It’s My Birthday and I Have Unfinished Business

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I’ve decided to adopt Travis Meadows‘ song ‘Unfinished Business’ as my official birthday song from today until I breathe my last.

I’m only 43 so hopefully that will be some time, but until then, I’m all about this song. I figure I’ll have some sort of project going on until the very end (so morbid, right? Sorry! It’s actually encouraging):

I got a list of things to do before I die

If I lay them all on top of each other they’d stand about 3 feet high

The devil is in the details crossing T’s and dotting I’s

Sure made it easy putting off getting around to my unfinished business

I killed a lot of years by sweating over things that didn’t last

I killed the better part of my youth by growing up way too fast

I’m almost to the age where there’s less future than there is past

My regrets are only half the size of the shadows they cast on my unfinished business

 

Chorus: I got songs that I still ain’t sung

Old fights that I’ve still not won

things I need to teach my son concerning wisdom

Itches that I still aint’ scratched

Doors and closets I still ain’t latched

Fish I need to catch

I may be tired but I ain’t leaving with unfinished business

 

I’m gonna learn a few new chords on my beat up old guitar

I’m gonna be strong enough not be ashamed of my old scars

I’m gonna run my engine hard despite all my missing parts

Spend the last of my years trying to finish when I start unfinished business

 

Chorus: I got songs that I still ain’t sung

Old fights that I’ve still not won

things I need to teach my son concerning wisdom

Itches that I still aint’ scratched

Doors and closets I still ain’t latched

Fish I need to catch

I may be tired but I ain’t leaving with unfinished business

Got kisses that I’ve still ain’t kissed

I love yous that ain’t left my lips

Dreams beyond my fingertips but I’m reaching… I’m reaching.

 

I may leave tired but I ain’t leaving with…

Yeah I may leave tired but I ain’t leaving with…

Unfinished business.

 

I got a few more things that I need to do…

 

I know it might be a little heavy, but what I love about the song is that it admits to a bit of brokenness. We all have a screw or three loose.

But in the end, I just hope to push on through and do things like finish my bathroom project or not forget how to play my guitar so I can sing and play with my daughter. Or remember how important it is to take my wife on dates and be a fun dad to my boys.

There’s no reason to lollygag through life, right? That ain’t no way to live. I’m no longer that little guy in the picture at the start of this thing. But I got a lot of living left to do. I aim to take advantage.

Here’s Travis singing the song… I recommend listening:

The Impossible Task of Learning Patience While Getting Kids Ready for School

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I doubt I’m alone as a parent of school-aged children: one of the most stressful times of the day is between waking the kids up to getting the kids to the bus stop or to the drop-off.

Can I get an amen on that?

This week I made a commitment to myself. It was a simple commitment: Remain fully patient and maintain my cool each morning.

They’ll test you, won’t they?

My commitment was tested early and often. Some examples…

  • Me: “Here are your clothes.” Him: Commence to pouting and not sharing his feelings as to why my announcement of his clothes is causing emotional turmoil.
  • I was accused of purposefully and mean-spiritedly leaving cheese out of the scrambled eggs
  • I was, not all that politely, that I missed a drink order – that juice was requested, not milk (although I’m sure that I was heard him ask for milk – but I didn’t argue. You never win an argument with a 5 year old, even if you win the argument with a 5 year old).
  • There appeared to be a constant game of Chinese fire drill at the breakfast table.
  • Instead of brushing her teeth, the daughter kept getting sidetracked into American Idol vocal auditions in the restroom.
  • There was a twin on twin wrestling match.
  • I asked them to put on their shoes like 23 times.
  • Oh yes, don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks. (deep breath) Don’t forget your backpacks. Don’t forget your backpacks.

I’m sure there were others, but go ahead and insert your own process in there.

I might be the only parent who sometimes gets a little testy while trying to get the kids to school. It can be rough. While I try to exude an air of perfection, I can be extremely weak and impatient and easily agitated. I have my own stuff I need to do. Writing before they wake up is a perfect example. If someone woke and came down right now, I’d be ridiculously annoyed (but I wouldn’t show it).

Lessons about patience….

There are lessons here. I’m not just making a weak attempt at humor. Here are a few observations that I’m trying to remember to help me maintain a blood pressure under 120 over 75 during our morning process (or any other stressful situation).

Kids are not efficient: Kids under 19 are simply not efficient. They are easily distracted. They are not naturally task oriented (unless the task is Rainbow Looming or playing Rayman on the tablet).  While we do need to help them move things along, we should relax our expectations that they should somehow be efficiently on task.

Make it a game: I forget this all the time. If we gamify things, then there’s a greater chance that they’ll do it. My boys come back to this chart throughout the morning, now. It’s still not incredibly quick, but it keeps them going.

The morning routine

The morning routine

Parents are the thermostat: Even if I have every right to lose a tad bit of cool, it never works. It just never brings the desired effect. If my temperature rises, then so do theirs, and that rise in temps always results in even greater inefficiency and more stress.

Parents can always lower the temp by maintaining their cool.

I don’t need the stress so make stress a choice: If I just give up my right to have boot camp style mornings, I’m a happier person. If I can save my stress until the actual work day is upon me (even there, why?), then it’s a win. If it doesn’t change things, then why waste energy on stress?

