patience

Lock Out Rant

629px-Deal-With-Being-Locked-Out-of-Your-House-(Teenagers)-Step-1

The day began chaotic. I woke up later than I should have. Claire woke up exactly at the same time I did which meant that I would have to put breakfast and my quiet time aside until she was taken care of. After changing her and getting her breakfast I remembered that the animals needed to eat and that the dog had been holding his bladder since 10pm the night before.

Animals were fed. Dog used the bathroom. Success.

Daughter spills Chiobani yogurt on her tray and proceeds to smear it all over the tray and then push 75% of its contents onto the floor.

Sigh…

Luckily the dog isn’t lactose intolerant and enjoys strawberries.

I find something else for my daughter to eat. In typical fashion she licks it, puts it down and a half hour later comes back and eats it as if it were the greatest thing ever. What’s wrong with her taste buds?!

I look at the oven clock: 8:45am. Crap. I need to get Claire to the babysitter and I still haven’t packed her lunch or mine. *Note to self—do this the night before!!!

Food is packed and ready to go. It may not be the greatest sandwich I ever made but its food and it will keep me alive. I grab Claire and her diaper bag with one hand, lunch bag in the other, and my left hand pinky has a hold of the keys and iPad mini.

Pinky is feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I begin to walk towards the door and the dog greets me as if I were taking him on a walk. I put everything down. The dog needs to go out one last time before I go to work and then I have to put him in his crate. Sigh…

Dog uses bathroom. Success.

I turn the knob to the French door that is to lead me back into my house to regretfully be greeted with my shoulder hitting said door. “Umm…this door seems to not be opening.” I turn the knob and push again. Still not opening. My daughter stands on the other side of the glass with a look that I have not quite experienced before.

The hamster slowly begins to give momentum to the wheel.

Daughter + door not opening + new look on face = locked out of the house.

Sigh…

“Claire, sweetie. Can you unlock the deadbolt?” “No, it isn’t funny so stop laughing.” Claire begins her attempt to reverse the deadbolts locking mechanism, but apparently she can only lock it. Of course!

I think to myself, “How do I get into the house?” I could wake my wife up, but she worked the night shift and went to bed 2 hours ago. She will not be happy. Naturally, I go back to the door and begin coaching Claire on how to open the door. Claire tries but fails. I laugh a little. If I weren’t going to be late to work it would be a lot funnier.

I finally give up and knock on our bedroom window. Wife wakes up and unlocks the door. Success. Wife has a look I recognize very well. It is a mixture of “I’m-not-pleased”, with a dash of “I-would-kill-you-if-our-daughter-wasn’t-here-right-now”. I try to make light of the situation and share with her how Claire is the one that locked me out. “Isn’t that cute?” I ask. Wife continues to walk away towards the bedroom.

I finally get the dog in the crate and Claire into the car. I drop her off at the babysitter and get to work 15 minutes late. I sit down at my chair and attempt to relax. I think to myself, I made it to work only 15 minutes late. That’s better than I expected. Success.

Lunchtime comes around and my uninspiring sandwich is nowhere to be found. The hamster slowly begins to give momentum to the wheel.

Sigh…I left it at home…

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Categories: child locking you out of the house, daughters, dogs, fatherhood, patience | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The Power of a Child

power of a child

There is this couple at my church that when I look at them I think ‘sophisticated’. The wife has a certain elegance that is natural to her. The husband is someone that you can tell is very educated and commands authority. This couple is always well dressed. Wife, in expensive 5th Avenue type dress and the husband in Armani suits and shoes that cost more than my entire wore drove combined.

This couple has two young boys very close in age. The boys are good kids, but they are two and three years old, so the idea of being still in Church does not compute. There have been numerous times in which the mom tries to get the boys to sit still with no success. The father, whose strong stare probably makes his employees straighten up to attention, does little to these boys in Church.

So 5th Avenue mom will get down on the ground inside the Cry Room and sit with the boys as they eat Cheerios on the floor. Armani dad whose authority, importance and rank is unmatched at work finds himself getting on his knees, begging his kids to be quiet and eventually succumbs to playing trucks with his boys because this is the only way to calm them down. The 5th Avenue dress and Armani suit are covered in slobber, cheerios and what looks like snot.

Children have a unique power.

For those of us who wear 5th Avenue Dresses or Armani suits we would never crawl on the ground with them, have people rub their dirty hands on them or noses for that manner. Yet our children have a unique power over our lives that grant them top-level clearance on us. No one else could ever get away with the things our children do or ask of us. This couple also marvels at the power their children have over them to do things that in all other circumstances would be unacceptable.

