I Took My Kids Away From My Wife for Mothers Day

This past weekend was mothers day.  I feel like mothers day has become a hallowed day of reverence towards mothers that no other minor holiday achieves.  Even fathers day barely registers as anything more than a good day to shop at Lowe’s.  But mother’s take up a difference space in our personal and national agendas.  Mom gave us life.  Mom kissed our owies and gave us baths.  Mom cleaned our rooms and our homes.  Mom cooked dinner and did our laundry.  Mom took care of the pets we got bored of.  Mom held us at 2am when we were scared or sick.  Mom got angry when we got bullied and cried with us when we got dumped by our first girlfriend.  Mom is undeniably important.  (I love you mom).  So it surprised our friends when I told them my mothers day gift to my wife was not flowers, breakfast in bed, and handmade cards from the boys.  No, it was to take her kids away from her for the day.

No one will deny that the vast majority of moms don’t get the credit they deserve.  Whether they are a stay at home mom juggling household duties with running kids around to practice, or a working mom trying to squeeze in a job along with the other stuff, moms are also typically running on empty by the time they get to sit down at the end of the day.  (note: if you’re a stay at home mom, don’t read too much into that last sentence.  You work just as hard, just differently than mothers with paying jobs).   So when it came time to figure out what to do for my wife, giving her a break from all of her male children (including myself) was a no brainer.  I got up early, got the boys ready and headed to visit my mom for the day, leaving my wife to do as she pleased.  Of course by the time I got out she had already started the laundry and been grocery shopping, but that also meant her schedule was clear.  When we got back and took her to dinner that evening, she told us how great her day was doing exactly what she wanted to without anyone elses input or interruption.  It was a perfect day.

But there’s a group of people out there who think that story is incredibly horrible and sad.  One of my wife’s co-workers was appalled that she didn’t spend the day with her boys.  (her co-worker also doesn’t have kids by the way).  No matter what explanation she gave, her co-worker didn’t get it.  The same thing happened to model Rachel Finch this week as she shared that she sends her kid away every weekend to get a break from them.  Apparently the full-time mom and model sends her two year old daughter to spend Saturdays with grandma so she can get some down time.  As usual, social media exploded with infuriated people condemning this act of parental neglect.  They couldn’t believe that a parent would be so calloused as to not want to spend every moment with their child.  But is that really such a good thing?

I’ve seen parents so burned out with their kids that the kids are borderline neglected.  There’s no relationship anymore as the kids and parents basically co-exist in the same household with the adults functioning more as living chaperons keeping the kids from killing themselves.  The parents are exhausted and the kids are in their own worlds with friends, toys, or electronics.  I’ve been there myself.  The stress and worry of work eating away at me to the point I didn’t want to come home.  I couldn’t handle what the family expected of me on top of what was already eating away at me.  I just needed some space.  I turned out to be not so great a parent as I snapped at my kids and did what I could to find “me time”.  I wasn’t happy with myself or proud of my parenting, but I didn’t know what else to do.

So taking weekends off sounds like a fantastic idea to me.  It’s not like the kids were going to foster care for the weekend either.  It’s grandma.  Growing up not really knowing or connecting with my own grandparents, making sure my kids have a strong relationship with my parents is extremely important for me.  The best mothers day gift I can give my mom is time with her grandkids.  And who is going to spoil them better than grandma anyway?

I have friends who have intentionally moved closer to family so that they have the additional support.  They can drop the kids off with the grandparents any time and get a much needed date night and time away.  However, for most of the world that’s not an option.  If you don’t live near family, have a close network of friends, or the disposable income to pay for a sitter, time away from the kids to catch your breath isn’t possible.  You take any moment you can.  Sleepover at a friends?  Can both kids go?  Summer Camp?  Do we get a discount if we send them for more than one week?  I know there are plenty of parents out there who agree.

Now none of this is to disparage having kids.  No parent who agrees they need more time away from kids would in any way trade those kids in or give up parenting.  Our world revolves around our boys and our family.  And it saddens us every day as we realize how fast they’re growing up and how much less they need us already.  But in a world self-absorbed in it’s own personal fulfillment, I don’t understand how people are outraged over parents wanting, needing, and deserving a break from their kids.  Think about it this way, even if you worked in your dream job with the worlds greatest boss and co-workers, would you want to go to work 365 days a year with no vacations?

