Where plants go to die!!!

We don’t have very many plants in our house…

And of the ones we do have, most of them are very reasonably priced plastic plants that we’ve picked up from the DIY decorating sanctuary that is the home section of our local Kmart.

And the reason why we don’t have many plants in our house… well it’s simple really… Renee is pretty close to holding the record for having the worst record in the world when it comes to keeping plants alive.

I mean, sure, she can keep our kids alive… fed, watered, bathed, clothed… but keeping a simple plant alive… EPIC FAIL!!!

I mean, look at this photo right here. I am pretty sure that Renee is the first person on earth, who has managed to make a plant go mouldy! How does that even happen!!! And yes, that is a piece of broken glass amongst the mouldy soil.

What about some of the other plants we’ve had that Renee has tried to keep alive. Well, just look at them. Dead, dead and dead. So dead, that even the yellow plastic butterfly looks depressed to be associated with what’s left of whatever type of flowers these crusty twigs were supposed to sprout.

Renee even managed to kill off every single one of the Woolworths seedlings that we got. They hardly got any water that those things were as dry as eating a Jatz cracker without any dip!

Honey… when it comes to being a mother, you truly are Super Woman! But when it comes to plants, well… I love you!

Diary of Dad: Going back to work

Today is the start of my second week back at work (or at my job to be more precise) after almost two months of leave.

That’s right… after almost two months off, I have returned to full time work.

I guess you could say that it all started back in late October, when a series of unfortunate events left me with 2 protruding disks in my neck, a compressed nerve and some of the worst pain I’ve ever had to deal with.

This kicked off an extended period of leave that was ultimately to help me recover, both physically and mentally, from the neck injury I had sustained. However, it also kicked off my first experience of being a ‘full-time stay at home dad’.

Leaving for work this morning, on my first day back after being at home with my kids for the last couple of months was honestly one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever had to do.

My boys had become so accustomed to having me home, that they didn’t understand why I had to go back to work. And throughout all last week, it was barely 9am before they were asking when I was coming home.

And as I kiss them each morning before I leave for a long day ahead at the office, I find myself wishing that I could still stay at home with them.

However, being back at work is where I am meant to be right now. To keep a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and clothes on you backs.

And while I am extremely grateful for the opportunity I have been given as a job, I am finding that I am thinking more and more about the time I was able to spend at home with my family.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing stay at home dad to my boys! And hopefully, one day, I get to experience that again.

Diary of Dad: Do I shout at my kids too much?

I get frustrated and angry at my kids a lot.

Sometimes it’s even the tiniest and most insignificant thing that can set me off. Like one of them stepping on the back of my shoe while we’re walking through the shops or down the street.

And it’s during these moments of frustration and anger that the thought of how “better” and “easier” it would be without kids sometimes crosses my mind.

It’s a selfish thought. A thought that I never vocalise.

Why do I get so worked up so easily? I don’t even think I know the answer to that question. But it’s something that I have come to realise that I need to work on.

I am starting to learn that a father, to his partner and children, is a powerful presence. And that can be powerful for good or bad.

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It is very easy to forget that from a child’s perspective, a father is a physical threat if he is not committedly gentle, respectful of personal space and avoids completely the use of loudness or an overbearing manner.

Because of my tendency to get frustrated and angry easily, avoiding the use of loudness or an overbearing manner is something that I feel I have failed at throughout my journey through fatherhood.

It is an almost impossible task to try and completely avoid the use of loudness. Every single parent out there will know that shouting is something we all do on impulse, and occasionally, it’s needed to get a child to take notice.

But what I’m beginning to understand, is the impact that shouting from a father has on a child. I’ve seen the eyes of my own children sometimes widen with a twinkle of fear when I have reverted to shouting or loudness as a parenting technique. And in those moments, it’s not satisfaction I feel, it’s sadness.

Sadness that for a moment it was almost as though my own child was scared of me because of how loud and booming my voice was.

A world-renowned family therapist and author mentions that if you must shout at your child, do so with your eyes open. See the child. As soon as your child shows, by a widening of the eyes the slightest flicker that they are getting the message, then ease off. Make your voice quieter. Ask if they understand what you are telling them. If they will change. And then let it go.

That is of course, if you must shout at all.

I know that I get easily frustrated. And I know that I revert to shouting and loudness a little to quickly to get my message across.

What I also know, is that I don’t want to live in a home where my children feel like daddy is always angry and is always shouting at them.

This is something I’ve been getting wrong. This is something I need to change.

So I am going to work damn hard on changing myself. Changing me. Because through all the frustrating times and thoughts of how much “better” I think things would be without kids in those moments, I also know that I wouldn’t change having kids for the sun, the moon or the earth.

Things are perfect. And I need to remember that.

Diary of Dad: Why did you want kids?

So, why did you want kids?

It’s a question that I’m sure every parent has been asked once or twice at some point in their lives. If it wasn’t someone else asking them, I’m sure parents have asked this question of themselves at one point or another.

