Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself.
I know I can be ridiculous at times. My wife Pam is also keenly aware of this fact. My kids are also catching on to my temporary bouts of lunacy.
I call it “deadline brain” at times. The pressures and stress associated with multiple deadlines every day for going on 25 years now is taking its toll. Sometimes I am just so mentally exhausted I’m fried.
On more than one occasion, after I said something, Pam has looked at me and then at the kids bewildered. The look says, “Do you understand what your dad is talking about?” They look back at her with the, “I have no idea either” look. I am a work in progress and can let my plate get too full, resulting in an overwhelmed person who may or may not always make sense and be inconsistent.
Some examples to prove the point:
•We often joke at our house we never know what we will find when we walk into our boys’ rooms. One early evening recently Pam certainly didn’t think she would find what she found in Carson’s room.
While Pam was doing something with Beckett downstairs, I took Carson up for a shower and to finish up some reading he had for homework before turning in for the night. In his language arts class, he is reading the book, “There’s A Boy In The Girls Bathroom” by Louis Sachar. It’s an entertaining read that I have enjoyed reading along with him most nights.
On this particular night, I was exhausted and evidently so was Carson. We both fell asleep reading together in his bed. It was 7:25 p.m. I woke up to a tap from Pam standing over top of me laughing. She said, “are you done for the night?”
Looking at the time, all I could say was, “oops.”
•I think Pam and I balance each other out well on parenting. For instance, I have been reading way too many articles on pre-teen and teen mental health during the pandemic.
I think I am too knowledgeable. Fortunately, time will do its thing, resulting in me eventually forgetting a lot of the details I have read.
In recent weeks, I have been consumed with Beckett’s mental health, trying to take all the aspects of life that arise with some balance. If he bombs a quiz, it’s not a huge deal. He’s 13 years old after all. If he aces a test, it’s not a major accomplishment. He’s just 13. I’m trying to temper my reactions, so he doesn’t feel pressure and stress. There’s enough of that in life as a teen.
Some days I am successful with this approach. Other times not so much. For example, as I waited in the pickup line to get Beckett from school one day recently, I reminded myself to not ask about his day. Every parent knows the answer will be “fine” or “good” or “okay”, which may or may not be the truth. On this day, I asked a simple question whether he remembered to bring his refillable water bottles home. He said he did not and reminded it was “no big deal Dad.”
I took a few deep breaths and just asked him, “How many water bottles are in your locker right now?” He said he didn’t know. I know there are at least four water bottles sitting his locker right now and it drives me crazy he forgets to bring them home.
Pam doesn’t seem to get as worked up on this topic. Her pet peeve is when he immediately picks off every eraser on a pencil.
Depending on the day, my responses to his actions waffle between, “it’s alright buddy, you will do better the next time” or “oh I got it, we learn and move on,” and “what is going on with you?” or “I mean seriously, what’s up right now?” Maybe I need to start reading mental health articles about fathers in their mid-40s.
•My emotions daily get the best of me because I love reading stories of compassion, faith and inspiration. This week’s story was the death of 33-year-old Michael Johnson, the son of NBA broadcaster Ernie Johnson.
There’s not enough space to go into the entire story, but I would like to ask everyone to spend a few minutes and search the Internet for the story.
Being a part of an adoptive family, this story hits home hard as Ernie and his wife Cheryl Ann adopted Michael from a Romanian orphanage shortly after he was born. He was abandoned in a park. Michael Johnson had muscular dystrophy and never walked. He was wheelchair bound his whole life, but he led an amazing life and impacted many people.
Ernie Johnson, who has four adopted kids and two biological children with his wife, tells the story of his family’s journey so well. He recently spoke to the University of Alabama football team after a practice. His message to the players was, “Make somebody’s life better.” His son Michael, while disabled and challenged in many ways, had done just that for him.
Whenever he tells the story, Johnson recalls how the worker at the orphanage in Romania told his wife, “don’t take him, boy’s no good.” Michael Johnson proved in his life, “There’s value in everybody,” despite all the challenges he faced.
Do yourself a favor and take a listen to his story online. It will serve you well.