Marriage Isn’t For You

A wonderful description of what marriage truly means.

Seth Adam Smith

Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

Perhaps each…

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When the Going Gets Tough…The Tough Stop and Eat Ice Cream

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”    ― Theodore Roosevelt

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in a bad mood and everyone has noticed.  I have had a tough time maintaining a good poker face – both at work and at home.

On the work front, things have been quite stressful as I try to balance the needs of the people at my plant with the expectations laid out by senior management.

On the home front, things haven’t been quite as stressful, but living in a home with three young daughters who think they are teenagers presents its own set of challenges – especially as the start of the school year gets closer and closer.

As I write this post, I am not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me or to be overly concerned about my emotional well-being.  Most of my stress is self-imposed, and I am managing it just fine.  There are many people in my life both near and far that are dealing with far more adversity than myself.

Over the past few weeks, I have had many friends and co-workers deal with things like serious injury of a love one, a family member with a severe illness , or even the death of a loved one.  I have had three friends who have recently lost their fathers to various illnesses.  Another friend’s mother is seriously ill, and the doctors aren’t 100 percent sure of her diagnosis or prognosis, and on top of that, she was notified she would no longer be employed once she is well again.

I also have a co-worker whose mother-in-law may have had a stroke today.  I have another friend whose elderly mother had surgery to repair a broken leg after a fall.  And finally, I have three friends and co-workers who are dealing with the loss of a wife, a mother, and a mother-in-law.  All of these people are dealing with more pain, stress, and sadness than myself.  That’s for sure.

On the family front, my brother-in-law and his family are dealing with a much more emotionally draining and stressful issue – the return of their adopted son who doesn’t want to be part of the family.  It’s a long story, but it’s one that involves mental illness caused by neglect at a very young age – long before the family adopted him and his older sister.  Fortunately, she has adapted well, but she still has a ways to go.

So, there are lots of things going on and lots of stuff to think about.  And that’s one of my problems.

I can’t stop thinking!

My mind is constantly churning – trying to figure out the right thing to do at work, trying to think of the right things to say to my friends, family, and co-workers or what I can do for them in their time of need.

On the work front, I have what author Jim Collins calls in his book Great by Choice – “productive paranoia.”  When things are going fairly well, I’m never happy with the status quo.  I live in fear of missing something – not anticipating the next challenge.  I’m always planning for that next step.  I don’t like surprises.  I also worry a great deal about the well-being of my people.  According to people who study leadership, this is what I’m supposed to do.

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On the home front, I think about other things.  With school approaching and Carrie returning to work, I think about how we will manage all of our activities while still having some time for each other.  Family time is very important, but the way things are shaping up, it looks like we’ll have something going on every night of the week.  I am going to try to play softball again (Carrie says I’m too old), and the girls have soccer and dance and band and and and….

Again, there are people with bigger problems than me, and I admire them for how they handle their respective situations.  I also try to learn from them.  Is it their faith that helps them get through it?  Is it their friends or their family that help them?  Are they just so mentally and emotionally strong that they deal with it on their own and in their own way?

For me, I stop and eat ice cream!

I know.  It sounds crazy, but almost every night, I immerse myself in a bowl of ice cream.  Some nights it’s Ben & Jerry’s Cake Batter or Americone Dream.  Other nights it’s Breyers or Mayfield Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  Some nights it’s just plain old Vanilla Bean ice cream with butterscotch sauce.

Gigi-Reviews: Ben & Jerry's Cake Batter Ice Cream    Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Cake | Haight | FunCheapSFMayfield Dairy Select Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

It’s my way to escape.  It’s my way to focus on something that’s good and sweet and tastes great.  It’s kind of like a reward for myself for a hard day’s work, and it’s great stress relief.

When people are stressed, they sometimes eat pizza or chocolate cake or if you’re like my wife, Carrie, anything chocolate will do.  Others read books or write blogs.  Others like to cry.  Others listen to music.  Others call their friends to vent.  Many people use exercise as a way to relieve stress.

Right now, I eat ice cream.  And yes, I just ate a bowl before I started writing this post.

Now, I don’t recommend my ice cream habit to everyone.  It hasn’t been particularly good for my waistline.  I’ve recently had to loosen my belt a little, and I’ve noticed my shirts feel a little tighter (I think that’s because Carrie leaves them in the dryer too long, but I won’t dwell on that too long…).  But now that I’m going to play softball again, I hope it will start to disappear.

It should disappear, right?

Either way, if you look at what Mr. Roosevelt said in his quote above, life isn’t always going to be easy, and those who deal with adversity well are often times some of the most admired.  How a person handles a stressful situation can have a huge impact on those around him/her.  There have been many leaders through the years that come to mind.  Abraham Lincoln.  Moses.  Herb Kelleher (CEO of Southwest Airlines).  All have handled adversity in different ways and succeeded – even in the face of imminent disaster.

So, when things get tough, turn your mind off for a few minutes and escape to a happier place.  If it’s reading your Bible – read your Bible.  If it’s playing video games, play video games for a little while.

