Dolesh Family

Dolesh Family

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Getting Good at Bad Parenting

Parenting....has anyone figured it out?  There are millions of books that talk about how to be a good parent, but where are they?  Katy and I still haven't found the perfect one for us.  We must be looking in the wrong places or maybe our library didn't account for our personalities.

Maybe it is the activities we choose, such as taking our kids out in public.  Who knew that going to the grocery store was such a hard thing to do?  Consider this common occurence for us at the grocery store, plus or minus the millions of items in the grocery store: It is cold out so we go to the grocery store to get out of the house and get some activity to burn off some energy.  (Context - no riding in the cart)  It all goes well until we get into the store.  "No Merritt, we have to pay for those things. Please don't pull the wrapper off.  Oh, you already did.  OK, can you put it back on the shelf?  (OK, let's see if we can hide this behind some other candy bars...after all, you didn't eat it yet...or maybe you did.  Why is there chocolate on your face?  I could go tell someone, but at this point the effort to get both kids up to the front with my basket of groceries....its not worth it).  No Merritt....I know it seems fun to knock all those cans of soup off the shelf and drop apples on the floor, but we need to pick those up.  Ah, where is the condensed milk?  I work with computers, when will someone put a "Control F" in each aisle? No Merritt, not the bulk section!  No, please don't stick your hands in there!  No I was serious!  Ah, yes that is my kid.  Yes, I know she is not supposed to put her hand there. Yes I have her under my control.  No, she is not lost.  Yes, I'm trying.  Stimson, can you come back here?  Yes, we are about ready to leave.  You have to go to the bathroom?  Can you hold it, we are on the complete other side of the store from the bathroom.  OK, let's put our stuff down right here and run to the bathroom quick.  OK, come on Merritt.  Yes, Merritt, we need to go this way....Stimson has to go to the bathroom.  OK, are you about done Stimson?  No Merritt, don't touch that!  We are in a bathroom!  Can you just wait?  OK, we have to go find our stuff now.  Here it is.  Ready to go?  Oh no, Katy just texted me.  We need something else on the other side of the store.  No Merritt, please don't pull the price tags off the shelves!  C'mon, we need to go now.  We need to get home to eat.  Please don't scream and lay on the floor!  OK, we are leaving without you then.  You can lay on the floor if you want.  Yes, she is my child.  I see her, yes we are not leaving her really." ....Breathe.....

OK, let's go back to the house and stay inside where people don't see how messed up our parenting is.  It is then that I flash back to the days when I was just barely married.  You know...the days when you are the best husband and marriage is so easy...oh yeah, taht was because we were still on your honeymoon.  Shortly after that period is when you become the best parent.  My wife and I were thinking about having kids.  It was at that point that we were the best parents ever.  We should have written a book then.  It was so easy - we could look at other parents and talk about how our kids would never do that.  We could provide advice.  Our kid wwill never cry when he trips....our kid won't talk that way....our kid will not throw a fit in the middle of a store....our kid will say please and thank you.....our kid will eat all of his food and be grateful for my 50+ hours of work each week.....our kid will nap....It was all so easy because we were the perfect parents and best of all we had the time because we DIDN'T HAVE KIDS!

Things got messed up once we had kids.  However, it wasn't right away.  The first year with Stimson, our kid was perfect.  He didn't talk back.  He smiled.  He ate everything in front of him and more.  Then he turned 2.  And if that wasn't enough, we had another kid who also turned 2 and will be 2 for several more months.  That same girl also decided napping wasn't for her at the age of 2.  Because of that, we have learned that we should not go out in public from about 3p-6p....the time that we count down the minutes before bedtime for our napless girl.  As we have written.... we are awaiting a 3rd child.  We can romanticize how we will be the perfect parents for this girl from the Congo.  The reality is that we have a whole new set of challenges that will accompany that.  It's now that we have realized our parenting skills would have thrived had we not decided to have kids.  If we had thrived at parenting, we could be spending our nights sitting around the table eating ALL of our food and then post videos and pictures on social networking sites so everyone could "Like" our parenting.  We could begin writing our first book.

We are still learning how to be good parents.....we get glimpses all the time. Don't judge us if you meet us in the middle of an aisle at the grocery store.  Just know we are trying.  Back to learning how to be a good parent as we prepare to add a third to the chaos.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas in the First World

Merry Christmas!

We have enjoyed writing sporadically in this thing we call a blog to document our thoughts about adoption - primarily to create an electronic journal of sorts that we can share mostly with ourselves and with immediate family.  Our hearts have been tugged in many different directions this year and that is what we make time to write about here. This edition will be a little longer than a blog should be (so I hear) as it will be our version of a Christmas letter. With that said, here we go.  If you stop reading here and check out the pictures below, enjoy.  If you read on further, take these thoughts as simply that.....thoughts about random topics....thoughts about issues that have begged our attention this past year.

This year has been a busy year for us. Sounds like a sentence from the Christmas letter template.  I notice that same sentence in all the letters I have read thus far.  This is not a knock on you, if you just wrote that.  Just was a hectic year that has only since slowed down a bit the last couple of weeks. Katy continues to amaze me as she seemingly has 3 full-time jobs - full-time mom, self-employed accountant, and always toying with the idea of making muffins and cookies full time with one of her friends.

