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My journey of balancing small business and small kids


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Cliff Dives and a Sick Kid – Stressful Relaxtion

This post was started a week ago, so take yourself all the way back to last week (cue flash back harp music now)
At this very moment I am at the height of a personal paradox, a stress filled relaxing vacation. I’m sitting in a cabana chair with an amazing ocean view of the Caribbean, a full glass Johnny Walker Black and Coke light (as it’s called in Mexico), and an amazing wife, yet my mind and heart have been preoccupied with the stress of work and a sick child. Through her company, Thirty-One Gifts, my wife worked her tail off and earned a fabulous trip to the Hard Rock Resort at Riviera Maya. It’s absolutely amazing. All inclusive meaning all the food and beverage you can handle. I have brought some oversized and stretchy clothes for the occasion. For the first time since our honeymoon nine years ago we are taking a trip that doesn’t involve kids, family, real estate coaching or a life coaching conference. This is our chance to spend time together and take a relaxing break from both of our lives as parentpreneurs.
Relaxation and I have an odd relationship. I almost feel like it’s a long distance relationship in which we speak often yet spend little time together. In my world as a parentpreneur the ability to disconnect is one that doesn’t come easily. Amazing wifi and international cell phone service and an amazing resort quickly turns in to a real estate office south of the border. The real estate transactions can be dealt with fairly quickly these days. Over the past few years I have been able to grow a small team of very competent and reliable agents whom I’m blessed to be associated with. A few text and e-mails makes short work (a few hours) of the first few days. What I am really paying for is the true lack of preparation for integrating my team into the work prior to leaving versus just leaving notes. Future trips will include taking enough time to stop and perform a thorough briefing. That stress I can deal with.
The one I’m struggling with as is my wife who earned this amazing trip is what’s going on with our oldest daughter. The day before our scheduled flights she complained of tummy pain in the morning. Back in June she faced a bout of pancreatitis that involved 4 days of hospitalization for fasting. I told her teacher about pancreatitis and asked her to be sure to look out for her. At 9:30 I received a call to go pick her up from the school. We were able to get her into the doctor right away who then ordered a blood test. My wife and I swapped places and she took little Ayla to the phlembots at the local children’s hospital. Fortunately our trooper has become accustomed to the blood draws over the past several months. A blood tests is the only way to rule out or rule in pancreatitis. Early that evening the whole family somehow all converged together at our house. Oakley’s mom, my parents, the kids, and I all were there when Oakley came in to tell us that Ayla’s numbers were up and that she had to go to a specialists in the next few days. One problem, we are leaving for Mexico at 6 am the next day. We discussed the situation with all the family as the girls played. Our initial thought was to stay. We couldn’t possibly leave her there with the possibility of a hospital visit. We ran through a myriad of options and came to the decision that the family will help as planned. If the doctors said she needed to go to the hospital we could get back that night. Ultimately we asked Ayla and she said that we should go. I’m really glad she said yes because I’m not sure how this would have played out had she begged us to stay.
Once in Mexico I worked the first few mornings and we worried between Pina coladas and dodging monsoon style weather. The dark clouds that covered the resort represented the dark cloud of worry that were covering my heart. In addition to my wife dealing with this worry, her father is undergoing spinal surgery this week as well. It’s been a mind filled week.
Then one moment at the dinner hosted for all the 600 plus consultants in attendance changed the clouds of worry into sun rays. I have been reading a prayer book and trying to elevate my prayer life and belief. I read how our prayers effect the world well beyond our individual needs.
At the dinner Scott Monroe, husband of the Thirty-One founder, prayed for the meal. During the prayer he seemed to add one line that was just for us like a word of comfort from the Lord. Paraphrased he said “God let everyone here know that you are taking care of all our family and loved ones back home. Help us trust you in caring for them. Help their minds be at ease.” I’m not sure exactly what he said, but that’s what I heard and I began to cry. I wiped my eyes and had a sense of peace.
Today the rain poured down hard and our worry was still there. Ayla had an appointment with the doctor and my father-n-law had his surgery. I remembered what Scott had said the night before and the clouds began to lift. I prayed and asked God to care for them and we will respond how he needs us to. The clouds at the resorts lifted and we are seeing sunshine for the first time all week. I have struggled with worry most of my life. I learned to not let it consume me like I used to. I believe God is continually working on me.
Originally this post was to start concluding here. The next day after writing this my wife we on our way to a jungle excursion which included jumping off of 20 foot cliffs, zip lines, and swimming in caves. On the way there I saw a message from my mother-n-law that said Ayla was on her way the emergency room at the doctor’s request. I had noticed the message as the bus pulled away from the hotel and we lost internet service. Once we arrived at a true Mayan village I was able to begin texting with my dad. Ayla’s blood work confirmed pancreatitis. The day we left we asked Oakley’s mom to put Ayla on strict low-fat diet which is the only way to combat pancreatic attacks without complete fasting. We prayed as we trekked through the jungle. Ayla was in a waiting room at the ER as we jumped off cliffs. We prayed for safety of us and for her. It was complete chaos in our minds as we enjoyed moments and I ran to check my phone every few minutes. They did more blood work on her and a few hours later we received the news that she was being released and going home. The low fat diet had helped her enzyme levels drop enough for the doctors to feel comfortable with her not having to fast. Our trek from the Mayan village to the bus was one of joy and relief. We had to work to completely trust God and our families to take care of her. We had to work to have fun and not let the worry take away an incredible experience that my wife and I will always remember. Fighting the feelings of guilt because of the fun while our daughter was awaiting another test was tough. Feeling helpless as a parent is indescribable. I really feel God was using this experience to show us we can truly trust him. He showed us that our daughter is a strong person and I hoped it showed her the same.
As I finish the post the sky has a dual personality with rain and sunshine. In spite of the rain God is still there shining down on us. I will remain committed to trusting him. When I let the rain of worry shower down on me as it is sure to do I will hold fast in the truth that rain is momentary and that the God who created the sun will shine always.
The hybrid of parent and small business ownership is truly tested on vacations. Maybe this time I wasn’t be great about disconnecting fully, however I am the type of person who likes to learn and I look forward to my next lesson. Thank you Thirty-One for this trip and thank you to my wife for working so hard to earn it and thank you God for taking care of my little girls.
Cue harp music for the return to tonight. It really was a painfully enjoyable experience. My wife and I had the greatest time on the trip and made some great friends. We both learned to trust God more. I know worry may never leave me, but the level of which I let it steal my joy is going to be a lot less.

