It’s hard out there for a newborn. And youngest child. And being one of three boys. And having twins as older brothers. And those twins being crazy toddlers. When mom and dad have to chase toddlers around, sometimes the baby gets lost in the mix. Sometimes the only person looking out is the dog, who slowly drags her disgusting tongue across baby face in a caring, yet gross, way. Another day in the life of Ezra, who is known as Emu. Another day of dad forgetting I’m in the cart momentarily. Continue reading
It’s always fun to take the circus i affectionately call a family out into public. Behold! The tattooed punk and his freakish family! The identical boy twin wonders! The wife two inches too short; it is quite possible she is a dwarf! A grumpy new born; he oddly reminds us of Benjamin Button! And a ferociously adorable pitbull, the ferocity of her kisses! How can that mohawked man be a good father in those green pants?
I guess we don’t exactly have that nuclear family look.
I must preface this with a warning. This is about the loss of my mother. It’s honest and raw emotions. I lost my mother on January 28th to a heart attack. Her death was so unexpected and caught my family completely off guard. Writing about it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Below is me, laid bare, looking for solace in getting out what I have kept inside. Thank you for taking the time to read about this time in my life.
It’s interesting the waves of emotion attached to the death of a loved one. You’re suddenly no longer in control of yourself, as a tsunami of suffering wages on inside of you. It feels as if you are drowning in whatever emotion grips you in that moment. Once the water is finally less choppy, another wave crashes in and pulls you under.
That’s how I’ve felt these past few weeks. It’s hard to look in a mirror without the freckles I inherited from my mother jumping out at me. Dotted reminders of a woman I will never see again.
When I was eight I moved across the country to live with my brother. I saw my mother a couple of times for a few years after that. The visits became infrequent, as did the letters and phone calls. I was sixteen the last time I saw my mother. For most of my life, I was away from her.
I would often think about her possible death while growing up without her around. How tortured is that, a boy playing out his reactions to his mother’s death on a loop in his head; unable to shut it off.
How would I react? Would it be like hearing about the death of a stranger? Would it even move me to tears or any sort of emotion? How fucked up am I for playing out the scenario of her passing in my head almost weekly since I was eight?
These past few weeks I have learned the answers to such questions.
Growing up away from my mother I had developed this resentment for her. She had always made me feel like it was us against the world. Sending me to Connecticut felt like abandonment. My sadness over being away from my mother turned into a hatred for her.
When I was sixteen I flew out to Colorado to spend time with my mom. Before going, I spent time mentally prepping myself to be tough; to shield myself from potential hurt or disappointment.
I did the same thing a few weeks ago when I had to go to her funeral.
Visiting with her at sixteen, I told her how I felt. How she hurt me, abandoned me, didn’t love me and fucked up my life by not being a part of it.
The pain of a child who truly felt alone in this world.
“It was us against the world, and then, you were gone.”
I remember the understanding, weighted in sadness, those eyes I stared into held. Those eyes, that matched my own. In color and pain.
“I love you son. I’m sorry, but I want you to know I love you.”
Letters and infrequent phone calls did nothing to convey the feelings I longed for. I didn’t know that she loved me, I needed to see her and hear her say it. In that moment I realized it wasn’t hate I harbored. It was longing. I wanted my mother. I wanted to be her son. I wanted to feel like, even with miles between us, she still loved me.
I forgave my mother. Largely because it was exhausting carrying on a façade of toughness. I wanted to be loved by the person I spent my youth feeling inseparable from.
It was us against the world all over again.
How will you react to her death? What will you do when the ball drops?
Questions that constantly ran through my mind, since I was eight.
“Get the fuck off of me”
Twenty minutes staring at a wall, followed by those words.
My wife lay on me, sobbing, after waking me to tell the news.
“Your mother passed away, I’m so sorry”
I wanted to be alone. To scream and cry and die inside.
“Get the fuck off of me.” All I could muster in my state of complete and utter shock.
It now truly was me against the world. Paralyzed, unable to move, unable to register the news I had just heard.
My mother was gone. Forever.
The emotions overloaded and short circuited my insides. A numbness crept in as subconsciously I began trying to protect myself from the news. I stared at the wall, pondering whether to punch it until feeling returned to my body. I was too numb to even do that. My phone beeped and buzzed with missed calls and texts. My aunt, my brother. Trying to get a hold of me and let me know what had happened.
My mother was dead. Only two weeks removed of outlining a plan to visit and meet the kids. To visit me, her son, who she hadn’t seen in seven years.