Our oldest son Stimson is about to turn 6.  He started Kindergarten this year and loves it.  I guess if he hated it, I probably wouldn't tell you.  He fits the description of a first child - responsible, caring, and nurturing. Fortunately, he has also filled the role of parent with Merritt when the front line support (Katy and I) get overpowered (which is often).  He is often more effective with Merritt than us.

Our daughter Merritt is 2 now and she loves anything Stimson does.  She is the spunky side of the family.  Since she enjoys following Stimson around and copying everything he does, we are hoping he will be able to raise her well.  We certainly have no control over her these days.  If you live in Bozeman and shop some of the same places we do, I'm sure you have seen her sprawled out on the floor (not sleeping)....more of the 'all-out fit' variety with absolutely no room for negotiation.  If you had a pet pig and took him to a store and that pet got a little out of control, consider what it would be like carrying that pet back to your car. This is what we are familiar with when we take Merritt out in public. While it is usually embarrassing, we have mellowed a bit as parents and frequently take pictures of the fits, despite the looks of horror from onlookers. We have yet to find any of the onlookers who are willing to partner with us in this parenting gig.  Let's just say we are not worried about her making a plan for her life...she usually knows exactly what she wants and does it. She does have control over me when she tilts her head and say "Hug and Kiss Dada".

We have kept busy as a family with the typical things that have characterized us for a few years now - marathons, biking around town, hiking, camping, backpacking, walking, generally being outdoors, and skipping naps.

We also moved forward on trying to adopt a child within the last 18 months.  I won't explain that decision here.  You will have to skim through our blogs to catch that story.  Yes, adopting sounds noble and you can clap for us if you want.  In all honesty though, we are excited, worried, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, and frankly uncertain about our adoption adventures. It has been a long road already.  Why not stop at the 2.2 kids that we have you ask, if you include Kippa (in the picture with Merritt), since our family fits the profile of the average American family? Our hearts have wrestled with many of what has been frequently referred to as "First World" problems.

"First World" problems?  What do you mean?  Let's consider some of these problems in a typical day for many of us, (embellished a bit and meant to prove a point....not necessarily characteristic of us)....Problems, problems, problems - I was thinking about this recently when I had to fly for work. When I fly on Delta, my ticket always says Zone 3.  Just once, I want to fly Zone 1 and get on first and get off first.  Is it really that nice to get on and sit an extra 15 minutes only to find that you want to stand up and get off? Problems.  Sometimes we find out that our plane is delayed and we have to wait an extra hour to fly to some tropical place.  It gets worse when we finally sit down on the plane and the person in front of us reclines their seat in an already crowded airplane.  On this same trip, I sat next to someone who was obviously irritated at that same thing and proceeded to "accidentally" fidget by punching and kicking the seat in front of her to prove a point.  Problems. Going to a place like Costco.  Its like parking at a football game where people say they are number one but use their longest finger to show it.....only because someone took their spot in the front.  They park in the back and end up walking 40 extra feet.  We get inside the store and purchase what is probably enough food for a full year for many people (for us it always seems to run out in a week).  The lines are frustratingly long....why don't they hire more people so we don't have to wait so long.  Problems.    Thank goodness for smart phones where we can post all of our urgent problems on Twitter and Facebook, while driving or while interacting with friends and family....because it would be a problem to have to wait.  "First World" problems....if you have kids, you may have heard this phrase "This is the worst day of my life".

This brings me back to adoption.  What has tugged at our hearts the past couple of years is bigger than the First World problems.  What has tugged at our hearts are real problems.  Pain, hunger, abuse, disease, alone, sex trafficking and many other injustices of our world. Those are problems....

This leads me to the last part of our family.  This year, we stumbled into a girl from the Congo whose mom died when she was 6 months old.  Problems. Her dad was too destitute to take care of her so he left her on the streets or on the front step of an orphanage. Too destitute to "leave" her?  Problems.  While we did not meet this person face to face, we read about her in our comfortable, warm, and rich country.  She is roughly 3-4 years old. She lacks the normalcy many of us have.  She survives on a fraction of food that we eat a day.  She doesn't know what it means to have parents.  She doesn't have the rooms full of toys that kids in our country have to play with.  She doesn't go to gymnastics, dance class, ski lessons, and ballet.  She doesn't go to the park and play.  She is stuck in an orphanage, waiting to be loved.  She has a frightening past that is unknown to most.  She doesn't know what it feels like to be hugged, loved, put to bed, comforted when she is scared, or held to feel safe.  She doesn't share that excitement Christmas morning when there are multiple presents under the tree for her.  Problems. That girl, we found out, is likely our daughter.  (More on that later) This is why the first world problems of our country tug at our heart.

I didn't promise this to be your average Christmas letter.  Yes we are busy and yes our kids are cute (in the eyes of the parents).  Our family and adoption continue to make life complicated. This is just a little of what is going on with us. Wherever you are, we hope you are doing well and enjoy the holiday season.

Merry Christmas from our family!