Thursday, June 13, 2013

Father's Day tips for guys like me

Today, Rowan brought home the most adorable Father's Day gift that she made in preschool. She was so proud of it, and rightly so - it's awesome (see photo). I really like that her school teaches kids the tradition of honoring their moms and dads by making them thoughtful gifts on their special days.
Apparently this is supposed to read,
"Rowan's HERO lives here." Is that
not the best thing ever?

But it got me thinking about the last year a half, and last Father's Day and other important occasions (like my birthday). On each occasion, someone stepped up and guided Rowan in recognizing my special day, either helping her pick out or make presents for me. Rowan absolutely loved giving me these gifts, and I loved receiving them.

Before Aimee's death, that's a role she would have taken on.

So the point of this post is this: if you know someone who has lost their spouse/partner, and they have young children who aren't really able to go out and obtain gifts for the surviving parent on their own, please make sure you or someone else steps in and fills that gap. Losing a spouse brings with it so many, many other losses. And it adds so much to the surviving spouse's realm of responsibility, leaving so much more for them to handle. It has meant the world to me that Rowan has been able to recognize Father's Day and my birthday and Christmas, because others have helped her do that (and as I said, Rowan loves it, too). It would mean the world to others if someone helped their young children do the same for them.

On a related note: on Mother's Day, quite a few of my friends sent me some kind of note (tweet, Facebook post, etc) recognizing my efforts at filling the role of mom to Rowan. It was truly touching, even though I feel like I still get to have my day on Father's Day. Having people say encouraging and sweet things on Mother's Day too was a nice treat. So if you know any single moms (especially widows or families where dad is MIA) who are doing their damnedest to also fill in as father to their kids, maybe take a moment and show them a little love this Sunday. I'm sure it'll mean a lot.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Not as together as I look

I may have been fooling some of you. I certainly had been fooling myself.

For most of the last 8-10 months, I've had this sense that I was doing alright. I felt like I'd finally gotten my legs under me as a single parent. I felt a little more 'with it' at work. I had a routine down that seemed to be working in terms of the logistics of running the Rhoads household post-Aimee. Then I met a great woman and began dating her. The road was not easy, but it felt like things were definitely on the consistently upward path.

But, maybe not as smoothly as I thought.

It all started last year with my unwillingness to go to sleep at a decent hour. I had horrible visions of Aimee's last moments whenever I went to bed, and so I took to waiting until 3am or later before I'd pry myself off the couch and crawl upstairs to my room. Essentially, I'd wait until I could no longer keep my eyes open before I'd attempt to sleep, because then I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow. Viola, no wrenching visions to contend with. Worked like a friggin' charm.

Except the pattern has never gone away, and chronic lack of sleep is extremely harmful to your body.

The result? My health is deteriorating, especially in the last few months. After spending most of my life as an extremely healthy person who didn't get sick very often. I have been sick for the majority of this year (including right now). I am putting on weight (a common symptom of lack of sleep), and I was already too heavy for my own good. I had the flu for the first time earlier this year, every cold I get now is much worse than they used to be, and my digestive system has been such a disaster that my doctor tested me for five different conditions including Celiac Disease (thankfully all came back negative).

It's not just health. Things I used to be consistently on top of are now slipping. Two days ago I discovered the bill for my homeowner's insurance. It was due two months ago. Damn good thing the house didn't burn down last month. I NEVER paid bills late. Ever. And I tracked expenses, followed a budget, and balanced my checking account several times a month. At this moment, I haven't balanced my checking account since early April, and I haven't yet kept my spending under my income since Aimee died.

All of these problems can be fixed by the application of some simple self-discipline. Get more sleep, eat better, get more exercise, and watch my motivation, concentration, etc improve, and so on. Just one problem.

I have no self discipline right now.

Here's a great example. When I talked to my girlfriend on the phone earlier, I told her I'd be in bed by midnight (she's trying to encourage me and, at my request, hold me at least somewhat accountable). What time is it as I sit here and write this? 1:12am.

I know I don't have any excuses, but I can't seem to break out of this cycle.