I couldn’t sleep well for a few days. Over and over I tried to rationalize her death in my head. Friends told me to write about it. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I always try to write in a positive fashion. Nothing about this made me feel positive. I hardly could leave bed. When I left bed, seeing my kids would make me want to cry, so I retreated back to my bed.
People around me worried for me. It made me feel bad.
So I began to pretend to be okay. To hold up appearances, I smiled. I acted like I had grips on the situation.
All the while I was drowning inside.
The outpouring of support only made me feel more of a need to put on a smile. I couldn’t disappoint those who took the time to care. I couldn’t wallow in sorrow, although it had swallowed me inside.
So I began a new façade of toughness.
The return to Colorado, I steeled myself. Mentally readying against hurt and disappointment, all over again.
A nightmare trip out there only made me grit my teeth more. We landed in Colorado after a missed flight, lost debit card and two hours of sleep, the day of the viewing.
I didn’t want a viewing. Seeing her lay there, lifeless, I hated it. I wanted to reach out and touch her hand, but was afraid of how cold it would feel. My kids said goodbye to her, not nearly grasping how much it shattered my heart having to say the words, “Say bye bye to grandma, we love you mom”.
My mother got to meet her grandkids. And my heart broke under the circumstance.
Reconnecting with family because of death is commonplace. You bury the hatchet, if only for the fact that you don’t want to bury a loved one without saying I love you one last time. The trip to Colorado was more of a reunion than a funeral. Family and friends with longstanding feuds laid past grievances to rest alongside my mother.
“It’s what she would have wanted.”
The whole process only made me more numb. Picking out urns. A beautiful green one, my mother’s favorite color.
Four overwhelming days of reconnection and reconciliation. All I wanted was to cry and scream and die inside. My façade of toughness, mixed with deflection, held.
The return home went smooth. As I moved everything inside, first thing I did was delicately place her green urn on a shelf, careful to make sure it had space around it. I haven’t come to look at it since.
Life went back to normal. The world continues to move rather quickly after loss.
“What you been doing, bitch?”
“Your mom, shit, I’m sorry”
A coworker cracks a joke, only realizing too late how insensitive and too soon it is.
“It’s okay, it was an accident”
I drank and sobbed in the shower for a half hour the next day. I knew it wasn’t on purpose, but the memories it brought back broke my shield. I began to drown. Again.
I hate the eggshells those around me walk on. I hate having to pretend I’m okay when I’m nothing more than a sixteen year old, trapped, who needs to look in his mother’s eyes and hear her say “I love you” one more time.
That accidental comment was less than a week ago.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is no amount of faking that will make the loss of my mom any easier. I hope time saps the strength of this constant inner storm that rages.
All I know is the person I need to hear I love you from rests on a shelf in a shiny green urn. A shelf I can’t bring myself to look at. My mother is gone. And it’s me against the world again.
This Valentine’s Day will be one for the books! As soon as I figure out what the date actually is, we will hallmark it up! Roses, you like those right? That’s your favorite flower, right? Awww screw flowers, our love is eternal whereas flowers wilt and fade away! The chocolates, yes I shall buy you a heart box filled with chocolates! Your favorite chocolate is…white chocolate, right? Screw chocolates, you don’t need it! No, no,no! I didn’t call you fat! You still have the damn chocolate from Halloween on top of the fridge! You know, the basket that was YOURS, because you said I would eat all your chocolate!
Ok, ok- what about a card. You like funny and silly. Or was it deep and sentimental. Shit! Dinner? I’ll take you out for Gyros even though you know I despise them, this is YOUR holiday anyways. Oh, now you want nothing! Don’t lie, I’m not falling for this one again! You said that about our anniversary and i slept on the couch for two weeks! Our anniversary, that’s soon too right? Why not do a two-for-one? Oh, now you want something for both days, I see.
Well, I wrote you a poem. Yes honey, a poem. No I didn’t steal it from the Internet! *sigh* ok HALF was stolen from the Internet. Only the roses are red violets are blue part are plagiarism sweetie!
I give up! I give up! Here’s some flowers, chocolate, a card with a poem and some jewelry!
Oh…I love you too, Im glad you like it. No, it wasn’t a big deal- I just wanted you to know I love you. Can’t wait till next year. Is it sex time yet?
Love, Always and forever.
It’s hard to believe we approach the two year anniversary of me being a parent next month! I can’t wait to have a gigantic celebration in my honor for surviving another year raising boys! The road hasn’t been easy, but I’ve made it this far!
