Parenting – best friends or worst enemies

I have discovered first-hand over the last five years what is involved in parenting. From problem solving, nurturing, to discipline and encouragement. The job is huge and ever evolving (the Frankie we have now is not the same daughter we had a couple of years ago) . It is a role that needs a special approach, such as my willingness to grow with my children’s changes, and to give my full attention as a father.

There were times in the past I felt my own emotional pulls from Frankie’s attachment and talk of her ‘real Dad’. As understandable as it is for her to have that attachment, my pride took little hits occasionally as a step parent providing for her and stepping up to the role of Dad. That pride was just a fear of losing her approval down the road, a self-centred fear.

I was aware of how creeping doubts can create divisions in any relationship. So I needed to be aware of that fear in myself and not give it any attention. The last thing a child needs is a parent putting the untold weight of their need for emotional approval on them. It’s a suffocating burden of a void that a child can never fulfil. It’s why many children grow to resent the people who they are not supposed to feel that way towards. It creates deep conflicts.

I have always encouraged Frankie to talk to me about her Dad, I don’t want her to suppress anything that emotional, through fear of upsetting me, and Frankie carries that type of consciousness with her. She hates to see people upset, especially if she’s involved at all. We have a good relationship, one of respect, love and trust.

My relationship with my children requires it to be unlike any other relationship I will have. Especially as they grow and develop in their formative years.

My Dad sat me down on more than one occasion and explained that I could either be his best friend, or worst enemy. Those talks have stuck in my memory because I wanted neither of those choices as a child. I wanted someone in my life to guide and encourage me safely into the big wide world. Someone who believed in me.

I am not a Father to be a best friend, I don’t need my children’s approval. Love will be a natural side effect of my consistency and outgoing love, rather than any need my ego may want.

As a Father I also don’t have the right to force any prideful will into my children. I have been entrusted with them. They are not me and their paths will be different ones, as their own personalities begin to develop. I can only guide them and show them a path of love and courage in their early years while under my care. Nor am I here to assert control through self-will. But teach right from wrong with loving discipline. There’s a big difference.

I am here as their Father, to be just that. An example of loving, caring authority in their lives. To practice patience, kindness and virtue. Not to take anything from them emotionally but only provide, so they may discover themselves with a confidence.

A parent is a role like no other. And I must treat it as such.

Back to school

Firstly I hope you are all well and safe.

After a bizzare few months we are now getting ready for the girl’s to go back to school.

We managed to keep a structured routine in place for Frankie whilst she has been home. She has worked hard to keep up with the work provided by the school.

Frankie

The triplets will be starting at their new school which is a minutes walk from our house. And with other children from our estate starting too they will make friends close to home which will great for them as they grow up.

Ava

We’ve done well to survive lockdown as a family through the added stresses and pressures that have been added to our lives. Stacey especially has been instrumental in keeping the triplets entertained. I’ve enjoyed taking them for walks and seeing the changes that come with the end of summer.

Lacey

The trio are fully active now and for the most play well together. Blakely still gets left out at times her frustration shows. Lacey and Ava tend to stick together as they are ahead of Blakely in their development, not by much but enough that they make games together. Blakely has her own way of playing.

Blakely

I will hopefully be returning to work in October, so with the triplets and Frankie at school Stacey and I will have some free time to ourselves for the first time since March. We have worked hard to keep our relationship afloat and to work together. It’s time we will make the most of.

So as we return to a bit of normality we run into my favourite time of the year. Autumn. Where the landscape changes and the leaves turn to burst into colour. We have much to look forward to this Autumn from birthdays to Halloween and the run up to Christmas.

It’s been a surreal year. Let’s hope it ends a little better than it began.

Thank you

It’s been three years since I began this blog. I originally wanted to keep it a place of honesty and positivity. To share my experience as a new dad trying my best to raise a family under the principles of love and tolerance and to help others who may be struggling.

