Tight Lines

In my early twenties, when I was ignorant to the cold, harsh reality of parenting, I imagined taking my kids fishing on a regular basis. I naively envisioned a picturesque setting sun, a quiet calm that allowed us to hear the gentle lapping of waves against the pier, and the occasional tight line being yanked away by a healthy, little bluegill. I often thought about the kid sitting on the other end of that fishing rod next to me, perhaps their cute, nugget head in a fisherman’s hat just like Dad’s. Every now and then, he or she would look up at me with warm eyes and say, “Dad, this is the best. I love fishing with you.” They’d be in harmony with nature, focused, and more than anything, they would listen

Oh, what a dreamer I once was! 

Fishing with my boys these days is entirely the opposite of that once silly notion of parenting, and if I am being incredibly honest, it’s one of the most stressful and dangerous things I do with my kiddos. Dangerous you say? Come on, Chris, it’s fishing! What are you talking about? If you’ve ever seen an eight-year-old try to cast a lure from a rod, even after you specifically asked him not to do so and warned him about what could happen if he tried it, you know what I am talking about. Teddy, while he shows an interest in fishing, is still working on that whole coordination thing. Watching him try to send a very sharp hook off into the distance only but a few feet away from his little brothers is absolutely terrifying. We’ve been lucky so far that nobody has been hooked, and every single time we go, I do a quick little sign of the cross, say a prayer, and hope today is not the day. 

There are so many other things to be aware of when you’re out fishing with the kids- especially with my three sons. It’s easy to get lost in the excitement of a fish tugging at the line. You want nothing more than for your kid to reel it in, lift it up out of the water, and see what his patience has given him. However, there’s no worse feeling than when you’re helping one kid get a fish off the hook, teaching him how to properly hold it so as to not harm the fish, when all of a sudden…SPLASH! One of your other kids has fallen off the pier and is now flopping around in the water! Thankfully, you’re responsible and safe enough to know that whenever your kids are by the water, they should be wearing a life jacket. You scream in sheer panic, and even though he only has been in there for no more than a few seconds, you go into dad/mom mode and yank that little booger out with all your might in record time. Let me tell you, those handles they have on the back of life jackets are PRICELESS.

After both the hysteria and the adrenaline starts to dissipate, and once you’ve convinced yourself you’re not in fact having a heart attack, you valiantly try again to find tranquility and  teach your kids how to fish. Here’s an important tip. Keep an eye on the minnow bucket because your youngest will either try to find a way to dump it all over his/her head or grab one of those unsuspecting victims and make lunch out of it. 

Have I convinced you yet to take your kids fishing? Likely not yet, but hear me out. I won’t lie, it’s incredibly taxing and oftentimes it’s easier to just stay in the house and watch a cartoon with Teddy, Tommy, and Joey, but I’m making an investment right now. My wife reminds me of this when I want to give up, send them home, and try to catch some bass all by my lonesome. As I’ve said before on this blog, our kids are constantly bombarded with a plethora of negative distractions that, in my humble opinion, negatively affect their mood, patience, and attention span. Have you ever read about Spongebob Squarepants and its connection to ADHD/impaired attention span? I’m not normally one of those parents who takes stock in such theories, but it nonetheless is something to keep in mind. Here’s an interesting read on the debate:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dorothypomerantz/2011/09/12/are-shows-like-spongebob-squarepants-hurting-kids/#39a209ce1234

Again, I don’t know how much I believe about this Spongebob issue, but it’s worth sharing, and it brings me to my point. Despite the fact that fishing with children is difficult and extremely demanding, the benefits of it far outweigh the negatives. I need to get over the fact that it’s “hard” for me and that I don’t actually get to cast a line when I am with them. The truth is, it’s necessary that my kids practice patience. It’s important that they learn internal dialogue and self-reflection- both of which happen a lot when you have time outdoors. With running the risk of sounding like a tree-hugger, learning to respect nature and practicing self reliance is essential for them to become independent adults. Those of you closest to me know that I am a non-stop type of person. Although never diagnosed, I’ve had conversations with previous doctors about being evaluated for ADHD. I never did it because I’m an adult now and have learned ways to cope with my attention deficiencies. Fishing helps me more than you can imagine and forces me to stop and focus on only one thing. It encourages me to let all the other stress and drama sink below into the same shadowy depths I seek to find that giant bass. Teach your kids to slow down. Teach them to relax and let go of all the other things that nudge us towards anxiety. Teach them to respect the world around them and pick up the trash at their local pond so that their kids and grandkids can enjoy it in the future. 

