parenting is the simplest thing ever :: A Deeper Family post

chloeglasses The blades just kept spinning like life and order and nothingness.  Everything made sense in its whispered hum.  I just faded in the noise, into time unaccountable and in the realization that my hands do less these days while my mind just spins in circles –much like the humming fan blades turning intoxicatingly.

I do far less these days, but I’m busier.  And tired(er).

On an average of five hours sleep, I go until I cannot or should not.

Just a handful of months ago, I finished my first book to much joy and self-adulation.  The amount of focus needed to see an idea through to storyboard, gruelingly sliced and shaped into an outline and then strung tighter together with words, pushed limits broader than I knew possible.  I met the day earlier than dawn and the kids to work with diligence closer to the end.  Words filled blank pages deep into night after the kids went to bed, all the while, working and learning to be a single parent between the margins of writing.  As I look back at pictures of daddy daughter dates, first experiences as a single parent and too many dessert overloaded movie nights to count, I see me smiling easier.

Those days didn’t escape.  We leaned into each moment honestly and didn’t even know it.  We didn’t need to.  The moment was enough and it was all we wanted – nothing more.


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how cooking saved us.

“I love you, Daddy.” Those four words uttered unprompted and purely spoken from the heart, not simply the mouth, sets my world on ablaze.  Everything is alright then.

No argument is too thick to separate, no struggle too tangling, no misunderstanding too alienating, no hurt too deep; in the hearing and in the give and take of those words, all is set aright, and I’m reminded that we are okay again.

Parenting requires full effort. I should be clear.  Effective parenting demands full effort.

And, of course, prayer ...lots of prayer.


When I became a single parent, I no longer had a choice in how much effort I’d give.  The girls looked to me for everything.

“Dad, what should I wear?” “What should I get my friend for her birthday?” “Can you do my hair?” “Can we go and get a manicure?” “Can you meet my friend’s mom so she can sleep over?” ...the friend, not the mom:) “Dad, I think I need a bra?” “Dad, what is sex?”

The first few months as a single dad felt like an absolute whirlwind.  I was widowed and they were half orphaned.  Emotions ran deep and erupted frantically at times.  Many of those early days were spent just getting through the day to find any space to feel comfortable in our own family.  An obvious void rested heavy, them motherless and grieving with an inexperienced single father.  Granted, I had the enormous support from my mother who has been nothing short of amazing, but at the end of the day and in the settling dust, I am my daughters’ only parent.  It is both my privilege and responsibility to show them the way, teach them how and lead them into tomorrow.

I say to them often, especially in tougher times when they are hurting or frustrated, “God gave you me and me you.  And he didn’t make a mistake.”

Honestly, I was as lost in parenting as I was in grief.

So I went for a walk and under a starlit sky, glowing alive, I lost that part of me dying and came back a different man.

I wasn’t a dad, and I wasn’t single.  I was, and would be from then forward, a parent, open-hearted to life with my three beautiful daughters through the pain, the hurting, the confusion and the lonely.

The stars just made perfect sense in a whole new way that night.  The way they hung perfectly, positioned precisely and shined brightly millions of miles away, as if broadcasting a message of hope in the endless panoramic expanse of the night sky, whispering order and security and future, raptured me from living as a victim in a day I felt I didn’t belong to.  Instead, I felt closer to God that night standing under the stars, his stars, and asked simply of him to just help me build the family that we, my wife and I, once started together.

Slowly over the next few weeks, we began to grow again.  I wasn’t as concerned with how to necessarily raise three little girls however little girls should be.  I would raise them in the exact context we newly lived in.

I introduced them to adventure to keep their hearts curious and growing.  We attacked our weaknesses together.  I learned how to do a pony tail, and they learned how to fish.  They taught me how to paint nails, and I showed them how to scout a hiking trail.  Our life together will always be my most beautiful treasure.  I absolutely adore it.

