“Daddying” with Depression

The hardest thing to do when you’re suffering from depression is get out of bed. You lay there, maybe having slept, maybe not due to all the thoughts running a hundred miles per hour in your head, and feel as if each of your limbs weighs more than your entire body.  The thought of facing another day isn’t just torture, it seems absolutely pointless.

That’s when you feel a little hand lay itself on your face, with a little voice asking you for something to drink.

Parenting with depression is a constant mental and emotional tug-of-war.  You feel like you have nothing to give, yet here’s this little person who needs you to give all that
you have.  All you want to do is stay in that bed, but staying in that bed isn’t an option.  You find yourself constantly assaulted by your thoughts, stuck in your own head, but there’s someone who desperately needs you to come out from inside yourself.  You do for him because you have to, because you love him desperately, but at the same time feel like it’s just that much more weight causing you to drown inside.

It’s difficult to put into words, and even more difficult for others to understand.  Children are seen as the ultimate joy, almost as if they’re a panacea capable of snapping anyone out of whatever funk they’re in with a smile or some silly thing they do.  Depression isn’t a funk, though.  It’s a pervasive feeling of hopelessness and inadequacy.  You look at this child who adores and needs you, and for the life of you, you can’t figure out why.  You can barely hold yourself together.  How can you do for him?

That’s where you have to make the choice, the hardest choice imaginable for someone with depression; the choice to live. One of the most common professions of love from a parent is that they would do anything for their child, up to and including dying for them.  For someone with depression, that’s not a hard choice. The hard choice is choosing to live. Fighting the pain and finding a way to truly live, not just for this
little person, but for you.

It’s not enough to just go through the motions.  Just showing up to feed them, clothe them, get them to school, take them to play dates, or catch their games isn’t
enough.  As a parent, your primary responsibility is in showing your child how to live.  You’re his guide in the world, and whether you feel prepared for it or not, you’ve got the job.  The only thing that scares a parent with depression more than the depression itself is the thought that they are going to pass it on to their child.  That’s where that choice previously mentioned comes into play.  If you truly love your child, if you truly want to do right by him, then you have to take the steps to get healthy. Counseling, medicine, exercise, whatever it takes.

We teach our children more with what we do than with what we say.  They pick up and absorb everything.  That means they’re picking up on your pain.  You have to show them
it can be beaten, that it’s possible to get knocked down again and again and still get back up.  You have to learn to believe in yourself because that’s how he’ll learn how to believe in himself.  You have to walk the walk.

Of course this kind of responsibility scares the hell out of you.  Of course it feels like that much more weight drowning you.  That’s when you need to look at your child.  Really
look.  That child is your life preserver.  Your child has enough hope for both of you, all the hope in the world.  Hold on to that.  Use it to keep pushing, to keep trying.  Let your child’s belief in you propel you forward, and you’ll both grow to live better, fuller lives.

Now. It’s time to get up.  Bubby needs his drink.

If you’re having thoughts of self-harm, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

To The Single Parents

You amaze me.  You really do.

I just happen to have a beautiful partner, an earthbound angel as terrific with the kids as any mother could be, and I’m still weary.  Even divvying up the feeding, clothing, cleansing, running, chasing, and housekeeping I’m weary.  Yet there you are.  Doing it single-handed.  I can’t even fathom trying to juggle all this “fun” on my own, and yet you do it everyday.

It’s not that I don’t know how you do it.  Or why.   The answer to both those questions is the same and currently running you ragged.  It’s just that I don’t think you get nearly enough credit.  Parenting is the most thankless job in the world, which is ironic considering that it’s also the most important.  You’re doing the job of two (realistically, 19-and-a-half) and yet are somehow not celebrated as the modern miracle you are.  Whether you’ve taken on the responsibility solo by choice or otherwise, you’ve still taken it on, and for some reason people look at you as if you’re missing something.

If anyone’s missing something, it’s them.

You’re incredible.  You’re a warrior.  You’ve got a depth of love and devotion to your kids that no one can touch.  This is how and why you get up and do everything everyday for them.  The Energizer Bunny has nothing on you.  Marathon runners are pansies compared to you (unless they’re also single parents in which case, OH MY GOD).  You’re an example to be looked up to, not derided.  You’re the best of the best, and it’s way past time that you heard that.