Some of you are comfortable with fishing because you grew up with it. Maybe you’ve lost it over the years and haven’t made time for it with the kids, and I encourage you to squeeze it into your schedule over the next few days. Others reading this post are probably thinking, “Nope, not for me. I have no idea what to do.” It can be intimidating, but I assure you, any other angler you meet at the water will be happy to see you trying to teach a young kid a passion they love so dearly. They might even offer to help out! I have. One time, at a Boy Scout’s fishing derby, I was so impressed and inspired by a mom who came with a new fishing rod and other new gear. She walked out onto the pier and said, “I’ve never fished. I have no idea how to do this, but I want my son to have this experience.” If you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s okay. There are so many resources out there to help you get started. 

Throw out a line, be patient, and use this time to talk with your kid and appreciate the quiet moments life has to offer. Have you ever taken your kids fishing? What was it like? Share your stories in the comments! Have something else to add? Let’s hear it! 

If you have no idea where to start, I’ve listed some tips and gear below to get your started. It’s not that expensive to begin, and I hope you find the basic setup below helpful. 

Rod and Reel: 

I recommend getting a spincast reel. These are super easy to operate and a great way for kids to learn casting on their own. You press the button, hold it down, and make your cast. To release the lure/bait and send it flying, let go of the button. If you’ve never done this, it takes some practice, but you will get it! Do NOT get a kiddie themed fishing rod. Get your child a rod and reel he/she can grow into. Get one that can stick with them throughout the years. You don’t need Spider-Man helping you reel in a bluegill. Usually they come with line on them already, so you should be good with that.

Bobbers:

I use these bobbers: 

https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/tackle-2000-rocket-bobber-jr#targetText=Ideal%20for%20beginners%20and%20experienced,thread%20line%20through%20the%20bobber

Very simple to use. Decompress the end with the metal loop on it and wrap the line around twice so there isn’t any slippage. Make sure you leave a couple of feet between the bobber and the hook. This bobber will lay down flat on the water, and when a fish grabs it, it’ll stand up straight.

Hooks: 

HUGE tip here! Whatever hook you end up using, make sure to take your pliers and bend down the barb. The barb keeps the hook from backing out of the fish’s mouth, but that means it also keeps it from backing out of your kid’s arm. I’d rather lose a fish than deal with that. Flatten it out, and in case it does happen, you can hopefully back that hook out instead of cutting the hook and pulling it through (Get a pair of diagonal cutters on Amazon). Of course if this happens, they’ll likely never want to go fishing again, so BE CAREFUL! Undivided attention when fishing! 

I use circle hooks for small fish like bluegill. I’ve found the circle hooks stop the fish from swallowing the hook whole. If that happens, you simply cut the line above the hook and leave it in. Tie a new hook on. It’s believed that the fish will eventually work the hook out. If not, well, you’ve assisted in the circle of life and made that bluegill an easy dinner for larger predators. 

How to tie on a hook:

Use the palomar knot. Easy to do after a few practice tries. 

Bait: 

You can use live nightcrawler worms or live wax worms. If touching worms freaks you out, use artificial ones. I’ve attached a link.

These work great! 

Other Gear: 

Have some pliers with you to help take out that hook. 

If touching a fish freaks you out, don’t let that stop you! Use a glove like this one: 

That’s about it. Get out there and enjoy with this really basic setup! If you don’t have kids and are reading this, get out there yourself and give it a try!

Tight lines, friends!

