Scratching An Itch
I feel an itch to string together some posts that come from a book in progress. For these posts I feel setting the stage is required. A little background and a snapshot of where I am will hopefully reduce confusion. With all the players in this story, I get confused and I am living it every day.
Setting The Stage – The Situation
I am currently a father of eight children. I have five children from my first wife. Their mother (Suzie) has gone on to take an eternal day off. However, the work she did laid the groundwork for me to be able to stumble on towards the child rearing finish line. Three more children joined the family when I married Karla. Half of the kids are in college and the rest live at home. When I have stumbled with the children, Karla has helped me. We have taken very different routes to get here and that has given us a lot of child rearing experiences to draw from.
A typical day is exhausting, but there is never a dull moment. We also still have fun and laugh a lot, even if it is at each other’s expense. We are that ever more common thing known as a blended family, but still have our roots as well. The children have grown into smaller groups for a variety of reasons. My three older boys are often referred to as “The Brothers.” It reminds me of some sort of mafia group in the name and how they act. The younger two (older sister and younger brother) often are called “The Young Ones.” Karla’s boys are often referred to as “her boys” and have as close a brotherly relation as I have seen outside of twins. They are still close to their older sister, but she also stands alone in many ways.
Setting The Stage – The Goal
There is no denying the situation we are in is atypical. There are no super powers that any of us have so I am not going to be describing perfection in parenting. This is just an answer to “How do you do it?” with some humor thrown in to keep it interesting. Our children can teach us a lot if we pay attention. Also, the amount they teach us seems to increase geometrically. If you look at the background of most parenting advice writers they have been forced into “advanced” parenting where the kids outnumber the adults.
I have learned from my experience and Karla’s vastly different experiences. With all that potential advice it seems a shame to not share it. I have found there is no universal right or wrong in parenting as every child and every parent is different. The things we have tried succeeded or failed in our situation, but might have different outcomes for others. I am simply laying out tools on a table and hoping they provide help to others somewhere down the road.
Parenting is Hard, But Worth It
In setting the stage for my parenting posts I think my philosophy and view of life will help show my biases. Life gives us plenty of problems, but one of the great facts of life is that raising children is usually a gradual process. You start with one child and learn as they grow. Then another child joins the family and parents grow as the family grows and ages. That has provided me with experience raising an only child (for too short a time period) and then two, and so on. Think of these posts as a tricks and hints guide to parenting. I have found them to be useful whether you have one child or too many to count.
Life is too short for many things and the time we have with our children is precious. It is a waste if we do not maximize our return in that time together. It is hard to simplify life when children are involved, but that is exactly what I do in as many areas as possible. In many cases, the stories I will share are far more amusing now than they were at the time. The passage of time and getting some sleep allow us to gather enough energy to step back and see how funny life has been. The good news is that I have found more humor in the moment as I have gotten older and accustomed to all the amusing things kids (and young adults) do.
A Thank You
Before moving on, I want to thank you for caring enough to read this. Parenting is a larger responsibility than most people know and how well you do has effects throughout history. The lessons you teach are taught by your children to others. Yes, that is a sobering thought, but a rewarding one as well. It is good to know there are those that care and want to be better parents. We are all flawed and make mistakes so we need to support each other. I hope these posts help to take our collective wisdom and focus it on our children where possible. Maybe our children can avoid the mistakes we have made and make their own, completely new mistakes.