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My 5 year old daughter said the “F” word

When you become a parent you know there are going to be milestone moments. The first word, first step, the first “I love you daddy,” the moments that melt your heart. You quickly become aware there are going to be the others, you know the one’s that you’ll laugh about later, just not in the moment because instead of your heart melting it’s exploding with anger, embarrassment, or fear.

I came home from a day of making changes in our office to unveil the new franchise we purchased for our real estate business. I was in a good mood and began playing with Joss, my three year old daughter. As I’m rolling around on the floor with little Joss my five year old daughter, Ayla, walked up to me. She then looked down at me and with a giant smile says “s#@t!” I hopped up with the skill of a retired ninja and looked for my wife. “Oak did she say what I think she just said.”

I was in the moment and thinking to myself don’t over react she doesn’t know what she said. Then my wife informed me that they had a long discussion earlier that afternoon about that very word because she had showed my wife her new found vocabulary.

I looked back at my daughter and didn’t see my sweet little girl anymore. I swear she was standing there with a high ball full of whiskey puffing a cigar doing her best Ron White tater salad face.

I may have gotten a little upset with her. I was more upset that she had disobeyed her mom and said it again.  I came out with the “that’s such an ugly word to come out of such a pretty face. That’s a word they can’t even say on TV.”  I tried to keep my voice down, but I’m dad, raising my voice at all is probably scary to them. I’m working on that one.  My wife and I shot disappointing looks her way and she ran to her room to cry in her embarrassment.

