Roller Coaster of Life

Dear Daughters,

As you grow into your lives, you will be pulled into a million different directions. I believe this to be truer as social media companies gain a stronger hold of our attention. It will be on you, your goals, and your priorities to restrict those who influence you in a negative way. It is your responsibility to determine and define what balance is and hold to it. The notes below are my priorities at the time of writing this. It is who I am, at least at this moment. I’m not perfect by no means, and this isn’t the path you have to follow. It is simply my life balance that keeps me motivated and working to be better than yesterday.

My highest priority is your mother. Without her, none of this works. She is my best friend that is there encouraging me to chase my wild dreams and picking me up when those dreams don’t pan out. She is my connection to you two. When I can’t get the words out to express my feelings to her or to y’all, she knows what I’m thinking and feeling. In the end, after y’all have left to chase after your own lives, your mother and I will still be here together. This is why she is my rock.

You two are only second to your mother. When I look at y’all, I am inspired to do more and be better. I aim to make sure y’all always know I love you, even if for a moment it doesn’t appear to be so. I strive to provide a life where you are able to experience different things, see interesting places, and compete at high levels. I seek to motivate you to be warriors in your own right, be brave when dealing with fears, and calm when surrounded by chaos.

Work is a necessary evil. Work is necessary to make money and provide for our family. It also provides purpose and fulfillment in our lives. I say it is evil only because it takes away from doing other things. At the time of writing this I have a relatively short career history, but I’ve had my experiences with hard physical work, office work, and the military at this point. You will be judged by the outside world, not by just your title, but the amount of work you are willing to put forth. No one likes a slacker.

One of my favorite quotes is “knowledge is power” which is often attributed to Francis Bacon. I love this quote as learning is one of my strongest drives. I’m naturally curious, so the moment someone brings up a topic that I’m unfamiliar with, I take a deep dive into learning as much as I can. This becomes even more so when it intertwines with my career or other interests. Learning is easy, all it requires is time. Between the internet and vast number of books out there, all it takes to learn is your willingness to sit down and read. Additionally, once you have learned something, no one can take that from you. It will forever be in your war chest to help you battle your way through life. This doesn’t mean you need a formal education; you simply need to be curious and have an open mind. Also, as a caution, just because it is on the internet or someone you respect tells you it is true, always be skeptical. Trust but verify. The world is full of those who wish to deceive you in order to get your time, money, or energy.

I believe this one should be a higher priority, but it isn’t for me at the moment. It did however make the list which makes it higher than a lot of other activities such as sleeping and rest. Being overall healthy is one of the hardest things to take on as we are constantly bombarded with perfect images of others, fast food, and the next fad diet. I’ve always worked out, just not a consistent basis. The biggest gap was somewhere between the military and when you 2 came around. It came down to me looking myself in the mirror and questioning if I was going to be able to keep up with the 2 of you as well as being able to communicate and teach from a position of experience. Let’s face it, no one wants to listen to a “do as I say, not as I do” person, even if that person is your parent. In the end, your health is your responsibility and comes down to the information your doctor is telling you, how you feel physically and mentally, being able to accomplish your goals physically, and being confident in your body. No other outside sources should have any control or say in the matter. Each of you will have to learn to block out the rest of the noise.

This is my balance to the rollercoaster we call life. It isn’t a path for everyone, and it isn’t set in stone. One day as you are creating your own path, I hope this helps shine a light.

Love,

Dad

Little Creatures & Poop

When our first daughter was born 2 years ago, we were obviously first-time parents who had NO idea what we were doing. I was so nervous about dealing with a baby that was small. This was even more so for me changing the diapers of this fragile little creature that was the opposite sex. In my mind, if she would have been a boy, it would have been easy. Simply move the plumbing (the same layout as me) around and make sure everything was clean. With a little girl, this wasn’t the case.

First, she was the size of my hand. I thought with every little move I was going to hurt her. Turns out, little kids are extremely resilient when they are young. I was always extremely careful with her, so I don’t have anything major to report regarding injuries, yet. I will say, this feeling of fragility passes with time and sleep deprivation. For any fathers out there reading this, just be careful and be involved. Repetition builds comfort. By the time our second daughter came around, we felt like professionals. We aren’t. There was still this hesitation for the first week and after that we were off to the races. Our kids are mostly injury free to this day. I say mostly because they are kids. Our youngest isn’t mobile yet, but her sister keeps her involved. This includes bringing and playing with her toys on top of her. It also includes her sister throwing stuff without control and hitting her (maybe she has great control and did it on purpose). Additionally, our oldest plays bumper bodies with all our furniture. She is constantly on the move and thinks she can plow over heavy pieces of furniture that haven’t moved in 3 years. She loses every time, falls on the ground, gets up, and keeps going. Kids our tougher than they appear.

