It’s not okay to not be okay and honestly, that’s okay.

Would you guess, I’m a rainbow baby.

Life doesn’t always come at you fast. In fact, it’s when life moves slowly that the parts that need to be fixed are overlooked. If you overlook a leaking tire long enough it’ll go flat or burst or… you get it. This was a weekly blog with the intent to showcase the shenanigans and trials of a family with ADHD. It will remain that way but this entry I want to explain some things about myself. In doing so, you’ll have the opportunity to understand why a certain decision was made or why a certain process is in place with how I raise and teach my children. Here we go…

When I was around nine my mother and I walked into a church’s food bank with the permission to get what we needed and wanted. This was a blessing! There were so many items in there that I had seen but never had until that moment. I didn’t know that wasn’t normal.

My mother and I had a profound relationship of which we were best friends, honestly. She crossed the river when I was twenty-one because of complications stemming all the way back to issues fourteen years prior. She had been sick for three quarters of my life. As a child I didn’t know that wasn’t normal because it was all I knew. Where I had a home with two parents most of my friends lived with one of their divorced parents so my circle included near like minded people in regard to… that didn’t make much sense, huh? My mother was immobile for long and short periods throughout which kept us home often and not always on a family trip or excursion. In fact, most of my friends were treading the poverty line as well. My dad was a tradesman that didn’t always have work and my mother was sick but… I didn’t see my life as being bad and I don’t see my childhood as something bad. Today I love to travel for a day or two but I love being home every night. My fondest memories are at home of conversations or holidays. At home, you focus on each other. On trips, you focus on the trip and what it offers or at least that’s what I do.

Between nine and ten I walked the streets of north Laurel (cleary blessed that I wasn’t abducted although I nearly was once) and went on grand adventures to old train tracks and abandoned factories and hospitals. In fact, I continued adventuring into my early twenties. Not having extra money didn’t stifle my wonder or wanderlust. If anything it ignited it.

I started a full time job at fifteen as a warehouse worker loading trucks and sometimes getting to ride along on deliveries. At the time I was a strapping young lad with a strong back which the boss saw as a stairwell dolly. At one point, I was asked not to come onto the sales floor because of the way I dressed which was a t-shirt and blue jeans. Nothing fancy cause I ain’t. Nothing was tattered or stained and my clothes were washed after use and… I’ve always used deodorant because I was a man at the age of eight (Okay, I just had a big ego.) But this… this was the first moment I looked into the mirror and saw a kid who didn’t have everything. I also understood that a man can thank you for doing a good job with the usual, “only you could’ve done this,” or “we wouldn’t have done this without you,” behind closed doors but when nicely dressed, paying customers are around you’re asked to stay hidden. When I hit sixteen I made that rule permanent and he didn’t have see me again. *Side note, I worked for City Salvage (CHS now) while in college and the owner (similar upbringing) had the same opportunity to hide me as I regularly got dirty from busting my tail but he encouraged that I come onto the sales floor. Different men completely. One viewed work ethic as value. One viewed… I’m not going to talk down because both men taught me something.

Within that same year of my being tucked away as a dirty boy, one of my best friends told me that his mother didn’t want us to be friends anymore (for context, he had a bonfire party go south after water balloons with hot sauce got introduced. I didn’t introduce them but I did go hard on stopping the shenanigans using my… temper and strength?) It was apparent that to show his mother that he was her golden child and not the reason it blew up, myself and our other friend was named for starting it. I’ll admit, him and his family were higher middle class and we cleary were not. No, we were literally the only friends he had until that conversation. I began looking inward and began learning what I saw compared to how the world viewed me. Hint: I’m not a great person and hate it when someone finds out.

College will change how the world views me…

My first semester of college was one semester before my high school graduating class. After an injury and poor decisions I was sidelined from football which made public school the worst and home school the way to go That decision helped me finish high school early. My goal? Oh, to be rewarded with a PhD in philosophy and religion, of course. Who wouldn’t?

Okay… I’m going to say this because I’ve been urged to explain why I didn’t finish after getting close to a bachelor’s degree because I tell people now, in person, it was the money and that’s partially true while in fact, my mother took a turn for the worse and I dropped out to care for her. I didn’t go back and I promised her I would finish so when someone would ask (when I was younger) why I didn’t finish I could be honest or be quick adout it. She wept when it told her. She blamed herself that I wasn’t going to finish school. You won’t hear me say that. I can barely type that. I’ve learned since that a philosopher doesn’t need a doctorate to exist but merely a mind for logic and enough stubbornness to question the answers.

Now, now…

It’s been well over a year that I get every other weekend with my children though I’m blessed to see them everyday. I don’t want to linger on a failed marriage because… still hurts, ya know? What I learned and am learning is much more about myself. It’s a dumb feeling when something occurs or a thought comes to light and I know it could have made a difference. Every relationship, especially a marriage, requires compromise, communication, understanding and love. You know those hind sight moments where you could kick yourself? If you don’t like kicking yourself after a failed relationship then don’t look at it as an outsider. I will not… I’m not going to point a finger at her but I live with me and, as when I was younger, really looked inward. This time, I hated what I saw. I was embarrassed with myself. You want to know what I saw? Hint: I’m not great person but I know now what’s stopping me from at least being good.

I’ve not changed so to speak but… okay, I’m sure I’ve changed. My goal is to be the best dad I can be especially now and now when you read adout how I discipline or how I talk with and work through issues with my children you have an idea as to why…

These are my truths:

My life before today only molded me. It does not define me.

Nothing in life is fair nor should it be.