I once heard it said that if you had the President, Congress and a crying child in the room together the child would have the most power out of these three. Presidents and Congress have authority conferred on them which gives them great power, but a crying child could stop all of them dead on their tracks in order to do whatever it takes to make the child stop crying.

Our children change us. They need to. Things like 5th Avenue dresses and Armani suits matter little when our flesh and blood needs us. Rank and authority seem silly when our child is hungry and must be fed. Power is ridiculous when a child cries and needs to be picked up.

I think about these things and realize that to exercise true power and authority there must be openness to humility. 5th Avenue mom and Armani dad are humble enough to get on their knees in their expensive clothes to take care of their children. This humility is something we need to embrace. We will need to get on our knees to take care of our kids. We will need to accept that they will spill, puke and poop on us. To some this may seem like weakness, but it isn’t. Humility is a great companion to power, without it there is only cruelty. Humility allows mercy, and love to enter in. Power with mercy is justice. Power with love is grace.

I look at my daughter and the power she has over me. At times I do not want her to have that kind of hold on me, but that power humbles me. It changes me. That power helps me to be a man that recognizes the importance of exercising my power over her with great love and mercy.

Categories: children, fatherhood, humility, Parenting, patience, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The 45 Minute Cushion

45

So I think I am figuring out this whole timing thing with a baby.

I am told that getting anywhere on time with kids is pretty much impossible. “You just have to plan better” was my answer. That was always responded to with laughter as parents stared at each other and shook their heads at poor ignorant me. “You just wait till you have kids!” they would respond. Well…I recognize it isn’t as simple as I thought—it never is.

I can see why people say that being on time is almost impossible, but I hate being late and not honoring people’s time. When we first had Claire we were late to everything. I blamed lack of sleep, the dog, running our of coffee and the cat…its always the cats fault in our home.

Anyway, so after a few months of being late to pretty much everything I started preparing things the night before to make sure we would be set for the next day. However, Claire always has a schedule of her own: diaper change as we walk out, barfing everywhere, or the cat sneaking outside as I hold the door open with my pinky toe while at the same time holding the baby carrier, diaper bag, work bag and lunch bag.

Does anyone want a cat?

So it seemed like the night-before-idea just wasn’t cutting it. I tried prepping an hour before we needed to go anywhere but that also didn’t work—an hour was too much time. It’s amazing how many diapers and outfits (Claire’s and mine) a kid can go through in one hour. I tried 30 minutes but that was nuts! I would forget half of the things I needed to bring with me. I swear no one noticed it, but one day I wore a brown and black shoe to work…sigh.

Last week I tried 45 minutes. It works! 45 minutes before needing to be anywhere is perfect. Just enough time to change, feed, prepare everything and kick the cats sorry behind back through the door. I’m telling you a 45 minute cushion is perfect. I realize that will change when kid number two comes around (some day, but not yet). However, right now 45 is this guys new favorite number.

Seriously, does anyone want a cat?

Categories: fatherhood, fathers, living, patience, time management | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Time-free-carelessness

ImageI was talking to a friend the other day about trying to get things done when I have Claire with me and how impossible this seems. I shared that the Saturdays when my wife is working and I am home alone I can’t mow, fix or do the guy-type-things I need to do. I will try to figure out how I can get a task done with Claire, but it usually doesn’t go far.

“Maybe she would enjoy a ride in the wheelbarrow full of mulch? She can hold the shovel!”

When I accept that my guy-type-things are not going to happen I will sit on the couch with Claire and hold her while I watch TV or surf my iPhone—something I consider productive. Claire will usually get fussy and begin to cry and squirm. I’ll try to give her a bottle: she isn’t hungry. I’ll change her: she isn’t dirty. I’ll try to get her to nap: she isn’t tired.

A few days ago I sat down on the couch and forgot my phone in the bedroom and didn’t get the remote off the TV stand. I was sitting on the couch holding my baby girl with nothing to distract me. We sat…that’s all.

Claire didn’t fuss.

Claire actually goo-goo gaga the whole time and I responded with daddy’s own version. Forty-five minutes had passed and we were still hanging out without any distractions or interruptions. We were simply spending time together doing nothing in particular.

Why is it that spending time doing nothing in particular with my daughter is not enough?

I think many of us have lost the ability to be present to one another. To sit still, without a task, a text to check, an email to respond to, a dish to wash…the list goes on. One of my favorite authors/speakers, Matthew Kelly, says that we must develop the art of “time-free-carelessness.” Time-free-carelessness is being able to soak in the moment you are in without thinking of other moments to come.  To simply be in that moment and surrender to it.

