Getting Started – My Life, the Short Version

I have been curious about blogging for some time now. Getting things that bounce around my head all day on “paper” seems beneficial – even if it’s just for my sanity.

I also think blogging, and social media generally, could be a nice add-on from a parenting perspective. Don’t misunderstand me, I think parenting should be face to face 99.9% of the time. But I think we should consider the impact that social media and technology has on all of us, especially our kids. It seems foolish not to take advantage of another way of potentially reaching our kids and young adults. Maybe there is an impact, maybe there isn’t – I don’t think it hurts to get in front of our children any way possible.

Ok – let’s begin with some context.

The serenity prayer hangs on the wall of my office. It hung in my wife’s grandmother’s home for many , many years. I think my wife knew the words in that frame would come to define how we live our lives and that I had to embrace them to find real happiness.

Living those words each day is my goal. More often than not I fail. I hate that I simply can’t flip a switch and live them each day, I am proud that regardless of what went on yesterday, I get up and try again. Let me give a little context about why those framed words resonate so much with me and our family.

My wife and I have seven (YES 7!) kids. Nothing about how we got here is normal. We didn’t set out to have a big family. We have a big family because we chose each other and never looked back. Let’s do the math on this:

I have two kids from a previous marriage. They are in high school and middle school. They are exceptional people. When I thought about being a parent I never dreamed it could be this good. I’m consistently proud of who they are as people. They are kind and amazing with our younger kids. Watching those relationships develop has been really rewarding. They make me think I’m not screwing it all up – and some days I need that feeling.

My wife adopted three kids while she was single (after we married I adopted them as well). They are all very close in age. Two are in elementary school. The other unfortunately can’t attend school at this time (we’ve tried many options at this point with no success). Two of the three are biological siblings and have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). Most people I know don’t know what FAS is (I certainly didn’t), so talking about it with others can be difficult. I find myself hesitating to answer questions about them because I feel like I need to give enough context to help it make sense for people. It’s been a major struggle for me. I’ll get into the reality of FAS in other posts because I do think those dealing with it or similar disabilities need as many people as possible to relate to. Raising kids with FAS is easily the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The non-biological sibling doesn’t present with FAS signs, but based on the environment she came from, it isn’t out of the question. She has significant emotional trauma and attachment related issues. Honestly, with where we are today, it is hard to believe I’m typing this, but navigating how to raise her may be harder than the two with FAS.

I find myself feeling overwhelming sadness for them at times. I think it happens more now as they age and fall further and further behind peers. I think it’s also because lots of the emotional trauma they’ve experienced in the past is being processed by me with a slightly more mature mind.

They have a ton of issues and likely won’t lead anywhere near a “normal” life. My anger at that reality likely won’t ever end. They will live these lives simply because their biological parents made horrific decisions. These kids had no control, no choice in the matter. I see now after a lot of thought that their biological parents didn’t have a chance either – its a never ending cycle of bad decisions that have ramifications that last generations. I have very strong opinions on what can be done to solve some of these problems, but I’ll save that for another post.

All that said, they all have unique personalities, things they enjoy and things they can’t really tolerate. More than anything, they have a ton of good in them. It’s not always obvious and sometimes you really have to look hard, but it’s there.

Finally, my wife and I have two little girls. The older of the two is absolutely amazing. She is a fun, independent ball of energy. A day doesn’t go by when she doesn’t amaze me with the words she uses or what she is able to do on her own. Our littlest is just a baby and going through the phase where there are smiles and more awareness of her world – we can’t wait to see her personality develop.

That’s my immediate family. It’s fun. It’s almost always crazy. It really, really hard at times. I’m not sure it could be more complex – blended, adoption, biological, and disability – that’s a lot. And I guess something that never really comes up, but throw race in there too.

I think my wife and I are pretty damn good at it though. It’s not easy navigating all of it. The wide age gap in kids, the needs (including significant special needs), logistics, and just all the stuff that comes with a large family.

My wife and I define success based on the love in our home and the safety that each of our (7!) kids feels every day. I think we are succeeding. Regardless, I know we show up every day and try – that is really what life is about – you have to put in the effort.

We are showing them every day, through all the ups and downs what a family really is. I’m grateful to be able to witness all the wins and all the losses each day and know we are growing together.

Oh yeah, I also am an executive at a venture-backed start-up with headquarters in another state (which means I have to travel from time to time). More on that part of life later.

#accountability #ivegot2more #endure #grind #7kids #fetalalcoholsyndrome #blendedfamily #noexcuses

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