Heifers! 2017 is going to be an amazing year over here in Heifer-Land. One of the new things I'm doing here on the heifer-blog is featuring some guest bloggers. People who have something relevant to say. (If you have something relevant to share, and would like to contribute with a guest blog post - please email me - firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss!)
I've known Jeff J. (on twitter you can find him @DaddyIsBest) for some time now, and have enjoyed getting to know him. He's funny, he knows a few things about running, and he's a dad with a great sense of humor. He blogs about it. I asked him to write up a little sumfin' sumfin' for the heifers, and below, he shares a little bit of his life with us. Maybe you'll be able to relate to how he feels about life, parenting, and the pursuit of happiness. Thanks, Jeff!
I’m a movie guy. I love movies and will watch one any chance I get. Ok, ok, sometimes I watch the same ones over and over again, like Pulp Fiction I’ve probably seen 1715 times. But, it’s a good movie, enthralling, mesmerizing, unique.
A couple of movie heroes have become my personal heroes. I try to emulate them, at least the good parts, after all, nobody’s perfect. Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind” is at the top of the list with Clark Gable, of course. He probably embodies the dream vision of being a gentleman. I don’t say to myself, What would Rhett do?, per se, but I do generally follow his example. Another one is Rick Blaine, aka Humphrey Bogart, in “Casablanca”. He had a certain amount of mental toughness and courage to do the right thing. “If you don’t get on that plane, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, but soon, and for the rest of your life.”
As far as Daddy heroes in movies, here are some:
Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Albert Brooks in “Finding Nemo”
Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire”
Dustin Hoffman in “Kramer vs. Kramer”
Steve Martin in “Parenthood”
James Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life”
For TV daddies, the list is far too long.
These are all representations of great daddies. Unfortunately, in “real life," the list is somewhat smaller. It’s a tough job and it’s hard to see the day-to-day behavior of daddies. I’ve met some daddies who embody good daddies as far as I can see or know. I call these guys my Everyday Heroes. They all face similar situations and obstacles and frustrations and joys of raising kids.
The bad news is that life is not a movie and I can’t do what I gotta do through other people. I live in the here and now and here and now are two little boys growing up. My movie is my everyday story of life unfolding. I am the watcher and the watched.
I have grown as a man and as a daddy. I’ve worked over 40 years in a countless number of jobs in a myriad of locations with a cornucopia of people. I’ve had low self-esteem issues my whole life. I’m not really sure where that came from or what was the genesis of feeling which led to it. My confidence has suffered as has my performance on some jobs and my relationships with special people in my life. It’s hard to give something I don’t feel.
When I became a daddy, everything changed (again) for me. I had little people depending on me… for everything! Not just the usual things of food, clothing and shelter, but a picture of what life is like. As I’ve learned and grown into, they at me look to discover what life is like. They will carry my own picture and interaction with life with them for the rest of their lives.
Boy, does that sound like a lot of pressure.
Of course, I’m not perfect or even think that I am. I make mistakes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life.
As I write this, today is my birthday. As a buddy of mine said on Facebook, what a long, strange trip it’s been. Never would have thought that I would be where I am at… this age. As it turns out, Morty is home sick from school today. He’s been sleeping most of the morning. He is awake now and reading about how to split an atom. I once told him that he looks like me when I was his age, except I was cuter. In a nano second he replied, I’m smarter. The sad news is he’s right. He is smarter than I was at 8.
My birthday holds a day of special reflection for me, like my own personal New Year’s Day. Probably because my bday is so close to Christmas and NYD. The good news is that birthdays come once a year. The bad news is that they only last a day. I received a lot of birthday wishes from friends and family. I thought maybe a few people would write, but I collected more than I thought I would.
Morty got better. The birthday came and went and life goes on.
I went to work on Saturday. Parts of it I enjoy and parts I don’t. When it came time for the schedule to be completed by the managers, I happened to catch a glimpse of it. It showed me closing three nights during the holiday week. I erupted, not to them, but to one of my co-workers, a trusted friend.
Coming home after the eruption, I felt drained and I knew that I could not display such negativity to the boys or mommy (Sergeant Major Mommy, to be exact). And I didn’t, still I was subdued and not my usual happy-go-lucky self.
I spent the night worrying about concocting an appropriate response to such an obvious disregard for my life. I replayed it in my mind a total of 3485 ways. I was obsessed with it, until I said to myself, “Self, let it go, turn it over.” And I did. To my Higher Power.
That was a recurring story of my life, playing the same adversarial story in my mind over and over again until I was literally worn out from it.
The good news is that the next day I went into work and the schedule had been changed to a much more accommodating one for me, i.e., closing one night in the week.
The moral of this movie/story of my life is that I obsessed about something out of my control. During my previous night’s obsession, I had also prayed. I am no longer a Christian, but I am a believer in God. I just don’t believe in religion. Anyway, I turned over my concern to my Higher Power and It/He/She came through, as is always the case. Sometimes, it’s not what I expect or how I expect, but I usually feel better and I’m happy with the result, both the letting go part and the resolution part.
Now, this particular time, when I erupted, I did it to a trusted friend. I don’t know for certain, but my feeling is that this friend had a hand in the resolution.
The bigger picture is that I have been using this technique more and more frequently and I am feeling better and better. I am also feeling better and better about my parenting skills and role modeling for the little buggers. I may never know if they notice or care, but I do.
I have a lot of projects either in my mind or on my proverbial plate. I hope to accomplish some of them in the coming year. My biggest project is the day-to-day role modeling for my boys.
The way I look at it, the theme is not just trying to do the right thing, but the mindfulness or awareness of every moment.
For what it’s worth, that’s probably the key to life, mindfulness in the moment. It would be easy to put life on auto-pilot if situations didn’t change or evolve or grow or life was somehow less dynamic than what it truly is.
The boys are growing. My life is still changing and evolving. The daddy thing, I finally think I got this.
There a lot of ugly things in this world. I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you. That’s never possible.
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Having a kid is great… as long as his eyes are closed and he’s not moving or speaking
Adam Sandler as Sonny Koufax, “Big Daddy”
A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.
Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, “The Godfather”
I am your father.
Darth Vader, “The Empire Strikes Back”
It’s gonna be ok.
Albert Brooks as Marlin, “Finding Nemo”
I know you’re only 8, but don’t think these good times are gonna last forever.
Jeff Jackson as “DaddyisBest”