Of course you get tired.  Of course there are probably days where you just want to stay in bed and say, “to hell with it!”.   Days where it all feels like too much.  Truth is that there’s not a parent in the world who doesn’t feel that way at some point, and that’s including those of us with partners.  Yet here you are.  Getting up and showing us just what kind of strength love can really give you.  You’re amazing, and you deserve to hear it.

So with that said, take a bow.  You’re doing the job of an army, and probably doing it far better than any army could.  You’re the real deal,  two parents wrapped up into one mighty package, and you are an inspiration.  Wine glasses and beer bottles raised, here’s to the single parents!  You’ll never find a better example of pure awesome.

Dear “Fur Parents”

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Hi.

How are you doing today?  Well, I hope.

Listen, we need to have a talk.

It’s come to my attention that you are a young, responsible, loving individual(s) that has taken on the responsibility of pet ownership.  I can only imagine how excited you were the first time you saw your little ball of fluff, snuggling it and petting it, playing with its little paws.  I have no doubt whatsoever that the love just washed over you.  You took it home, got it’s food and water dishes put together, maybe bought or made it a little outfit, and then began enjoying the playful little scamp.

Eventually you took it to its first vet visit, shelled out the money to cover its flea/heartworm prevention medicines, and then smiled as your little one hung its head out the window on the drive home.  It was at that point that I’m sure you thought to yourself, “wow, being a parent isn’t so hard.  My little baby makes it easy”.  Only one, teensy weensy, minor problem with that thought:

THAT’S NOT PARENTING.

My dear friend, if you let an actual child hang its head out the window during a drive, you would be pulled over and arrested.  If you fed a child from dishes placed on the floor, you would get the stink eye from anyone who happened to be there during dinnertime.  If the only clothing you had for the child was one or two cute little outfits, then that child would quickly end up the subject of much derision on the playground.  Don’t even get me started on letting it sleep outside all the time.

So you see my friends, pet ownership is not exactly the same as “parenting”.  I don’t say this to be mean.  I just think you need to be set straight.  Why?

BECAUSE I USED TO BE YOU.

I’ve owned a dog.  I’ve owned cats.  Before I actually had a child, I was under the mistaken impression that caring for these animals was simply the first step in preparation of real parenthood.  I was wrong.  So, so wrong.  Owning a dog or a cat is nothing like being responsible for a child.  You can’t let a child run around completely naked.  You can’t feed it off the floor.  The neighbors look at you weird if you play “fetch” with a child.  It’s just not even close.  If parenting was judged on a scale of 1 to 10, owning an animal is about a .5.

“How can you say this?” you ask as the rage within you builds, “I’m responsible for a life!  Who are you to question?”  It’s funny you ask, because my answer to that is actually some questions I would put to YOU:

  • Can you leave your house anytime you like, day or night, at the drop of a hat,  with your “baby” completely unsupervised?
  • Can you stay out as long as you want or even overnight somewhere as long as you left some food out for said “baby”?
  • Can you get completely wasted when its just you and the “baby” in the house?
  • Do you walk it on a leash (actually, cancel that one.  I see leashed kids all the times these days.  It’s not necessarily a bad idea)
  • Do you get a regular, full-nights sleep with the “baby” in the bed with you?
  • Do you allow your “baby” to defecate in the yard or a litter box in the laundry room?
  • Does your “baby’s” toys consist or a ball of yarn or chewed up old tennis ball?
  • Do you put it in a cage to sleep at night?
  • Did you pay for a procedure to guarantee it didn’t make you any “grandbabies”?
  • Was there a one-time $25 to $100.00 fee to bring it home?
  • Do you squirt it with a water bottle or hit it in the nose with a rolled-up newspaper to correct it?
  • Does it do what it’s told without any talkback?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, you are either a pet owner or need to be put away in the darkest rat-infested hole imaginable for the rest of your hopefully excruciatingly painful days.

So friends, just keep in mind that you have a long way to go until you can actually claim the title of “parent”.  It’s a long, arduous, sleep-deprived, blood, sweat, and poop-stained journey to get there.  Come to think of it, this is probably why you should just stick with the pets.  They are SO much easier, the love is unconditional, and you never have to argue with it about eating its ^&*%ing dinner.

