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Loving being dad

There was a time that I never pictured myself as being a dad. I was a train wreck waiting to happen. I feared the responsibility and my own damage being passed on.

It took getting sober before I had the conversation about the possibility of being a biological father and even then I was unsure. I still feared the idea of raising a child from birth.

In getting sober I found faith and a new perspective on life. An altruistic spirit replaced on of anger and fear and the more I enjoyed being a step dad to Frankie the more the idea of having a child with Stacey grew on me.

There were several false positive tests before the triplets came along and each time I felt excitement and purpose.

Now, as a dad to four daughters my life has taken on a new meaning. It’s a job I love and wouldn’t change my situation for anything. I love being a dad, it’s a tough job but with patience and tolerance and the love of a good woman it’s a path I am proud to be walking.

Without the damaging effects of alcohol and with meditation as a way of life my priorities are clear. To raise my daughters in a spirit of love. They are growing into confident little girls with the absence of anger under our roof.

It’s an amazing experience to discover a purpose in life. No matter what happens I will always be a parent. With the responsibility of raising my family the best I can. I love the hugs, their little moments of triumph and the love I see in all of them.

I’m a blessed man. And with God’s grace at the centre of my life I have all I need to grow spiritually as a father and husband. And there is no other path I would want to be walking.

Frankie

It would have been foolish to believe that life would continue as normal after the triplets arrived. Thankfully I didn’t have much of a social life and my only real commitment was to my band. Other than a few cancelled gigs not much changed in that respect.

The triplets were like a vacuum that consumed us. And the one most affected in our house was Frankie. She went from being an only child with all the focus on her to being a big sister to three screaming babies. And as a result of having to adjust to life with three newborns our relationship began to change.

I could no longer give her all my attention, for obvious reasons. I felt guilty for not having the time to spend together as we used to. Even though we got her as involved as she wanted to be there was a distance forming between us as I struggled with impatience and exhaustion.

Every night, I used to carry Frankie upstairs to bed with a fireman’s lift. We would have a little conversation about her day before we prayed and gave thanks and she went to sleep. Almost overnight that little routine stopped. I was either pacifying babies or bathing them or past out asleep, suffering badly from sleep deprivation.

All of a sudden Frankie had to grow up and start taking care of herself in little ways. It was hard on her to get nudged out of the top spot and adjust, as we all had to.

Frankie lost her biological dad to suicide when she was three years old and is now asking questions and dealing with her emotions around that. It’s a difficult time for her, and as step dad I need to allow her the space she needs to work her way through what she’s experiencing. And support as much as I can.

She is also now a teenager and has naturally gravitated towards her mum. She is experiencing raging hormones and other issues that teenage girls experience. I’m sure over time our relationship will strengthen again.

I knew there were times that being a step dad could be difficult. I guess I’m going through that now. I need to remind myself that as a parent there are ups and downs. And it’s my job to just be emotionally consistent and available for the times she does come to me for advice or to talk about her problems.

She is still my number one daughter and I love her as much as the triplets. It’s tough to see her going through so much. But time, patience, love and consistency can be a great healers.

Reflection

I have been blessed to have two chances at life. My past holds no resemblance to the present. I don’t take mind altering drugs anymore and I have been sober for almost 8 years. I am no longer plagued with anger and fear and in my life of sobriety I have remarried and become a parent. Now instead of a heart starter drink in the morning I meditate in preparation for my day.

My past life wasn’t a bad one. I travelled a good chunk of the world and moved to Australia to start a new life. One that was cut short because of my drinking. But I made the most out of my situation. I loved drinking and loved Melbourne. I made some great freinds and enjoyed the lifestyle before it all went down the toilet and I got the boot.

My past life was hectic. My mental health was on a roundabout of deterioration. There were stays in police cells, detoxes and psychiatric wards. Pain was at the centre of my life. My anger driven by an abusive father and alcoholism. I had good luck on my side but things were never good for very long and drink and drugs were the only constant in my life. I sabotaged all that was good.

I was driven by resentment

When I look back at my life compared to the one I have now it’s like looking at a different person. Like it’s the memories of someone else. A young man filled with resentment and fear who failed to commit to anything and hated the cards he had been dealt. Plauged with mental health problems and unable to forgive his father and himself. He was on a path of destruction that would end in suicide unless he found a new way to live.

