… from the bungalow


23 Comments

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Well, I’ve done it again. I’ve somehow removed myself from the one thing that’s been a sure source of motivation and inspiration in my life lately: my blog.

You could argue that your significant other or your kids or nature hikes or what-have-you are sources of happiness, but they’re not. Not really. It’s the way we perceive those people and events, how we process and engage in those experiences and interactions. Our happiness is directly proportional to our compound ability and willingness to perceive goodness. In other words, it’s not you, it’s me.  It seems too simple to be accurate, but I believe it fully, at least for myself. Unfortunately, I have the willingness, but not always the ability. And as we all know, anything multiplied by zero is zero.

How could you question the validity of such a high-quality, professional-looking graph? You can’t.

But I’m trying. God help me, I’m trying.

I’ve been mentally flogging myself for Continue reading

Advertisements


37 Comments

With Love from Dad: An open letter to my three kids

This post is dedicated to all the dads/parents who desperately love their kids, but have a hard time seeing through the visual din of life with depression.

Dear kids,

I have not been the kind of dad  that I want to be. In fact, I am not the man I thought I’d be in many ways. I walk through life viewing the world around me like a movie. I come home from work feeling like a zombie, only to spend a few hours in a house that doesn’t feel like my own. I am disengaged; from work, from you, from life in general.

I wish I could say that I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have, but I’m not sure I’m even doing that. I could spend five minutes each morning in silent meditation. I could talk to a doctor about medication options. I could exercise once in a while, even if it’s just running up and down the stairs for two minutes. I could go to bed half an hour earlier. There are plenty of things I could do; things of which I am fully aware that could have a positive affect on me and, subsequently, on you. By that same token, there are plenty of reasons I could cite for my apparent inability to do and be more, but they would be excuses.

The fact of the matter is: I have let you down, and I am sorry. Continue reading


20 Comments

Answers: Step-Parenting and “The Illusion”

A couple of weeks ago a reader in a situation similar to my own asked for my thoughts about step-parenting. Here is his question, followed by my response with only slight changes to protect identities. I have since received his permission to use this as the first post in a new series, which I think I’ll call, simply, “Answers.”

so how did you kind of “get over yourself” to start reaching out to your step-son when you kinda-sorta didn’t really want to? I feel like that’s what I need to do and I’m having trouble, partly because I feel like he doesn’t want it and won’t appreciate it. Sort of a, “you don’t deserve to be my friend” feeling on my part. Trust me, I know how immature that sounds/is. Any insights or suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Kevin,

Here’s where I let out a big sigh. *Sigh.* The step-parenting stuff is difficult. I haven’t gotten even close to where I’d like to be as a step-parent! But I’m reminded often that a healthy step-parent/step-child relationship can take many years (average of 7?). And certainly your situation is different than mine for a few reasons. Jay is older than my step-son. From what you’ve told me, it sounds like he’s been in less-than-stable family environments, even if it was not pushed on him directly. He isn’t coming into a family with older siblings to look to for queues. Etc.

Those are the parts of the “illusion” that differ from my situation with L. But there are aspects of the illusion that are the same. (I have a tendency to get “meta” with my thinking, so I’ll try to keep it simple for brevity’s sake. You know, the whole, “We’re physiologically and genetically predisposed to protect our own offspring in a way that translates to unconditional love,” and so on.)

The illusion is that he belongs to someone else.

Stepdad and L by a pondNot only does he NOT belong to someone else, but he is no less “you” than your own, biological children are “you.” We’re all fragments of the whole. We take on the drama in our lives so we can learn from them and benefit the greater consciousness. I have little moments here and there of seeing L as the individual that is L (this is difficult to put into words), and in those moments I feel compassion for him as a struggling being. I try to act on those moments as often as they come up because it is so difficult to “get over yourself” in those moments when you’re not feeling it.

Feeling the way you feel is no longer immature once you reach the point of realization and acknowledgment. I also think that reaching for something is less effective than allowing that something to come to you. Don’t force the issue. For me, the progression tends to go like this: I discipline as a parent, get frustrated with L, Karin and myself when it’s counter-productive, become aloof, “allow what is” for all of 5 minutes, then fall back on the over-bearing dad bit all over again. But I think the “allow what is” portion of the cycle gets a bit longer each time, if only by a few seconds, and I see the fruits of that here and there when he accidentally calls me “Dad” or hugs me before I leave for work. Yes, he’s younger and looks to my biological son for queues, but the underlying theme is the same. I guess what I’m suggesting is to let go without becoming detached. It’s less about getting “over” something, and more of a slide to the side. See Jay for who he is, not the mask that he wears.