Lastly, the difficulty of changing diapers. I think most people in general feel uncomfortable when cleaning another human’s butt. That feeling is worse when you don’t know what you are doing and unsure of the situation down there. For me, I just didn’t feel comfortable changing diapers. Regardless of if I was doing it correctly, I felt like it was wrong for me to be doing it. There are so many crevices to make sure you get all the poop out. Then you get those explosions that come out the diaper. I can say after some time, I’m now comfortable and efficient doing it. The newest experience was as our oldest continues to grow and eat real food, she now takes legit human poops. Sometimes I believe her poops are larger than mine. It is disgusting, and I can’t wait until she handles it all herself. My number one recommendation is to have more than enough wipes out and ready to go. You can never have too many, and they are relatively cheap. One day you’ll have poop on your finger and be glad to have plenty of wipes prepped.

Introduction

I always find these introductions funny and out of place. When reading blogs and forums, I am there for a specific subject or reason, not necessarily to get to know someone better. With that being said, this entire website is about my family and my life. So, this introduction will serve as the starting point to my stories. It will most likely be longer than most as there will be several stories include here to catch up.

On to one of the major topics, why did I create this website and why am I writing here at all. One of the major reasons is in the title itself. I hope to accumulate a set of letters, stories, and words of wisdom that one day my daughters can look back on and laugh, cry, or gain motivation to keep going. It might also help give meaning or understanding to certain things in their lives when I have failed to communicate effectively with them. A secondary audience is new fathers, especially fathers to little girls. I hope to convey that once the initial anxiety wears off, it will be better than okay. Fatherhood is something that I believe should not be taken lightly. We have the ability to mold our children, build confidence, and create someone to accomplish things we have not and to love us unconditionally.

So, who am I? I described myself on the “About Me/Who am I” page. On that page and the home page, I gave myself 4 labels, Husband, Father, Professional, and Student. The order of those 4 labels is intentional.  I am sure those who know me would give me different labels, some probably not so pleasant, but those 4 labels are enough to give you an idea of who is writing all of this.

Husband. My wife and I got married in 2016. I do not believe we have the typical start to our relationship. I was relatively new to the area and fresh out of the military. I was working as mechanic and our shop frequented a couple restaurants depending on the day of the week and who had the best beer deals. At some point, we became a part of her regulars. Admittedly I am a quiet person, so we hardly struck up much of a conversation. It probably had to do with being an introvert AND leaving horrible tips. Before marrying my wife, I was one of those turds that would simply round up to the nearest dollar and just leave the change. I have never been a server, so I did not realize how horrible this was. Anyways, eventually we connected on Facebook but still did not converse for some time. One day I finally asked a random question that really had no meaning, she responded, and then I ghosted her. This happened several times until she finally had enough and told me I was taking her on a date. I do not think she realized how stoked I was or what she was getting herself into. First date? We went to a gun range, a place she had never gone before. We have been together ever since. It has not always been perfect, and I have not always been the best husband, but love is not easy. It takes work and commitment. At the end of the day, no matter the disagreement, we love each other and find our way through it. The love she gives me is always unconditional and more than I deserve. I would not be who I am today without her, and I would not be able to go after my crazy dreams if she were not in my life.

Father. At the point that I am writing this, I have been a father less than 2 years. I am no expert nor am I perfect. Anyone reading this should not take what I say as being the right way or the only way of raising a daughter. This is simply what I have done or my experience. The first 2 years of this have been a roller coaster. I was woken out of my sleep early in the morning by my wife. This is not normally, so my heart instantly went into overdrive as I thought something was wrong. Instead, she dragged me into our bathroom to show me her positive pregnancy test. Being early in the morning, I did not have the energy or mental fortitude to even understand what was going on. For some other reasons we were trying to avoid getting over excited, but it was a struggle. For the next 9 months it was nothing but YouTube and books trying to figure out what we needed and how raise a kid. At 20 weeks, we found out that we were having a little girl. As a man, I think every man wants a son. I am not sure the exact reason. It could be because we want to raise a little one of us, or it could be because it is more “comfortable” raising the same sex. When I found out it was a girl, my anxiety went through the roof. What do you do with a little girl? Is the little girl going to love me? All these random questions popped up, and I had no way of answering them at the time. Now that I am 2 years, I can tell you the anxiety was for no reason. The love my girls show me, and the excitement on their face when I am them instantly melts my heart. About 5 months after our first one was born, we found out we were having another child. My wife’s symptoms this time were different, and we fell for the “old wives’ tell” about how different symptoms mean it would be a different sex. So, we were 100% confident the second child would be a boy. We did not have to wait long to find out that we were wrong. Another little girl was on the way. As previously stated, I am now a father with 2 daughters. At this point, we do not see any additional kids in our future. We love our girls and want to make sure we have the financial means and time to provide them the best life we can.