I asked my wife about the previous incident. She explained a kid at school had said it. We happen to know the boys mom. The big question was do we make the call.  My thinking was yes, call and let me listen. I was hoping that on the other end would be a repeat of the beating Schwartz received in a Christmas Story. I even contemplated looking for a bar of soap for my little “Ralphie.” My wife did speak with the boy’s mother the next day in person.

I calmed down and went and spoke to my little sailor.  I apologized for raising my voice and held her for a bit. I asked her where she heard the word. She explained that the boy had asked the teacher in front of the whole class if they could say it at school.  I told her that word is not one that smart people use and that it’s meant to shock people. There is really no good explanation other than don’t say it.

You may be asking “where is the ‘F’ word”?  The next night I was tucking Ayla into bed and she proceeded to tell me, “daddy I can’t get that word out of my head.”  Yet, another teachable moment for the Fatherpreneur.  “Sweetie, the good thing is that God has given us the ability to change our thoughts.  Try to think of something fun that makes you happy.”

“Okay daddy, I will think of the ‘F’ word,” she said in an innocent voice.  Holy “S” word ran through my head. “Who has this kid been hanging out with.”  I told myself to remain calm. “Ayla, what is the ‘F’ word?”

I turned my head not wanting to see her speak the word. “Family! I am going to think about you, mommy, and Joss.”

My heart began to beat again and I gave her a giant hug.  I left her room to look for a high ball full of scotch.

When raising a family and a business you are going to encounter moments that are less than fun.  You’ll have moments that shock you and test your patience.  It’s important to always learn from these moments. Each one that happens will make the next one easier to handle.  Calm, cool, collected is gained through trial by five year old.  Each day they grow, I grow.

My heart and my head are not always on the same page when it comes to moments like these.  Maybe there are times when they both need to take a backseat to my funny bone. The reality is that we all will have these moments to laugh at later.  To make them easier maybe we should laugh a little sooner and ease the pain of the moment. These are the moments that make life fun. Go hug your “F” word.


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Protect Their Eternity

Millions of parents probably did the same  thing as I did on Friday afternoon, gave a giant hug to their kids. A hug that lasted longer than normal and had a few tears involved. My wife and I locked eyes while I was embracing my kids, as if to say I know how you’re feeling.

I arrived home early on Friday afternoon to an empty house to start packing for a weekend trip to Sea World to see “Shampu” the whale, as my 2 year calls him.  Being a politically junkie I turned on the news as normal. What I saw being reported was not what I had anticipated. The news of the school shooting was being reported. With each detail my heart began to break and for the first time in years I wept.  My heart broke for the parents, the community, and even the shooter. I pondered how bad someone’s life would have to be to perform such an atrocity.

Then all the normal questions flooded my head, “How could this have been prevented, Why did this happen,” etc.  Logically I deep down understand that we will never really know. I also understand that evil is present and cannot be stopped with human means. I believe the only way this could have been prevented is if the this man-child knew Jesus. Not the superficial going to church every now and then, but actually knowing Christ personally.  There are a million conjectures that can be made and I will leave trying to figure this out there.

The question has been raised about what we can do to truly protect our children. More laws, locks, and police may help, but things will happen in a world with free will. Evil exists and we cannot protect ourselves and children from everything on Earth.   What we can do is protect their eternity.  This temporary life has many dangers, but none greater than not sharing the love of Jesus with them.  The biggest act of protection you can do is to raise them in a way that shows them God’s love. Teach them about Jesus and what salvation really means in this life and in the next. They will then have an opportunity to accept or reject him as they grow older. No act of parenting is more important. No other act has eternal impact.

I recently met the wife of one of my mentors. We spoke about how great her children are and I asked her what’s the number one piece of advice she could give me as a parent of young girls, she simply said, “Protect their hearts and show them God’s love.”

That about says it all. As parents we will do our best to protect our children’s physical lives and put our lives ahead of theirs. What we mustn’t forget is to protect their hearts, minds and souls. Protect their eternity.

Til next time make the hugs a little longer,
JC