Tonight, as on most Wednesday evenings, we continued on with one of my favorite new family traditions: family cook night.  It’s quite simple of a tradition.  We cook, together.

For us, the kitchen is definitely an adventure.  Our measurements are generous, and each of us thinks we really know what we’re doing.  Emily’s a pro at cutting anything; Elizabeth expertly dabbles in everything; and Chloe can stir like a boss.  Honestly, it’s crazy stressful watching it all happen, but the payoff is magic.  Our hearts are open, conversation flows freely, music typically plays in the background and we just go at it celebrating our togetherness in a new family way.

When the kitchen lights are turned off and the sink is full, half of dirty dishes and half clean, those four words find me, and again, I’m reminded that we are all okay.


Not many parenting techniques will pay off quite like the simplicity of simply being together fully in the moment.  Everything thick and troubling is cut right through.

As parents, time is a commodity that we sometimes don’t have much of, but the more you generously give of the time you have, fully invested into the lives of your children, the greater and more fruitful of a payoff you’ll share in the years ahead.  Together.

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empty pockets.

[gallery link="file" columns="5"] What of home draws us in but the hope of being, the want of becoming?  Like a steadied dock secure at the edge of waves tossing with random relent whether coming or going or sinking strength abandoned, home is escape from and into all at once.  Home is hopeChance to burn clean and chase the lingering, the demons that don’t give way to another day and bones kept together in shadows present hugging the papering walls of a heart deconditioned to the Hand holding.  They don’t quit.  Don’t quiet.  You just get older.  Home is safe ...or it was ...meaning it is.  Home, no matter how disturbed or how sound, always waits for return.  Homecoming.

On this road I learned to run.  Really run, not carefree and roaming, but with direction and time.  “Go!”  Lean into the wind still warm though Fall my breath uneasy and shallow, lines blurring.  Legs on fire as my chest caves and expands in rhythms unnatural.  I cross the line determined as end.  Breath shallow still gasping for something deeper and filling.  I walk back to the beginning lose myself in dreams of being faster than I ever really was.

“How was that?” “Good, man.  Line up.  Let’s do it again.  This time faster.”

It was here on this road adorned with the name, Colby, a warmth in life cooled to thinning memories that I bled.  Where my dad effectively managed time and molded resolve stubborn in my bones still.  The paved black road pushing hard against my feet only skimming and surfacing determined to move with greater speed each time.  It is the fifth or sixth sprint interval.  I’m becoming more of a machine driven by ticking time and endings running to produce earning time as fast as I can.  Typically, I ran to complete ten.  Right in the middle I was best, my fastest.  I loosened enough to move faster and then I weaned.  At ten, I was done completely in the sense of done.  Tired of running and tired of proving.  Done.

If I’m honest and see through, slightly opaque, that street, this one that caught and held my sweat and fears taught me.  I learned how to earn on that street.  I’ve been an earner pretty much ever since.

Acceptance. Time. Success. Progress. Love...

All earned by my attempts at being better.  Where is a heavy hand holding a destructive tool when you need it?  Some things must break to transfigure whole.

I am not patient.  Not for a lack of ease or an aggressive temperament, but a preoccupation with earning my keep and keeping what’s earned.  Proving, pushing, giving up when my empty attempts stack higher than my expectation.  Then I wean.  And I’m done.  Like barely standing straight after ten breathing busy and losing count.

'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'

Life is easy and so is home really.  We struggle and kick, moan and wince at days and events bigger and testier than the rest.  We judge life as harder but we are just holding and keeping.  Earning.  Leaving home and that street has been a slow unraveling to grace and ease.  'Come to me...'  when all I want is to recoil and fold ...when the hands of the watch stop with a click and I’m still running to the end.  That’s when.  Stop counting and straining and tangling with time and earning.  Rest and be well in the hope saving opening the door home to be human and honest again and to become an acceptor rather than an ever struggling earner.