Now, I am a peaceful man with purpose. A spirit of love replaced one of resentment and I found joy in giving of myself to make others lives easier. I now work with others who are lost in anger and destructive obsessions to show them also, that there is a way out.

As a husband and a father I practice patience and tolerance at home. I raise my family in the principles of love so that they can all grow in confidence, without fear. I want my daughters to begin life in a way that they will have no reason to seek out destructive behaviours as a way of coping.

I wouldn’t change my life for anything now. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not without It’s challenges but in finding a new way to live I discovered myself. In faith I no longer run on anger. And that’s a good deal for everyone.

#Fatherhood

This year on the 4th of July, Ava Lacey and Blakely will be 4 years old. It feels like only yesterday I was sleep deprived and struggling to adapt to new fatherhood.

In that time I have made mistakes, questioned my sanity and also got a lot of it right. It has been as much a journey of self discovery as it has one of parenting. My patience has been tested as I found my way to being a father and I only have to look at the confidence in my daughters to know I’ve done okay up to this point.

It’s been the toughest challenge of my life to date. And if you know my history that’s saying something! Becoming a dad has also brought new challenges within my marriage. Our life was turned upside-down with the pregnancy and the arrival of our girls. Our relationship changed as a result. We were forced into dealing with a highly stressful situation together. We lost our freedoms and had to find a way to work as a team.

With all this change came the temptation to resent the cards I had been dealt with. But I kept afloat with meditation which in turn gave me the faith and clarity to step into my new role with confidence.

I followed my intuition and stayed focused on the job at hand.

It was frightening at times to have so much responsibility under my roof. Becoming a father has been all consuming. It’s left little time for anything else, the commitment to living by the spiritual principles of love and tolerance has got me through. My faith has allowed me to overcome my fears and be a loving father and also helped me deal with the new pressures that affected my marriage.

I have to have the willingness to adapt to the constant challenges that arise as my daughters grow and develop. It’s crazy how fast the time has gone bye. I often worry I haven’t done enough, I think that’s normal for any new parent but I don’t wallow in doubt. I made the decision to step up to the plate of fatherhood from the day of the positive pregnancy test. I now have a family who rely on my emotional stability and strength. I owe them that.

I love my family and love fatherhood. It has been the making of me in so man ways. I have been given a massive responsibility in becoming a dad and it’s my number one priority to be the man my family needs.

New day’s are dawning

The last year has been a test of patience. The days have just blurred into one another. It’s been a case of dealing with work and home-life and nothing else. No trips out and nowhere to go under the guidelines of a national lockdown here in the UK.

But it seems now that restrictions are slowly lifting that we are getting our lives back. Last weekend we took the triplets swimming and followed it with a picnic in the park. It was nothing special but to us it was a step back into normality and personal freedom. And my daughters loved it. We all did.

Staying in has taken it’s toll on us

We are now looking forward to trips out as the warmer weather settles in. Up until now the park has been their only real freedom. Bordem has caused tension and tantrums and it’s a relief to know that we can now do the little thing’s that we used to take for granted.

It’s taken a mental toll on all of us as a family. Imagine the stress of dealing with three toddler’s day in day out. Frankie has also felt the tension of not being able to go out and visit her friends. It’s a crucial time for all of them to be socialising. And now freedom is returning to our lives. And it feels good.

We have had to learn to get along in a stressful situation. All families have been put to the test over the last months of lockdown. Sadly many families have split up under the pressure of isolation but also families have strengthened as a result of being forced to survive under pressure.

I feel blessed to have the family I have. We have worked together to stay together through a difficult time. I hope you have managed to survive lockdown and are now emerging stronger for the experience of this pandemic.

Love has kept us together. Patience and tolerance has been the glue.

Spiritual health

We talk a lot about physical and mental health. Both are equally important to me as a father and a husband. My physical health so I can provide for my family and my mental health to deal with the pressures of fatherhood.

But there is an element to our wellbeing that men and women rarely discuss. And that is spiritual health.

