Deep End Dad or Dead Beat Dad?

When I was a little girl, I remember my dad taking me into the deep end of the lake at Black Rock State Park to teach me how to tread water. I had no desire to learn this skill, yet naively wishing to be in the deep end with the big kids. My Father, concerned for my safety,  decided it was about time I learned how to tread water in case I did foolishly venture too far out.

He confidently carried me out into the cold deep waters of the lake holding my little hands.  At first, I felt very excited and secure in his deep, dark, giant like hands.  But before long, that feeling was overshadowed by the deep dark  emptiness below my feet. I began to feel small, fearful, and much less secure.  My Dad, proceeded to teach me how to make circular motions with my legs and arms.  He told me I must calmly and consistently stay moving, which I did obediently.

After a little while, and just as I forgot my troubles, he abruptly let go of my hands.

He let me go!

He didn’t ask if I was ready, if I was practiced enough, or if I felt comfortable.

He simply let go!

I was panicked, fearful, and desperate for him to take my hands again.  “Daddy! Dad! Dad! Daddy! Help!

Please, Dad, help!  I’m gonna drown!  I can’t, I can’t! Please! Help!”.

But my Dad didn’t “help”.

Instead, my dad watched me panic and cry.  My dad watched me panic and cry, while I kept my head above water. My dad watched me panic and cry, while I successfully tread water.  My dad watched me panic and cry, to teach me how to survive, how to win, and how to beat my fears. My Dad, was a “Deep End Dad”, and I thank him for it.

Even still, I know quite a few souls, who have mixed emotions about this day, including myself. That is why I’d like to start it off with this very sobering question. The question being:

Deep End Dad or Dead Beat Dad?

Which one are you?  which one do you relate to?  Which one did you have?

Allow me to further dispose and even juxtapose the two.

These categories are meant to define theoretical places on a theoretical fatherhood spectrum.  I am not an expert or a  father.  I am but a wife, a mother, and a daughter.  Therefore, I can admit that my understanding is limited, but hear me out.

Growing up in one of the largest cities in Connecticut to a single mother, and surrounded by many more single mothers,  I have heard the term “Dead Beat Dad” on more occasions than I can count. This term was always the ultimate insult. To this day it has to be one of the harshest verdicts that a father can receive. Unfortunately it is more often than not, a distinction much deserved by the recipient.

Dead Beat Dad is defined in the Urban Dictionary in many colorful ways, but I’ll use no. 5 and no. 7.

No. 5. “A male who fathers a child and makes no contributions to its rearing, providing neither emotional nor financial help to his family.  Often unmarried to the child’s mother or divorced, usually resented by the offspring.”

No. 7. “A loser father who is almost never around, flaky, and breaks promises, usually made to the kids.”

Well, Yikes! That pretty much says it all.

I am not saying that this guy (whoever he may be) is not a good guy, that he isn’t handsome, doesn’t have a good job, or a high IQ.  What I am trying to explain is that in the category of fatherhood, he is missing the mark.

Are you one of these guys? Did you have a dad like this?

Now, let’s take a look at what I have described in one of my many memories with my dad, as a Deep end Dad.

Again, please don’t misconstrue the “Deep End Dads” as six figure making, trust fund providing, model citizens with glasses and a tie pin. Don’t  assume they are back yard, ball throwing, camping, or tree hugging dads.

Actually, in either category of Dad, there is no type. There is no look, no job, no economic status.

In fact, I believe the only determining factor that can distinguish the “Deep end Dad” from the “Dead Beat Dad” is their applied intention. Their applied attention to rear and to raise.  Their applied attention to impart love, wisdom, and experience to the child they were entrusted with.

Applied intention.

Intention and application.

Intention attempted.

Intention and Attention.

Intention not Perfection…

This Fathers’ Day, I pray that we would all be reminded that our fathers are not perfect, but they do dearly love us. I pray that we would be reminded that there is always hope for change, and that fathers would be humble and brave enough to try again and again.

Most importantly, I pray, that regardless of the earthy father that you have or have had; that we would know that we currently have a Heavenly Father, who is perfect. That there is no one truly good but him. That he never changes. That his promises are YES and AMEN. That he loves you…Oh, how he loves you. That He loves you perfectly and he wants to take you deeper and deeper into the water of his word.

You can trust him. He does not want to drown you there, but instead wants to drown out the fear that chains you.

He’s a good, good father.

Listen to this song if you have time.  https://youtu.be/NjEYtaD-Ywg

Wisdom Found In A Multitude Of Mothers

Wisdom is found in a multitude of Mothers

Well, that’s not exactly what that scripture says, but mother and counselor pretty much can mean the same thing.