In loving memory of Darwin and Gertrude, for whom I had to find another home when it turned out that Cray-Cray was deathly allergic.  That’s the other difference.  Unless there’s something really, really wrong with you, you don’t get rid of the children for the sake of the animals.  Don’t forget that rat-infested hole.

Hey, Old Man!

old manOh,  look at you, you magnificent tool.  I don’t even know where to start.  Are you drunk in this picture?  You have to be drunk.  Tell me you’re drunk, ’cause I’m having a hard enough time believing that I’m going to turn out like this.

Oh, and one question – WHERE THE HELL IS OUR HAIR??  What on God’s earth possessed you to do that to our head?  Is that natural or did you just lose your mind??  I’m going to go with natural, because I need to believe that I don’t actually turn into an even bigger tool than I already am.

So, yeah, you wrote about how you would like to go back in time and kick your own ass when you were me. Doesn’t look like it should be much of a problem seeing as how you appear to have packed on about 50 extra pounds.  What happened to working out all the time?  I mean, I know I’m not a gym rat or anything, but at least I get some cardio in every now and then.  Well, not the days I’ve got fraternity stuff going on.  Or usually the days after, because I might be moving a little slow if you get my meaning.  Crap.  You remember all this!  You remember how skinny I am!  What the hell did you do to my body??  Kick my ass.  I oughtta hop in a time machine and kick YOUR ass!

Oh, and don’t wine to me about school.  Apparently I got the diploma, so what are you complaining about?  As long as you’re not working with money, you should be fine.  Don’t forget that’s the one thing we promised ourselves – that we’d NEVER work with money!

(Editor’s note – I work with money).

Okay, so apparently now I’m bald and fat.  Fantastic.  How in the hell did you manage to get married?  What woman had enough love in her heart to actually choose this?  Like I don’t have enough problems getting a date now!  How did you end up with a quality woman.  Seriously, you left that out of the letter.  You’re supposed to tell me so I sidestep all the screwy relationships and don’t mess up when I meet her.  Don’t give me that, “you need to go through it all to learn how to be with her” crap either!  I’m getting real tired of spending all my time either in the friendship zone or on the wrong girl’s hook.  Come on, man!  You couldn’t have sent me her address??

All I know is that you better be treating her like the angel she is EVERYDAY.  All I’ve wanted all my life is to fall for someone who sees something more in me than I do.  Someone who can be my everything.  You damn well better not be screwing that up!  You hold on to her and tell her how much she means to you every chance you get.  Don’t get lazy!  If she was foolish enough to choose you, then you better be proving yourself worth it non-stop!  Don’t be taking her for granted.  You say you remember what that feels like.

The same goes for those kids.  I can’t believe someone actually decided to have kids with us, let alone make them!  Twice!  You’re telling me that we’ve got two boys?  Weird.  For some reason I always thought we’d have a girl.  I’m not suggesting you go make another one or anything.  Two’s good.  Worked for Mom and Dad.  Should work for us.

So two boys.  One of them has something called autism?  I have no idea what that is.  It sounds scary as hell.  With all the problems we’ve had growing up,  I wish I could say I’m surprised.  That’s something I worry about all the time.  That I’m gonna pass on something bad to my kids.  Looks like that turned out to be the case.  How do you live with that, knowing that he probably has it because of you?  I don’t think I’ll do anything different, though, based on knowing.  I mean, according to you I’m going to love him like I’ve never loved anything before.  Why would I give up the chance for that?  Mom and Dad helped me along through all the therapies and stuff I had to take as a kid.  If I really do love him that much, I’ll do the same for him in a heartbeat.

Dude, you are living my dream.  All I ever wanted was that family.  It’s not like I’m career-oriented or anything.  I can’t believe everything actually works out.  You got friends who’ve been with you since you were me, a beautiful wife, two kids.  When did we ever want anything else?  You should be dancing on the ceiling if you’re not already!  Like I said before, you better appreciate every bit of it!  I don’t know how you managed to get all this, but you damn sure better not take it for granted!