I have my work cut out for me as a triplet dad with a chronic pain condition, and the pressure’s of daily life have got to me over the last few years. But I have had one consistent practice through the ups and downs I have faced. Meditation.

I have discovered in my years of practicing non contemplative meditation that my spiritual health is in direct proportion to my mental health. The way I respond to stress and pressure has to come from a place of conscious awareness.

The solution to a crushed spirit is light

When I am lost in thoughts and reacting emotionally I become prone to deppresion. I can get overwhelmed with negative thinking and my spirit gets crushed. My natural ability to discern gets clouded, and when this happens wrong becomes right and up becomes down. I lose sight of my purpose in life and as a result my mental health takes a hit.

No man can continue successfully on a path of resentment and anxiety. We have families to support and relationships under our roofs that require us to be stable and present. If we don’t take care of our spiritual health we suffer. It’s that simple. And it’s just as simple to resolve.

Just 15 minutes, first thing in the morning and last thing at night is enough for this powerful meditation exercise to work. It expels resentment energy and replaces it with light. It’s a life changing metaphysical practice that renews the spirit and clears the body of negative debris. It brings the practitioner to a new place of conscious awareness, and as a result provides a real protection against the stress and pressures of life.

Once we take care of our spiritual health we straighten out mentally. Without suppressed negative energy wreaking havoc under the surface we discover a freedom that allows us to be present and awake from moment to moment. Life renews and we become the men and women our families need.

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

Triplets, tantrums and thank God for bedtime

Firstly I hope you all had a good Easter weekend. Ours was fun and we even managed to get out of the house on Easter Sunday.

The girls are growing up fast. I mean the time is flying by. It seems only a short time ago they were in nappies and Stacey was breastfeeding. Now they are almost 4 and will be starting school full time in September.

Our house has become ever more hectic as the girls have grown and have endless energy. Between them and the teenager our stress levels are tested to the max. Some days it’s a real struggle. Other days it’s just hard work but Stacey and I work together to stay on top of thing’s.

Stacey and I both love the run down to the end of the day and when bath time comes around. We often high 5 out of relief that the day with them is done. Don’t get me wrong we have a lot of fun with them (but also we really can’t wait for them to start school full time).

Last week Stacey, Frankie and two of the girls went shopping. Lacey wanted to stay home with me. I had the opportunity to experience what it was like to just have 1 toddler. It was a breeze. I could give her my full attention and we had a lovely quiet couple of hours. The chaos was instant as soon as everyone arrived back at the house.

They are never too young to do chores

This post may sound like a bit of a grumble but it’s just where we are right now. Dealing with irrational, tantrum throwing and hormonal triplets and teenager. I’m told this all gets easier when the kids hit 45. So at least we have something to look forward to.

The Moment

How many of us can say that we really live in the moment? With such busy lives it seems such an elusive concept.

Even when relaxing our minds don’t seem to quiet down. A bombardment of thoughts steal away the here and now, leaving us in the past or worrying about the future.

Stress energy collects whilst we are asleep in the whirlpool of thoughts

We live in stressful times. Pandemics, work concerns, financial and family problems keep us lost in overthinking and for the most – negativity. We find ways to distract ourselves with thing’s like exersise, music, books and Netflix. But these brief moments of escape don’t solve the worry problem. Even of the hundreds of meditation exercises on you tube, most are mere distraction techniques, pulling us away further from the moment.

So why is it so Important to live in the moment? Surely it’s more beneficial to deal with life as it unfolds. A life of stress, driven by overthinking will only lead to poor health and eventually more serious physical ailments and heart conditions. Negative emotions drain us of energy and life.

Negative emotions cause outward ripples

The moment is not so difficult to find. First it takes a commitment to stillness, meditating without contemplation. Simply stepping back observing the thought’s and chatter of the mind that would usually drag us in. By doing this we are cutting ties with the emotions that tempt us to react.

Once we have meditated this way for a short time it becomes easier to stay in an awakened state, free from the negative ties to emotion. Worry and fear fall away without effort, anxiety no longer plagues us because we are not getting caught up in the whirlpool of overthinking as we once did.

