Where to Begin?

Christmas is certainly over. The magic that the season normally brings seemed in short supply this year. Perhaps I was too busy trying to survive each day that I didn’t notice it. Or perhaps it just didn’t come. Whatever the case, today’s events left me feeling empty, confused, and at the same time grateful.

Around 12pm I was forced to discipline my 12 year old for basically being lazy. Chores are a struggle with her. She is a beautiful girl, makes straight A’s, and has a wonderful sense of humor; but when it comes to doing her chores she struggles. Today I had apparently had enough, and since I’ve tried several other punishments in the past, today I chose to scream.

More than anything, I was trying to shock her. And I think I did. But the result wasn’t quite what I had hoped for. In addition to screaming, I also spanked her. Four quick swats on her rear as she was trying to escape. The rest of the day was spent trying to make sure that she understood that I still love and care about her. We had several talks, and I left her with a reflection assignment on Rule #2 from Og Mandino’s “A Better Way to Live.” Then I took her and dropped her off at her mom’s house for the rest of the day (more on this later).

I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned after being a parent for almost 15 years. Parenting is hard. Perhaps the most difficult thing in the world. It requires patience for sure. But more than that, you have to be willing to be the bad guy. And that’s not easy.

Today I had a choice. I could’ve ignored my daughter’s attitude. The day after Christmas (not to mention 3 hours before I had to drop her off at her mom’s house) that would have been the easy play. But it would have been a disservice. My job is to teach and correct my daughter and help her grow into an outstanding human being. And so I chose to engage.

The aftermath was more than difficult. But in the end I feel it’s just part of parenting. And it’s part of the world that I helped create for myself and the girls when I signed the divorce papers.

The divorce weighs heavily on my mind. It always does, and it probably always will. I find myself switching my focus back and forth. Many times I wish it never happened, and many times I count the years until my girls are 18 and the nightmare will come to an end. My ex-wife is certainly not the same girl I fell in love with 16 years ago.  It seems that her main purpose in life is to make me miserable, and because of this I’ll refer to her as Estella (in honor of the tiny little brat from the novel “Great Expectations.”

16 years … wow … time sure passes fast. It really doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long.