Hell on Wheels

The thick, crimson blood poured slowly over his upper lip, and it eagerly tried to find its way into his now parted mouth. He breathed nervously, panting quickly and harshly as the panic started to take root in his tiny little gut; in doing so, tiny flecks of blood flew towards me. Even though I tried, I couldn’t escape their trajectory. For a moment, I felt like a field medic coaching a fallen soldier as the blood started to stain both his hands and mine. Cars whizzed by us like fighter jets from above unaware of the firsthand carnage we were being dealt on the ground below. The sun, also oblivious to our cause, faintly lit the sky across a horizon littered with cornfields. Impatiently, it threatened to resign for the night taking with it the only light I had left to address my patient’s needs. 

His eyes met mine. 

The terror in them was real. 

He had been here before. 

He knew the drill. 

He was a seasoned soldier. 

“Will it stop?” he questioned. But, he knew the answer. He didn’t need me to tell him.

“Yes, Teddy. It always does. You’re going to pull through this, son. I have faith in you.” Sometimes, I can’t help but act just as dramatic as he does. 

He waited a minute or two before asking again, knowing he needed to show courage and strength in the face of such adversity. “Is the clot coming?” His voice was nasally as I pinched his nose shut and leaned him over the dirt on the side of the road. The wind blew slowly and the tall, summer grass tickled our calves. We both shifted in unison. 

“It’s starting to stop. Let’s give it a few more minutes.” I assured him.

The window to the minivan rolled down. My wife, our chauffeur for the road trip, asked, “You guys okay? Has it stopped yet?”

Still holding Teddy’s nose with a handful of paper towels we keep stocked in the van for situations like this, I gave a super emphatic thumbs up with the other hand. I smiled wide and sarcastically as if to say, This is so much fun. There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing with my Friday night than being on the side of an Indiana country road stopping one of Teddy’s nosebleeds. 

“Okay then…” she awkwardly replied and then proceeded to roll up with window. The rubber on the door squealed against the glass sending my nerves further towards the precipice of full on meltdown mode. We stood out there for what felt like an eternity, and finally, the deep red became a faint pink. We settled back into the car. I grabbed my seat belt and tried to pull it over my body. It was locked in place like they sometimes do after coming to a sudden stop. I brought it back to its starting place to release it. Tried again. Locked. Back again. Still locked.

“Son of…! Ahhhhhhh!! This stupid friggin’ thing!” I flipped and tossed and flailed and had the mother of all meltdowns until I let it all out. Then, when I was finally out of gas, my chest heaving in and out, I stopped. My heart, inundated with the recent adrenaline dump, knocked furiously against my sternum. Michelle reached over. Grabbed the belt and buckled me in. 

“You done?”

“Yes, just go…” 

There are only but a few small things I strongly dislike about being a parent. Anybody who says it’s all sunshine and daisies is lying. Sure, most of it is hard work, but nearly all of it I view in a positive light. Regardless, try as I might, there’s just one thing I will never enjoy doing with my kids. 

Road trips.

That nosebleed trip to my parents’ lake house, about two years ago, was likely our worst experience road tripping. While they’re not always that eventful, they’re never easy. Too many bad experiences have plagued my joy for long trips with the kids. In my defense, both Tommy and Joey were car screamers as infants. It has forever scarred me. Seriously, you have to understand the magnitude of just how violent their shrills were. When I say screamers, I mean scream for like an hour straight on the highway and not stop unless we pulled over, took a break, calmed them down, and then got back on the highway only for it to start again fifteen minutes down the road. We’d end up wherever we were going, and I’d just sit alone for what seemed like hours in the driver’s seat twitching and shaking from the chaos. 

Then, Teddy became a nose-bleeder, and when does it seem to happen most you ask? Oh, of course when it’s the least ideal time for it to happen like in a car barreling down a country road that is forever miles long. In the beginning, I would always want to drive. I really used to love driving, and when I was a teenager, I would randomly get on highways and just go. Nowhere in mind. Just go. There’s nothing like rolling down the windows and jamming out to your favorite songs down a highway. Now, when I get on the highway, my nerves turn to concrete and all settle at the bottom of my stomach. Anticipation consumes me. I am almost certain some sort of screaming will ensue, and usually it does. It’s my own screams from reliving the flashbacks. 

Michelle drives now on long trips, and this certainly alleviates some of my road trip anxiety; however, there’s still the stress of keeping three kids happy in the back of the van. Take our drive today for example. 