Although I have a one and only mother, I have been mothered by many.  This has been a blessing and a curse.  I have learned a lot of different things, in a lot of different households, under the pressure of a lot of different expectations.  Not to mention a lot of people to buy cards for in the 2nd week of May.

I suspect I am not alone in this phenomenon.

In today’s world many kids are growing up in the care of their grandparents, step parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, siblings, or their friend’s parents.  For some kids, its their school teacher, or lacrosse coach who is mothering and nurturing them.

Regardless of who it is or who it has been, this scripture is very validating.  Interestingly enough this scripture advising you to have a multitude of counselors is mentioned a multitude of times.

Prov 11:14 Where no counsel is the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

Prov 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established.

Prov 24: For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

Basically a person can glean all that they know from one mother or many mothers.  This multitude of counselors makes a woman safe, well, and capable to win and gain victory in this war called life.

Take some time out today and think of the women throughout your life that helped give you all the little nuggets that make you who you are today.  Its OK to chew the meat, spit out the bones, and learn from their successes and their mistakes.  Consider the lessons to be jewels in your crown and walk on.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from a few of those who mothered me. Some of these things may be random, some are sweet, and some have flat out changed my life.

Mom:

How to creatively celebrate anything

How to think outside the box and problem solve

How to always find a deal

How to stick up for yourself

Cyndi:

How to cook home fries,

Cream of mushroom chicken and rice with lots of black pepper,

And Chocolate chip cookies

the fruit of the spirit (i.e Long suffering)

Karen:

How to love and respect your country

How to keep ants out of the house

How to read a map

My first prayer…”Now I lay me down to sleep”

Joan:

How to make tootsie rolls

How to serve your husband

How to be unapologetic in your faith

Doretha:

How to crochet

use aloe plant for burns and cuts

How to make rice crispy treats a tradition

How to dress modestly with earrings in and nails done

How to keep your head held high and be confident in who you are not matter your mistakes

Carmen:

How to poke a turkey and fill the holes with all kinds of Puerto Rican flavors.

How its never to late to change

Eva:

How to make rice and beans

How to make sofrito from scratch

Not to care what others think because, you only play to an audience of one (God)

Isa:

How to cook a mean chicken soup

How to strive for excellence and not settle for the easy way out

Ann:

Sacrificial love with none of the praise and none of the glory

To take the lead role as teacher in the life of my kids

I love you all the same

Matthew 20:8-16

 

 

“I’m Not A Bunny!”

I was deleting pictures and videos from my phone to regain some precious storage when I came across a little gem. A video of My 3-year-old son at his most recent doctors visit. The doctor was asking him questions about what he eats on a daily basis. To my embarrassment, he was unapologetically honest about his food preferences.

If you need a smile, I prescribe this short clip for a dose of cuteness. video clip

As I watched, I remembered his passionate almost visceral reaction to her questions about eating vegetables. I laughed at how certain he was that he does not eat carrots, lettuce, or broccoli because; he was clearly, “NOT A BUNNY”.

On this, most precious, most powerful, and most game changing holiday of the year, I can almost imagine Jesus sitting at the right hand of the father, saying the same thing. Shaking his head with as much passion and disgust.

“I’m not a bunny!”

He might even be saying

I am NOT a fairy tale.

I am NOT a lie.

I am NOT a joke.

I am NOT a harsh ruler.

I am NOT false hope.

I am NOT chains that keep you bound.

“I am NOT a bunny”

He may instead be saying;

I am a lamb.

I am a sacrifice.

I am a savior.

I am a lion.

I am a king.

I am a father.

I am a teacher.

I am a counselor.

I am a friend.

I am the way.

I am the truth.

I am the life.

I am your creator.

I am the beginning and the end.

I am the propitiation of sins.

I am the chief cornerstone.

I am the bright and morning star.

I am the resurrection and the life.

I am the great I am.

Personally, I’m all about carrots and rabbits. I’m even more about chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.  I think we all love the spring kickoff that Easter provides, but If you are a christian, when the sugar high has worn off a bit and the kiddo’s are being put to bed, talk to them about what the holiday is really celebrating. It’s about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The lamb that was slain for you and for me.

NOT a bunny!

lamb scripture image

Corned Beef & Culture

As I sit here, smelling the aroma of corned beef and cabbage and listening to Irish music on my Amazon Alexa. I can’t help but to smile at the irony of it all.

Born half-black and half-white. Here I stand, in all my glory.

Tan and afro-curly headed. Graced with a Sir Mix a Lot butt and a full nose. Yet, completely trained and adamant, that we have corned beef and cabbage for dinner.