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Movie Review: Captain America Civil War (No Spoilers)

I went to see Captain America last night.  I admit, this wasn’t my number one film to see this year.  That spot was reserved for Batman v. Superman and I’ll get to comparing the two in a little bit.  Nonetheless, I was anxious to see the movie since I had read the Civil War comic series and loved it.  I wanted to see how the story was interpreted to the big screen in one film.  I went in with low expectations for screen adaptation but was very happy with how it turned out.  Obviously with it being Captain America’s movie the plot revolves around him, but as always Robert Downey Junior isn’t far away reminding you that he’s really the one in charge of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  You have most of the holdovers from Avengers Age of Ultron – Cap, Ironman, Black Widow, Hawkeye, The Vision, War Machine, and Scarlet Witch.  I will admit though, that I missed Thor and Hulk, but the addition of Spiderman and Black Panther make up for it.  And whether you liked his movie or not, Paul Rudd as Antman will quickly become a favorite secondary character.   Continue reading

When Did Religion Start Holding Us Back?

inquisitionWhen did religion turn into a system that retards society and culture rather than a progressive force pushing it forward?  The thought occurred to me this week in a conversation about the lack of response from Christians to the atrocities committed by ISIS and Boko Haram towards women.  As 10 and 11 year old girls are kidnapped, raped, and sold as sex slaves it feels like most Christian’s are more concerned about Donald Trump “restoring our Christian nation” to drive out the gays and atheists.  Believers across the world and from across religious spectrums are seeking to bring society backwards to some golden era of belief.  They seemingly forget that religion is what has moved us forward more than it’s held us back. Continue reading

Ben Carson’s Campaign Manager Attempts to Defend Him and Fails

Las Vegas Prepares For Final Republican Debate Of The Year

LAS VEGAS, NV – DECEMBER 15: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson prepares for a television interview before the start of the CNN republican presidential debate at The Venetian Las Vegas on December 15, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thirteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the fifth set of Republican presidential debates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Ben Carson not so surprisingly stepped out of the presidential race this past weekend and shockingly endorsed Donald Trump, many people (including myself) wanted to know why.  (See my open letter to Dr. Carson here).  Well, his campaign chairman responded via Facebook over the weekend.  The response is below and I will honestly say I’m even less impressed with Dr. Carson now.  I’ve added thoughts and responses to the statements in blue italics.

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March 11, 2016; General Bob Dees, Campaign Chairman, Carson for President 2016 on Dr. Carson’s endorsement of Donald Trump:

Team Carson,

You are no doubt aware of Dr. Carson’s official endorsement of Donald Trump at a press conference today, the rationale for which he reiterated on his Facebook page this morning. Continue reading

Dear Ben Carson, Please Tell Me Why

ben-carson

Dear Dr. Ben Carson,

When when you announced your candidacy for president I was intrigued.  When you trended well in the polls I was surprised.  When you kept getting bullied and knocked around during debates I felt sorry for you.  When you withdrew his candidacy I was relieved; you can do better.  But when you endorsed Donald Trump I was disappointed.  And not just a little bit.  I actually lost a lot of respect for you. Continue reading

What Movies Should Your Kids Be Watching?

deadpool-tickets-166826

It’s 11:30pm on a Wednesday night.  My friends and I have been counting down for months, waiting for Avengers: Age of Ultron.  We’ve already been at the cinema for hours waiting in line to get the right seats.  Despite it being a work night and my 35 year old body not responding to the lack of sleep like it did in college, I’m here past my bedtime and excited.  As the theater starts to fill up I glance around to see the people coming in.  I love opening night.  It’s truly for the fans.  Half the people have some sort of superhero logo on their clothing.  Some are in costume.  Then I see it, the one thing that can ruin the whole night.  Some parent brought their kid.  And I’m not talking about their teenage son.  No, the kid’s probably not older than six or seven.  They’re carrying them in because the kid is already sleepy.  And it makes me angry.  This is inconsiderate movie going.  And it’s irresponsible parenting. Continue reading

What is Appropriate Sabbath Keeping?

Sabbath.  The single most important thing that separates Seventh-Day Adventists from every other Christian denomination.  In short it’s the observance of Saturday as the day of rest told to Moses by God and etched into stone as part of the 10 commandments.  For Adventists the Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday and concludes at sundown on Saturday as followed by the Hebrews.  Sabbath is a welcome respite from the other 6 days of the week.  Adventists don’t work jobs that require Sabbath hours (unless it’s healthcare related), nor do they buy or sell.  Traditional Adventists won’t do strenuous activities like sports or things that are too playful such as swimming.  Sabbath is a day of rest and worship.  At least that’s the theory.  In practice, keeping the Sabbath is much more complicated that many would have you believe. Continue reading

Donald Trump, Not the Leader We Need. The Leader We Deserve

Donald Trump

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks at his South Carolina campaign kickoff rally in Bluffton, S.C., Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

“He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.”  It’s one of the last lines uttered in one of the greatest movies ever.  At the end of The Dark Knight Commissioner Jim Gordon explains to his son why Batman is running.  Why he can’t come out of the shadows and be a welcomed and gloried hero to Gotham City.  Batman, like Gotham City is full of deep flaws, haunted, and dark.  The vigilante hero of the city is every bit an embodiment of who they are as the countless villains that terrorize it.  Like the citizens of Gotham who have embraced their cultural indiscretions and the anti-hero that represents it, so too have Americans received the embodiment of their sociology in the form of Donald Trump. Continue reading

I Got Robbed and Found a Good Samaritan

If you’ve ever been the victim of a crime you know that there’s no greater moment of disappointment, violation, and anger.  Add to it being outside of your element while traveling and you wind up in a situation of complete helplessness.  This is exactly where I found myself one cold December night while on a business trip to Washington DC.  But more than the broken car window, stolen belongings, police reports, and lack of sleep that ensued was the interaction I had with a complete stranger and their outreach to me.