You obviously took our hair for granted, you prick.  Look how that worked out!

 

Payback or What I Want From My Kids

Parenting can be a thankless job.  Sure we get Mother’s and Father’s Days, and every once in a while they’ll make us some little craft or art project out of the blue, but for the most part parenting is a one-way street.  We raise them, care for them, provide for them, and they go on about their lives never questioning the golden parachute that is provided them during their time with us.

Then they move out and we’re lucky if we get a phone call once a week.

Well, I say enough is enough!!  Considering all the time, money, and sleepless nights I’ve put in so far, and the countless examples of such that are still to come, I’ve determined that I have a completely reasonable set of expectations for how they can pay me back for all this selfless love and giving once they come of age:

My Perfectly Reasonable Demands:

  1. They will embark upon careers that will allow me to realize my life-long dream of an existence of leisure.  Whether it be renowned scientist, professional athlete, or lucky s.o.b. with a winning lottery ticket, I don’t care.  I’m flexible.  I just need them to be rich and supporting me in the manner to which I wish to become accustomed.
  2. Keeping that in mind, I believe I should also have final say on any significant others with whom they may wish to share our riches.  Need to make sure we don’t get any gold-diggers siphoning off Daddy’s portion of the fortune.  Applicants for the spousal position will be judged on age, body type, gender, and how adorable they think their bae’s old man is.
  3. While we’re at it, I want to make sure that I don’t become too intrusive into their lives.  Once I’ve arranged their marriages, they will definitely need their own space.  Therefore I just require a nice, secluded cabin somewhere with a built in-home theatre and a staff of willing help that will clean up after the wife and I to see after our every need.  The butler’s name will be Waldo.  Doesn’t matter if that’s his actual name or not.  He’ll make enough to where he won’t have a problem with me calling him Waldo.
  4. Checking off the necessities list, I will also require transportation.  I expect to wake up to this one fine Christmas morning, birthday, or Father’s Day: th(The day doesn’t matter, just make sure it’s fully detailed, in pristine condition, and that the atomic battery is to power and turbines are to speed).
  5. Finally, in respect of the fact that I have given them some space, they should understand that this is a privilege, not a right.  I expect them to be at my beck and call at all times, day or night, 365 days a year until I leave this blessed Earth.  The monument celebrating the selfless love and unconditional support I’ve always given them should be grandiose, for lack of a better word.

All perfectly reasonable expectations, yes?

Well, maybe not so much.

It always amazes me when I hear stories about how parents basically expect their children to live their entire lives as if it was some form of do-over for said parents themselves.  We all have regrets in life.  It’s not on our kids to make up for them, and it’s not on them to make true the dreams that we had every opportunity to fulfill ourselves.

Parenting is indeed a one-way street in the sense that it’s on us to provide them what they need to live their own dreams.  Don’t get me wrong – I expect a certain level of respect for what their mother and I have done and will do for them as time goes on.  However, it’s not fair to expect them to bend over backwards just to make me happy.  That’s my job, not theirs.  That said, while I’ll do my best to provide them the opportunities to do so, the reverse holds true as well.  Mommy and Daddy can’t make their dreams come true for them.  That’s on them.

So with that said, here’s what I really want once they come of age:

More Reasonable Expectations:

  1. That they show some respect not just for what we do for them, but for what others (family, friends, teachers, coaches, etc.) do for them as well.
  2. That whatever they decide to do, it’s something that fulfills them.  Money is important to a point (they will have to support themselves) but finding something that makes them happy to get out of bed in the morning and gives them a sense of pride is even more important.
  3. Whoever they bring home, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc., treats them with love and respect and appreciates them for who they are, not what they can do for them.  It would also be nice if the significant others liked hanging out with the family as well.
  4. Maybe a phone call every other week or so just to let us know what’s going on with their lives
  5. That when they have kids of their own, they’ll feel inclined to pass on the same lessons and values we tried to instill in them, and maybe add some new stuff to the mix that we never thought of.

THOSE seems perfectly reasonable.  I don’t think we should have any problem there.

That said, if they DO happen to strike it rich, and they WANT to get me that Batmobile, I won’t say no…….

Help Wanted

th

To this day, I can’t believe I got hired for this job. Twice.