Living in the present moment also brings a protection. When we meditate this special way we begin to live with grace, becoming less and less affected by other’s emotional responses. We find a real clarity as a natural God given intuition replaces the ever doubtful thinking of the ego. We become placed in a position of neutrality to the world. Safe, protected and free to deal with life consciously.

The moment is a truly miraculous place. One, that once experienced opens the door to a new plane of existence. We become connected and present in the world in real time, free from the bondage of the ego and it’s negative existence. We become inspired and brought back to life. Awake, aware and ready for anything that life throws at us.

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

Sunshine

Most of us have suffered with lockdown. For us the hardest thing was being stuck in with the triplets. With everything apart from the supermarket being open and unable to travel it made it a hard winter.

But with daylight savings and the first bit of warm weather the girls can finally get out to play in the garden. It may only be a little thing but it has made a huge difference to the girls, and to us. It’s brought a break from the monotonous routine of being stuck in the house.

Super chilled

It looks set that we are to have run of decent weather. It means we can enjoy local walks and make the most of the little garden we have. Lockdown bought a certain fatigue about it. It’s been especially hard on the girls over winter.

Thankfully they have been going to school 3 morning’s a week which has given Stacey a much needed break. But it has still been tough being unable to travel anywhere to enjoy their day’s off. Going to the supermarket shopping has been the only real outing for them.

Ice lollies in the shade

We are praying that with restrictions lifting that this summer will resemble a bit of the normality and freedom we are used to. We want to take the girls for trips out to the beach, and just make the most of the better weather. There is so much we want to do with them now they are at an age that they enjoy a day trip out.

So let’s hope the ease on restrictions doesn’t create any further lockdowns going forward. Let’s hope this will be a summer of making memories after such a bizarre year.

Sleep deprivation, insanity & Early fatherhood

Sleep deprivation is a tool for torture. The victim is kept awake in various ways until their minds snap.

Welcome to early parenting.

Looking back at the first six months is a blur. If it wasn’t for writing the book I would have little recollection of the pressure I was under to take care of our newborn’s and hold a job down. It was a tough deal.

The one blessing was that we had healthy babies but that didn’t make our situation any less difficult. There were countless mornings I drove to work with my head stuck out of the window so as to stay awake. How I didn’t have an accident is a miracle.

At work I could literally fall asleep stood up if I stopped to rest. I worked a physical job that kept me busy, I still began to make small mistakes on the job though out of sheer tiredness. Thankfully I have an understanding boss who was aware and supportive of my situation. I worked every day because I needed to earn. I had two weeks off when the babies were born, I couldn’t afford any more time off.

3am feeds rocking babies back to sleep

There were day’s I drove home from work and just sat in the car outside of my house feeling crushed. Knowing that when I walked through the door it was my time to deal with the triplets. My wife some night’s was just sat at the bottom of the stairs in exhaustion waiting for me to walk through the door. I felt I was on a roundabout that showed no signs of slowing down.

There were two thoughts that kept me afloat during those early day’s of parenting.

1. These girls are a gift

2. I cannot let them down

I hit a period of deppresion driven by frustration. I couldn’t meditate most of the time because every time I closed my eyes I fell asleep. So I was out of consciousness and overwhelmed by negative thinking. Thoughts of self pity and resentment became prominent in my mind. There was also fear that my marriage was on the rock’s because of my deteriorating mental state.

But it wasn’t all bad. There were times I cherished. Like when they were awake and not crying. I would play them my favourite music as way for me to mentally and emotionally bond with them. I loved bath time because they loved the water and would smile and giggle. These were little islands in the day that I would pull myself back up on. Bonding was so important to my mental state.

Life got easier the older they got

If you are in the trenches of early fatherhood and are struggling my advise would be to keep trudging. Practice patience with yourself and know that your situation now isn’t permanent. Before you know it they will drop the night feed and you will sleep again. The insanity you feel in your mind will subside with rest.

No one function’s properly with sleep deprivation. You may have to stay in that zombified state a little longer but you’ll survive because you have to. Your partner and children need you strong and emotionally stable. Any way you get through it is good, sleep when you can and don’t resent your situation. It’s something we dads all experience and it’s a tough deal, but the rewards are endless.

And just remember, apparently this gig gets a lot easier when the kids hit 45 years old.