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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Should We Do It?!?! I ask myself every day.

Every day.

Every single day.

I ask myself the same question.

Sometimes I ask my wife too.

I've been doing this since the day our second son was born.

I'm not exactly sure why.

I never have an answer.

She never really does either.

Well, I take that back. Some days I have an answer but the next day it changes. Then it changes back and so on over and over and over. Sometimes my wife and I have different answers on the same day. We both go back and forth. It's crazy! I've never struggled with coming to a decision like this before. Most of life's big decisions have come pretty easy for me. They've come pretty easy for my wife and I as a couple too.

Not this one.

When it comes to answering this particular question I'm like a teenage girl from the valley trying to decide whether to stay with my high school sweetheart or to break up with him and go get crazy at college. I'm constantly weighing out the pro's and con's and pondering the best and worst case scenarios.

(Cue the valley girl accent)

"OMG guys!! I mean, like, he is such a sweet guy, like, total marriage material. He drives a Range Rover. He sends the sweetest texts from his I phone 10...not to mention the snapchats. OMG! He bought me the most epic pair of rainboots. His parents are like totes rich and he has a totally sexy bod...but girls just wanna have fun you, How am i supposed to rage at my sorority parties with my besties when I've been dating him for 4 years?!? We're practically married old people already...ew... and there are so many other fish that swim to see in, whatever..."

Or something like that.

What do the cool folks say these days on social media?

Oh yeah, "The struggle is real" only I'm not an 18 year old sorority girl. I'm a 34 year old father of two young boys trying to make a tough life decision with the help of my wife and it's really difficult.

The question is:

Should we try to have a third child?

Toughest decision ever... but why is it so hard?

We were incredibly excited to have our first child. As soon as we felt like we had a decent grasp on parenthood we forged ahead with baby number 2 with no hesitation whatsoever but for some reason it's different this time.

When we first started out as a married couple we thought we wanted to have four kids. However, we got a late start. We didn't start having children until our thirties. We also had no idea how much work a child is when that child is ours... full time.

We have plenty of love to give to a third child but do we have the patience to go back to a life just trying to stay afloat in a sea of breast milk with a constant barrage of mid-night feedings and diaper changes, gas, indigestion, teething and God forbid...COLIC?!? Our first child was an easy baby. Our second child tried to kill us in his first 5 months of life. They were both perfectly healthy but I think our second child has scarred us. The "What If''s" and "Will we's" are constantly rattling around inside my brain. (Her's too, I'm sure... though they may have different priority and she may not ask some questions with the same frequency that I do.)

What if we have another baby? Will we have enough time to give all three of them the attention they need and deserve? Can we afford it? Do we want to afford it? Will we ever have sex again? Will our children miss out on fun because of the change of family dynamic? Can we have a third child and still be friends? Will we still find the time to go on dates? Will my wife go crazy? How will our boys react? Once they out number us will they start a mutiny and overthrow us? Things are as easy as they've been in years. Do we really want to take the chance of messing that up? Will we ever have sex again?...

 What if we have another miserable baby? What if we have twins? What if we have a baby with a birth defect or some kind of developmental delay? Downs Syndrome? Autism? Some kind of rare disease I don't even know about?

Or worse... what if we have A GIRL!?!?!?!

We are both scared to death of having a baby girl. My wife often says that she "speaks boy fluently" and would be lost trying to learn "girl." I think she's more scared than I am of having a girl, which is odd to most people. She's said on more than one occasion that if we could guarantee a third boy then she would sign off on getting pregnant a third time. The only difficult thing about having a boy in our eyes is having to care for the circumcision as it heals. Your heart breaks for the poor little guy. What made it easier for us was just looking at it as a pretty small price to pay for never having to buy a prom dress, tampons or pay for a wedding.

Winner! Winner!

I guess it's all about perspective.

Oh, speaking of that, I left out one "What If."

What if the baby is PERFECT? What if he is the perfect final addition to our family no matter how he turns out? What if she is the perfect blessing we didn't think we were ready for? What if we just need to pray a little bit more and have faith that God won't give us anything we aren't capable of handling?

I think we'll be just fine whether we try for a third or not. It's just crazy to me that we haven't come to a conclusion after putting so much thought into it. Patience. Patience. I know. It'll work itself out.

Do you guys have any advice on the subject? Have you struggled with a similar decision? The same decision?


...and oh yeah,  I can't believe I forgot to mention this...

If we did have a third child I wonder if we'd be able to find time to have... oh, nevermind... maybe I did already bring that up once or twice.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

DISCIPLINE: It's okay Dad. You're doing the right thing.

Oh man! 

Parenting is the best. It really is. There is nothing like it. It's the most rewarding thing in the world. There is no way to understand a parents love until you become one. I love my kids more than life itself.