Working Title:                 Child Development Administrative Partner (aka “Dad”)

Position Number:            2

Position Status:                Never-Ending

Work Schedule:               On-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year

Purpose of Postion:

  • To successfully raise a healthy, self affirmed individual of gender tbd, in an effort to insure self-sufficiency and removal of the grown child from the administrator’s residence within a rough timeline of 18 to 25 years

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Duties may vary based on unique needs of the child
    • Basic responsibilities include:
      • Keeping the child in one piece (nightly inspection to insure ten fingers / ten toes / all respective limbs remain in place mandatory)
      • Handling / disposal of toxic material (aka pooty diapers, snot from face after sneezes, etc.)
      • Frequent play interactions, including acting as substitute jungle gym or tea party guest when necessary
      • Sharing of life lessons that weren’t realized by the applicant himself until he became responsible for another human life
      • Frequent apology calls to parents now that it is realized just what kind of hell they were put through when applicant was the child
      • Conflict de-escalation at such time as applicant’s partner becomes ready to post the children on Craig’s List

Qualifications

  • No experience necessary.  All training will come on the job.  Background in culinary arts, conflict resolution, handling of hazardous material, philosophy, child psychology, dramatic acting, routine home maintenance, technical skills, athletics, and fluency in “child-speak” all preferred, but not necessary
  • Applicants should note that simple ability to physically procreate with another to produce a child is not a guarantee of fitness for the position.  Lack of ability to do so is also not a disqualifier.  Applicants will be judged solely on ability and willingness to “dad it up”.

Minimum Education:

  • None

Preferred Education:

  • Viewing of at least one birthing video; reading of one of those “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” books.

Compensation

  • Upon hiring, applicant will become responsible for forfeiting 99.999999% of take-home from secondary position to the needs and wants of the child.  Compensation may take the form of hugs, kisses, shout-out during graduation speech, child becoming totally self-sufficient upon reaching age of maturation.
  • Retirement plan – no guarantee child won’t place applicant “in a very nice retirement community” during twilight years

Pay Grade

  • Ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,ha,haaaaaaa!! Seriously, applicant will need at least one other job

Job Open Date

  • Remember that night with the tequila?

Job Close Date

  • N/A

Open Until Filled

  • Yes (Kind of an ironic way to put it, no?)

Interested parties should contact the Hiring Manager (aka “Mom”) to apply in person.  Flowers, wine, and a viewing of “Dirty Dancing” can only help.

 

 

 

Advice I Wish I Had Gotten

Well, hello there!  Feeling a little TIRED, are we?  Maybe a little RUN DOWN?  Surely, it couldn’t have ANYTHING to do with that wondrous little miracle that the hospital made you bring home without the courtesy of providing any care instructions!  After all, taking care of a new, incredibly fragile human being can’t possible be any harder than driving, can it?  I mean, you have to have a license to drive.  They let anyone who can properly install and strap a kid into a car seat take them home from the hospital!

Fear not, though!  Your good friend  Papa Cheeks (who you no doubt regard as a paragon of parenting by now) is here to share with you the five pieces of advice I wish someone had given me! Five pieces you absolutely NEED to start your parenting journey off right!

