Category: Daughters

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10 Years Ago, Yesterday

Yesterday, 10 years ago, was the worst day of my life.

It was also Ava & Zoe’s 10th birthday which, granted, implores a more thorough explanation before the Facebook mamas schedule an event after “coffee Tuesdays” to have me lynched.

What exactly happened 10 years ago is something that I will endure forever, but that being said, even 10 years later, I continue to live with the consequences of that day.

I had a hard time yesterday; I tried to write about it, I tried to post online about it, and I tried to dig deep and find my patience for the special day.

I fell short of my self-imposed demand of pseudo-perfection.

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Life is hard. Parenting is harder. And when you mix in the challenges that some kids live with each day (of all kinds and extents), it not only affects them, but it can, and often does paralyze the entire family.

At least temporarily.  We find comfort in that “tomorrow is always another day” when we can try again.

The innate problem with that resolve, reluctantly, is that we don’t have an infinite bucket of tomorrows. We can’t just repeatedly chalk it up as a bad day. We have to find strategies and alternatives to help our kids be successful in the things that move all of us – the passions that make us who we are and give us purpose in life. Otherwise, what’s the point?

In particular, Zoe had a rough day yesterday. Her extreme frustration with the mundane and ordinary is hard to comprehend. As a “normally” adjusted adult, it baffles me and in return, my own frustration elevates and nothing constructive comes from our collective meltdown. That doesn’t mean either of our feelings are any less valid, but it does present a problem and requires a gargantuan level of patience for which I do not typically have reserves.

Some believe it’s often best to remove emotion from these situations and approach it more objectively. That often works in business and other aspects of my life but, on a personal level, it goes against the very fabric of my existence. I wear my heart on my shoulder; I make no excuses for it and am grateful for being able to access that part of my soul as I know it’s so very hard for many people.

Emotion, for me, is the *food of life*. It makes us human and to take that away defeats the purpose of connecting to one another, to our world, and most importantly, to ourselves on a higher, more intimate level.

I guess the point is that we cannot mask our emotions or feelings, however absurd others may think they are. Rather, we should own them, understand where they come from, and find ways to embrace and channel that passion into something purposeful and meaningful instead of letting them escalate, unbridled until they become the cog in our lives that keeps us from becoming, *awesome*.

We all need to find ways to to celebrate who we are  even if we don’t know who that is just yet.

For the past 10 years, somewhere in the back of my mind I’ve been trying to play the fit the square peg in a round hole game. I’m learning, albeit excruciatingly slowly, that I need to play a different game altogether.

The game I learned as a kid is not the same game they play. Together, we need to learn, and accept, a lot of things about each other:

  • that the rules are different
  • that there are no rules
  • that they don’t always know the “why”
  • that their feelings don’t have to make sense to me
  • that their feelings don’t have to make sense to them
  • that they want to be happy but sometimes don’t know how
  • that I am the center of their world and that is a gift, not a right
  • that they are never going to be who I thought they should be, or think, or feel
  • that they are their own imperfect versions of themselves
  • that they don’t have to do things my way
  • that they have choices
  • that they are smart, funny, beautiful
  • that ***what they have to say is important***
  • that I have time for them
  • that I will protect them
  • that I am *trying* to help
  • that I need to be more patient
  • that my primary job is to be their Dad and not their friend
  • that I’m not trying to make their lives more difficult but rather make it easier
  • that I don’t understand sometimes
  • that we don’t have to always agree
  • that you don’t always have to understand your feelings
  • that it’s ok to be frustrated
  • that it’s ok to be sad and not really know why
  • that it’s ok to want to be alone sometimes
  • that it’s ok to ask for help
  • that you don’t have to be good at everything
  • that you don’t need to learn how to ride a bike
  • that you are entitled to your own space – physically and emotionally
  • that what you feel is valid, good, and important
  • that Daddy makes mistakes too
  • that you can do anything you want in life
  • and that I’m imperfect and that’s ok too.

Yesterday, 10 years ago, was one of *the best days of my life. In an instant, you gave my life more purpose and meaning than I could have ever imagined. And each and every day since, you have pushed me to think and learn *differently*, love more, and become a better Dad and a better person.

Embrace who you are, own your emotions, and never, ever forget, that you are, and always will be the center of my world.

Happy Birthday.

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Open letter to my daughters

A&Z,

I have sat down for the past several months trying to write this letter to you both but have not been able to find the words. I wrote Open Letter to My Son with relative ease so I have been perplexed as to why I have had such a hard time writing to you.

Until today.

You both are the miracles that almost never came true; your births embody the best and worst moment of my life. I was forever changed that day, in both good ways and bad, but I’m realizing now that my consternation in writing to you is that I’m afraid of coming up short because you deserve nothing but the best.

By the time you read this, you’ll be old enough and experienced enough to know that I’m not perfect. What I hope you glean from all of this is the understanding that while the doctors and nurses may have saved your lives, you two are the shooting stars that saved my life.

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But that is a story for another day.

As you two grow older, wiser, and ever more beautiful, I have come to the realization that you were put in my life to show me another way and to teach me what’s important in life. Sons and daughters are different in so many ways. I, for the most part, understand your brother. I guess it’s a guy thing. You on the other hand, often perplex me and teach me ways to look at even the mundane in another light.

You surprise me everyday.

I find it hard to think about you growing up and one day, moving on to live your own lives in college or elsewhere and beyond. I want so much to protect you, hold you, and keep you close. But of course I know the day will come when that room upstairs will empty out and you’ll be off to find yourself – to explore, learn, love, and experience.

