These days I’m begining to notice I am a terrible “activities mom”
I often don’t stay and watch- I have stuff to do.
I don’t try and fix them- That’s the coaches job.
When I am there I’m usually doing something else- Life
In the middle of my amazing busy day I stopped to grab food and headed to the barn to pick up my rider. As I dilly-dallied walking in I found it odd my daughter’s horse was in the walker already…
Two parents looking extremely upset “Did Teagan call you??”
Me, looking very confused “nope”
And they precede to tell me about her terrible fall. My response “Im sure she’s fine”. The horror on their faces in response to my casualness is indescribable.
Que Teagan walking up, me looking at her clearly broken arm, and calling her dad to get her into the doctor right away.
At no point did I look concerned, because I really wasn’t. Maybe it’s having 6 kids, maybe it’s being a mom for 15 years now, maybe it’s just how I handle life. It was broken, there wasn’t anything we could do about that in the moment, and life keeps moving.
It’s awful that she had to break her arm. In reality it’s bound to happen and we can be thankful it’s just a broken arm this time.
So what did this lesson teach me? My daughter knows me too well and clearly felt calling me to let me know she was injured would not make me drive any faster…
Because a broken arm shouldn’t stop you from kayaking….
You’ll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.
It’s opener out there
in the wide open air.
“Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss
This part of the book struck me the other night as Tayer and I sat down and read together before he went off to bed. I have always really liked this book, but I realized when we were reading together that it must have been a while since we read it last. So many of the words seemed to leave their printed form and interweave themselves into my mind. To say that the road ahead for me and my people, my kids and Sabrina, my soon to be ex-wife, is yet to be seen is an understatement. The road, in so many ways, does not even exist. Being that I have only seen “not-so-good” streets laid before me, at Dr. Seuss would say, it is time to head out of town.
In about six week, the lease to our rental house is going to end. Our plans, at that point, are pretty well laid out for the summer. Essentially, my people and I will be heading up the mountain west with over a month in Silverton, CO and returning down the Pacific Coast to return to Arizona in August.
In many ways, I grew up being taught the “right way” to do things. Money and stability were emphasized as a way to define happiness, or at least contentment. College and a good job were what I needed to attain. All this while, I had a solid example of how to fly in the face of this and do just fine. My dad is one of the most successful people I know personally and he has rarely done anything according to convention. My path is beginning to eerily resemble his in a lot of ways. We both had kids early. We both worked for other people until our late twenties, and then encountered the overwhelming urge to move beyond that dependence. I am not saying that this is in any way a bad thing. There are many things that I saw him encounter that I learned from and hope to avoid myself. This profound example of how I could approach life has started in motion a paradigm shift in the way I view family, relationships, career, and personal fulfillment.
About two years ago today, I was working two jobs at probably 60 hours a week and attending graduate school full time to try to give my family everything they deserved. It destroyed my marriage and left my family’s future in doubt. Today, working a full day, where I couldn’t drop my kids off at school, pick them up, or both, is unfathomable. It’s worse than that. Truthfully, the idea causes me pain. There is a trade-off, of course. Trying to figure out how to financially support your family is extraordinarily challenging in the realm of marginal employment. My ultimate goal is to be able to have a means of being productive, generating income, that allows be to still be a daily part of my children’s lives in a meaningful way.
A new friend in my life recently asked me what I want to be when I grow up. The answer came to me in a flash. When I grow up, I want to be… Happy. This may have been subconsciously influenced by a John Lennon quote that I remember reading at some point.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
Honestly, I don’t care what I am when I grow up. It just needs to be something that allows me to have more of a life outside of work than at work. I hope it is something that I can point to as having left the world in a better place than when I found it. Part of what I have realized, though, is that being a father to my kids is one of the most profound things that I can do in my life. Even if I don’t amount to anything in the professional sense, as long as I did something that allowed me to be there for them and raise them in the best way that I can, then that is all I can ask for. For once, I feel like I am beginning to truly understand life.
So now, as we trail-blaze into the uncharted, I find myself excited, scared, hopeful, and introspective. I do not know if this social experiment will work. I do know that many memories will be made, and that all of the best parts of my childhood memories are about the places I went, the people that were there, and the things that I did. They were never about the possessions that I held.
So, with that, I go forward with some reassurance that, at the very least, it will be opener out there, in the wide open air.
As soon as Sabrina’s plan to be gone this week firmed up, my mind started racing with the possibilities of what we could do with this newfound time. Parenting solo can be a lot of challenging things, but there can be a flipside. Honestly, I find it refreshing. You are left with kind of a clean slate of possibilities. When you are left with one less adult to contribute, you are also left with one less adult to provide input. For me, this allows for a more kid-focused day. Tayer and I sat down right away and discussed all of the things he wanted to do, all of the things I needed him to do (e.g. school work and helping around the house), and all of the other stuff that had to fit into our days, like picking up his big siblings from school. We came up with a rough plan. Here is how it has gone so far.
