kid starts up again and the aunt starts calling the cows to come back to the barn. The lady looks at me and thanks me. Sure, there was only two booths separating them, but I guess it is better than point blank range. At this point, we had had enough and left.

So, what is this – bad kids or bad adults? I call it both, but the real culprit here is the adults. They were to blame for allowing this to continue. Screaming kids should be removed from an establishment. Bottom line. Now, when you hear someone say this, the natural response is outrage because whoever says it must not know what it is like to have kids. Wrong! I do know. And I still say taking the screaming kids out. You see, we all work hard for our money. Very hard. When we go out, we want a reasonable experience. It may not always be pleasant, but it should at least be decent. A screaming child, or children, is not acceptable. While the parents of the screaming child also work hard for their money, at the point of a screaming child, they are not enjoying their meal. So, rather than be the only ones miserable with their screaming child, they decide to make everyone miserable. That makes sense. Real sense of respect for others around you. Hell no. Take that screaming kid out.

Restaurants are in a pickle. Most chains do not say anything. They fear the court of public opinion. Plus, there is the danger of overreacting too quickly. So, when is it a good time. I would think some common sense would prevail here. A few minutes without abatement would generate a “sir (or ma’am), would you please take your child outside for a few minutes so he (or she) settles down? Here is a kids cup soda to give to your little one” or something along those lines. But no, they do not. I am not saying to kick them out, but ask them to deal with the situation.

Wait, but you would not take your kid out. You are just saying this. Hell yes I would take my child out. In a heartbeat. I prefer a quiet meal. I do not want to hear any screaming kid. And if it is mine, then out I go with him. I will not let him ruin a meal for anyone but me. That is the nature of the beast. Certainly, special situations are different. Perhaps you have a special needs child. I can live with some measure of sound, especially with special needs kids. But at the end of the day, they can lose it too and you as a parent have to know the difference between them being happy and a little noisy and ballistic and over the top noisy. Same rule then applies, take your kid out. Admittedly, it is much tougher with a special needs child and I can empathize with that plight, but the collective should not be subjected to that beyond a certain point.

Oh yes, and for the love of all that is holy….do not take a baby or a small child to a movie theater. I mean, seriously, there is a special place in hell for people that do that. I know when Luke wakes up from a nap, he is full on ballistic. Sure, he might nap through part of a movie, but once he wakes up, it is fight time. So, why do that? I do not. You should not either. Common sense.

At the end of the day, I can only come to one realization – BAD ADULTS.

So don’t be a bad adult. Be a respectful one.

 

Little Voices = Bad Choices

So, I was looking at my car about 15 months ago. My son was not yet a thought in my head. However, the idea of not having a fun car was. This little voice in my head chimed in and said “Get a new car!” so off I went to the dealerships to look at options. What to get? What would be fun and reasonable?

But before I begin, I should note that I am 6’8″ and car shopping is in interesting exercise in finding fit, form, and function that works for me. Add to that the possibility of a future child and you have some interesting things happening.

My choices at the time:

Nissan 370Z – Yeah…no. Great car. But, no. First off, it is pretty expensive and it is downright claustrophobic. Despite being a great looking car with performance to boot, I just could not justify this car to myself.

Ford Mustang – Sweet ride. Had been recently redesigned and looked amazing. Problems at the time – dealers were not letting you test drive them. They were too hot an item. Strike one. Sitting in the thing, it is small. Very cool, but small. The back seat could be used for a puppy. Not a baby, but a puppy. A small one. Strike two. Inflated prices. They were marked up the wazoo and I was not interested in buying an expensive car with a new and untested design. Strike three.

Hyundai Genesis Coupe– The Genesis is a nice car. Make no mistake. It was nice. I thought this was a serious contender. But again, for a guy my size it was really small. I was concerned that I would not be comfortable. Just not something that I was going to enjoy in the long run. But, if you are shorter and want a lot of car for your money, then the Genesis coupe is an awesome deal.

Mercedes C or E Class Coupe – I had owned a CLK once. It was a great car. Awesome for a guy my size with room to spare. I will say that I miss that car. However, the challenge of being a Mercedes owner is the cost of insurance and repair on a luxury car. Plus, it is a sitting target for thieves. No, I do not think roving bands of thieves run around town seeking out a random Mercedes coupe to vandalize. But of all the cars I have owned, it is the only one I ever had vandalized, so my perspective is biased here. A new or slightly used one was still hella expensive and not something I wanted to drop all my money into.

BMW – Nope. Just nope. Never liked Beemers. Not to say they are bad cars, just not my cup of tea. Why? I am not fond of their interior. So, ruled out quickly. The interior had not changed much from what I remembered. So, not a good fit.

Audi Coupe – Great car. But really pricey. Not as comfortable as I had hoped. So, not a good fit. Again, I am sure people shorter than me would love it. But it was not my thing.

Dodge Challenger – Ding ding ding. The winner by a wide margin. But, it was a Dodge and I was not sure if I would enjoy it. Still, old school American muscle. It looked great. More importantly, it was big and comfy. It had all the perks I would possibly want. They loaded these things. Great deal too. Of course, the little voice said this is the car….this is the one. Buy it. A more calm and collected voice, my wife, was telling me that I should really get a four door. But no, I was getting old and this was my last hurrah. I wanted the Challenger. Hellcat? SRT? Shaker? Nope. Just the V-6. Rode great and had plenty of power. Awesome choice. I even convinced myself it would be easy to get a baby in and out of the backseat.

 

Dodge Challenger

My mid-life crisis car.

So, fast forward about a year. The car was great. I loved every minute of having it. For a V-6, it was more than enough car. However, enter a small child. A baby. Ok, now I want to murder that little voice that said get this car. Why? Because that little voice is insane. I shall never listen to that little voice again. So men out there, do not listen to that little voice. Tune it out. Put on headphones. Do whatever you have to do so it does not win out.

Having a carseat in a car like this is torture. You literally have to be an Olympic gymnast to get into the back seat to put a child in. Honestly, it would be easier to teach my 8 week old to hop in the car and strap himself in than getting in and out of the car. It was a painful lesson in practicality. I share this with you all because I hope that no one makes the same foolish mistake I did. Sure, I loved that car. But it was not practical at all.

So, what was my solution. Well, here I go again to find a new car. Fun times. What to get? Well, SUVs are not my thing. I still did not want a fuddy-duddy car. So, I had to find something that would be cool and fun and large enough to accommodate my family. Yeah, this was going to be fun. Where would I find a car like that? Hmm? Where? What? And yes, I realize these are first world problems, but I am sharing my experiences with you, good and bad.

So, I found this other car – a Dodge Charger. Imagine that. A what? Charger? The same car I could have had 15 months ago and saved myself a few thousand dollars in stupidity tax. Yeah. That car. Well, stupid people should pay a stupidity tax and I am no exception. One new car later and I have the space and comfort that I should have been thinking about from the start. Luckily, I am in a position to absorb this hit without it killing me. But I know many people are not. I hope that this post helps someone. I also hope that I made the right choice. It feels right though, so I am lucky. But yes, my more improved four door experience. And I stress this – four doors are important with a baby!! if you take nothing else away from this…get four doors!!!

Dodge Charger

My second mid-life crisis car.

 

 

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