Before you leave, I offer you the following suggestions for living a purposeful, fulfilling, and adventurous life as well as some things that I want you to know about me:

1. First and foremost, you will always be daddy’s little girl. I will always see you as that shooting star, cradled in my arms. Just accept it.
2. I maintain an irrational but tangible fear of not being able to always keep you safe. And because that’s my job, it keeps me up at night even now when you’re only 7. So when you get older, remember that dear old dad is worried about you so call him and let him know you’re ok.
3. My only wish for you is for you to be happy. If you have that, everything else falls into place.
4. We make our own destinies; don’t wait for it to happen because it won’t and you’ll look back wondering where you went wrong. Take risks, explore, learn, and call your father when you get home.
5. You are beautiful inside and out. Don’t let the media, people, or yourself make you feel differently.
6. When you were 6, I started to take you both out on dinner dates alone. I’ve never felt such pride and happiness during those dinners. I hope that when you’re 36, we’re still making time for each other.
7. Never let anyone treat you as anything less than the smart, beautiful, and funny girls you are. Love and be loved but don’t accept anything less.
8. Zoe – I always loved playing soccer with you on the front lawn and the day you innocently explained to me what the middle finger meant. Good stuff.
9. Ava – I melted the day you said to me, “Daddy – I wrote this story about a puppy just like you write stories on your computer.”
10. Remember to always speak up, speak your mind, but be respectful of other opinions. Be heard.
11. You matter. When you’re feeling down or defeated, call me. I’ll always be there for you even if it’s just for a cup of coffee and a shoulder to lean on.
12. Never settle.
13. Trust, but verify. In love and life.
14. Like I told your brother, I’m sorry for the days that I yelled at you for something I’m sure wasn’t important. I can honestly say, I tried my best to be a good parent but sometimes I fell short and that’s not your fault.
15. I’m probably never going to like your boyfriends. You should just accept that because I’m having a hard time just talking about it now.
16. If you get in trouble, I will be the first one at your side to help you, make sure you’re safe, and then ground you for a month.
17. Of course, get a puppy.
18. At some point in your life, live alone. Bask in the time spent with ‘you.’ But know that you can always come home for any reason. Keep the key.
19. Read. And continue to write your stories.
20. When you look back at your baby pictures, just remember that I did my best with those hair thingys. And if you are not home by curfew with that new boyfriend, I’ll show him the pictures!
21. Learn to ski, snowboard, or go hiking. Being on top of a mountain on a sunny crisp day will be some of the most magical moments of your life.
22. Always come home for the holidays.
23. You can always curl up with Dad on the couch no matter how old you are.

When you were born, they told us that you might very well not make it through the night. But you did. Embrace the gift you have been given and live YOUR life. Choose to be happy and always remember that we love you, unconditionally.

PS: Don’t forget: Dinner at 8 with Dad on Thursday night. See you then.

Daughters Humor

The Worst Day of the Year

There is one day each year that I fear the most:

School picture day.

As a father of 3, including twin girls, nothing is as stressful as trying to style a girls hair when I self-admittedly have absolutely no clue what I’m doing.

My son merely throws on a pair of khakis, a golf shirt and with a little spit on that cowlick, we are good to go.

With the girls, not so fast. Thankfully, my wicked awesome (sounds like the Dunkin Donuts commercial huh?) wife already has their clothes picked out the night before so ‘all’ I need to do is their hair.

Sweet mother of God, the hair!!

What the heck am I supposed to do with a drawer full of this?

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There are all kinds of hair doohickeys that I don’t even know how to use in there: barrettes, headbands, stretchy headband thingies, bead loop things, scrunchies, and some other contraptions that look like they were my grandmother’s that I’m afraid to touch.

There are too many options and more importantly, no instructions. Awesome.

So what’s a guy to do?

[Send Text to Mom] What should I put in the girls’ hair?

[Reply Text from Mom] Just use a ‘stretchy headband thingy’. That’s not what she called it but that’s all I heard.

[Send Text to Mom} How’s this?

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[Reply Text from Mom with Irritation] You’re funny.

No dice I guess. And you can see how thrilled my daughter was with my creation.

Ok, so let me try one of those flower thingamajigs on your sister.

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BAM!! It was like an aircraft carrier on her head that needed cables attached to her ears. I was afraid the bees would pollenate the thing.

#fail

I moved on to my go-to pony. It was going well until I was on my last loop and the thing snapped in half and shot me in the eye. I grabbed another pony thingy. I brushed back her hair but couldn’t remember if I was supposed to part it or not.

SO MANY THINGS TO REMEMBER! WTH!!??

I decided on no part. I pulled her mane back, tied the pony but then… I remembered my wife telling me to make it low. Or maybe she said high?

[Send Text to Mom] Is this ponytail supposed to be high on her head or low?

[Reply Text from Mom] What’s wrong with you? High. I mean low. ~Snicker~ Do your best. I’m sure it looks fine.

Little did she know.

We haven’t gotten the pictures back yet but I’ve already put the re-take date on the Google family calendar.

After 40 minutes of 7 year-old hair mastery, we were ready. Not bad I must say especially after dropping the crew off at school and seeing the other girls with their dads. And their poor wild hair! Obviously they did not put as much effort in as I had!

I was thinking I was Paul Mitchell compared to most of these guys although some must have taken an advanced night course or something because a few of the girls had braids!

But most girls were not so lucky. Some were so bad, random moms were pulling the girls aside after dad left shaking their heads saying, “Come here sweetie. Let me fix your hair.” Those poor Dads… they didn’t have a clue.

But now that I think of it, you don’t think they did the same thing to my girls when I drove away do you?

Well?