The Children’s Museum
Last Saturday, before we knew that it wasn’t going to be just me and Tayer, the two of us started researching Cultural Passes through the Scottsdale Library. It had been a while since we had taken advantage of this great program. Years, in fact. Basically the way it works is you check out an admission for two from the library that is good for seven days, to a number of different cultural attractions around the Valley. Last Saturday, Tay, the big two and I went to a branch half-way to Fountain Hills, waited in line before they opened, which turned out to be pointless since no one else did, and checked out a pass for two to the Phoenix Children’s Museum. Tayer has been crazy excited to go since. Luckily, he did not balk at the idea of it not ending up being just him and me. He was excited to go with his younger siblings. So, on Thursday, we did some cleaning in the morning, at breakfast, got the big two off to school, got a few lessons done of Tay’s school-work, packed everyone up, grabbed some snacks and headed off to the museum. When we got there, however, we saw a dreaded sight…
Yay for marginally supervised children…
Determined not to let the fun of our day be hampered by the hundreds of marginally supervised school children, we parked, and headed into the museum.
Good times were had. Here are a few highlights.
That is one cute kid.
It will be awesome when some of them are old enough to drive the rest of them around.
Not like this, though…
Tru: “Dad, the ground changes here. This substrate isn’t suitable for me to walk on.”
Overall, the trip was way more hectic than we would have liked with the school groups there. That being said, all three little peeps had a great time. Tay definitely did amazingly well and then his self-regulation kicked in when he said, alright Dad, I am ready to go. We got to see and play in all of the important areas of the museum, and then we took leave of that place! We went home for a bit, went and picked up the big two, headed up to an appointment, and then we were back home for dinner, books, and bed. Phew!
The Phoenix Zoo
In what initially seemed to be a horrifying second act to the school field trip nonsense of the Children’s Museum from the day before, as we were pulling into the zoo, three school buses pulled in right behind us. Tayer fully yelled out: “Oh great!”. Fortunately for us, the number of field-trippers was limited, and we were able to enjoy a pretty slow day at the zoo. Since I am a volunteer there, we get to participate in all of the extras, e.g. safari train, stingray bay, etc. for free. Overall we had a great time.
Kind of like dinner-time at home…
This picture was taken seconds before I was hit in the side of the face by raw shrimp that the volunteers were throwing into the exhibit. As a vegan, this literally added insult to injury.
Kickin’ back on the train ride. Tru having more snacks. All that walking around the zoo left him famished… errr…
After we left the zoo, we headed over to pick Tajh up from school, then moved on to pick up Teagan shortly after. Then we stopped by Sprouts on the way home to pick up pizza supplies for our regularly scheduled Friday evening pizza party! ‘Til next time!
As a vegan dad, I get asked a lot what we eat. I decided that I should throw a recipe out there that we used tonight for dinner! We got home around six, Sabrina was already out the door, and we didn’t have anything really ready for dinner. I decided to go with this tried and true recipe. It is super straight-forward and very popular with the kids.
Here it is!
Vegan Broccoli Mashed Potatoes:
Three heads of broccoli, broken down into smaller florets
10 medium sized potatoes
3-4 tbs Olive oil or vegan butter/margarine
1/3 cup (ish) Soy Milk (I used unsweetened, but plain works fine too)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Garlic salt (optional)
So, boil a big pot of water, and throw in the peeled, cubed potatoes. Wait a couple of minutes to give that a head start and then add broccoli florets (I actually peel and use the stalk as well to minimize waste). Boil for 10 or so minutes until the potatoes crumble easily when pressed against the side of the pot with a spoon/fork. Drain and return to the cooking pot. Mash the whole thing up until it reaches lumpy mashed potato consistency. Stir in olive oil/vegan butter, soy milk, and salt/pepper. You can reduce some of the plain salt and add garlic salt to give it some additional flavor. Serve it up!
I have this thing with always trying to make every trip as epic as possible. I need to go all the places, do all the things, and end up stressed about not doing enough… Having a 2-year-old is a great reminder to just slow it down. On a recent Mommy and Me trip so southern California we took the toddler pace and had a blast! With one big trek up a snow covered San Jacinto Peak and a lot of tiny hikes on tiny legs we had a great time connecting with each other and taking things slow.
I met all the kids, their Dad and their step-mom a super funky vegan restaurant for lunch. It is the kind of place that woman have body hair and my son with dreads is the “norm”. Not the kind of place I expect my family to be the “odd ones out”…
As we are siting having lunch I heard people behind us trying to “place” all the children-
“Well those blondes are theirs (referring to my ex and I)”
“That one (pointing at Tennyson) must be hers (pointing at their step mom)”
Later on Tay was holding the baby and they asked “do you think the baby will have red hair?” clearly trying to put together if Tay and Tag were siblings…
Let me draw this out for everyone-
My Ex and I are the biological parents to-
Together we adopted-
My Ex has no relation to-
I get where it is confusing, all white people with blonde hair look alike and all. This means, Tajh, Teagan, Tayer, Tru, and Taggart all look like my ex and I. Tayer’s hair is a little red which could be confusing, but he gets thrown in with the “all white people look alike” thing most of the time.
Where this is most confusing for people is Tennyson. Tennyson is hispanic, just really dark skinned. My children’s step mom is black and most people assume Tenny is as well, so they “match”. While I can understand normal curiosity, at some point it’s just frustrating that strangers need to make sense of my family. More then that, it’s frustrating that people like to point out how different one of my children is from the others. As an adult, you should know better. Most likely if you are a stranger and question why one of my children looks so different from the others I will do my best to politely change the subject. There may be a point made of how I did not give birth to all of them, and I will move on… But if you catch me on a bad day politeness may allude me.