Sometimes when I've told people my situation in life, the one where I would like to have a job, but I'm really a stay at home dad, I get a well-meaning response similar to this one:
"Oh, well you're such a good father! Your girls are so lucky!"
And, while this may sound good and encouraging, it's really pretty useless. There are a lot of good fathers with jobs that make enough money to support their wife and children. I don't see how being a good father must exclude me from employment.
(As a side note: I love being home with my girls. And if I were able to choose a situation I would love to be able to work from home and make enough money so that my wife wouldn't have to work. So this is not about me wanting to "get away" from my children. It is about me wanting to fulfill the dream of my wife - to stay at home with the kids. But back to the post at hand.)
It's easy to look at the bright side of things for someone else's problem.
I mean, you tell me your problem, and I (in my infinite objectivity), can see the potential or long-term good in it. I can tell you, with very little effort, actually, what lesson you are probably going to learn or what positive effects there will be.
In discussing this with my wife, she admitted that she has a bad habit of doing this. She says that it comes from a place of wanting to encourage me (or whomever) and trying to cheer me up.
I gave her a hint and I told her that it doesn't encourage me or cheer me up. In fact, sometimes it's downright irritating. Theories and philosophies on life do nothing for those who are struggling.
There's a reason the Bible says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." Wisdom from Romans.
But, also, I guess there is the verse (if we are playing Bible Verse War), that says "A man's wisdom gives him patience, it is his glory to overlook an offense." Wisdom from Proverbs.
So... I suppose I should overlook this offense, realizing that it comes from "a good place."
Why I bother to write this though, is not to complain, although that may be what it seems like, but to remind you that when people have problems, it's far better to just commiserate.
You could share a beer or a cup of coffee or something. Maybe this is a man thing. Maybe it's just me. I really don't know.
I'm not saying that encouragement is bad, but at times it can come across as condescending. In the end, I need to just be content in my situation, and that is something I need to work on. Not to sound belligerent, but no one giving me "advice" can change my perspective. I must.
I think I just want to explain how I feel without someone "correcting" my feelings (whether or not my feelings are right, wrong, true, a lie, or whatever.)
In the end, I love my children. I love when our family is together and at home. I do love being with them during the week when my wife is at work. As I get older, I am beginning to learn to savor these days. They will not be with me forever. When they are gone, they will be like the passing of a loved one. When they pass, I will miss them. I will mourn them. And I will not look on the bright side of their leaving.
While I didn't mention it in the last post, my wife wrote our Christmas letter (in case you couldn't tell). I thought about it (very briefly) over the weekend and thought I would write one since it is my blog.
This year had its ups and downs. I'm getting published, my wife is still working at the same job she did the year before, two of the girls are still in school, and two aren't (the youngest two). Other than that, nothing new is really happening.
I think this year is going to be no different than years past in that we probably won't send out Christmas cards. Every year my wife tries, but she doesn't always quite make it. I guess we still have some time, though, so you never know. However, the one thing that we've never done is send out a Christmas letter update - you know, where you write to everyone about the various things that happened to you during the previous year. For people who can't really get out a simple card with maybe a family picture, that just always seemed like a lot to think about.
This year, though, I have a blog.
And, so that means, we can just write the Christmas letter as a blog post and post it on Facebook or email the link out. For those not "tech savvy," we can just print it out and mail it to them. Or just send them a regular card. Or just make a phone call. Or if/when we see them, tell them what's going on in person.
Tacky? Maybe. Lazy? Definitely.
But that's what we're doing anyway. So, here goes.
Dear Family and Friends,
As 2014 comes to a grand finale with the flurry of Christmas morning gift-opening and a tidal wave of Christmas cookies and eggnog, I would like to wish you a hearty Merry Christmas! This year has been an blessed one for our family, and I'd like to give you an update on our humble lives.
Scott started out 2014 by deciding to write and direct a play, The Last Rose of Innod, mostly for the kids at the local Christian school. It was successful, and was also the first real play that Katie and Annabelle had ever been a part of.
It was actually on opening night of this production that he was contacted by a publisher offering him a contract for his book, Scar of the Downers. WiDo Publishing will release his book sometime next year. Since then, Scott has spent the majority of his writing time editing his book, and planning for the release.
Meanwhile, he's also still homeschooling the girls, and managed to fit in many weekends of hunting the elusive white-tail deer.
Liz still manages the Medical Library at the nearby Army Medical clinic. She finds the work slightly interesting, but still feels that a creative part of her dies every time she is forced to read a new Army regulation. Her method of combatting this phenomenon is to work on a play here and there, teach art and music to the older girls, and get some good work out of her sewing machine.
Katie is in the 4th grade, and says that her favorite subject is history. She loves writing and illustrating stories, and most recently, reading The Babysitters Club books. Legos, Minecraft, and Webkinz are three of her favorite pastimes.
Annabelle is in the 2nd grade, and her favorite subject is science. She loves to dance and sing, and even has her own microphone and amp! She is a favorite among her sisters because she is always up for a good time. She also loves Legos, Minecraft, and Webkinz, but mostly CANDY.
Caroline is almost 4 years old, and is quite a little character. She is the most Type A of all of our children, and is also the most competitive. This year, she learned how to ride a bike (still with training wheels, but not for long, I feel), and also work the computer. She loves horses, the movie Frozen, and playing with her sisters.
Emily is 20 months old, and is getting very, very good at climbing on things, and just general destruction. Sometimes she is good at picking up, but only if she can dump everything back out again right after. Her newest words that she's learned are "princess," "pizza," and "chips."
Overall, it's been a great year. Thanks for sharing it with us, whether in person or through the blog. God bless you, and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!
Scott, Liz, and the girls
I saw the third part of the Hobbit trilogy last night, and it's kind of sad.
Not the movie. The movie is great.
But now there's no movie for me to look forward to.
So, that's that.
Thankfully there are plenty of Tolkien books and stories for me to re-read, but sometimes I just want to escape into a movie.
I also feel this way when I finish a good book. It's bittersweet. That's what makes a great book, in my opinion. I don't want to leave the world.
There hasn’t been a movie before that I’ve looked forward to as much as that one. So, of course, we had to go as soon as it opened.
Some thoughts on it… It did veer from the book, but movies and books are different animals. You can “get away” with a lot more in a book than you can in a movie. So, the differences don’t bother me. It’s mostly important to me that a movie adaptation capture the tone of the book, rather than a point by point breakdown of the storyline.
I think that a big misconception was that Peter Jackson (the director) was just adapting The Hobbit, and that alone, but he was actually doing something bigger. He used appendices and other writings of Tolkien, and then he made some creative choices of his own, based on what we can infer from all the information to make a fuller story, along the same line as the Lord of the Rings.
On that note, one of my favorite parts of the film was the conflict with the Necromancer (Sauron). Not in the book, but it worked.
Another one of my favorite things about the movie was the final song. A perfect ending to the film, as well as the entire Middle-earth saga. You should definitely click here to listen to it:
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.