Archive for the ‘ Deep Thoughts ’ Category

It’s Like Talking To An Actual Human Being…

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Tonight was the first time I’ve ever talked to you over the phone.

Mommy picked you up from school instead of me today, so I called you both to check in.

When Mommy handed the phone to you in the back seat, I had an actual conversation with you:

“Hey Jack, what are you and Mommy doing right now?” I asked.

“We’re at Whole Foods. I’m gonna eat pizza for dinner,” you replied.

Prompted by Mommy, you ended the call by telling me that you missed me and loved me. I can tell your words were sincere, though.

I mean this in the best way possible, but that was pretty weird for me. I was actually carrying on a legitimate conversation with you… like I would an actual human being!

Without your visual right there in front of me, I was forced to absorb only the sound of your voice.

I mean, I’m used to talking to you during the whole ride to school and back every day, but it’s a whole other thing without any prompts or crutches.

Wow. You and I can actually talk… over the phone.

I heard your voice. I’ve never paid attention to your voice before. Normally, I’m so focused on the circumstances surrounding the conversation that I hear the words you say, but not your actual voice.

Even though it may seem like I’m making a bigger deal of this than I need to, this for me is a bookmark as your Daddy.

Just days away away from your 3rd birthday now, this is a significant moment as I recognize you as a boy; as a fellow human being. Not a baby.

I can talk to you. And not about just superficial stuff like the “monster trucks” (Toyota Tundras) you see as we’re driving down the highway.

But instead, you can tell me what’s going on in your life… over the phone.

Cool, man.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Seth Adam Smith Says Marriage Isn’t For You

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Just a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a letter to you called “Family: A Witness To The Best And Worst Parts Of Life,” in which I explained how building a marriage and a family isn’t the cure for problems in life.

Our family of three is no different.

I’m pretty sure we have the same basic struggles and weaknesses as most families out there; despite the religous affiliation.

It’s just as easy for me to crop out the rough spots for social media, as the next parent on Facebook could- and instead, post a geniunely positive photo for everyone to see, as if the cloudy and stormy days never happened.

A strong marriage and family provides a more stable support unit for the good, the bad, and the ugly that makes up what life is all about. To me, that is real love and real life.

I also mentioned in my letter the importance of being the kind of love we want to receive. I told how love isn’t easy; it’s hard work, a true investment- not simply a given.

While others could surely and easily disagree with my wording, that’s how I see it.

And now, as I write this today, there’s a related blog post that is going viral. It’s so viral, it’s currently impossible to look at my Facebook news feed without seeing at least a half a dozen people of sharing it in any given hour.

I’m referring to a blog post, simply entitled, “Marriage Isn’t For You.”

The author, Seth Adam Smith, is not a famous writer; at least, if he wasn’t a famous writer before, he’s probably becoming one now. He managed to publish a simple, yet revolutionary idea that is totally resonating with people I know.

In the post, he quotes his father’s words of wisdom:

“Marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children… Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

So perfectly said.

I think that like most people, I went into the article thinking it was going to explain that certain people just aren’t good at, or ready for, being married.

Instead, he totally surprised me with a fresh concept: Marriage isn’t for me.

This Seth Adam Smith guy is on to something. I’m going to be mindful of his (and his father’s) words for everyday of the rest of my life.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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The Reward For A Job Well Done Is More Hard Work

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

I guess in a way you could say this is the accidental sequel to “You’re Not Entitled To Much In This Life, Except…” from a few days ago.

So this is something I meant to say, too:

The reward for a job well done is more hard work.

That’s definitely the case at my job in the office. I don’t assume I’ll get a raise simply because I’ve been employed there for a certain amount of time.

I see it more of an old school concept that you get a raise based on time. Instead, I work with the mindset that I need to daily show my employer that I’m one of the most proactive, diligent, and creative workers there.

Basically, as I prove myself more each day, I’m rewarded with new tasks and responsibilities- in other words, more hard work.

The concept is that I will eventually hold so many responsibilities and successly completed projects that a new pay grade will eventually be unavoidable.

Until then, I’m working hard and being rewarded with more hard work.

I wish I could tell you that life was easier than that. I don’t think it is.

The thought of ever retiring seems not only impossible for me, but it simply seems like a joke; not just because I have no faith in the Social Security program. It’s also that I can’t imagine not feeling the pressure of accomplishing tasks all the time.

I’m afraid I’m one of those people who would die within a year after retiring. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Therefore, I plan to stay moving and active.

As I write all this, I can’t help but think about how this mindset makes me think of being a parent. With each new phase I complete, like the get-no-sleep phase when you were a newborn, I graduate to a newer and more advanced job.

Nearly three years ago I was cleaning bottles, whereas these days I’m helping you potty train.