Set aside my own stuff during that precious hour: This one might be unique to me, but I do try to get in my own disciplines in the morning – writing, social media updates for a couple accounts I assist with, Bible reading and journaling, a little exercise. Sometimes their schedule busts in on my schedule. At that point, I just need to let go and be with my kids. What’s more important?

I get to know my kids better: One thing I’ve noticed in these few short days is that since I don’t constantly course correct my children while they get ready, they show their personalities while they bumble through their routines. They are hilarious. They have some wit about them. They really love each other and have fun with each other. It’s fun to watch.

What amazes me is that this whole thing is even an issue. Yes. Things need to get done. Children need to get to school. I need to get to work. But in the end, I need to remember that this is simply one more time I get to spend with my children. I don’t get all that much time, especially at their ages. I best enjoy it now.

Please note: Today there were some completely ridiculous demands about how the frozen waffles needed to be served. I was on the edge. Many deep breaths were taken.

May I Brag on My Kids for a Moment?

Sibs and friends

Sibs and friends

Yes, they are incredibly talented and brilliant in a billion different ways, but that’s not what is on my mind.

I don’t know if I will be able to paint the picture well enough, but I’m gonna give it a shot.

I have three children: a second grade daughter and twin boys who just started kindergarten. (their ages as of the writing of this post… should you find my blog 10 years from now, they are more than likely brilliant teenagers who never roll their eyes at me).

A child’s mom from one of my boy’s classes bought ice cream for everybody at lunch, but the students couldn’t eat it until after they finished their lunches. Unfortunately, my boy didn’t finish the meal in time and missed out. Consequently… tears.

My daughter was in the cafeteria at the same time, and she saw what was going down. Her little eyes welled up and, her teacher, noticing, asked if she wanted to go to him. My daughter’s teacher went and asked him if he was okay and let my daughter go give him a hug.

Then, my other son also saw what was happening and went over and gave his bro a hug.

Basically, I’m bragging about a sibling group hug.

I know they’re only 5 and 7, but if we can somehow facilitate their friendship as they grow – despite the sibling rivalries and the fights that will no doubt happen along the way, we will have considered ourselves mostly successful as parents.

I should probably brag on my wife here too. The friendship has grown from a long list of trips to parks, to the Nature Center, to libraries, and to other places and field trips (not the least of which are the epic adventures to Costco). Doing stuff together knits together, and that has been one of the best gifts my wife has given my children.

While I’m not bragging about making varsity soccer at age 5 or winning the Scripps Spelling Bee at age 7, I’m

proud that my young’ns are looking out for each other.

May they always have each others’ backs.

To My Wife, On the Boys’ First Day of Kindergarten

You were dreading this day – this first day when our twin boys go off to school.

You’ve spent time nearly every day with these two guys since conception.

10 weeks on bed rest in the hospital and at my parents trying to make sure that they were inside your womb’s protection long enough to come out healthy. You rocked as a pregnant mom although I know it wasn’t always fun. Looking back, I’m so thankful for that time where you gave them special care.

Today, you watched them go off to the big school for the first time. You cried less than you thought you would because they were, for lack of a better phrase, going crazy in the house. Perhaps that was God’s way of lessening the blow.

But after they piled in the car, you got sweetly weepy. Your boys were heading off to elementary school for the first time.

Not only were they going to school for the first time, but they would be in separate classes for the first time ever. They’ve had each other to lean on and play with since they were jockeying for position in  your belly.

They taught each other to read.

They dove deep into Dr. Suess and Curious George and Phineas and Ferb.

They learned a little tennis together.

They’ve been shy and wouldn’t leave your side.

They’ve surprised us with boldness at times and have always made us smile and laugh.

Now they will be in different classes with different teachers, but it’s time.

It’s time for them to figure out what and who they are, ever so slowly, apart from each other. They are excited, yet obviously a little nervous. Even we sometimes treat them as ‘the boys’ instead of Jake and Sam (you don’t fall into that trap nearly as much as I do).

You’ve prepared them more than you realize. You’ve been (and are) a wonderful mom to them. You’ve been able to relate to them and their quirks. You’ve helped them grow into their personalities. You’ve given them fun adventures and have helped me be a better Dad to them.

You’ve done well Mommy. You’ve done well.

K and 2nd

K and 2nd

Will you create or react?

A lot of things will happen to you this week. Some of them will be good. Some of them will be horrible.

The question is whether or not you’ll spend all of your time reacting to those things. Or will you create opportunities out of those things.

The greatest stories we hear are stories about how something horrible happened to someone and he or she responded as if that horrible occurrence created an opportunity – not just emotional stress.

When something good happens to you this week, consider how you can leverage that good thing for even more good things – for you or for those you love or for those you work with.

When something bad happens to you this week, consider how you can create an opportunity out of that thing vs. simply emotionally reacting to it.

Those of you who have a more cynical bent might think this idea is silly. I implore you to give it a shot. (a) It can’t hurt – the thing happened anyway. (b) You might find those who love you will be pleasantly surprised.

So create something wonderful. Don’t just react as if you have absolutely no power. You do have a smidge of power. Use it.

**the post was inspired by a brief comment on the Entrepreneur On Fire Podcast episode with Dave Austin – We can be creative or reactive (just move the c around). I love walks and podcasts!