  • Let people buy you stuff  –  Listen very carefully to me on this; THROW YOUR PRIDE OUT THE WINDOW.  I know that having a child is the ultimate culmination of your journey to adulthood, and you MUST have planned for all of the expenses that were going to come with the child, but believe me when I say, you will be broke.  It doesn’t matter how much you stashed aside in anticipation of this child, you will be broke.  This kid will need EVERYTHING:  doctor’s visits, clothes, toys, diapers, wipes, really awesome lullabies remixed from AC/DC songs, etc.  Hell, you’ll even get a bill (if you haven’t already) just from them being BORN.  Chuck the pride.  If someone wants to buy you a stroller, let them.  Someone wants to buy you a month’s worth of strained peas, let them.  Grandma and Grandpa already saving for their college?  LET THEM.   You will NEVER STOP SPENDING MONEY ON THIS KID.  If someone slips you a fifty as you’re hugging them goodbye, simply smile give them an even bigger hug, and TAKE IT.  They know how broke you are.   Besides, once things slow down, maybe you can return the favor.  Probably not in money, but maybe in something else like:
  • Let people let you sleep – I CANNOT stress this one enough.  Your precious package came with an internal clock that was obviously put through a trash compactor.  You should have picked up on this when it kept you and your partner up all damn night before it was even born.  I know you thought it would get better with birth. WRONG.  It will get far, far worse before it will get better.  You see, children have a biological need to drive their parents to the point of exhaustion.  It could be to test how dedicated you really are.  It could be because it’s the only advantage they have over the giant servants that dwarf them physically.  Whatever the case may be, that child will keep you up and moving ALL THE TIME.  If someone taps you on the shoulder for a break, TAKE IT.  Don’t catch up on laundry.  Don’t pick that book you were reading before the delivery back up.  Do nothing other than slip on a sleep mask, turn on the CD of AC/DC lullabies, and SLEEP.  People will only make this offer for so long.  You will never, ever catch up on the sleep you’re missing.  It’s statistically impossible.  Best you can hope for is to catch a couple of hours where you can.  Trust me on this.  My children haven’t let me sleep in five years.
  • Let go of perfection – I know when you were reading the baby books and daydreaming about the little miracle that was about to join your family that you had this idea that it was going to be like some ABC Family sitcom.  Spotless house, grateful, well-behaved children, wacky next door neighbor.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but other than the questionable neighbor, you ain’t going to be living that dream.  Children are MESSY.  They are UNCOOPERATIVE.  They are SUSPECT.  Don’t kill yourself trying to live up to that dream.  As long as the kid is relatively clean, has all the body parts he came out with, and seems to be developing new and more interesting ways to test you, you are doing your job.  CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK.    Stepford parents are the bane of existence, and there is a special place in hell for them.  You’re better off with a messy house and a happy kid than the reverse.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
  • Don’t give up you – You had a life before the child.  While you may not have much of one afterwards, you still need to have a life.  Why?  Because a happier you means a happier kid.  It may seem a bit self-centered, but if this is what I have to tell you to convince you, so be it.  Your kid isn’t always going to be this small and needy.  Eventually they’ll start wondering what’s going on with the world.  This is when you get to the fun part of parenting – sharing with them.  Showing them that you’re more than just a footman or maid, that you are, dare I say it, a real human being that has something to actually offer to the world, not just them.  So keep up the hobbies, take time for date nights, and never forget that YOU also need to be taken care of occasionally.  I suggest catching an AC/DC concert.  I really like AC/DC.  And last but not least:
  •  Be ready and able to ignore unsolicited advice –   Seems a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it?  I mean, here I am laying down all this mad wisdom on you, just to say you should ignore it.  What the hell am I thinking?  I’m thinking that everyone’s experience is different and just because this is all the advice I wish I had gotten, doesn’t mean that this is what you need.  Parents, as a rule, like to give out advice.  To everyone – their kids, the mailman, and most especially, OTHER PARENTS.  Know why?  It makes us feel like we’re up on our game, like we actually know what we’re doing.  It’s why we say things like, “oh just wait until the baby’s 15”, or “just wait until you have another one”, or “just wait until you find them building a makeshift cat trap”.  As hard as you think you’ve got it, we’ve got it worse.  So there.

Perfect-parents

In truth, though, the advice thing could go on forever.  I can tell you all about what happens with a three-year old, but someone else can school me on dealing with a ten-year old.  It goes on and on.  So really, the most important thing you can do is smile, take the advice in the spirit in which its intended (other parents really do think they’re being helpful), and then completely ignore it.  Why?  Because no one on this planet will ever know or love your child the way you do.  Love is an interesting thing.  It makes you do all kinds of crazy stuff, like figure out how to deal with what is essentially a hairless kitten for the first couple months of its life.  You’ll figure it out the same way all parents did.  Trial and error, emphasis on the error.  Lord knows that’s how I’ve been getting by.

You’re going to screw up.  A lot.  Just take comfort in the fact that this means you are trying and that you are learning.   As long as the kid is healthy and happy (or unhappy when the case warrants it – discipline is key), you’re doing your job.

Oh, and the kid should also be listening to AC/DC.

I really like AC/DC.