“Mom, I’m hungry.” Joey whines.

“Joe, ask me. Mom’s driving. Here you go. Have a granola bar.” I think to myself. Bam! Crisis averted. Dad’s got this. In my head, I high five myself. I don’t in real life because Michelle would make fun of me. 

Serenity briefly fills the car. Fleeting moments, but I’ll take them.

Now Tommy. “I’m bored.” Oh no. It’s all falling apart. 

“Count the cars in your head. Get to one-hundred. I have a surprise for you when you’re done.” Nice rebound. Good for me. Smart dad. He’s practicing his numbers. The surprise? I have no idea yet. I’ll make one up when the time comes. For now, I want to look out to the beautiful farms to the right of me and….

Now Teddy. “Mom, why can’t I have my iPad?” Grrrrrrrr. It’s all downhill from here. I know it.

“Boys, for the love of God,” I plead, “Mom is driving. Ask me for things. And you know why. You’re grounded again.” 

“Whatever.”

“Excuse me?” 

Quickly correcting himself, he says, “Nothing. Sorry.”  

We’re still working on that newfound attitude with Teddy. 

Peace again desperately aims to envelop the van, and it succeeds for nearly a whole twenty minutes. This is oh so glorious! Another internal high five! 

And then…

“Ummmm, Mom…”

“Geez!” I yell now. “Does anybody recognize me as their legitimate father?” I spin around in my seat to see Tommy. His face is in despair and wincing in pain. “What’s wrong?” 

“I have to pee.” It’s hard to describe his tone. It’s a rare one with kids, but every now and then it happens. It’s that I know you said this would happen, but I didn’t listen and, well, I’m admitting I screwed up now. Help me regardless of the consequences! 

Dude! You said you went before we left!” Goodbye peaceful car ride. This will now consume us.

“I didn’t. I lied.” He shifts awkwardly in his chair not realizing what’s worse- admitting to Dad he lied or that his bladder is a balloon ignorantly milling around inside a needle factory. 

“Obviously, Tom. Ugh. Michelle, pull over.” 

“No, Dad!” He blurts out. 

“What? What’s wrong?” I ask, but I already know. Joey has no problem peeing outside. Front of the house while we’re in the middle of playing? No problem. Just go on the front landscaping. When you gotta go, you gotta go is Joe’s philosophy. We’re working on this so he doesn’t get ticketed someday for public urination. Tommy is not as free with such things. He’s a classy gentlemen, I guess. 

“I wanna go in a toilet!” In the middle of nowhere, I search for a gas station as my wife drives on, and to my horror, I see that the closest one is thirty minutes away. I frantically search google maps on my phone for anything. I thumb left, right, up, and down. Cornfields and nothing in between. 

Nothing. 

Panic sets in. He’s going to lose it. 

And he did. 

The next thirty minutes were painful for all of us. There were tears and there were laughs as I became life coach dad in a fruitless attempt to get his mind off of it. Then he got mad because “laughing makes it worse. Some came out, Dad!” 

“Ahhh! Okay, okay. No laughing. Stay strong, Tommy.” 

We made it but just barely. I can add yet another reason why I hate long car trips- tiny kid bladders. 

Does it make me a bad father for feeling a sense of dread anytime I know I’m going to be locked inside hell on wheels with my kids for more than two hours? I don’t think so. Am I trying to work on it? Yes. We’ve made it here safely to the lake house, and that’s all that really matters. However, it sure would be nice if I didn’t feel anxious the whole way here. We’ve tried games, and they do work sometimes. I have to say though, if they’re not good ones, they give up quickly and the complaining resumes. Heck, even if they are good, they lose interest in them in a matter  of moments. I want to give in to the devices so bad, but we’re really trying to avoid them like the plague these days. I try to think about what it was like when I was a kid traveling to this same lake house. How did my parents handle it? How did we make it through the ride? I vaguely remember rolling around in the back of a station wagon with my older brother arm wrestling or doing whatever other stupid things we did. I’m sure all of them would be deemed highly unsafe today. Maybe I should try to understand what the kids are going through a bit more? Today, they’re locked in a five point harness until about five, and if that were me at thirty-four, I’d likely complain every inch of the way too. 