In honor of my children’s fast approaching birthdays, I feel an obligation to impart wisdom on fellow parents. The things I have learned in the first two years of parenting boys who happen to have the same birthday. (twin boys!)
There comes a point, around the first ultrasound, that you begin to lose rights to your Facebook. What used to be party pictures is rapidly replaced by toothless grins and spaghetti messes. Embrace living in the age of the Internet! Like those embarrassing photos from middle school now circulating the Internet waiting to be discovered and made into a meme, your children’s photos will never be lost. Facebook has become a family photo album, which you should be actually quite ok with. It’s nice to catch so many “likes” on a photo that melts your heart. Whenever having a down day, you can swipe through the photos on Facebook and have your heart melt all over with nostalgia.
Accept the fact that each milestone will be filled with equal parts joy and sorrow. You will be happy to watch your child develop, obviously. But, it’s so bittersweet. Often times, I look back longingly at the days before running and talking; when my kids wanted nothing more than to snuggle up with me on the couch and watch sportscenter.
Not every moment needs a picture. I know, I just talked up photos, but hear me out! Most of the time I am too busy enjoying and living a moment to capture it. Some memories are forever etched in your heart. I just spent a week bonding and enjoying my families company in Colorado. I took twenty five photos with my fun and a million memories tattooed forever onto my heart. Catch a smile, cherish a moment.
Tantrums are not personal. Sometimes your kid just has a shit day, they are human. You have bad days, I have bad days, kids have bad days. Being a parent is about being able to assess the situation and redirect it, you’re not the one who should be throwing the temper tantrum. Too many parents get ridiculously frustrated with a screaming kid. Walk away instead of losing patience and dropping to child like mentality. I smoke. If I need fresh air for five minutes I’ll step outside and rip a cigarette. Smoking is better than exploding on my kid, so shove the “smoking is bad” talk. Seriously, just step back. Kids cry, they don’t know what they want sometimes, just like you. Be the cooler head.
Let your children be children. Join them in being children! Kids are blessed with such a pure form of joy, untouched by complexity. There are no gray areas, it’s happy or sad. It’s nice to momentarily fall into the black and white. Kids are a chance to relive the purest form of joy. Bask in it before the world steals their innocence and everything becomes mired in layers.
The zero to two year old phase passes way to fast. Just yesterday we were in NICU. Now they run and play games and it’s too much sometimes. My youth has been slowly siphoned off. But it’s been worth it. Absolutely worth every midnight feeding or stinky diaper. The fulfillment of parenting is unrivaled. Trading in video games for Kipper wasn’t an easy transition, not going to lie. But it’s absolutely worth it. So cheers to two years past, this parenting gig has been my favorite activity to date.
Oh, and one last final advice. Hide the knife block, far out of toddler reach. For everyone’s safety.
It’s much easier to navigate the harrows of life without making stops to show compassion and kindness to your fellow travelers. As we continue on our personal journey trampling those around us, who are making the same climb, becomes a second nature. Like crabs in a bucket, anytime a fellow reaches the cusp of escaping their own harrowing journey, there is someone more than happy to grab at their leg and pull them back down into the darkness. The darkness we all fight so desperately to escape.
Acts of kindness or compassion seem almost against human nature.
Most of us are ill equipped to tackle the journey alone.
What makes it so difficult to push each other towards the top in the mad climb up?
Who enjoys reaching the cusp of personal achievement, only to be dragged down by circumstance?
Why do we turn around and tear each other down?
Is it bitterness from experience; a psychological conditioning that we must tear those around us down because that’s what was done to us and we now know it to be commonplace?
There has to come a breaking point where collective minds go against the dog eat dog status quo and choose compassion and kindness over selfishness.
Is it that much more difficult, to the point of impossible, to help one another up? We could all make this climb much easier if we banded together instead of going alone.
Imagine a world where people took the extra time to ensure other’s dreams come to fruition. The beauty of everyone achieving what they set out for. Hands reaching out, grasping, pulling, and helping the steady ascension to the top. Creating a ladder of success, a ladder built from kindness and compassion. Would be a lot easier than clawing your way up alone.
The shift in mindset, in taking each other’s hands, won’t come easy. We have been hard wired to fear one another. To expect the knife in the back. Those who choose kindness are used, abused, and called fools for caring for others. Focus on yourself, because everyone has an ulterior motive, right?
Are we not exhausted and dizzy from spinning in circles looking for acts of betrayal that seem to follow success so rapidly?
