WHAT YOUR CHILD REALLY NEEDS

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America. Land of the free, home of the consumer. If there is one thing that I believe humanity-future will have to say about humanity-present, it's that this is the age of mass consumption. It's an unprecedented amount of food we eat, entertainment and media we take in, and STUFF that we purchase. Sure, there are now simple living movements popping up all around us, but by-and-large we are still consuming at an astronomical rate. And I believe all this consumption has led to a parenting lie that is not only incorrect, it's toxic. It's this: "I love my child, so I want them to have everything, and the best of it." Simply put: I would respond by saying, "I love my my child, and she doesn't need more stuff and the best of it, she just needs more ME and the best of ME."

I often feel a tension to buy Margot more stuff. Sometimes it's rooted in a genuine desire to bring a smile to her face -- like a new toy I know she'll love. Then sometimes it's to bring a smile to mine -- like dressing her in a super cute outfit. I'd say that this battle of genuine expressions of love vs. sneaky self-serving motivations are at play in all of us.

This weekend was Margot's birthday. She turned two years old, and I'm absolutely blown away at how fast time slips away. If there is ever a time when this inner battle of consumerism rages, it's holidays and birthdays. The irony of that statement -- that time moves fast -- is that my time is also the most precious gift I can actually give my daughter. She won't necessarily every toy I purchase for her. She will remember the moments we spend laying on a blanket in the park pointing at trees and birds and clouds and how it makes her feel safe and secure and teach her to slow down and be inquisitive. Another stuffed animal will not teach Margot what empathy and love is to look and feel like. That's my job. The only way I do that effectively is by giving myself to her. Giving my attention to her. Giving her my T-I-M-E. and not just my time, but give her the best of me.

Do I want "more" and "best" for Margot? Absolutely. But if more and best are not tied to the most fundamental parts of being a good father -- it's not actually best, it's just more, and it's probably actually worse.

Let's not just GIVE more and best, let's BE more and best. Cheers, dear ones.

SINGLE FATHERHOOD

THE CURSE OF SPLIT HOLIDAYS

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This one stings. Many who read this don't know much about my story, and that will largely be saved for another day. Margot's mamma and myself are not together. And if there is one thing that no one can accurately prepare you for when it comes to co-parenting, it's holidays. Holidays take on a new shape and a new flavor when you now have the looming question of whether they will be spent with that precious tiny human, or spent apart. They can go from the sweetest moments with those you hold dear, to being apart from that one little person who somehow holds the keys to your heart. You're left wondering what they're doing, what their holiday outfit looks like, and wishing you could scoop them up and, in this case, help them chow down on a couple of disgusting peeps then run around the lawn on a sugar high.

Up to this point, I have not spent a single major holiday with Margot. She has always been with her mother for them. To be clear - I've allowed this to happen. (Allowed is such a strange word to use there. Agreed? Permissed? Nothing really works because it all sucks. Real bad.) The best I've been afforded is moments of Facetime with her, playing peek-a-boo through the phone and drawing pictures of shapes and mountains on my tablet and holding my phone above it so she can watch as she tells me what colors to use. (Which is usually pink or purple.) 

It can feel suffocating. Downright hell. To be apart and left wishing. To feel distant and wish I were squeezing her till she squeals. It can be crippling! But the key word is CAN. Because the only way it happens is if I allow it to be that way. What I mean is this:

Our moments are only what we choose to make of them.

If I choose to focus on things I cannot change, it will always leave me feeling powerless. But the reality is -- I am not. And neither are you. I have the choice of how to filter those moments. Rather than longing for her physical presence, I can choose to find peace in knowing she is loved and cared for by both me and her mother. Rather than selfishly wish I always had things "my way" I can release that and recognize that while I don't have her next to me this exact moment, I will see her very soon -- and she will know how much she is loved by the way I display it in THAT moment. 

A book I've been reading describes it as this: you have the choice between two postures: that of a victim, or that of a creator. I can choose to posture myself as a victim. A victim of circumstance... of a failed marriage... of the pain of distance from those I love... the list is endless. OR I can choose to change my mindset and set my mind on a better outcome and a future vision. I am not a victim of a calendar day where I'm not with my daughter. I'm the creator of a better tomorrow when I AM with her. That small shift in my mindset is the linchpin for a cascade of empowerment. A catalyst for living from a place of passion. And that passion translates into fuel for actions.

Single fatherhood can really suck. But only if I choose that posture. Whatever YOUR circumstance is might also really suck -- but only if you choose that posture. Perhaps it's time we all choose to create together. 

Cheers, dear ones.