So much has happened looking back over those years. From publishing a book to having to deal with a chronic health condition. There are times life has been difficult which I know has reflected in some of my posts. Especially over the last year where deppresion has had a grip on me.

I feel now as though the clouds are clearing a little. I didn’t want to use my blog as a platform to complain but the truth is that I have struggled to remain conscious and present. This last year has been a real test on my mental health.

We dads have a lot to deal with, from providing for a family to bringing emotional stability under our roofs. I feel as though I have failed in these areas since central pain syndrome became a permanent condition in my life. I haven’t coped all that well.

It humbles me to admit I have been defeated by depression again. A black cloud that I thought had gone forever returned as I battled with my condition.

I have questioned whether or not to continue writing (I probably will for my sanity). The truth is that I will have highs and lows and at times I will wobble. With my health condition it’s unavoidable.

My focus is almost always on my role as a dad. It’s tough going at times and inspiration can be hard to find. It’s not always easy to write posts that are without complaint. Parenthood as I have discovered is a mixed bag of emotions and trials.

So whatever I decided to do I just want to thank you all for taking the time to share in my journey over the last few years . It’s been one hell of a ride so far

Si x

Love is all that matters

When my wife fell pregnant with the triplets my purpose in life was cemented. To be a stable presence in my family and to grow in patience and tolerance.
The girls are three now and I still question if I am doing enough to contribute to their wellbeing.

Life has got tough over the last two years since being diagnosed with central pain syndrome. My patience has been shorter and my tolerance has been thin at times as I I deal with toddlers who are a law unto themselves.

I have buckled at times and given in to deppresion as I have had to give up full time work for a part time role. I guess I’m grateful to still have a job, and we have all felt the sting of Covid-19 and the pressures that has brought with it.

What I have learned as a relatively new dad is that dealing in the kids is easy. It’s the external pressures I have faced as a dad that has brought the difficulties but we are surviving as a family.

At home love patience and tolerance from me is the only real thing that matters to my daughters. It is those principles at the centre of my life that allow my family to thrive. And when practicing those principles everything else becomes easier to manage.

My job as dad has always been to bring emotional stability to under my roof. And I see from the confidence and kindness of my daughters that those principles are paying off.

At the end of the day, love is all that really matters at home.

Three times the back-chat

There are many times as a parent I feel I’m banging my head against a brick wall. None more so than now.

The triplets have crashed their way into the three’s and show zero sign of improvement when It comes to doing what they are told. At least with out back-chat, snarling faces, massive tantrums and several trips to the naughty corner.

They are a force

Being new to this gig, I have naturally gone into each phase of the triplets development with expectations of what may be coming. Like the ‘terrible two’s’ that were shaken at me as a warning from other dads. Like teething was before it. It was a time to dread! Well I can report they were wrong. Because so far the terrible two’s have nothing on the completely irrational three’s.

They are demanding, intolerant and have little patience with each other and all I can do is wonder if there are mistakes I’ve made that have contributed to their total lack of respect for anyone who tells them what to do. It may be normal behaviour for toddlers but it’s all new to me.

We are on the ball with discipline, and even so, they often frequent the naughty corner, screaming back because they aren’t allowed to hit their sisters with toy dinosaurs. All the while practicing calm and patience whilst being shouted at that I am being a ‘Naughty Daddy’.

To say it’s frustrating would be an understatement.

Back chat and telling tales on each other is the in thing

Even though we are quite strict with them it has little effect. Partly because they are toddlers, and largely because they bounce off each other. Some days it’s like losing a battle by the time they have gone to bed.

They are exhausting, fired up with energy and hormones and living their lives to the full regardless of what us, their parents want. They are like short teenager’s with less of a vocabulary to argue back with. Thankfully.

I’m told it’s just a phase. I guess I just wasn’t ready for the even more terrible three’s, where the attitude is one of ‘don’t tell me what to do’ without any fear of any consequences. And they are fearless, which one day will come I in handy for them. It’s just not that easy to deal with right now.

My book ‘From triples to triplets’ is available now on Amazon.

