Why it takes a village

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To say that mental problems run in my family, is like saying the Obama administration is moderately disliked by Republicans. That is, we have a bevy of problems, ranging from the debilitating, to generally just being an annoyance for everyone around us. There are probably a couple dozen people in this world outside of my immediate family who are familiar with my story in-total from having been adopted at an early age, to living through two divorces; an abusive mother; and any number of a dozen other things that alone, might explain some of the problems I have.

If I had ten thousand dollars for every time I’d heard someone say to me, “It’s a miracle you turned out as well-adjusted as you did,” I’d have at least…I dunno…a hundred thousand dollars! Though perhaps after blogging all this, I’ll hear it more often. If I’m being honest though, my problems pale in comparison to others. My problems don’t require medication. They don’t cause me to completely withdraw from the people I love for long periods of time. And they don’t make me want to act out on the society at-large, so generally speaking, I’m doing alright.

But there are times. Oh yes, there are times.

For instance, parenting. Parenting has been a challenge as I’ve discussed on numerous occasions and it continues to cause personal problems for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, parenting is not for everyone. There is a line that each person much recognize within his or her tolerance and they must adhere to that line, for when you do not, THAT’s when you make the morning news.

My personal “line” was crossed the moment I found out we were having a third child (and yes, I’m probably going to hell just for saying that out loud). But I’m not going to spoil the literary moment here by telling you how much I love my children and how I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for the world, because frankly, that’s a bunch of crap.

In fact, there are about 30 moments, each day for the past year, that I’d gladly trade for say…more Hydrocodone.

After 11 years of marriage, my wife has learned the tell-tale signs of my having reached a point, which manifests itself in one of two ways:

– either via a sudden, violent outburst at one of the children in the form of a “STOP IT!” or a “SHUT UP!”

– or more often, the tightening of my jaw, the narrowing of my eyes, and an obstinate will to keep perfectly quiet. Don’t try and draw me out of it. Don’t ask me what’s wrong. Just leave me…the hell…alone for a while.

I think one of the failures of the human race is our desire to compare ourselves to others. I do it; I’m sure you do it to. We each hold ourselves to this impossibly high standard that’s based solely on the public persona shown to us by others who are privately just as screwed up as we are. I’m sure, to that divorced lady who lives up the street and who only sees me when I’m outside playing with the kids, that I embody everything a good father should (perhaps with the exception of Ryan Reynolds-like abs). Because all we see of people is what they want us to see.

But I do wonder how I compare. Oh, I know that I could search Google right now for, “Fed up Dads” or “My kids make me want to just walk away” and I could find thousands of people who have expressed similar feelings. But, we’re still in the minority when you consider how many parents are out there.

I look at people like “Father of Five” and that dude just makes me feel A) ashamed and B) proud all at the same time. Ashamed because he has way more kids than I do, plus works crappy hours (on second thought, maybe that’s WHY he’s such a patient dad…) and Proud because it’s nice to know we’re not all as screwed up as me.

So, my hat off to you FoF and all you other Fathers and Mothers out there who make having families bearable for the rest of us.

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3 thoughts on “Why it takes a village

    Pamela J said:
    November 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I love it when you post. I think you’re so much better than you give yourself credit for. I have wanted to walk away this year at some point every day. You are way more honest than most I think, including with yourself.

    Allison said:
    November 19, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Okay, maybe I need to be more forthcoming about my struggles as a parent, so that you know you are not alone with yours. You are not alone with yours. Trust me.

    Father of Five said:
    November 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    (Blushing)…

    Well, that’s just it isn’t it… Selective blogging. It’s a funny thing! It leaves everyone around you thinking that you are something that you are not, or better at something than you are…

    I tend to like “funny”. As a fan of “funny”, it’s “funny” and “cute” that usually makes my blog.

    If you were to ask my kids if I am as “funny” , “normal”, “stable”, “well adjusted”, “loving”, “supportive”, or as “fatherly” as I seem on FOF, I suspect they would point at you and start laughing!! Not only that, but I have an sneaking suspicion that the older ones (who seem to have picked up on my sarcastic nature) would also be trying to say “fail” between their snickering, chucking, and disbelief!!

    Another sort of “anomaly” about this is that I look at you, AtHomeDaddy, and a couple of other regular “dad blogs” I frequent – I get jealous! I think to myself how much I wish I could be more like these guys, and how much more well rounded, and well adjusted you all are! Maybe it’s a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”…

    I’m far from perfect – what you don’t read about on FOF are about the times I let my kids argue it out – because I don’t have the energy to deal with it. Oh, sure – I’ll say that I am just letting them learn how to deal with a difficult situation on their own, but sometimes – I just don’t want to deal with it. Or about the times I spend on the Xbox – while I let the kids watch something else on tv in my room, or how much time I spend BLOGGING about fatherhood (which keeps me from the REAL work of fatherhood – ask my wife about that one – she’ll be happy to share with you her frustrations on that one!)

    I lost count on how many “dinners” ran a couple of hours late because I lost track of time blogging, reading blogs, surfing the web, listening to the radio, watching tv or a movie, or playing a video game.

    Then, there are my own personal issues (some I have talked about before – and some we have talked about sharing) – Stuff like “social anxiety”… My kids have to deal with the residual side effects of my “social anxiety” – I worry about how my desire for solitude isolates my children from things, activities, or people that would benefit them.

    And I have a temper. I do well holding it back, keeping it in – but when I “loose it” – I really “loose it”. I never have, and (God willing) never struck my wife or child – but I rant and rave like a lunatic… Sometimes it gets so bad that the wife and kids actually start laughing at me!!

    What am I trying to say here?? Well, I think I am trying to say that you are as “normal” as the rest of us. Not one of us is perfect. Some may have a few more skills in one area, while another will have some in a different area, but in the end, we are all flawed, and much less perfect that we seem. We are all so much more critical on ourselves than we are on others.

    Hang in there – your doing a great job – as good of a job as any of us are!!

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