 That is the power of culture.

I was raised by a white Irish and French-Canadian “lass”, who always wore her green and made corned beef on St. Patty’s day.  I spent my weekends with an African-American father, and eventually had a Cape Verdian Step-Dad, and Polish American Step-mom.

I can’t tell you how crazy, comical, and charismatic my upbringing was.

I remember my Irish grandfather teaching me how to count from 1-10 in Gaelic. My French Grandmother, telling me how she hates the Irish. My African-American great-grandfather telling me how he was not served at a diner in the 50’s, even while he wore his Army uniform.

It boggles me every time I think on it.

The very things that make us unique and beautiful, are the very things that divide us.

I went on to marry a Puerto Rican man. As you can imagine, I have very mixed kids.

Our first, popped out of the womb looking Irish as ever.  Red headed, blue-eyed, and freckle faced.  Our two middle children, are dark-skinned and “Boricua” to the bone, and our 4th child, who is adopted, is the ultimate Anglo gringo (Irish, French, Italian, & Scottish).

Last month, my kids and I studied black history, today, we are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and next week, I will be eating authentic rice & beans in old San Juan, Puerto Rico with my husband.

With all this cultural variety, I have come to learn that we are really all the same.  We live, we love, we laugh, we cry, we eat, we pray, we hope, we die.

Lets celebrate what makes us Unique.

Ultimately, we all want to see our loved ones again. Extravagantly brilliant in color and texture.  A varied tapestry, on display for eternity.

I Corinthians 9:19-23

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyoneto win as many as possible20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

My Fitness Trainer Fired Me

Wow! You know you’ve hit a new level of #fail when the guy you hired to be your personal trainer and dietician hits you with a…

“Thats not how this works…

you’ve made no progress, and I think it’s best if I refund you your money”!

Ouch!

Really?

I mean…

Really!

You are probably thinking… “how much of a pain in the behind could you be?”

And I can truthfully say “I wasn’t.”

So again, really?!?!

I mean, I just asked for a few modifications; a few changes to the plan, a little more customization, verbal check ins instead of email, told him I was only seventy percent on plan, forgot to check in a few times, avoided checking in a few times, cried when I first met him, and lost zero pounds.

I mean, did that merit firing the client.

Maybe?

Probably?

Ok, fine— definitely.

I am clearly a hot mess in the ”loose the baby weight…eight years later,” department.

I know I’m not completely dedicated to it, but for some reason, I am still baffled by it. I didn’t know what the problem was, and I didn’t expect to get shut down like that.

Why can’t everything be easy for me like it used to be? Why can’t it happen my way, happen fast. I want to be an instagram #fitchick on the first try?

I work hard. I mean, I work hard in some areas.
I work really hard.

I mean, when I ACTUALLY get around to working out.

Yes, it’s a bit inconsistent, but

I DESERVE THIS, right?

WRONG!

I think I finally figured it out.

Can anyone say, “millennial moment”!

Or, in my case, more of the micro generation called “X-ennial”. Also known as the bridge generation between generation X, Y, and Millennial.

Nevertheless, here I stand having my first conscious, “millennial moment”.

I may even be the first to coin the term.

Millennial moment– 1. a term of endearment for ones own wanting without working. 2. Recognition of ones own generational flaws.
• Similar in correlative nature to the term “senior moment” currently used by baby boomers.

“Yup, Holler at me Noah Webster!”

Millennials as you might have heard are often known to be “the entitled generation”.
Having big expectations, with little work ethic. Big hopes and dreams, in a world that hasn’t quite caught up to them.

In my early 80’s and 90’s generation Y days, I had no problem being fit, staying fit, and moving my body.

As I transitioned into this new millennium age, I got a smart phone and landed myself a stay at home mom gig.

I got mentally overworked, and physically lazier. I lost my athletic bod, sat at a computer and got groceries delivered to me via Pea Pod.

I packed on some nice insulation and backup internal food storage.

I wish I could say I was using intentional protective forethought. Like, you know….”I’ll be the mom that survives Y2K and the apocalypse”.

But no, it just happened. Slowly, but surely. Steadily, and dreadfully. And now, I am having to process, why my personal trainer would rather refund me cash money, than help me.

Again.
I am awesome.
I was trying.
I am an athlete at heart.
I can do anything.
I am a boss!

It must have been his fault. He should have been nicer, more supportive, more creative, helped me more. He was too rigid and clearly “old school”, clearly!

If he can’t make me skinny, in 2.2 seconds, while I watch This is Us, drink red wine and eat popcorn…

then he just isn’t qualified to call himself a personal trainer anyway!

Right?

#Millennial moment