What are long car rides like for you and your family? Are they as brutal as I’m making ours out to be? Michelle tells me I have a flare for the dramatic when it comes to car rides, so please share. What are your funny car stories? What horror stories do you have? Any tips about how to keep the kids occupied without technology? Share your comments below!

Zombie Children

I took the iPads away a few months ago. Screw that, I took it all away! The iPads, the Switch, the Nintedo DS, or whatever else has made its way into our house throughout the years.  If it can carry an electrical charge and turn my kids into mindless, apathetic zombies who don’t get off the couch when I ask three times to come to dinner, it’s gone. You know what, I am sorry, that’s not fair. It really isn’t. Matter of fact,  it’s disrespectful, and I shouldn’t have written that. I apologize to all the zombies who have ever graced the pages of literature and walked across the screens of movie theaters and television sets. Zombies at least MOVE! Sure, they’re sluggish and listless (unless of course you’ve seen that one with Brad Pitt and they can run freakishly fast. What the hell was that? You can’t just go and make zombies even more menacing like that. It’s not right. Not right.), but at least zombies have drive, right? They have some sort of purpose (eating you obviously), and it involves getting up off the damn couch! My kids, not so much when the electricity is flowing at their fingertips. If I watch them, and I have, I can actually see their upper and lower lips slowly part from each other, and if given enough time, drool will in fact start to seep out. Neanderthals, and I’m not about that. The worst thing about them, though. The thing I can’t stand. The meltdowns when they have to shut them off.

“Dinner’s ready. Let’s go! Wash your hands and get to the table.” I ask curtly. Curtly you ask? Yes, because this is the third time I’ve asked. Generally, my rule is three. I’ll give you once and twice as freebies because we’re not running a marine boot camp over here, but I’m not asking any more than three times. Those five extra minutes are done.

First time ever. My baby boy. The first born I used to cradle in just one hand and sing to at night in that rocking-chair says , “No.” I stop dead in my tracks like Arnold from The Terminator and slowly, methodically turn my head to meet his glare. System scanning and processing. My robot eyes look him up and down. They narrow now in full on target mode. He knows he messed up. I can already see that look of regret starting to form on his face, but if you know Teddy, the boy is full of piss and vinegar, and he has an extremely difficult time apologizing when he knows he was wrong. He won’t back down, and I know it. My wife says he gets it from me. She’s wrong. I’m right. That’s enough on the issue.

Terminator protocol engaged. “Come again now?” I reply.

“Well, I said, ‘No’ because I am not finished building this thing yet.” Minecraft. Such a dumb game. I’m sorry. I don’t get it. If he had said, “Dad, we’re about to kick King Koopa’s tail in this level, and we can’t save it,” things might’ve been different. I would’ve told him to move over and watch the master at work. But, Minecraft? Umm, no.

I digress.

“You’re kidding, right, Teddy? Did you just go from seven to seventeen in a matter of seconds? Who exactly are you talking to like that?”

“Ummm…..”

“Ummm? Dad, dude. I’m Dad, and you don’t talk to your father like that. You just lost your iPad. I’m done.” Tommy starts to laugh at him and of course do what little brothers do. He points and repeats over and over again, “Teddy lost his iPad, Teddy lost his iPad!”

“Hey, Tom. Guess what?”

“Huh?” He cocked his head left and scrunched his eyebrows. I almost felt bad because he looked so helpless and had no idea it was coming.

“You did too. Remember when I said brothers are always a united front? I’m taking yours away too.” Did he deserve it? I think. Not sure. Like I said, terminator protocol was engaged, and I was out for redemption.

Tears like a Tsunami flew my way with a hailstorm of insults and accusations. The two of them raged. Inside my head that song “Let the bodies hit the floor! Let the bodies hit the floor!’“ started playing.

“You can’t do that!”

“You’re the worst dad ever!”

“You’re so mean!”