For fucks sake! There is plenty of room at the top! Don’t fear overcrowding. Fear being alone with no one to revel in success with.
So here is the call to arms. Take the time to uplift one another. Do it for the simple enjoyment of helping someone better themselves. In turn, you better yourself, as a human being. In turn, you better the world, by being a part of success instead of failure.
Prove that this world doesn’t run on the sacrificing of people’s dreams. If everyone helps, we build a ladder to the top. Each rung of compassion is easier than gripping at the walls, hands ragged and raw, struggling alone towards the top. There is no satisfaction at the top when you’ve watched all your friend’s disappear back down into the abyss.
It’s easy to lose oneself on the way up, especially if you have to trample people to get what you want.
So, the challenge. To be kind. To be compassionate. To break the conditioning of selfishness. Be a light in the darkness and help those around you achieve greatness, so that you might reach greatness in yourself.
Is it so hard?
Is it too hard?
Want to raise your kids right? As a young parent, your credentials are forever questioned when it comes to child rearing. There is a whole section at your local bookstore with conflicting methods of raising a kid so they end up like Bill Gates and not Charles Manson. You can be taught by some stranger how to raise your kid for $23.95! Well, unfortunately, not everyone has $23.95 to invest in parenting. How horrible, after spending your entire paycheck on diapers and wipes you can’t afford parenting advice from Dr. Snobby McBowtie. Good thing is, there is a certain Punk Rock Papa willing to teach you his ways in return for likes on Facebook. So, let’s not take out a second mortgage on the house and just get yourselves a copy of the FREE Punk Rock Parenting.*
* It’s FREE!
Here is installment ONE of Punk Rock Parenting!
Your kid is going to begin looking and acting like a monster around six months. When they become completely intolerable, you will notice lovely little chompers poking out of their scream holes. This is the go ahead sign to transition into solid foods.
It’s statistically proven that all children are unable to properly get food in their mouths. Like magnets with opposite polarity or a force field, getting all of the food in your child’s mouth is scientifically proven to be impossible. With this knowledge, you as a parent need to prep not just yourself for every feeding, but your home as well.
Ever seen Dexter? Whatever room you are feeding your child in should look like Dexter’s kill rooms. Floors, walls and ceiling need to be covered in plastic. You don’t want to miss a corner, or forever stains will adorn the walls.
Now that you have quarantined the hungry little hooligan, take that adorable and expensive outfit you bought off of the child. Trust me. If it isn’t removed it will be forever stained with your mistake. Set your diaper baby up in a high chair. High chairs are amazing. Favorite time of the day should be imprisoning your kid in this chair. It would be too easy to slip into a tangent over how awesome it is to belittle your kid with airplane noises as you shove broccoli in their mouth. Word is you can’t do this as they get older, so embrace it during their younger years.
Now, it’s going to get messy, hope that’s clear by now. But what about a baby bib? Oh, man, why didn’t We think of that?!
Bibs are these disgusting washcloths that you can strap around your kid. They cover a small portion of the chest, because the person who created them apparently didn’t realize kids enjoy getting food everywhere. The bib is good if it has something stupid written on it, but other than that is rather useless.
This method involves taking the food and launching it at your child from three feet away. Think of it as the catapult method. Just scoop up whatever slop Gerber has convinced you to buy and sling it at the kid. The nutrients your child need will find their way into their mouth.
Don’t ask why, just put on some heavy metal. Not talking armor, although it is optional to also strap up, this is about music. The amount of thrashing involved in this method requires the music. This approach is much more hands on and will leave you covered in puréed mystery food. It involves actually trying to make contact with your child during feeding. Properly making contact between mouth and utensil. Kids HATE this. It is too clean for them. Little known fact, children are odd little beings that think they can absorb nutrients through there face. You have to be quick to get any food in the mouth and watch out for flying hands! Kids flail out when approached with a wild spoon. Just keep trying to make contact and pass off the nutrients. You will know when mealtime is over by the Rorschach print on your shirt.
Now these are two sure fire personally tested methods. However, my editor informs me that not including other methods would be insensitive and open the company up to claims of cultural insensitivity. So, here are a few more methods. It should be noted they are not tested and if it wasn’t for the editor, these methods would not be included in Punk Rock Parenting
Take your child’s food in your mouth. Make sure whatever you are feeding them is thoroughly swished around, to gain any parent wisdom, spit the food in your child’s mouth. The bird feeding technique is popular among celebrities who got tired of Kabbalah but still want to be progressive and new age.
