This seems like a no-brainer, but life isn’t close to perfect. Sometimes when my life seems like it’s on track, I’m anxiously awaiting something to knock me back down to earth. It’s as if some higher power is watching my life and saying, “Things are going well Ben? Hold my beer . . . “
My Life on Social Media
I’m all over social media. I have two accounts on Instagram, a dozen pages I manage on Facebook, and I’m even on all of the sites nobody cares about anymore (MySpace, Snapchat, etc.). All these sites show just a snapshot of my life and they’re all designed to make my life look perfect. But it’s far from perfect.
I think when we look at each other’s pages, we figure everything is great. I think after reading a few blog posts, you’ll realize life is far from great for me. This blog is about as vulnerable as a guy can get. But on my social media pages, my life looks perfect . . . But that’s just the snapshot I want you all to see.
It’s a Blessing
Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing for many reasons that I love
- It allows me to stay in contact with 1000’s of people I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to stay in contact with.
- I can peek into my friend’s lives at a convenient time for me . . . Like 3am before I go to bed.
- It’s easy for me to share my thoughts and stories to thousands of people at a time.
- My social media sites are the “yearbook” of my life where I can store all my memories to go back and reflect upon in the future.
- It’s the place where I can remember everyone’s birthdays!!!
But there’s a downside to these sites that keeps some of my friends off of them, and causes issues for many others!!
It’s a Curse
- It gives people a false send of who you are and what you’re all about. You’re controlling a narrative, and although that is nice, it’s just part of the story.
- You only get a snapshot of that one photo in time. There’s so much more to the story than this one photo.
- People feel like they know you. This isn’t naturally bad, but like I mentioned above it’s just not the complete picture.
Social Media Is A Historical Record
When I post something online . . . even this blog . . . I realize that it’s “out there”. Someday, Kailyn will read my blogs and even take a peek at my social media pages. EVERY post I make, I take into consideration this fact.
I’m sure you could scour my posts and find some that I’d prefer not for her to see, but for the most part I’m pretty kosher with my posts nowadays.
When I was in my custody battle to keep Kailyn, the opposing counsel submitted HUNDREDS of pages of photos from my social media accounts. That’s why I’m so hyper-aware of the implications of posting things on these accounts. It sucked having my life on social media scrutinized with a microscope in closed court. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, but now I realize that it’s a part of my historical record. My life. I own it.
The Perfect Life For Kailyn
A lot of times as parents we want to create the perfect life for our kids. I certainly strive for that for Kailyn. But as I get better at parenting, I realize that it’s not the perfect life I have to create for her. I just need to create A LIFE. Life’s not perfect and I shouldn’t try and create that for her. Kailyn’s going to experience sadness, disappointment and grief.
My job is not to create a perfect life for her. It’s to create a life where she’s capable of handling a non-perfect life.
That’s the difference between myself and many other parents. Where some parents are trying to help avoid their kids experiencing negative things, I’m trying to prepare Kailyn to handle negative things.
Picking The Teacher
Let me give you an example.
At Kailyn’s school, it’s a BIG DEAL to put your child in the classroom with the teacher you think will best suit their learning style. I have been guilty of trying to get Kailyn into the “right” classroom. I’m not going to say that it won’t happen again, but I will say that I’m not that worried about it.
In school and life, all we want is for our children to have a fair shake. We want them to be treated fairly and get a good education. As PTO President, I’m not worried about Kailyn getting treated fairly. She’ll get treated fairly at her school as long as she earns it. And if she doesn’t earn it, she’ll learn quickly that she can’t get good grades or special treatment because of her daddy. I’m 100% ok with this.
I’ve had professors who couldn’t speak English. I’ve had teachers that I disliked a lot. I’ve worked in group projects where I was the leader and couldn’t get anyone to follow, and vice versa. I’ve had jobs where I didn’t like my supervisor and I’ve been the boss of employees I didn’t care much for. And so will Kailyn some day. I’m not doing her any favors by shielding her from these situations. Life’s not always perfect, and the sooner she realizes that, the better off she’ll be.
Every father dreads “firsts”. First boyfriend, first date, first kiss, first other things . . .
My initial reaction as Kailyn’s protector is to pull out all of my fire arms and have them on standby. But I quickly realized that while that tactic seems rational when she was 3, it’s completely useless when she’s 9 (and getting older by the day).
I realize now that it’s not my job to protect her from her “firsts”. It’s my job to prepare her for them. Firsts are a wonderful thing. Can you remember your first kiss, love, date, etc.? They were exciting and new. I’d never want to strip that experience from Kailyn. I want to arm her with the knowledge that she’s a strong, intelligent, loving person, and then let her make her own decisions on the person and timing of this situation. We’ll talk about it (at least I’ll try to), and then she’ll have to make sure she’s ready for those situations.
As much as I’d like to force my way into deciding the timeline and who she has these experiences with, I have to let her be the girl I’ve raised her to be.
This is perhaps one of the hardest things I’ve had to admit to myself as a parent, but it’s probably the most important.
If I believe the last few paragraphs to be true, that also means that I have to be ultra-motivated to prepare her for these situations. I have to build her up to be the woman that I know she can be.
As a man, that’s not the easiest situation to be in. As much as I want to “get” what she’s going through, there’s no way I can understand what it’s like to be a little girl. I need to rely on my circle of friend/girls to help me figure out some of this puzzle. I’ve done a good job of surrounding myself with strong, positive influential women who serve as good role models for Kailyn.
I don’t bring girls around my house that can’t positively impact her life. None of the girls I date will ever be in my home overnight while Kailyn is there. In a way, this is my litmus test for dating. It’s a high standard, and one that keeps me single unfortunately. But it’s worth it.
It’s hard to believe, but Kailyn just turned 9 which means I’m half way from her being an “adult”. I don’t believe my parenting will ever stop andI hope that Kailyn always comes to me for advice and for hugs. Good thing is that I have an unlimited amount of “I love you’s” and kisses for her. Even when she doesn’t realize she needs them.
I’ve never felt more pressure than I do now to instill the qualities of a good human being in her. In a world where there are so many messed up things going on, bad people doing bad things, and examples being set in a negative way, I can’t possibly shield her from them. What I can do is explain them, teach her how to identify them, and love the shit out of her.
I love her with all that I am, and the scariest thing in the world for me is to let her be who she’s meant to be. I can only nudge her in a direction, but she’s going to have to walk in the direction (sometimes run).
Life Isn’t Perfect
Life isn’t perfect. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said that to myself and to her (not to mention this blog). But honestly, that’s the beauty of it. It’s perfectly imperfect and we’re all free to live it how we see fit. When you think of it that way, it’s easier to wake up in the morning, go to bed at night, and make life decisions. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way. Just a way.
Although life isn’t perfect, I think I’ve created something just about as close as you can get . . . my Kailyn (I’m a little biased here).
Thanks again for listening to my thoughts. Hug your loved ones tightly, and make sure they know how much you love them.
Have a perfect day!
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