[If you don’t subscribe to the book newsletter, a quick update on the next book] It is the dog days of summer and I am in the dog days of writing the next book. I’m approaching half way. If I look over my shoulder, I can no longer see the bright and exciting beginning. If I look ahead, it’s still a bit dark and mysterious. How are you going to get out this one, Max? The only way to find out is to keep going. Get on that treadmill and get some words down each day.
When that happens? Happiness and light. But it does have a darker side. Chasing happiness, even just through writing, can be exhausting. This time around I’m trying instead to focus on being grateful.
G.K. Chesterton said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
Unlike happiness, which is more a (fleeting) feeling, gratitude, I think, can be cultivated as a practice. It is a verb, something you do. Happiness is worth acknowledging, but gratitude is worth practicing. Continue Reading
They are no longer little kids. I’m not sure why that occurred to me this week. Maybe it the birthday party for a friend. Or seeing some kids we hadn’t seen in a long time. Or revisiting places we hadn’t been in years. Something had me thinking about age, and time, and growing up. Or not growing up.
I came downstairs one morning and Cecilia, who is now taller than Michelle and certainly looks like an eighth grader, was happily watching a Disney show and I realized she looked bigger and older, but might not actually be bigger and more mature. Then I realized I was supposed to be older and confident and know what I was doing. But did I? Of course not.
There are many times I still feel like a insecure, nervous eighth grader. We all do. We all have a little imposter syndrome, no matter how young or old, and are full of doubts and concerns.
Sorry, girls, that feeling is not going away at 15, or 25, 45, or 75. It’s a universal part of the human experience. You gotta do your best to see through the posturing and be there for your friends and family. That’s one thing I’m confident about. Continue Reading
We are back from our West Coast vacation. We survived our one-day Disneyland whirlwind. It was a good age to take them.
I did my best to try to take it all in. That isn’t always easy for me. I like a to-do list. I like having a plan. I like feeling productive. Sometimes that drive comes at the cost of actually experiencing the thing I am so eager to check off my list. So I tried to say yes more this vacation and I tried not to get too tied up in the planning.
It wasn’t always easy. That water can be cold. Or the beach sand too… sandy. Or the thought of paying for another bowl of mac ‘n cheese too much. But I tried because (as just about everyone who hasn’t seen Cece in awhile comments on) they are growing older. Really fast.
So I tried to say yes while they are still asking and while I still can because one day soon they won’t ask Dad to jump in the hotel pool or body surf that wave with them.
They will probably still ask me for mac ‘n cheese however.
I made good on a four year promise this week when I took Cecilia to Six Flags as part of her twelfth birthday. Be very careful what you casually say when they are eight. Kids remember everything.
We planned, we plotted, we watched the weather, we figured out the best routes and the best deals. And things mostly worked out. We had a great day. I hope we had a memorable day but I don’t really get to choose.
Despite all the planning and stress, what I’ve heard her mention most to others afterward wasn’t the coasters or wild rides but the M&M design on the park’s entrance steps, the various tattoos on the people in line, the frappuccino she got at Starbucks on the way, and the Nutella pizza the restaurant had on the menu.
We can stress about perfect summer vacations or special birthdays but mostly its the little ordinary moments that stick. Big or little, I’m happy she will at least remember who else was there with her. Continue Reading
When I was growing up, 90% of my time and energy was spent on sports. The other ten percent was used up with SimCity strategies and reading sci-fi novels. But mostly it was sports. Any sport.
The girls have zero interest in sports, at least right now. Not even if it involves glitter. And that’s fine with me.
My life is better and richer now with musicals, bubblegum pop, trombone, dance recitals, and crafts.
Being a parent isn’t easy but a lot of it is common sense. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t try to give them your childhood. Don’t close your mind. Adjust. Continue Reading
The kids had winter break this week. We stayed put and I hit a pandemic wall. Not the first in the past year. Turns out an introvert who doesn’t mind going days without speaking to other humans has limits. I tried to fight it. Being tired is easy. Being a cynic is easy. Caring is much harder. Hoping is harder.
Who knows how this past year will effect the kids long term? Maybe they shrug it off. Maybe it’s a weird touchstone moment they share at parties. I do know it’s not fair to let my experiences deprive them of any hope they need to be happy. So I put on my Dad pants, vacuumed up my pity, stayed off the internet, and tried to stay positive.
Parenting is not easy. It takes a certain courage. The courage to wake up in the morning and keep up the good cheer even if you’re not feeling it. The courage to believe that making a better world is possible and worth it.
Parenting is hard. But it’s worth it. Continue Reading
I’ve mostly given up on the news. I’ll watch the local broadcast for the weather and the 1-800 Kars for Kids song and then give myself 30 seconds to glance the headlines to make sure the world isn’t ending (degrees of relativity with that one) and that’s it. Anything else and I start to spiral into a foul mood.
But it has raised an interesting question as a Dad: How much should we shelter our kids from the scariness of the world? How much should we protect them from knowing about the day-to-day events of the world that they can’t do anything about? Is it selfish and self-centered to let them be kids just a little longer?
Isn’t that part of the job description as parents? To shoulder the stress they have no business dealing with at this age.
Certainly they know the big picture. They know why we are wearing masks and staying home. We’ve talked about some of the social issues. They aren’t in a complete bubble and I think they know how fortunate and lucky they are.
But they are still kids. They shouldn’t have to carry this equally. That’s on us.
See what happens when you watch too much news…. Continue Reading