For now, I’m going to keep eating ice cream.  I just bought a new flavor to try – Mayfield Snickerdoodle.  Cinnamon cookie flavored ice cream with cinnamon cookie pieces.

The Ice Cream Informant: REVIEW: Mayfield Snickerdoodle

 

Sounds awesome to me.  How about you?

Introducing….The Worst Daddy Ever

Championship Belt

THE WORST DADDY EVER!!

Good evening ladies and gentleman and welcome to the Vereen house!  Tonight, we have a highly anticipated match-up involving two strong-minded competitors that are eager to impose their will on one another until the other caves in.  Who will win this battle and come out on top?  Let’s introduce the competitors and let you decide for yourselves.

In this corner, we have a beautiful young lady – a Tween – who stands about 4’7″ tall and weighs in at close to 70 lbs soaking wet.  She has beautiful blonde hair and lovely hazel eyes.  But watch out, don’t let the looks fool you!  She’s out to win tonight.  This newly minted 10-year-old wants to get her way and will do anything or say anything to get it!

And in this corner, we have the Daddy!  He’s a man of principle.  He believes his kids should abide by rules and do things the right way!  He only wants the best for his girls!  He expects them to do well in school and in life!  He expects them to eat all of their peas and to smile while they do it!  This almost 38-year-old won’t let a little 10-year-old girl stop him from maintaining a calm and reasonably orderly household!

On Tuesday night, Carrie and I managed to get the girls to bed at a decent time.  It had been a pretty long day.  Early to work and school.  A very long day at work for me.  A long day of testing at school for Lydia.  Soccer practice for Ansley and me (I’m one of the coaches – that will be another blog topic).  Dinner.  Baths.  Stories.  Bed.  Suddenly Lydia remembered that she had some reading to do for school the next day.  I said that was fine, but she needed to have the lights out by 9:00.  She gave me the standard “yes, sir” and kept reading.

9:30 – I head upstairs to shower.  I actually ran around with the girls at soccer practice and got a little sweaty.  Clarissa said that I smelled bad.  That’s bad when your youngest daughter tells you that you stink.  As I went up the stairs, I saw a light on – Lydia’s light.  She’s not in bed.   I’m a little discouraged by this.  I look in the room, and Lydia has decided that it’s time for arts and crafts at 9:30 at night.

At that point, it’s all down hill from there.  I tell Lydia to get into bed.  It’s past her bedtime.  She snaps back with the proverbial phrase that all kids use – I didn’t know what time it was – as she looks at her clock and keeps working on her arts and crafts.  I tell her again to get in bed.  She mumbles something back.  I turn out the light.  She says something about needing to see so she can get in bed.  I turn on her small lamp and remind her that 9:00 was the bedtime.  She says something about needing noise to be able to sleep.  She wants to listen to a book on CD.  I tell her no because she’s normally still up at 11:00 listening to books on CD, and she has a test tomorrow.  She keeps pressing.

The tension grows.  Lydia argues that she can’t sleep without the noise.  I tell her that’s too bad, and she’ll lose soccer practice if she keeps it up.  She gets hysterical – the tears start to flow.  She’ll never get to sleep.  She has to have the noise!  I tell her that’s too bad again and leave to get in the shower.  She’s mad now.  She starts to say some things she’ll regret later.  She can be pretty dramatic.  At this point, I have now ascended or descended to the point of most hated Daddy!  I’m in the bathroom now.  The water is running.  She’s yelling through the wall at this point.  And then she says it.  The words that cut a Daddy the most….

YOU ARE THE WORST DADDY EVER!!!

She’s 10 years old.  I try not to take it too personally.  It might hurt more when she says it when she’s 16 because she WILL say it again.  It’s inevitable.  She won’t get her way, and it will be my fault or her mother’s fault.  Carrie has held the title of Worst Mommy Ever a couple of times over the past year or so.  As a matter of fact, she was awarded the title on Monday afternoon.  Now it’s my turn.

Carrie and I believe that our children should live by rules and have some level of responsibility that is commensurate with their age.  This means doing well in school, keeping their rooms clean, eating their fruits and vegetables, going to bed at a decent hour, and listening to their elders.  This is how Carrie and I were raised.

Did we mess up?  Sure.

I remember sitting at the table for hours because I wouldn’t eat my dinner.  But in the end, I usually ate it.  And it was cold and not very good at that point.  I remember getting spanked for talking back or doing something I wasn’t supposed to.  It didn’t make me hate my parents.  I’m sure I called them the “worst ever,” but I didn’t mean it.  I respected my parents and so did my brothers.  We knew they were in charge even if we didn’t always agree.  We were punished at times.  I remember losing my bike, my TV, and other privileges.  If you did the crime, you had to do the time.

After I got out of the shower and got ready for bed, I checked on Lydia.  She was already asleep.  I wanted to talk with her.  She’s a surprisingly a good listener when she’s calm.  I covered her with her blanket and brushed her hair out of her face.  They’re so much sweeter when they are asleep.  Even though she’s 10 going on 21, she’s still my little girl for now.

And for a night, I held the title of Worst Daddy Ever.  It’s a title that I will gladly hold if it helps makes a difference later on in her life!