The Family That Sticks Together

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I often talk about the things I go through as a father that’s away from home. It’s definitely rough not seeing my kids at times. Some days I wonder if I should do something else even though I love my job. There’s definitely no way I’d be happy doing something different and I think being happy at work makes a huge difference in your life. There is one factor that makes working out here possible and that’s my kid’s mother.

My wife and I have been split up for around a year. I never bring this up because I really never knew how writing about it would make her feel. When I left the house it was a very sad time for both of us and a tough decision for me. It hurt her and I didn’t want to make that pain worse by her reading about it in this blog. It wasn’t always easy for me either. It’s the hardest decision that I’ve ever made in my life and I think it was best for both of us. The fact that she needed me to leave for her to be happy is the reason I did it.

My wife and I were married for 12 years. We had our ups and downs the whole time but the last few years it seems we were fighting more and more. Often times I would get upset over the most trivial things and blow up about it. It made me hate myself. I didn’t want to be mad at my wife. I didn’t want to yell at her. It really got to me and the more I did this the more unhappy I became in the situation. I knew I wasn’t happy and I would never make her happy. I didn’t want to be the cause of someone I loved being miserable for the rest of her life, and she would have stayed with me and been unhappy. She’s a loyal woman and would do that to keep her family whole.

After I moved out there were adjustments. I know she was upset with me and people thought I should just go back. She wanted me to come back and honestly I did too. I knew I did the right thing though. I obviously still saw my kids all the time. We started adjusting. One thing was we said no matterĀ  what we would get along and still have a family of us and the kids. We would still do things together when we could. If mom makes a rule I still back her on it and vice versa. I often see parents that say they’ll do anything for their kids but they can’t get along with their ex. I don’t understand that. Relationships change. That doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of our situation for the people who matter most. Our children are the people who matter most in a family. We are responsible to do what’s best for them.

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I can honestly say that now that we are Seperated Kimberley is my best friend. People say they married their best friend and I don’t necessarily think we were that close all the time when we were married. Now I feel much closer to her as a friend. We are generally more concerned with how the other is doing and we still support each other 100%. She is truly one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known and I’m happy to still remain as close as we are. I know she’s finally seeing that the change in our relationship is for the best. Recently I asked her if she was happy and she said yes. She probably finally realized how much of a pain in the ass I was (or am). I could tell she really meant it. That she’s finally happy again. I think as a family we all are even though we aren’t the same.

I guess I always try to make a point at the end of these. Today I think that point is even if things don’t work out we don’t have to be ugly or hateful. You don’t need to make things tougher on the other people involved just because you can’t get along. Relationships are give and take. Like it or not if kids are involved that never ends, together or not.

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The School of Hard Knocks

I recently talked to my oldest daughter Marie’s mom. She’s a senior in high school this year and was accepted to LSU . It’s amazing how the time flies with her and how much I’ve missed. The thought that her high school graduation will likely be the last milestone of her childhood does make me rather sad but that’s not the main thought I had when hearing this.

I thought about how good a kid she’s been over the years. Her mother and I talk quite a bit at times  so I’ve definitely got a feel of what kind of person she is. Full of love and happiness. Her mom and dad have done a great job raising her and that definitely makes me happy.
Now that gets me thinking about the two little Devils I have running around now. My kids are definitely good, loving kids, but if left to their own devices I’m sure they could overthrow a small government with the terror they can reign down. They are kids after all so they require a nudge in the right direction at times. The question is am I nudging them the right way? It’s hard for any of us to say that as parents. We all have our own ways of parenting so it’s tough to say what’s right or wrong. I’m sure we all worry to an extent of how what we do now will shape them as adults.

Take a look at me. I was a relatively good kid. Rambunctious to say the least but an A student growing up. Never got into trouble at school until my last year of high school. My parents didn’t drink or smoke. Disciplined me when needed. They were both teachers and they both loved me and showed that every day. That being the case as I got older I got more and more rebellious. Getting into trouble as a teenager was regular, and it was often very bad trouble. My first time getting in trouble at school I got expelled then shortly after that I was sent to juvenile detention. (As far as I know this detention was shut down by the federal government because of many reported cases of abuse to the kids there)

The fact of the matter is I did these things despite having two  of the best parents you could ask for. I’m sure once my behavior went South it made things extremely hard on them not knowing how to get me to snap out of it. How did their little boy turn into this uncontrollable royal pain in the ass? I have no idea. This is what scares me about parenting. It makes me nervous to think I could go through what my parents went through with me. It would break my heart to witness my children endure what I did even if it was my own stupidity that did it. I hate that my mother and father had to witness it.

That said I’m happy that my daughter has had two of the best parents she could ask for. It’s truly a blessing to know that they were there for her and the have molded her into the wonderful woman she has become. Of course they can thank me for her good looks but that’s not what we’re discussing now. Same with Coleman and Julia’s mom. She carries the burden of having to do everything two thirds of the time because of my schedule. I couldn’t ask for a better mother or role model for them. Again they are also good looking. You’re welcome.

I guess the point here is none of us never really know what will happen. As parents we have to just be ready to adapt and do what’s best for our children in any situation. Remember they will not always do what you want or what you expect. I know my parents did and they never gave up. Just took them a little while to get the product they wanted and deserved.

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Absence Makes The Heart Grow Hopeful

“The soul is healed by being with children.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

There is a lot of time while sitting in this wheelhouse to think about life. Both the things you’ve done right and wrong. What makes you happy or sad. It’s good to be able to have quiet time to yourself. A lot of people don’t have this option as their life is hectic. No time to sit and just observe or think about the world around you.