Thank the hippies. So new age. Gently place the food and utensils in front of your kid. Watch in wonder as your child auditions for a part in Blue Man Group. This method is super effective at discovering any book or cranny you might have missed while plastic covering the room.
Popular among many parents with too much time on their hands this involves feeding your kid while pretending you are paparazzi. You need to have your phone at the ready and a fake smile on. Snap as many pictures as you can cram down your friends throats while simultaneously cramming food down your kid’s food hole. Facebook allows twenty-five photos to be uploaded at once. With this method you can make your friends feel obligated to like at least seventy-five to a hundred photos of your food art project a day.
Whatever method you choose, as long as you are feeding your kid a few times a day people will be proud and amazed at the responsibility you show. No one will remember all the plants you forgot to water or goldfish that died of starvation at your hands.
And there you have it! Part one of Punk Rock Parenting! Tune in to next week’s installment to learn some games to play with your children that do not raise them into little Hannibal Lectors!
What would you like to see covered in Punk Rock Parenting?
A lot of people come up to me and say things like “Punk Rock Papa, you’re a parent guru! I need your help picking out toys for my toddler, please!”
To which I simply reply,
“Okay, fine! I’ll help. But I don’t work for free, I need two naps and a date night with my wife. Babysit for me or the master will not share his secrets!”
It turns out that price is usually a little too steep!*
* I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who is always free when I don’t need a babysitter but turn into Houdini the moment I need them to watch the boys.
So, I’ve decided to give up on selling my expertise to the highest bidder and share them, in hopes someone will offer to watch my monsters so I can go see that new American Sniper movie.
Toys for tots (Really catchy and original, copyrighting that)
As any other parent, I only want what’s best for my kids. I’m talking top of the line. The best of the best!
Here’s my secret, the Punk Rock Papa approved way. Don’t forget to watch my kids Friday night! Here it goes:
You’re going to go to the toys section and see some super expensive hunks of plastic brightly colored to attract your children into pickpocketing you. Take a look around at all the dollar signs, find the most expensive toy.
Check out its features! Wow, cool! If I buy a twenty dollar pack of batteries and three other equally priced toys made by the same company it would be super sweet! I’ll just empty the savings account, my kid needs this more than we need our rent money.
What a steal, right? Literally, you’re being robbed.
Okay, you can return that overpriced plastic hunk to the shelf.
Leave the toy section and go buy whatever else you need from the store and return home.
I know, I’ve lost a few people.
What about toys for the kids? My kid needs a new toy!
No, he doesn’t.
My house is filled with toys! it’s a nightmare. At any given time my floors looks like a hot wheels car dealership.
Here’s he worst part? My kids never play with them! They are sprawled across my floor as casualties of the battle waged daily in my house.
You know what my boys fight over?
Before they became Latched on the Luvs box they would take and dump their toy bin and sit inside it, throwing hundreds of dollars of plastic to the side so they could play with a storage bin.
All day they play with two empty boxes. Pushing them around, making car noises they could make with, I don’t know, THE CAR SET I SPENT AN ENTIRE PAYCHECK ON!
The best thing to get your kids isn’t an expensive toy or DOODAD. It’s an ordinary box.
Nurture your kids ability to make ordinary objects extraordinary. Dive in with them! Race a laundry basket around while you pawn laundry duties on your spouse!
Get lost with your kids and wake up in a day dream where you all are nascar racing or exploring some unknown terrain.
Now, we should talk cardboard boxes! I prefer the bulk diaper boxes! They seem to be a family favorite. We have used moving boxes too (mainly to reach the knife block, thanks Killian). The point is, if your kid can fit their bodies in it, they can unleash their minds within it.
Reawaken the child buried in you underneath the seriousness and maturity. The only way to grow a cardboard box into a race car, or whatever you decide, is for you to take the ride with your child.
Teach your kids they have the power to create something special from seemingly nothing! Trust me, you both will enjoy it. Sure, it won’t take away the years your kids have added to you, but it’s fun as hell for all parties involved. If you can’t get into cardboard box racing, then we have to kidnap you and deprogram the adult in you.
Give your kids a cardboard box. Raise them to find the magic in what is seemingly ordinary! Breeding creativity and imagination is the best possible toy for any child, including your inner child. A cardboard box, the best toy I ever got my kids.
Or you can steal that expensive toy you probably can’t afford. Whatever, I don’t care! Just watch my kids Friday night.