That’s fine, they’re just words, and I know my kids love me. The thing that gets me through moments like this and that helps me not cave in and let them have their way is all the valuable time I’ve spent DOING things with my kids. Playing Avengers with Tommy and wearing that  suffocating Iron Man mask that makes me miss oxygen. Playing Jedi Knights and taking a rogue Star Wars light saber to the throat because Teddy has absolutely terrible aim. Letting Joey fall asleep on my chest while I watch T.V.  because he’s scared of a nightmare. I know they’ll remember all that too in the future, so it helps me stay strong in their catty moments.

“Every time you guys say something mean to me, it’s another month. You’re at three months right now.” Truth be told, I meant to say weeks but it was a slip of the tongue. Show no weakness in the armor. I wasn’t going back. 

Wait, maybe Michelle is right?

Anyways. Moving on.

“Mom! Dad’s being a poo-poo butt!” Teddy belted from deep within his core. Did that really just happen? Yes, yes it did. Remain calm, Chris. Breathe in. Breathe out.

“Four months.”

They stopped. Tears glistened on their cheeks and blinded me now. This hurt more than their words, but if this was how they were acting over a few games, then I was clearly right that these devices had started to hold my sons captive.

“Are we done now?”

“Yes.” They both replied in unison- defeated and dejected.

Confetti and balloons fell from the ceiling, and disregarding their emotions, I danced in circles shouting “I won! I won!”

I’m kidding, but I did imagine it in my head.

Terminator mode deactivated.

They washed their hands, came to the table, and we ate dinner in silence (Dare I say an added bonus). It’s been four months. In that time, Teddy has read in his free time instead of playing video games. He’s readthree Harry Potter booksand the Percy Jackson Series.  Tommy’s sight word recognition has tripled in that time, and he actually likes working with his hands and building Legos. Teddy has fallen in love with Archery and Tommy is running frantically and excitedly around a soccer field. We play chess ALL THE TIME, and Teddy is actually finding ways to beat me (Not sure what that says about me if a third grader is getting the best of me in a mental game, but whatever). Am I trying to brag? Truly, no. Taking that stuff away was hard. For them and for us. After a long day of dealing with teenagers, my wife and I used to appreciate the little bit of time we had to just hear nothing while they played on the electronics, but it wasn’t good for our kids. I’m not saying everybody should do the same thing. Maybe your kids handle it better than mine do and that’s great. We’ve slowly reintroduced them back to the devices, but there are now some huge restrictions and requirements that came with this return. 

Have you practiced your piano or guitar? 

Is your room clean?

Homework done?

Thirty minutes and that’s it. Any complaining and they’re gone again for four months again. 

We’re going to see if this works. We’re trying to navigate this onslaught of technology our parents didn’t really have to deal with. It’s everywhere and so very much integrated in all aspects of life. I’m trying to teach them balance, and I’m hoping we’re modeling for them how to do just that.

How do you handle technology in your home? Any tips or advice? Leave some comments below!

The Why

We all know parenting isn’t easy, and there are enough of us out there who can fill up the endless depths of the internet with the daily happenings and struggles of life with kids. I am just like you- a soldier in this never-ending battle against the ravenous monsters that live within our walls. I’m just an average dad who decided it was time to share my parenting stories with the world. The moment encouraging me to start this endeavor is not a sweet tale that will bring you to tears and decidedly prove to you these will be heart-wrenching, dramatic movie blog posts.

No, that’s not it at all. The momentous occasion encouraging me to tell my tales of fatherhood happened when my six-year-old son, Tommy, bent over, grabbed his butt-cheeks and started talking as if though his rear-end had now assumed the role of his face (Think Jim Carey in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective).  In doing so, he accidentally let loose an onslaught of flatulence that nearly tore the paint off the walls. As the sole adult in the room, accompanied by my two other sons, Teddy and Joey, I laughed so hard with them that I almost passed out. I looked around, desperately looking for another adult to share in the absurdity of the situation. Alas, I was alone in the fray since my wife had used those few, rare moments of freedom to fit in a trip to yoga. After both the laughing and stench left the room, I decided that these three boys, who are often covered in dirt no matter how many times you bathe them and constantly on the verge of shattering the windows in my house with their excessive noise, needed a voice. Our stories needed to be shared. The real stories. Those true accounts of what parenting is really like.