Fatherhood, meditation and growth

As I am discovering, this journey of fatherhood is a mix bag of emotions. There are times I am on the ball and time’s I struggle with the pressures. But through it all there has been one constant practice I have kept up. Meditation.

Dealing with the stresses involved with parenting has always been my top priority. The ability to stay out of anger that comes with non contemplative meditation is a vital ingredient in my life.

If you have followed this blog or read my book you will be aware of the problems I suffered in the past. From alcoholism to serious mental illness. Those experiences have been the driving force in my need to improve as a husband and father. My present and my future can be nothing like my past.

I had no idea that becoming a dad would bring such intense emotions with it. Since the accident I have had to deal with chronic nerve pain on top of parenting triplets and Frankie. I haven’t always lived up to the man I want to be, but there is always room to improve. My failings become lessons as long as I am willing to learn.

The free meditation exersise I practice is like no other. There are no mantras, no getting lost in thoughts or replacing negative thinking with positivity. There is only stillness and practicing observing my thoughts and negative emotions. Which some days are relentless as I try to stay afloat.

It takes a willingness and a commitment. And it has changed my life. I don’t believe there is a better way to improve and grow as a human with such responsibility.

Men need to be present in the lives of their children, and if you are struggling with negativity, deppresion, anxiety or just need something to help you deal with life in a different and more concious way, this meditation may be just what you have been looking for.

https://schwarzhoffmedia.com/non-contemplative-meditation/

My book is also available on Amazon

Dad doubts – the heavy reality of multiples

On the ever spinning roundabout of fatherhood it can be easy to question myself in as far as being a dad goes.

We are taking a break with family at the moment, a welcomed trip away from our little house that has been our lockdown centre. I’ve been needing this break after feeling run down a little from the relentless routine at home.

When I’m not running on all cylinders, negativity has a way of creeping in. I begin to question myself as a dad. How I’m doing and more importantly how can I improve.

The triplets are at a full on, energetic stage in their lives. They demand constant attention which can be draining as we do our best to keep patience and tolerance at the centre of our home. I find myself teetering on depression. Partly from the pain and partly out of sheer exhaustion and being locked in a situation where my presence is needed 100%.

There are times I feel deflated in the evenings, emptied by the knowledge that tomorrow will be the same routine. I do my best to stay out of resentment, I cannot change the situation I’m, only roll with it in the hope i am doing enough as a dad to raise them in a way that will benefit them.

This post my seem like a bit of a whinge, and perhaps it is. In all honesty I struggle sometimes to stay afloat. But I will, because as exhausting as it is I have a job to do and my family need me.

The reality of being a multiple parent is just heavy going at times.

New dad? It’s going to get tough at times

Okay, so you’ve been through the pressures and stress of a pregnancy. You have dealt with your partner’s emotional and physical changes and faced your own fears and concerens around this life changing event.

You’ve fixed up the new nursery and brought everything you think you may need. Maybe you got some extra hours in at work to help you financially and feel you are as prepared as you’ll ever be for the arrival of a new addition to your life.

Then baby arrives and Bang! Your in the trenches of early fatherhood, feeling exhausted and questioning your every move. Mum is 100 percent involved with baby to the point where you feel at times like the spare part. Yet there is always jobs to be done and ways to support her through the new emotional upheaval she’s going through now babies arrived. It could be months before your partner’s hormones calm down.

As a dad it can be a lonely time. With all the focus on mum, don’t be surprised if no one asks you how you are doing. It’s not personal, you are expected to be strong for the family without complaints. You work hard all day and your work carries on when you get home. Even if it’s only to relieve your partner who has been stuck in with baby all day. Which is tough going in itself.

Be prepared to live with the temptation to resent your situation. It doesn’t make you a bad father for feeling this way. Those of us who have been on the front line of fatherhood know too well the emotional wringer of the early days and months. It’s tough for everyone at home.

