Guest Post – Jeff Bouwman
Hey everyone – my name is Jeff. I am part of an amazing community of Dads with Anthony on the Dads Edge. I love that Anthony is sharing and growing with all of you!
I am grateful for the opportunity to share my story…..
I have an amazing wife and three beautiful daughters. My girls are all under five years old, and like every other parent, they mean the world to me.
I am happy to say that I am in a place where I feel like I have full control over my life. I have a great job and I have friends that I can count on. I have wonderful parents and siblings, and I have terrific in laws.
I feel happy. I AM HAPPY!
But it wasn’t always that way. Let’s rewind 11 years.
I looked normal, but I didn’t feel normal.
My problems were my secret. I was like a shell of a person that looked dependable on the outside, but was miserable on the inside.
I sought out one bad relationship after another. I looked for people that I thought I could help, so I could ignore the person who needed my help the most. Me.
I was in still in my twenties and these coping behaviors had now contributed to a failed marriage. These coping behaviors caused me to push away most of the people that I was ever close to.
I did the only thing I could do. I ASKED FOR HELP.
It turns out the first relationship I had to mend, was the one with myself. The only person that could make me happy, was me. Unconditional love for myself would be the only way I would ever be able to unconditionally love someone else.
Had I known then, what I know today – I would have sought out help so much sooner. When you are in the moment, it is hard to see that happiness is so much closer than you think.
For the first time in my life I was able to speak to communicate, instead of speaking to be “heard”.
I found out how to make myself happy. For that I am grateful.
It would be several years later that I would realize how ready I was for love. I was ready to start a family.
Sometimes it takes tragedy to see what matters most in life.
My sister went through something that I don’t wish on anyone. The loss of a child. At the young age of three my nephew would head home from the hospital to spend his last hours at home. He was an angel in his families arms that night, and will be forever more.
It was at this moment in my life that I realized there was so much more to life. More to life than the work you do or the money you make.
As fate would have it, not long after that I would meet my future wife; the mother of my children. My wife is my partner, my love, and my hero all in one. She allows me to be in the moment and enjoy the small things in life each and every day.
My Three Girls
My oldest just turned five years old last week. Every year for about two months we get to say that we have three girls, and they are all 1 year apart. I love seeing how people react when they hear that.
Unfortunately, this also creates its own sets of challenges. In fact it is one of the big challenges I have as a father with three girls.
This story comes from a post I previously wrote on my site in January. You can see the story “Don’t pity the father of three girls” by clicking here. I still have this issue almost every time we are out.
Here is the story:
I used to be full of pity for parents. The parents of that screaming child in the grocery store. The parents that had to take their 3 kids on a plane. The parents at the restaurant that had to tell their kids 12 times to sit down.
I was also quick to judge. I can still remember thinking (and sometimes saying)
“you need to be a parent not a friend….show your kids who is boss”.
All this changes when you have your own kids. Once you feel the love for a child, you change your perspectives on parenting. Parents certainly don’t need pity.
What a Dad doesn’t want to hear….
Whether you see us in the grocery store, at the mall, or at the park; please do not say:
“Three girls, ohhhhh. I feel sorry for you dad”
“Wow, three girls – dad is a brave one”
“Three girls eh – still trying for that boy?”
Recognize that you are not only speaking to me, you are speaking to my girls. I certainly don’t need your pity, I have everything I could ever ask for.
I know there will be many things that I need to learn. I suck at playing Barbie – I am NOT a “Barbie Girl in a Barbie World”. I will need serious help when they are all teenagers at the same time, and my blood will boil when they start dating (let’s say in 25 years).
It is what I have already learned that I talk to you about today.
Horton said it best – “A person is a person, no matter how small”
Adults often assume that because children aren’t saying much, they don’t understand much. I am here to tell you different.
Kids listen to every word that comes out of the mouths around them. I hear it daily while listening to them play – and sometimes I don’t like how “I” sound when it is played back.
Kids are watching us, listening to us, and learning from us. Sometimes we hear it in what they say, other times things float into their subconscious (for use later in life).
Now go back to the statements I mentioned above and interpret them from the mind of a little girl.
I think there are enough unrealistic cultural messages that my girls will need to deal with. I don’t think we need to subject them to the notion that “Dad really wanted a boy“.
Don’t worry. I will ensure that my daughters know they don’t have to DO anything to make me love them. They can be exactly who they want to be, and I will support them.
I want them to focus on their own happiness before that of anyone else (especially a man). After all, when they can do that they will make everyone around them happy as well.
So as a father of three little girls, I have a favor to ask of you….the next time you see a father with his daughters, please spare him the pity.
Instead try something different. How about:
“three beautiful girls, what a lucky dad”!
Thank you for the opportunity to share – keep on Daddying!
Guest post – Jeff Bouwman
If you want to see more, head to my my blog at DadsReflections.com. Click on follow and you will get all the important updates on the release of my new Dad site.
Sharing is encouraged! Spoken like a true parent……….
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As a father of 5, 4 boys then the girl, I really liked this post.
Thank you for stopping by!