Storms and songs

I’ve been finding myself singing a lot of gospel songs and worship songs when I’m alone. Drive homes, the time before Toby gets dropped off, the early morning before I get Toby up. One of the things that I always seem to do is sing worship songs when I feel uneasy about a situation, I feel like something is about to go wrong, or I am in crisis. I don’t know for 100% that each time I have sung that it has helped to keep something bad from happening but I also don’t know that it hasn’t helped either.

Generally, I have a feeling that despite what has already happened in my life, there is a storm coming. I don’t know what it entails. I don’t even know if it’s real, it’s just a feeling. Like a small knot in your stomach. That feeling when you walk into a room and you know something is wrong. Maybe that’s why I have been singing a lot. I told a friend the other day that I basically sound like Eddie Vedder with a cold, when I sing. The Bible says to make a joyful noise, and a noise I do make. If this storm does come, I honestly don’t know how I’ll weather if. If it was just me, then I would let the storm pound away and then pick up the pieces the best I could after. Toby, is however a game changer.

I feel ill prepared and worried like a sailor lost at sea. Kinda like the only choice I have is to just let the storm toss me around and then cap-size my boat. I can’t think of anything that I can really do. When these feelings come about, that’s usually when I sing. Most times it’s just a song, a verse or a line. Recently, with the amount that I have sung, this storm feels huge. It seems as though my only protection is to keep on singing. Keep on making noise. Like I said, I don’t know that helps, but I also don’t know that if doesn’t.

Despicable Dad

So I try and not post back to back but sometimes my mind gets going and I can’t help it. My anxiety gets up and I start thinking about things. Words I’ve said and if I messed things up or should I have changed this or that, in the end I end up finding myself on here clicking out a post to get something out of my head. The thing that I can get out of my head right now on this post is the fact that I am starting to hate Despicable Me. Right about now some of you are freaking out saying “Nate what in heck is wrong with you!?? That movie is awesome!”

Please calm down. My hatred toward Despicable Me has nothing to do with the movie itself. It has everything to do with a billboard I keep seeing. It’s a huge billboard with Gru and the three little girls hanging off of him and then two minions off to the side. In the middle of the billboard it says “Take Time to be a dad today”.

I honestly don’t know what pisses me off more, the fact that someone out there feels so self righteous that they think they are in a position to tell fathers out there to be dads or that fathers have failed so much that someone has to tell us to be dads. I have never seen a sign that says “take time to be a mom today”. If a billboard went up saying that you can bet your ass there would MOPS groups signing petitions to have it pulled down. As a single dad I personally feel like it’s a slap in the face. It’s like a big ass sticky yellow note that says “bread, milk, be a dad”. To me all this billboard does is further perpetuates the stereotypes of fathers being emotionally unavailable to their children. Furthermore, what constitutes being a dad? How’s working 50hours a week to pay all the bills, to make sure their kids get fed, and things they need? Is that being a dad? Or what about the guys that can’t be dads because the courts have consistently sided with the mom’s since the beginning of time? Why do we assume that the state of fatherhood is in such disarray that we feel the need to post a big note telling every man to be a dad regardless if they are being one or not?

On the other hand how did we get to the point in which us as fathers need a big ass sticky note to tell us to be dads? Seriously, where did things go wrong? Why is this even an option? The only answer is that we have is that we let it become an option. Us as fathers need to stop being the stoic, hard ass, I’m not going to say “I love you” after you turn 6 years old, and you get a hand shake instead of a hug kind of dad. We don’t need a big sticky note that says go to work, pay your bills, eat food. Why then have we let it come to the point that someone feels the need to leave a huge sticky note telling us to be a dad? It needs to stop. It’s really sad and pathetic when you really think about.

It’s difficult because the time that I see that stupid billboard is usually after I drop off Toby to see his mom. It’s shortly right after I stop being a dad for awhile. It makes me question myself. Am I doing enough? Could I do more? What the hell does being a dad entail? Why am I taking time? Aren’t I dad all of the time? Maybe it’s just me. I think it has to stop. The assumptions that we need to tell dads to be dads, because that’s assuming there are more dads that aren’t then dads that are. The failures of dads to be unemotional and unavailable, so that this stupid billboard is even an option, an idea. It has to stop. I know the point of the billboard is to inspire, to motivate. When you really think about it’s actually quite sad.