Also, be prepared to be consumed, and know that it is normal. The road will narrow for a while whilst your life changes to adapt to life with newborns. But If you can put the principles of love and tolerance at the centre of your home it will be easier to navigate the new challenges you face.

Be willing, especially if you are a first time parent to simply follow mums lead. The less stressed she is the more in tune with her intuition she’ll be. Support her and trust her that she knows what baby needs.

Team work is everything. You may have to live without pat’s on the back or recognition for your effort while mum takes all the credit, just dont resent it when this happens. As long as you are doing all you can to support your family you are stepping up to the plate, recognition isn’t that important.

Connect with other dads on fb groups or in your home communities. We all get hit with the pressures of our roles at times. And it’s good to be able to share and get advice and support from other dads. It’s important that we stick together through what can be a lonely time. Early parenting is tough going. We all suffer to an extent. It’s normal to do so.

Good luck dad and keep on trudging. Just do your best and know that at times your best is enough. And you are not alone.

A triplet birth – Taken from my book

Taken from my book ‘From triples to triplets; the making of a triplet dad’. Available on Amazon

3 years ago today this happened…

4th July 2017…….

It was a big theatre and we had already been told that there would be quite a few people present and not to let that overwhelm us. As we walked down the corridor and into the room we were met with an exited crowd of nurses and technicians. There were three open cots along one side of the room. Each had a baby’s name on a piece of paper attached to it. Each cot had a doctor, a paediatrician and a midwife stood with it. The atmosphere was electric. I was asked to sit on a stool, neatly tucked in besides Stacey’s upper half surrounded with wires and equipment, holding my wife’s shaking hand as the room vibrated with people. The next moment the doors swung open and a surge of more doctors and technicians rolled in. I counted eighteen people in that theatre, not including us. It was an impressive show for our girls.

It was at our request that music was played during the procedure. We had chosen Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ which was played on repeat, a song we had played to the triplets in utero regularly at home. As soon as the music started the whole room began moving to the rhythm, with people dancing and singing along. It was a moving moment that such a show was in place for our girl’s big arrival. I will never forget the theatre that morning, or the atmosphere that was present. Not just for the reason we were there, but for the sense of joy and love that the triplets would enter the world to. It was simply beautiful.

Stacey was positioned, sat on the edge of the bed for the epidural injection. Looking at her in so much fear in a room full of so much excitement is what kept a foot on the ground for me; there was so much that could go wrong in the next few moments but also so much that could go right. Adrenalin continued pumping around my body as the surgeon and technicians prepared for the C-section. A sheet was placed just below Stacy’s chest, so she was unable to see what was happening. One of the technicians asked if we had a camera or phone handy, she was kind enough to offer to take a few photos; to capture the moments the triplets left the cramped confines of the womb and took their first hits of oxygen. I was looking directly into my wife’s eyes, reassuring her, telling her I loved her and how proud I was of her, that she was strong and we would be okay no matter what, I kept repeating myself over and over to try and give her some comfort. She could hardly speak, her voice broken with fear and her hands were shaking as she gripped mine tightly.

She asked me when they would be starting the procedure, a kind smiling technician leaned down and told us that they already had begun and to watch above the partition sheet. In the next moment a baby was lifted into the air, the twisted umbilical cord still attached, her arms stretched out straight to the sides like a bird stretching her wings in freedom for the first glorious time. In that instant my heart stopped – my breathing stopped. Everything stood still. I was looking at Ava for the first time. The tears began running down my face as her cord was cut and she let out a cry as they placed her on the open cot to be cleaned and given oxygen. She was out, alive and breathing, and the relief and joy I felt was overwhelming. Stacey looked at me and smiled for the first time that day at the sound of our daughter working her lungs out while the midwife and team cleaned her up. Exactly two minutes later Blakely was pulled into the world, visibly smaller than Ava as we knew, but just as vocal as we prayed she would be.