The moments that I am able to have time-free-carelessness with my wife, daughter, friends, and self are usually the moments I enjoy the most. These are the moments where I don’t give other things permission to pull me away. Time-free-carelessness is a moment when I can give myself completely, and also receive fully.

I think that the issue with me lies with physical vs. emotional/spiritual tasks. A physical task such as feeding, changing or putting Claire to bed is got some substance. I can concretely establish the need and do the task necessary to accomplish the mission. An emotional/spiritual task such as playing, holding, or simply laying on the floor with Claire doesn’t have an immediate, tangible end goal. I can do these things a million times a day and there isn’t a physical need per say that is being accomplished.  I feel like a physical task is easier to do since it has an end goal whereas an emotional/spiritual task depends on many different variables.

I really need to just shift my way of thinking. My daughter is not a thing to fix, she is someone to know and love. Time-free-carelessness needs to be a priority because lawns do need to be cut and guy-type-things are necessary but Claire is more important. Those emotional/spiritual tasks may not have concrete manifestations now, but they will in the years to come. Lord, knows there are too many of us with daddy issues based on a lack of care-free-timelessness. I for one, definitely do not want to add to that.

Categories: dying to self, enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fathers, God, Parenting, patience, surrendering | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

The Diaper Reality

DSC02881There was poop everywhere

A routine 3:00 a.m. diaper change turned ugly at about 3:01 when I discovered that Claire had pooped up to the back of her neck. How does that happen?! Seriously. The physics of it just blows my mind. I’m sure there is a YouTube video out there explaining it with simulations and quadratic equations, but I digress.

The problem with this particular blowout was not so much that Claire was caked in it, but that the diaper was not disposable. My wife and I’s inner hippie got the best of us before Claire was born when we decided that we would use reusable diapers. This isn’t your great-grandma’s dinner-napkin-with-a-safety-pin diaper. This is a technologically advanced diaper that makes those hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year in disposables vanish. What these “BumGenius” company folks don’t tell you before you buy them is that there’s this nasty, sticky, Spiderman web like poop that doesn’t come off easily. It’s the kind that you need laser to remove it from the diaper. “It’s still attached!” “Get the laser, hun!”

They sell a sprayer attachment that connects to your toilet. It works—20 gallons later.

So I cleaned Claire off, changed her and then did battle with Satan’s forgotten child in a technologically advanced diaper. 20 gallons later, I claimed victory. I thought I was going to need a priest, but it worked out.

I went back to Claire’s room because she was making some noise. She was probably traumatized from the experience. I know I was—it was up to her neck! I walked in and smelled poop. I thought that maybe some had passed Claire’s head and hit the wall or something crazy like that. I sniffed around and found the source—in Claire’s new diaper. Apparently Satan had another forgotten child.

I began the cleaning process again (this time I used a disposable diaper—who’s the bum genius now?!). I began to pull the Velcro strap of the new diaper close when I heard a foul noise followed by a smell. Claire had pulled off a Hat Trick and it was only 3:10 a.m.

At this point I am beyond upset and I lose it. I start quietly yelling (which is hard to do) at Claire for this unnecessary level of bowel activity. She starts crying. I start crying, which is followed by shame, guilt, and many other terrible emotions.

I put Claire to bed and head to the living room to let the whole ordeal set in. “I yelled at her, God! For pooping!” More shame. More tears and the realization that I might not be as good of a father as I think I am. As I sat on the couch upset at myself, and asking God for patience and strength, I felt that God had something to say.

As usual I wasn’t expecting this.

God was showing me that Claire’s bowel movements are an image of my life. I sin. God comes in to clean the mess. I sin again—almost immediately—and God comes in to clean the mess again. As He patiently and lovingly cleanses me I go ahead and make another mess—the Hat Trick. Yet, God patiently wipes away the nasty, foul and unpleasant reality that is my brokenness. The diaper reality is this: we sin, seek forgiveness, God cleanses and heals, and we sin again. However, our heavenly Father is much more patient than this rookie dad. When I look at the analogy of this diaper fiasco I realize God is right and that, yet again, discovering fatherhood is more than learning patience with Claire and diaper cleansing techniques. It demands that I recognize and accept God’s never-ending patience with me, and my own constant diaper Hat Tricks.

*No technologically advanced diapers were harmed in the making of this blog*

Categories: brokenness, cleansing, fatherhood, God, Parenting, patience, sin | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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