Dear Toby, (2/18/14)

Dear Toby, (2/18/14)

Today we came home and I had to shovel our way into the driveway. You did a great job sitting in the car and waiting. I would look up from shoveling and see you watching me. When we finally got inside I asked if you wanted to go outside and play. Of course you said yes. I changed your clothes and sent you out.

As I was changing I heard this scraping sound coming from outside. I quickly got dressed and came outside. I saw you trying to shovel the drive way. You had picked up the big shovel and started to work. I came outside and you didn’t even notice me come out. It was an amazing thing to see.

What you must know is that when you 16 and I ask you to shovel the driveway and you decide talk back to me I’ll bring up this incident and this picture! I’ll tell you this story like a nostalgic parent, fake maybe a tear, and guilt trip you into shoveling the driveway. I’ll do this every time, no matter how much you roll your eyes or tell me you heard it a thousand times before.

Love,
Friend Dad.

Filed

I file. I file about a ream of paper per month. I file important documents that are read by judged and lawyers. I file paper that will probably only be read by three people, ever. I usually take one day a week and file all of my paperwork. If some how things shake out and I don’t get to file that week, the next can feel like a mountain of papers. What might be one of the most important documents in my life to be filed, I didn’t even file.

Over a week ago my STBX filed our divorce papers. I use the word “our” and realize that for many couples this is a bit different. Typically it’s one person filing against another person’s will or without them other knowing. From talking to various people the actually filing is the tipping point of the relationship. The end all be all. For some the filing is filled with anger, sadness, relief, joy, anxiety, etc. For my STBX and I, it was really just a procedural thing. A form to fill out and turn in. No anger, no frustrations, no betrayal. In fact she helped me by showing me where I needed to sign the papers. It was… uneventful.

As uneventful as it was, it does begin to bring about finality to things. It begins to solidify what was already in place and create separation. It makes a difference when you talk to someone or tell someone “we have filed for…” vs “we have separated”. Some place in the deep recesses of my psyche I’m sure there was a change, a difference, or a shift. Not only was there a shift in my thinking but also in my behaviors, my mannerism, my approach to life. While the actual filing was uneventful it was an event.

Toby and the Broncos

Like the majority of Americans I watched the Super Bowl and like everyone else I knew the game was over after the kickoff return for a touchdown by Seattle to start the second half. If we are being honest with ourselves, by the end of the first quarter everyone had a pretty good idea that Denver was in serious trouble. However, somewhere in the back of our minds though, we thought “just maybe Manning can bring them back, just maybe”. Even the die hard Seahawks fans were tentative up until the kickoff return for a touchdown. What unfolded throughout the game was a complete meltdown by the Denver Broncos. From the first snap to fumble – sack by Peyton the game was ugly. Were there a few good moments for Denver? Yeah, they did score a touchdown and a two point conversion. Tonight’s meltdown by Toby mirrored that of the Broncos, unfortunately tonight’s meltdown didn’t have a halftime show or witty commercial breaks.

Just like Denver giving up a safety on the first play of the game, I knew I was in trouble the moment I picked up Toby. He was napping at Nanna’s and I had to wake him up from his nap to take him home. Toby woke up and looked at me and gave me a look that said “you are in for a long night.”

What followed the rest of the night was a 5minute car ride home with Toby crying the entire time. The crying continued for another 20 minutes after we got home. Finally I just put on Scooby doo and slowly the crying ceased. However, the misery kicked back up just like when Manning tossed the pick 6, Toby freaked out again when he was told we were out of Mac and cheese. The tears were ever flowing. After dinking and dunking my way to negotiating a powdered doughnut, cheese puffs accompanied by red beans and rice… don’t judge… you weren’t feeling the pressure of a 3yr old crying for 30 minutes straight… I would rather have been Peyton facing the Seahawks D-line… the tears stopped. We scored the lone touchdown by successfully completing getting a bath and brushing Toby’s teeth without incident. However, just like Manning’s fumble, the carnage wasn’t over. When Toby was told it was bed time, chaos broke loose like Pandora’s Box. Pandora’s Box included another 30minutes of crying, not wanting to watch a show, wanting to watch a show, not wanting to lay down, laying down, not wanting his stuffed puppy, wanting the puppy. Finally, just like the Super Bowl, it was over.

Toby and I had our own post game interview. He said to me “dad, I am bad right now”.

I said “it’s ok to have a bad day”.

Toby responded “I am bad now”.

Me “you can be good tomorrow”.

Toby “I’ll be bad tomorrow”.

Me “you’ll be okay tomorrow, it’s a new day”

Toby “but, okay”