See, I think parenting today is harder than any other time in history… Err, recent history. I guess the whole running water and electricity thing helps out these days and understandably gives us an edge over cave moms and dads. It sure is nice not having to teach your kid how to outrun a saber-toothed tiger and face certain death; however, it would at least get them out of the house and into some fresh air. Am I right!? Despite the conveniences of the 21st century, I’m doubling-down on this. I’m 34-years-old, was born in 1985, and classify myself as a proud child of the 90s, which in my humble opinion, was one of the greatest times in human history. Nirvana, Tupac, Saved by the Bell, Friends, and I can keep giving you that blast from the past, but need I say more? Life was simple then. God that makes me sound old. We played outdoors every single chance we got, wore baggy clothing (I firmly believe this aided into the overall happiness of people because the lack of constriction everybody is experiencing today), and we valued the simplicity of a VHS player and cassette tapes. Forget Apple Music, Spotify, or whatever else people use these days and remember a time when you waited for the radio station countdown so that you could eagerly hit that record button on your boombox. You know you remember when you made that mixtape for that special someone!

Today is different though- good different and bad different. Technology helps us a ton, and I’m not denying that. When our kids were babies, our neighbors must’ve thought we were running some sort of daycare facility out of our house because of the diapers, formulas, wipes, and all things baby that were ALWAYS stacked outside our door from Amazon.

“Chris, we’re running low on diapers. We’ll be out by the end of the week. Can you make sure to get some?” 

“On it.” Takes phone out. Opens Amazon app. Buys more diapers. “Amazon Prime, I love you.” Took me a while though to realize you can get that stuff set up on an automated schedule. I guess I didn’t want to make it too easy for myself. It’s great- no doubt! Easy? For sure! Yet with the comforts, advantages, and amenities  of the internet comes something I struggled with as an early parent and even to this day.

Social media.

Those of you who know me will recall I was drastically close to deleting it all.

This form of technology is one of the main reasons I stand solidly by my assertion that parenting today is tougher than what our parents had to deal with. The smiling faces, grand adventures, and painted pictures of perfection we scroll through on a relentless basis can make us question ourselves- especially as parents. In sifting through our feeds, while not intentionally, we’ve all at one point or another compared ourselves to our peers on the internet.

Geez, what a great trip. I wish I had the money right now to take the boys on vacation. My kids will never be able to take a trip like that.

Wait, how did they get all their kids to actually smile for a picture? I wish Tommy would stop purposely crossing his eyes every time we want a nice picture. Why does he keep messing with us like that? What a little…

What in the actual hell? Are they at the opera? The opera! My kid can’t even sit still for Incredibles 2? Forget that, they can’t even make it through the cartoon short before the actual movie without tossing a bucket of popcorn at somebody’s head! What am I doing wrong!?

Ugh, I suck as a parent.

As we scroll through, defeated and questioning our worth as parents, we forget that perfection, in any aspect of life, ESPECIALLY as parents, is without question and unequivocally…IMPOSSIBLE. And, that’s okay! Rarely do we post the bad parts of our day, the trying times that test our will and sanity, and I often wonder, what if more people didn’t hide their crazy? Would we all actually be happier? I don’t know, I think maybe posting reality might be a ton more interesting than the Rockwellesque perfection we as parents try to convey through our posts. “Everything’s great here. We’re just as we should be.” This we shakily type into our phones as the kids circle around us, spears in hand like the savage boys from Lord of the Flies.

Do my wife and I hide our family’s crazy sometimes? Of course. I’m not claiming to be better than everybody else. If you follow me on Facebook, you know I post some of those attempts at “perfect” photos here and there of us fishing, at Medieval Times, or at breakfast, but the real stories are in the reality behind those posts. The kid that ate a minnow from the bait bucket just moments before we caught that bluegill. The pancake chucked across the restaurant that ended up in the lap of some very unhappy and judgmental elderly patron. Do I want to get better at accepting the chaos and insanity that really unfolds behind the scenes? Absolutely, and because of that want and need for change, I decided to start blogging. I want to connect more with people about accepting where we are really at in our lives. I want to help people laugh and feel more comfortable with the concept of simply staying above water, because honestly, at the end of the day, we’re at least trying to swim, right? 

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