Jay’s personality and motives serve a purpose, as does your presence in his life (and his in yours). Allow that purpose to unfold.

Dang, I need to take my own advice.

I hope this is helpful. It was for me!
~Chris

So much for brevity…

I’d love to get your thoughts on this! Let me know what you think in a comment below. Thanks for reading and sharing!


9 Comments

Blogger Idol Week 1

In case you missed it (which means you didn’t vote–for shame!), here was my introductory post to Blogger Idol. Not my best writing, as is reflected in the judges’ comments, but I’m hoping to write something more “polished” for Week 2.

Introductions!

Call me Ishmael.

ChrisOn second thought, don’t. That would be dumb. My name is Chris, and I author a blog called “… from the bungalow.” Around here, in our humble dwelling, they call me Daddy. I’m sort of the co-chair of a blended family, and I mean blended. My oldest son (Finn) has special needs, his younger brother (Simon) is precocious (I actually hate that word, but–meh–it fits), and their stepbrother (Lucas) is biracial and is suspected to have ADHD. My ex-wife and I are on good terms and try to communicate regularly regarding the problems and progress of our kids. Speaking of which, my ex-wife, fiancée, and I all attended a birthday party for one of Simon’s friends last Friday morning, and it wasn’t weird at all. In fact, amidst all the chaos and transition of divorce and remarriage, we feel that our kids are fortunate to have so many loving parents. Continue reading


22 Comments

One at a Time

Last week I posted a question on my Facebook wall. “Do you have a limited amount of love to share (say, with your children/family members)?” I went on to explain just a bit: For me, the obvious answer is No, love is limitless. But then there are times when I seem to place a limit on how close I’ll allow myself to get to someone. It’s as if my ego self is saying, “that’s enough of that–you don’t want to take things too far…”

I got some great responses. Honest responses. Some admitted to feeling like they could never raise step-children. Others know the hurt first-hand of what it feels like to be treated as something “less than” the biological children. There was some discussion about continuing to love and accept step-children after having children with your new spouse. (I love this kind of dialogue, BTW. Thank you!)

Me reading to the kids

Bedtime book

To be clear, Karin and I are not married yet. But we’re engaged (as of March of this year) and I refer to her son as my step-son. It seems easier than “step-son-to-be” or “future step-son” or whatever. Plus, I’m trying to take my own advice to fake it ’til I make it. To further confuse the issue, Lucas is biracial. The funny part about that, though, is that when we’re out, people tend to think he’s mine instead of Karin’s. It’s the curly hair, I guess. Continue reading


5 Comments

The Birthday Invitation Fiasco

birthday cakeMy 5-year-old, Simon, is about to turn six. His mom has scheduled a birthday party for him and seven of his friends this Monday. My ex-wife, fiancee and I had all presumed that Simon will invite his brother and step-brother along with five of his friends from school.

Unforeseen to us, choosing just five friends has proven stressful for Simon. The first three or four seemed to come quickly to him. But what about that fifth…

Karin and I check his list. “You’re inviting Andre? Doesn’t he do kinda mean things?” “Well,” he reflects, “sometimes he has to change his card to yellow.” Making an observation, I say, “There’s only one girl on your list. Isn’t there another girl you’re always talking about? What about her?” “Oh yeah,” he says, “I’ll invite her instead.” With a little more waffling, he writes names on invitations for the five friends. Continue reading


24 Comments

The Little Professor: The birth of a son and rebirth of a dad

I’ve been putting off this post for a while now. There are a few questions I’ve been asking myself: How can I put into words the ineffable? How can I possibly convey in a post what he means to me? How can I write about him in a way that honors his dignity and anonymity? How can I share how difficult life can be at times without eliciting pity? And where to begin?…

This post is about F, who we’ll call The Little Professor.

Finn

My oldest child is a loving, laughing, kissing, hugging 7-year-old boy. He also hits, screams, bites, pulls hair, wakes up every night, has no speech, and is still learning to use the toilet. He has been tested, diagnosed, re-assessed and re-categorized more times than I care to count. He is the oldest of the three boys in our blended family household, but he is also the youngest in many ways. His development progresses at approximately half the rate of that of a typical child. This means milestones take twice as long to reach, if they’re ever reached at all. I’ve never, for example, heard my first-born son say “DaDa.” Continue reading