Professional. I struggle with this one because I have a hard time talking myself up. What does it truly mean to be a professional? Career wise, I worked in retail and construction while in high school. Once I graduated, I joined the military as a mechanic and served 5 years. I enjoyed the work because I love solving problems and building things, but I struggled with the politics of it all. Once my enlistment was up, I moved to South Texas for school and a job as a mechanic. I am not from South Texas, so I had NO idea how bad the heat and humidity are down here. I quickly realized I did not want to do this the rest of my life, plus I was already attending college. At some point I was working retail again as a supervisor, and one of the part time workers asked for my resume to submit to her daytime job. I ended up getting an interview and the job. I am not exactly sure they realized what they were getting themselves into by hiring me, but I am still with the same company and still working in the same overall department. I have moved roles and progressed several times since then, but the position allows me to think analytically and solve problems.  I owe my entire professional career to my coworker and those that took a chance on me by hiring me.

Student. I never really had to work hard in high school, granted I am from a small town, but I still managed to get in the top 10 of my class. From there, I joined the military for 5 years. I can still remember sitting in Afghanistan and speaking to my supervisor about going to college. I was dead set on getting out of the military and going to school. I eventually got out of the military, moved to South Texas, and started school at a community college. I had no idea what college would be like nor did I understand how to get the most out of it with my military benefits. I initially wanted to go for degree in computer science, but a rough first semester and a struggle in physics pushed me into accounting. I struggled my first semester because it was a new environment and the advisor did not understand military benefit requirements. I was put in remedial math and writing plus a class that taught you how to be a student. I understood why they have the “how to be a student” class, however, I felt as if it was a waste of my time being that I wasn’t 18 and had 5 years of structured life because of the military. The remedial math also turned out to be a waste. Upon entry to school, I had to test to see where I was at. This was all last minute, and I was late entry, so there was no time to study for these tests. I ended up in a very basic math class going over material I had gone over in high school. I received 100’s on the first several assignments and test. I was also extremely bored in the class. I ended up retaking the entrance exam and testing out way above my current class. However, because I was using the GI Bill, I could not drop the class without paying the money back. That was not something I did not think I could afford at the time. The remedial writing class was the best thing that ever happened to me. My professor for that class was the most caring professor I have ever had. Additionally, she took a concerted to help veterans. I still point to her as the reason I have gone this far with my education (working on second masters). The hardest part of going to the community college as an older student was dealing with the young student who had not experienced life or struggle. I still remember vividly a classmate crying about her mother not giving her gas money. By that point in my life, I could not remember the last time I asked my parents for anything or I relied on them for necessities. As mentioned previously, my struggle with physics pushed me into accounting. So, once I got my associates from the community college, I transferred to a university and went after my bachelor’s in accounting. During my last semester at that university, I decided to double major in finance. I had already taken a few finance classes, and I really enjoyed them. I enjoy anything with numbers. It only added another 2 semesters, so it seemed worth it. This whole time though I was still working for my current employer, a specialty chemical company, in their logistics/procurement department. Once I graduated, I had the choice of changing career paths, but I decided to stay where I currently was because I enjoyed the chaos and problem solving. However, as with anything, to move up, you need experience. I am not one to wait around, so I went for my master’s in supply chain management. I figured that it would help me move faster if I got experience and a masters in my field, and it has helped. My first masters opened my mind to analytics and what could be achieved with tools other than excel. That, plus a new role, pushed me to go for another masters, this time in analytics. This is where I am currently at. Trying to balance a career, life, fatherhood, being a husband, and being a student. I am hoping to combine my supply chain knowledge with my analytics to create a powerhouse. One day I hope to go for my doctorate, but I think that will take some time because of the required commitment. I am on a journey of lifelong learning. I enjoy it. If there something I am involved in, I want to have a complete grasp of it for reference and to be able to speak intelligently about it. I also want to pick up Spanish. My wife’s family is Hispanic, so I think it is crucial that our kids are fluent in it as well. I think it would also help me out career wise.

Additional points in my life.  I grew up the youngest of 4 with 2 sisters and 1 brother. I was the baby and spoiled once my siblings were out of the house. My parents both worked hard at work and at home. More times than not, my mother had dinner cooked for my dad by the time he came home even after she worked a full day’s work. Their work ethic is something I carry to this day. It is almost to the point of a negative. I can see at times where I should be enjoying life or focusing on my family, but the moment work pops up, I am there for whatever is needed. Hopefully someday I can make the break from that as well as have my daughters I do it for them. My only goal is to make sure that I am and can provide for my family. As previously mentioned, I served in the military for 5 years as a mechanic. I signed up a week after my 18th birthday and just waited to graduate high school. I was young and dumb while I was in the military. I still and dumb, just not as young. When I look back now, I believe I missed out on opportunities because I was not as focused as I should have been. I think I am like most typical veterans who love the military more once they are out. There is romanticizing that happens once a veteran is no longer serving. Getting out of the military was probably one of the hardest things I have experienced. The loss of camaraderie and mission takes a toll on a veteran’s soul. Once you are out, you are no longer serving something bigger than yourself and there is a constant search to get that back.

I think it is time to close this introduction out. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment here or send an email to letterstomydaughterstx@gmail.com. Thanks for taking the time to read this. My goal is to put out something at least monthly to start. I also plan to occasionally have others such as my wife or others in our lives to provide different perspectives. Thanks again and here is to being vulnerable, confident, and continually moving forward.