If the reward for a job well done is more hard work, then that means hard work is rewarding. Weird concept, but I get it. Actually, one of my favorite books in the world is Ecclesiastes, which is widely believed to be written by the wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon.

This sums it up for me in a way I can appreciate:

“5:18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them—for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. 20 They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.”

If that’s how I see the world, and how I see life, it would seem difficult to feel entitled to much.

Needless to say, I am your daddy. That means the reward for being your daddy is, being your daddy.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Having Another Child, From A Business Perspective

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

In 4th grade, I had the privilege and honor of doing the cartoon for my town’s junior edition of the newspaper.

The movie Dick Tracy was in theatres the summer before, so I crafted up a clever (?) comic strip called Nick Tracy.

As you can see, Nick Tracy steps in to save the day, as a bully-looking character named Alan mentions to a more studious-looking fellow that he is thinking about quitting school.

(I wonder how old I intended the characters to be, because I sort of get the impression they were in 4th grade at the time, just like me.)

But when it was all said and done, the takeaway actually had less to do with staying in school and more about the reason why kids should not quit school: so they can get a job. I was only 10, but I was concerned about my classmates getting jobs.

You will always know me as the Dave Ramsey-endorsing, Robert Kiyosaki-following (author of the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad), credit card-bashing dad I am. Granted, it took me plunging into financial hades (I’m trying to avoid the cliche “rock bottom”) to be the budget-obsessed, debt-free parent I’ve worked so hard and deliberately to become.

So while there was a learning curve involved as I transitioned into my 30s, ultimately, as I rediscovered this old comic strip of mine from 22 years ago, I now realize: I’ve always been seriously focused on money.

What I never cared about was buying trophies with money. I laugh at the idea of a person being congratulated about a new car purchase: They’re simply being congratulated on having to make car payments.

I’m not impressed by anyone’s material possessions they can afford (or can give the illusion of affording, thanks to credit cards and/or loans), but I am completely impressed by people who actually know how to manage their own money. Because I am so eager to learn from them.

The irony is, I’m impressed by the fancy things people don’t buy, but could afford. To hear of a CEO choosing to drive his old Toyota instead of a new BMW, that’s a man I’m going to respect.

With that being said, the main thing holding me back now from the thought of wanting to have another child is the financial aspect of it. Robert Kiyosaki has trained me to see the world in terms of assets and liabilities.

In his book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, he recognizes children as financial liabilities. If I am looking at our family as a business unit, as I feel I should, then I have to be willing to remove the sentimentality aspect of bringing another child into this world and instead attach a dollar sign to your potential younger sister or brother.

As I learned from my editor in an article she wrote a few months ago called Will Millennials Be Able To Afford Children?, I found out that not even counting the cost of college, it costs around $240,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18.

You’re worth it, by the way!

But that would it take for me to feel comfortable (and passionate) enough to justify in my mind the expense of having another child?

Based on our current income and our plans to move to a better neighborhood so that we can get you into a good school system, I’d say… it would take doubling our family’s income, plus somehow miraculously being able to spend more time together as a family. Then I might be a little bit more ambitious when it comes to growing the family.

I’m not daring God at all on this. That’s just what it would take, based on where I’m at with it right now.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Family: A Witness To The Best And Worst Parts Of Life

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

I wish I could think of a more clever title than that, but that’s the best way to summarize how I see it.

If only it was as easy as two people falling in love and having babies and it all automatically working out after that…

Like marriage, maintaining a positively functioning family is hard work. It’s an investment.

Our lives spent together as a family are enriched because we accept the challenges and mysteries of everyday life together. But being a family doesn’t magically fix things.

The way I see it, a strong family must be built and nurtured. I can’t expect to be completely fulfilled by you and Mommmy.

That would be putting way too much pressure and responsibility on both of you. In the same way, I can’t make your life perfect and complete simply because I’m part of your family.

Being part of a family means agreeing to go through the worst parts of life together with the same passion and acceptance as we do the best parts.

It’s a priviledge, a responsibility, and a blessing.

I don’t mean to seem so fatalistic or gloomy about it, but I do believe that love is long suffering. I believe that’s part of what a family’s love is all about. Yet, I believe that same love is also kind.

And that it doesn’t envy; that it doesn’t parade itself. It’s not puffed up;  it doesn’t behave rudely. It doesn’t seek after a selfish agenda.

I believe love is not provoked and doesn’t think evil or rejoice in iniquity, but instead, in truth.

The way I see it, our family’s love must bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

And I believe love never fails.

Yes, that’s easier to say than to live out on a daily and lifelong basis. I know.

Because love is not automatic or easy. It’s a choice.

Maybe it’s too naive to aim for perfect love in our family, but I do know that perfect love drives out fear.

I can’t expect things just to work out for us because we are a family. I have to be the kind of love I want to receive in our family.

To me, this is what real love is actually about. It’s a little too real sometimes.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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