Sound familiar?

If you are a parent you've probably said all of these things and you've probably said them multiple times at some point or another along your parenting journey. You probably also meant them too because they are all true statements.

However, parenting is not only the most rewarding thing in the world. It's also somehow simultaneously the most frustrating thing in the world too. I'm not breaking any news. I'm sure this also sounds familiar. In parenting circles we typically replace the word "frustrating" with the word "challenging" because we don't like to admit that the children we spend most of our time trying to convince others are angels, are actually not. They are nowhere close. I guess challenging is a much more positive word and it makes us parents, especially those of young children, feel like we haven't been defeated...yet. Truth is, they are VERY frustrating and its okay to admit that.

Why? Because once you've spent enough time around a two year old you come to the realization that it's a lot like being in a relationship with a tiny bipolar tyrant midget who doesn't speak English very well and makes way too many demands for someone who has such a major deficiency in the tenure department.

The good news is that we, as parents, hold the power to turn these tiny tyrants into human beings who resemble something a whole lot closer to angels than belligerent drunks with an attitude problem. That's where DISCIPLINE comes in. Ah, yes, it is such a necessary evil. There is nothing I look forward to LESS than disciplining my boys. It's simply in my nature to be loving and fun and nurturing and I don't feel like any of those things when I'm sending my boys to time out or God forbid, giving them a spanking. However, I also understand that implementing and adhering to a sturdy set of rules teaches a child his boundaries and if followed through on, one day turns him into an accountable young man.
The above picture is what we're trying to prevent down the road. I don't think they'd look near as happy in real jail.

We are a time out family. Nine times out of ten time out is an effective way to discipline both of our boys (ages 2 and 4). Taking away a privilege is another effective tool and a spanking is certainly not out of the question but it is used as a last resort and rarely do we visit that resort. (Hmmm, speaking of resorts, visiting a "resort" sounds nice right about now.) 

Anyway, consistently disciplining your children is tough. Resisting the temptation of letting a threat become empty may seem mean and unnecessary at the time, but it's actually the best thing you can do for your child.  I always thought the whole, "This is gonna hurt me more than it's gonna hurt you" thing was a bunch of hippy dippy bologna but it turns out there's a whole lot of truth to it. We all just  want to see our kids be happy and the last thing we want is to be the cause of unhappiness. Unfortunately, when we follow through on our disciplinary threats, our children associate that unhappiness directly with us. Who knew it was this tough to be on the other end of the discipline?

Like any difficult part of life a little encouragement  goes a long way. My wife and I do a great job of communicating our feelings to one another as we discipline our boys and it helps to keep us on the same page and keep us accountable for our actions. We are firm believers in disciplining out of necessity and teaching rather than disciplining out of anger or frustration. Our boys understand that we love them tremendously as we discipline them because we always make sure to communicate that to them but sometimes it's a little more challenging when both of us aren't home.

Tonight my wife was on a girls night and I was home alone with the boys. My two year old, Fletcher, was being especially challenging at the dinner table. Something I'm very used to. Fletcher had a rough go at it for the first six or eight months of his life. You can read about that here. Since then, however, he's been such a perfect addition to the family... except for at the dinner table. If it's not a pop tart, grilled cheese or cereal he usually does not want to eat it. It really just depends on the night. Tonight he was doing his typical "store the food in the cheek like a squirrel and no one will notice I'm not actually swallowing" routine. Needless to say, the stash of "nuts" in his cheek built up and I wasn't in the mood. So I hastily sent him to time out and told him he could come out after he swallowed his bite. We went back and forth for a good thirty minutes and my 4 year old, Cooper, devoured his meal and began to play. 

At this point I began to get discouraged. Doubt started to creep into my mind. Was I being too hard on him? Should I just give in and let him eat something else? Is he just exhausted? I really wanted it to be a fun night and this was the furthest thing from fun. What should I do? I didn't have my partner in crime, my wife, there to ask for advice. Just then I heard the sweet voice of my innocent little four year old from a few feet behind me

"It's okay Dad. You're doing the right thing."


Did he really just say that?!

Yes he did.

Is he infinitely wise beyond his years?!

I don't know if he said it because he thought that's what mom would have said if she was here or if it's something he's seen on a movie, or if he was just really enjoying watching his little brother get sent to time out, but whatever it was, it really helped. It helped me remember that I was fighting the good fight and that this would pay off in the long run as long as I was coming from a place of love.

I just replied to him, "Thanks buddy." and he said, "You're following the instructions."

At that point I began to wonder if his mother had left a set of instructions that I wasn't aware of.


Oh well.

I just gave him a big hug and carried on, feeling encouraged, and knowing that I was doing the right thing.

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