Two were out and breathing well. Another two minutes past and Lacey was finally with us. She too let out a high-pitched cry at the shock of leaving her first home in this world. The room kept buzzing with excitement as Ava was brought over and placed on Stacey’s chest. Lacey and Blakely were then brought over one at a time with their little hats on, wrapped in white towels. Their little faces were beautiful. They passed each of them to me and I held their tiny frames for the first time. Stacey ‘s face was beginning to show signs of relief that the babies were out and okay, and that she seemed to have gotten through it without complication. We later learned she had actually lost litres of blood and was given a transfusion, and that her uterus wouldn’t contract and had to be manually squeezed back into place by hand which caused her a lot of pain when the medication wore off. But there was no panic in the room from anyone, it was all efficiently taken care of without us being aware of any problems.

img_0687

One of the memories Stacey has of the C-section was our surgeon bobbing up and down in rhythm to Bob Marley while he smiled down at us and stitched her up. I was called over to the cots and asked if I would like to trim their umbilical cords back as they had been left long during the procedure of their exiting. It was another moment that strengthened my bond with the triplets. My hand has never been steadier. Ava was born at 9.37am weighing 4lb 12oz, Blakely at 9.39am weighing 3lb 4oz and Lacey at 9.41am weighing in at 4lb.7oz. And we were soon to discover – identical.

So that was it over. The triplets had arrived after a pregnancy with no complications to enter the world all screaming. God had graced us with three healthy babies who were already making waves with their arrival. After a short time of holding each one with my wife, they were taken through to another room to be checked over thoroughly by the doctors and moved on to the Neo-natal intensive care unit to be closely monitored. Lacey was off the oxygen almost immediately and holding her own. Ava and little Blakely needed a bit more support to begin with. Stacey was cleaned up and just before we left the surgeon said to her with a smile “you were my third set of triplets”. He and everyone in that theatre had done a phenomenal job in taking care of us and the babies and in keeping the whole situation calm. It was one of the most moving hours of my life, nothing has shifted and lit up my consciousness more. When I held my daughters, I experienced an unconditional love for another human I had never felt before. It was a pure conscious connection – a spiritual bond. As a Father I knew that whatever happened now during my time here on earth I could not fail them. Moving forward and growing towards love as a human being had to become my priority for those who had been entrusted to me, for all those under my roof.

The toddler triplets and the test of sanity

Three babies in one hit was never going to be a breeze. But Stacey and I have done well to work together to bring structure and stability to our home through each of their growing phases of development.

As a first timer doing the baby deal I have had my sanity tested on more than one occasion. Sleep deprivation was the biggest challenge to date, next to chronic pain. Having to function on two brain cells and keep a family together was no mean feat. How I didn’t crash my car or have some kind of accident at work was beyond me. I was literally a zombie for months.

I have managed to stay sane during lockdown but am now at a stretch of road that is getting increasingly difficult to navigate, the toddler stage is upon us and is in full swing.

The relentless routine is getting harder to mentally deal with as our completely irrational triplets barge scream and punch their way through the days.

It may be normal toddler behaviour but it is a new experience for the both of us. And although we are doing our best to keep them entertained and distracted sometimes it just gets overwhelming. They are testing our sanity on a daily basis.

TV gives us some time out

They have gotten increasingly more energetic and abrasive with each other since the switch to toddler beds. Potty training has also led to sleep regression and frustrating evening times that wears us both down. Some days it just gets tough.

As Stacey says, if we had only one toddler to deal with it would be a challenge in itself, we just happen to have three bouncing off each other which makes it seem a bigger problem than it is.

It’s not all bad though, they have their moments of calm. They just prefer to be loud and boisterous. Getting them out for walks helps their moods and keeps them entertained in between rounds. Taking them out for a drive also brings some momentary peace and quiet.

A drive and a lolly

I get that this is just a phase (I say that with fingers crossed), and that they will hopefully settle as their hormones calm down. But it’s a bumpy ride at the moment. A loud, tantrum filled ride that is testing both of our patience. Thank God for meditation – without it I have no idea how we would be coping!