Assume I could have done more.

Look inward before acting outward.

This world owes me nothing.

Love is a commodity.

Moments matter more than time.

God is the only reason I’m here. I assume and I know I shouldn’t assume that everyone knows I’m a Christian. In fact, I first prayed, really prayed to God at nine. I surrendered at eleven and can’t honestly say there was a moment where I didn’t believe there is a God. My belief in Jesus was solidified later in life but belief in God was… just is. My goal is to be a good person and a great Deddy. I’m honest with myself and I know I’m not a great person but I will keep trying and anyway I can help I will.

You want to know what I saw? I saw a person who wasn’t giving enough where it mattered. I’m more focused now. I pray daily that I stay focused and if you enjoyed reading this I don’t mind a prayer being sent my way for just that.

God bless and I hope you have enough.

Auggie’s Deddy

*I hope to give you an entry a week. If you have a child with an acronym and want advice or have advice then let’s start a conversation.

**I haven’t written long form in a while. Please forgive my grammar.

Huggy, don’t cry.

“Dad!” Matthew yelled, “Maleigh just poured the clear glue into a bowl!” He was plopping himself into the truck as he griped.

Maleigh studies each step off of the porch as she descends while holding back tears. She’d already been scolded by big brother and little momma Tiny. She gets into the truck with a big brother (who is fuming at this point), sits down quietly in her car seat, puts her head in her hands and begins to cry in a way that isn’t her usual (she can win awards, my friend.)

“Huggy, that was his and you knew that.”

Her cry became more painful as she said, “I wanted to make him something special, Da-dee.”

Matthew and I immediately looked at each other, deflated. We felt her words in our heart. This little girl… Jesus. Our Huggy. What I saw was a little girl who fights for her place at the table and who always wants approval from Auggie and Tiny with her projects or feats. She wanted to make a “symbiote” slime (In the Spiderman universe there’s an alien that looks like black slime that gives you powers which Auggie digs it big time) and give her to her big brother.

A couple of mintues later I looked at Auggie and said, “I believe her, bubba.”

His face became soft and he said, “I do too Da-da.”

-I wanted to explain that we often jump to conclusions but I feel like it was understood in that moment.

Huggy was the baby before the baby. It’s easy for her to feel left out or looked over and probably why she loves hugs because that moment, a hug, is her’s alone.

This past year has been an amazing challenge. I’ve gotten closer to God and become a better Da-da (spoken like a drum beat), Daaaad (long form) and Da-Dee (It’s in Huggy speak and I can’t explain it but it flips my “yes, baby, I will move that mountain” switch when she says that which is typically after I err on the side of caution and she says, “it’s okay Da-dee, I can do it.” We’ve all gotten closer and I went into dark places at times but God has and is seeing me through, seeing us through. My joy is being Auggie’s, Tiny’s, Huggy’s and Bubby’s Deddy. My only drive is for them and then my family.

I try to see them everyday and it’s a blessing to me that I can. Most relationships don’t operate that way due to… whatever made them fail. We have fun on our days and I bring snacks on off days. It’s not what I envisioned but it’s my life right now. For a moment, it was Auggie that needed me most. Then Tiny. Now Huggy. I can only assume that it will change hands multiple times as life moves forward. Just yesterday, Huggy squeezed my neck with all her little might and cried to go with me. That’s a bittersweet pill to swallow. As with Auggie before, I have to explain carefully what and why. Huggy is almost six years old and she feels as if she has to work harder for attention or acknowledgement and she can NEVER be made to feel that way by her Deddy, her Da-Dee, or I am failing. I sometimes plan our next day in those moments trying to give them something to look forward too. Glow-in-the-dark slime it is!

Earlier that day, as soon as I parked the truck and turned off the engine she was opening the door with a smile that was bigger than she was.

“I cried today, Da-Dee,” she spoke through her smile.

“Aww, Huggy, don’t cry. Why’d you cry, baby?”

“I watched a sad video where her Daddy died. She went to college too. Please, please, please, watch it with me.”

Auggie was with us at this point.

“Darling, I don’t like sad videos. What if I start crying? We’d have a mess on our hands.” This got a good laugh out of both of them but I do make silly faces too. Cheap laughs. Still get laughs though.

With much coercing, we watched the video. She’d been watching it all day and even her Mamaw knew most of the words. Sure enough, it’s a popular song that has spoken word added to it. The little girl loses her Dad when she’s five and she visits his grave with every milestone she passes.

It was awful. I don’t like sad videos. She sat on my lap and the whole four minute song played through. What Huggy doesn’t know is my own past with my Mother… it hit way too close to home but it showed me something about my Huggy baby’s heart… she truly loves and she truly loves me. I knew she did, of course. She’s afraid she’s going to lose me somehow, someway, and then the guy that fights beside her would be gone. I tried explaining a few things about our situation and about life in general. She knows, they all know, that even when I’m gone, I won’t truly be gone. That was the last lesson my mother taught me.

It’s a fortunate thing that I have Facebook and WordPress to leave with them because it’s a no-brainer that anyone would want a loved ones words to return too.

“Don’t cry, Huggy.”

*I actually encourage crying in different situations in the case that it seems I’m against crying. That would be akin to being against sneezing. Sometimes, you just need sneeze, err… cry.

I’m rusty in the actual writing department so please forgive my first attempt back. As I wrote… Jesus… it’s been a year long year. Yep. You read that right. Hoping to get back to one a week on the rigors and joy of being the Deddy to my children. It’s truly the best part of my life and I praise God for it. Let’s rock.