For me, the answer to this question has always been the same. It certainly isn’t the strongest answer, but it’s all I had for a very long time…

“I don’t know… I have always wanted kids… a family… I love being a dad!”

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Like I said, it isn’t exactly the strongest answer to the question. But what I now realise, is that I just didn’t really know how to put into words the reason for wanting kids.

For Fathers Day earlier this year, I got a book called ‘The New Manhood by Steve Biddulph’. A book that has been called ‘the most influential book on men’s lives’.

In a chapter titled Men and Women, Steve Biddulph talks a lot about values in a relationship. He talks about the fact that couples don’t have to be compatible with everything, but they do have to be compatible in values because those set the direction of your whole life.

He goes on to ask 3 questions in what he calls a “semi-serious” values quiz, including this question about having kids…

Couples should have children because:

  1. It moves you beyond your own importance and into a place of giving and caring that brings lifelong satisfaction and joy;
  2. Ah, well, that’s just what you do;
  3. They are so cute!

While it’s quite obvious that the “semi-serious” tag is true, there is one answer that isn’t so “semi-serious”. And when I first read it, it was like everything that I was trying to say whenever anyone asked me the kids question fell into place.

It moves you beyond your own importance and into a place of giving and caring that brings lifelong satisfaction and joy!

What I always struggled to say, Steve Biddulph managed to summarise in a simple and elegant two-line sentence.

It was almost as though once I read these words, my journey through fatherhood finally became clear. While I knew deep down that I wanted to be a dad and enjoyed the prestigious role, most of the time (terrible two’s anyone), it was as though I had finally found my purpose as a dad.

Every parent, whether you’re a father or a mother, has good times and bad. Ups and downs. I can honestly say that there are certainly many times through this journey of being a father that challenge me to my very core. Times that have even made me question whether I am actually cut out to be a dad.

But armed with the knowledge that fatherhood, or being a parent in general, is supposed to move you beyond your own importance has been the kick in the pants that I needed.

I can honestly say that there have absolutely been times where I have been completely selfish as a parent. When I’ve just wanted to be left alone. When I just wanted to play video games instead of “playing” parent. When I’ve been staring at my phone instead of paying attention to what my kids are doing. When I struggled with being responsible for someone other than myself. When I selfishly thought about time before kids and how easier it was.

But now, with this renewed outlook, I am thrilled about how my perspective on being a father will change. How my actions as a father will change. To not only Jesse and Jasper but to Baby Barton #3, when he or she decides to say hello to the world next year.

I am feeling… inspired… by the lifelong satisfaction and joy that being a father is going to bring me. That is of course, as long as I do my job right…

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Diary of Dad: The First Chapter

We’re pregnant…

That’s right. Baby Barton number 3 is on its way!

You may have even seen our pregnancy announcement. The four of us, sitting together looking into the distance… curiously pondering about what lies ahead and how our lives might change when the new bundle of joy will grace us with his or her presence.

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And speaking of pondering, it seems as though I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I’ve been thinking about many things in my life. About my work. About my physical health. My mental health. My relationships, family, friends. About what I enjoy doing (what do I enjoy doing?). My direction in life. My purpose.

But the one thing that has occupied a lot of my thoughts is our pregnancy, and soon to be third bundle of joy.

What impact will a third child have on our lives? Will we have a third boy or will we have a girl? Do we really have to go through the process of choosing names we like again?

Our blog (Not So Secret Life Of Us) has served as an outlet for us to pour our thoughts out on (digital) paper constructively and thoughtfully. For us to share our lives as a family of two, three and then four in the hope that others would not only get enjoyment out of our words but also realise that they weren’t alone in the world.

I have always enjoyed writing. I excelled at English in school. Thoroughly enjoying the process around creative writing and storytelling. But not only that, I find writing from the heart and mind therapeutic. It serves as a release. A way to get the thoughts clouding ones mind out onto paper so that you can rejuvenate the mind.

It has been a long time between drinks on this blog. As in, before the pregnancy announcement, the last time I posted anything it was Winter (June to be exact).

But I kind of think I want to start writing again. I think I want to start sharing some of my thoughts as I go through this journey of discovering who I am, what I want to be, what I want to do and, as I eventually become a dad to three kids.

We could call this somewhat of a journey of self-discovery… of sorts.

So I would like to announce that I have decided to start this new chapter of writing under a new series for our Not So Secret Life Of Us blog, called Diary of Dad (or DOD for short). I even created a dodgy logo for myself!

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My hope for this series is that it will act as a diary of sorts. A place for me to write my thoughts. Share my feelings and experiences. Document my journey. As I continue to grow into the role of Dad, and as I continue to discover who I am (remember when I spoke about purpose earlier).

The Diary of Dad is a place for me to write for myself. But at the same time, this is a journey that I am wanting to share with you. Because even if only one person gets something out of these words and the future words yet to be written, I can confidently say that this experiment is a success.

And while I sit here continuously staring at an endless list of baby names trying to figure out what I like (there are some awful names out there just quietly), I can honestly say that I am genuinely excited about writing for our blog again.

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