This month I was going to write about the lack of civility and manners in our society and how we as parents need to step up our game when it comes to teaching our kids what is proper and what is not. Then, the kids had a snow day, and by the time I sat down to write my article, tackling such a serious topic was just not appealing.
Snowbank snow fort
The boys were outside just after six in the morning and really only came in for short spurts the rest of the day. Their first order of business was to task me with building a fort in the snowbank left by the plow. Now, when it comes to projects like these I tend to go a bit Tim Taylor and they usually end up taking me twice as long as I thought they would. This snow fort was no exception. Why, I thought, should I make a fort that you have to crawl on your belly through when I can use some of that old plywood we have as a roof? I laid the boards on top of the snowbank and began to dig. Unfortunately, I got a bit over zealous and dug too much snow out, causing the plywood to be unstable. Not wanting to let down the boys or admit defeat, I scrounged around for more scrap wood and moved onto plan B, then to plan C, then to plan D. I eventually remembered some long poles I had lying near the scrap pile so I kicked around in the snow until I found them. A little sawing here and there and we had a winner with plan E. The boys then spent the rest of the day playing in what is arguably the best snow fort I’ve ever built.
The “Snow Hut”
Thanks to the internet you can spend a lot of time looking at all the different kinds of forts people build to get ideas for your own. Then you can go out and build one for yourself. That is what the boys and I did. It was a good reason to get outside and get some exercise in what has previously been a nearly snowless winter. It is a nice escape from the stress of life and when it’s done you always have a place to get away to. Building our fort has developed a new type of creativity in the boys. They now notice their surroundings in a different way and are always on the lookout for a good fort locations. It also gives them a sense of accomplishment, even if as the adult, I’m doing a majority of the work.
The whole time I was building the fort in the snow bank I was thinking how lucky I was to get to do this. I would have been perfectly happy sitting by the fire reading or writing my article on civility. Once again it’s a lesson learned from our boys. Slow down and seize the moment. For soon the snow will melt, the boys will move on and I’ll be left with only my memories. But I certainly won’t have the regret of the time I didn’t build them a snow fort after the biggest snow storm in two years.
Billowing clouds are huddled around Mount Olympus’s twin peaks. Jagged and rugged, it is a mountain that has captivated me from the first day we drove into the Salt Lake valley. Before we became parents, and Erin worked a hellish schedule as a resident, I would race up the mountain’s flanks in the fading light and photograph the sun falling into the western desert as the red snake of commuter tail lights wound across the valley. It is a beautiful mountain that I have watched change with the season and shifting light. It has given me inspiration and adventure and has calmed my soul. In a few weeks I’ll look at Mt Olympus’s northern flank one last time as I guide the car east.
I’m not sad to leave this majestic mountain, the diverse landscape, nor the city where we have lived for six years. Closing this chapter of our life at this time seems right. After all we stayed three years longer than we ever thought we would. It is the friends I will miss, some of whom we have known since our arrival here. Those, the ones we’ve known the longest, have followed much the same path as we have- getting married, having children, and soon moving on from here to raise their girls in a smaller town. Others we met not too long ago, but with our common bond of Christian beliefs they welcomed us with open arms. It is this small group that has been such a wonderful support over the last year, praying for us, checking in on us, bringing food and offering an ear to listen. They have become not only great friends but also our spiritual mentors. Others still, we have come to know through work, and the bond of parenthood has brought us even closer together. In all cases our children are around the same age and have formed friendships of their own that bring all of us great joy.
Regardless of where each of us finally ends up, we will have this time together where our lives became intertwined with the joys and stresses of making our mark on the world. Where life stopped being about the adventures we could have as couples and became about raising a family, about teaching our children the importance of having the Lord in their lives. Where we celebrated life and leaned on one another when times were hard. A time when, though not related, we became a family none the less.
I was hit with a dose of reality earlier this week. I am not the only dad blogger in Utah. This should not come as shock since we live in a valley of a million people. I may be the only stay-at-home dad blogger but now I am just splitting hairs. To compound the bursting my little bubble, this other blog, Single Dad Laughing (SDL), is immensely popular and has only been around for a few months.
I stumbled across this blog because another dad blogger had written a post questioning its validity and basically bashing it. Right away I started forming assumptions and becoming judgmental based on someone else’s opinion. There was a feeling of jealousy a feeling I tried to deny. I sent the author an e-mail, in hopes of connecting with him, but at this time I have gotten no response. This has further inflated my assumptions. In an effort to put a stop to these feelings I poked around some more on the website. I came back with an opinion of what I thought of the writing and the content , but my other feelings persisted. It was Erin who made me admit to these feelings. It was a bit hard to swallow, but it could not be ignored. I was jealous, being judgmental and making assumptions about someone I knew nothing about. Then the gravity of the situation and a feeling of terror crept over me. Soon Noah would be able to pick up on these sorts of feelings; he would begin to start forming his own thoughts, opinions and judgments about people. I would soon have a direct effect on whether he approached things with an open mind or a closed one. Our society as a whole is quick to jump to conclusions and make judgments based on limited information. I do not need to be fueling that mentality by inadvertently teaching Noah to do the same.
When I take a step back and really look at what I was jealous of, it all seems foolish. I really have no desire to be on Ellen, though a mention would be really cool. I do not aspire to get 10,000 people to share one of my posts on Facebook. I am not out to change the world. I am here to document my experience as a stay-at-home dad and to entertain and every now and again help someone who may be struggling. I never set out to make money on this, I am happy to know that my readership is steady, I exceed my goal for visits to my blog each day and I think I am gaining a fairly loyal flowing and I am staying true to my mission statement.
I still do not have all the facts about the author of the SDL and I probably never will. I have my opinions and have drawn some conclusions, some of which I am sure are wrong. What I do have is a son that I need to raise to the best of my ability. A son who looks to me to learn about the world, and whether I like it or not, a son who is watching my every move and forming the foundation of his thoughts and opinions based on what he sees. This is what I need to be mindful of, not who has been published, not who has the most readers, Twitter followers or Facebook fans. At the end of the day these things do not matter, they will not matter on his first day of school or when he graduates. What will matter is that we have done our best to raise an open-minded individual who can make a positive contribution to society.