The flip side is that most of this time is spent missing my children or other loved ones. It gives me a lot of time to reflect on decisions I’ve made and things I’ve lost. When it comes to that I usually think about my daughter Marie. I often wonder what she’s up to, or maybe what our first meeting will be like. I wonder if that meeting will ever happen.

The one thing I do know is I feel a strong connection to this girl I’ve never met. I always feel that there is some unspoken force that is drawing us together. I often wonder if it’s just my wishful thinking that makes me feel this way. Who knows? I do know the more I see her in pictures the more I see me in her. The faces she makes and her downright silliness. Unless she’s making a really goofy face then she looks like my sister who is also rather goofy.

The quote at the beginning of this post says the soul is healed by being with children and that’s very true. Spending time with my children is the most rewarding part of my life. It doesn’t compare with any other feeling or accomplishment I’ve ever experienced. My thoughts of Marie are what heals my soul just like the time spent with my other children. I know her somewhat from talking with her mother and for that I am extremely grateful. Who knows? Maybe someday soon I’ll actually meet her face to face. Let’s just hope she isn’t making one of those goofy faces I get from my sister when we do. (Just kidding Melinda)

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Like Father, Like Son

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Fred Rogers

Some days I just have to marvel at the masterminds my children have become. Yesterday my son told me that he went to Toys”R”Us and got the lizard man from the “Amazing Spider-man” movie. He proceeded to tell me how I could get the Spider-man toy for myself. That way we could play together. It always makes me happy when my son wants to spend time with me, and that he still thinks of me coming home to play while I’m gone.

Then reality set in. It dawned on me that I have been duped by the greatest criminal mastermind of our time since Lex Luther. He knows that when daddy gets his Amazing Spider-man toy that daddy will play with it for a week with him and then leave for another trip on the boat. That’s when The Amazing Spider-man becomes Coleman’s new toy. That diabolical little genius. Julia would never scheme like this. (Ok that’s a lie. She stole $200 out of my wallet at the ripe age of two years old and placed the money in her princess piggy bank.)

There is only one thing to say about this… Well played son! After I’ve worked thirty-five days on this river away from you I’m thrilled to buy a ten dollar Spider-man for a few hours of hanging out in your room just so you can steal it from me later. Of course this means I’ll have to buy my own Barbie or some other girl toy to play with my little princess too. It’s only fair right? With under a week left I’m just happy to get back home to make up for lost time.

It gets hectic after you’ve been gone. Lots of catching up to do at the house. A honey-do list that may have gotten a little lengthy. Just remember the most important thing you need to catch up on may be a tea party with a couple teddy bears or a vicious battle between the Transformers and the X-Men. Just don’t go back to work wishing you’d just said yes to a playful little boy or girl instead of saying “we’ll do it later”.

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Wandering Minds of the Mississippi

For the most part our lives at work are pretty hectic. Not much time for personal thought. Whether you work in an office, in retail or some other professional setting you quite often have time for just your work with barely enough break to catch your breath. That isn’t always the case for the captain of a tugboat.

I once had a fellow wheelman describe our job as 95% boredom and 5% sheer terror. That’s pretty accurate and I find this job is often quite relaxing and to me rewarding. I like what I do and often enjoy the quiet days alone in the wheel house. I’m sure we all think about different things. Sometimes it may be important, stressful things at home like bills or family problems. Often times its trivial, idiotic ramblings of our minds like the threat of the zombie apocalypse. Maybe all of the apes will escape zoos and labs and get injected with a genetically engineered virus that makes them smart and they take over the world while the virus simultaneously kills all the humans? It could happen.

I myself think about the loved ones I have at home. I most often think about my children and most of all my daughter Marie. She’s the one I mentioned in my first post that is 15. I haven’t seen her since she was just a baby. She didn’t even know that I was her dad until five years ago when she was ten years old. Until then she thought her mom’s husband was her father, and he is. A very loving father from what I understand and they are both extremely close. It’s something that I’m very thankful for because she deserves to have someone like him in her life.

Losing her has put an almost unbearable weight on my shoulders over the last 15 years. It’s caused me to be extremely depressed at times and has left me full of regret. The last five years her mother and I have become friends again. I would even say that in my eyes we are very close friends which is amazing since I thought for years that if we ever spoke we would both need to be heavily armed to defend ourselves at any moment. She knows that I have never forgiven myself for losing my daughter and insists I should. That every thing happens for a reason and that this is no different. She says when she is ready Marie will want to know me and I hope she’s right. I love my daughter with all my heart whether I know her or not and I can’t wait to be able to tell her that someday. Even with the hope that this will happen there is a fear that overwhelms me. What if she never wants to know me? What if she hates me for not being there, for leaving her? I may feel this way forever and I accept that. If my punishment for my actions is this empty place in my heart then maybe I deserve to feel this way as a reminder of what I’ve done.

It’s hard to deal with losing someone you love so much due to your mistakes. Just remember the next time you have one of those days, as you think about the important people in your life, make sure you do whatever it takes to never lose them. Take it from a man with few regrets that the things you do regret can possibly cause you and others pain and sadness for the rest of your lives. Feelings I hope nobody lives with. If you are do whatever you can to make things better. Remember there’s only so much time before that zombie apocalypse happens. Then it will be too late.