At the time I was a recruiter for a healthcare network and spent a good part of my fall traveling to college campuses recruiting students for internships and full-time positions.  After a full day of presentations and interviews I proceeded to a little area down the road from the school to Roscoe’s Neapolitan Pizzeria.  It’s a fantastic wood-fired pizza place in a quaint area of Takoma Park, Maryland.  The area is full of little boutiques, designer shops, and restaurants.  The dinner was superb and if you’re ever in the area it’s a must stop.  After dinner I casually walked to my rental car parked around the corner and sat down in the front seat.  As I punched in the return address on my GPS I noticed glass on the passenger seat.  As I looked over my shoulder I saw that the rear window was broken in.  I quickly scanned the interior of the car and found that my briefcase which had been sitting on the floor (what I thought was out of sight in the dark and through tinted windows) had been taken.

I immediately went into autopilot, calling the police dispatch to send an officer then quickly texting my manager and director to inform them of the situation.  The initial concern of my boss for the company laptop adding to my anxiety for the moment.  He wanted me to try to remember everything that I had in the bag as well as saved on the laptop.  There were resumes, internship brochures, business cards, the lap top, and…

My heart sank as I remembered I had stuck my personal hard-drive in there to do some writing on the flight.  Months of work were now gone.  Replacing those moments of inspiration would be impossible, even if I were to piece together some of it from older back-up files at home.  My manager’s voice turned into one of those teachers from Charlie Brown as he droned on about corporate integrity and contacting the IT department.  I knew the laptop was useless to anyone outside the network servers and I didn’t store any classified documents on it.  He said his piece and I basically hung up on him as the squad car rolled up and the two officers stepped out.

After an hour’s worth of filing a police report, calling the rental car company, and following up with my boss one last time, I was back on the road to Baltimore where I would swap out the car.  The drive down the interstate was excruciating.  The cold winter air rushing in the broken window behind me a reminder of my loss.  Then about 20 minutes down the road I got a call.  Since the number was a DC number I assumed it was the police.  Could they have actually found something?  With all the real crimes going on did they actually do more than file the paperwork?

The voice on the other end of the phone was foreign with an Indian accent, definitely not the officer I had spoken with.  The man introduced himself as the Dean of the school of Business for Strayer University.  He had found my information in a laptop bag his security officer discovered while doing rounds outside his building.  I was dumbfounded.  I could actually care less about the bag, but the possibility of retrieving any of the contents gave me hope.  I briefly explained what had happened that evening and asked if it was possible to come by and still retrieve my items that evening since I flew out the next morning.  He responded with sincere sympathy that he still had some evening classes that evening and would look forward to seeing me.

It took all I had not to drive a hundred miles per hour going back just a few blocks from the scene of the crime where Strayer University was located.  I parked the car and upon entering the building, approached the security guard sitting right inside the door.  He was an older gentleman who stood and greeted me with a smile.  I introduced myself and explained who I was there to meet, hoping he wasn’t aware of the situation and avoid the embarrassment of retelling the story.  He said he was actually the one who found the bag and then walked me to where the dean was teaching a class.

As we reached the classroom the security guard poked his head in the door.  I could hear the dean excuse himself from class to step into the hallway to meet me.  The dean was intelligent and professional looking wearing a tan suit and tie even this late at night.  His grip was strong as he shook my hand, but his eyes were compassionate as he expressed sincere sympathy for my misfortune.  He had my bag with him and handed it to me.  He stood quietly as I scanned the contents of the inside glad to see the resumes and information from my day’s work inside.  However, my hard drive and the laptop were missing.  I’m sure he saw the hope leave my eyes as I closed the bag and looked back up at him.  He said “please go have a look outside with our security.  He can show you where he found the bag and maybe something is still there.  I’ll look again myself in the morning daylight and if I find anything I’ll let you know.”  He handed me his card and before stepping back in the classroom asked that I email him tomorrow with an update and to let him know I returned home without further incident.

The security guard and I headed outside to a group of trees where he found the bag.  With flashlights in hand we began searching the area.  We found a few post-it notes and loose business cards blowing around, but nothing where the bag was.  The guard was ready to head inside when I looked at the base of one of the trees and saw my black hard drive.  The guard couldn’t believe my luck.  After finding a few more things I decided to call it a night and thanked the guard for his help.

The entire drive back and next day I couldn’t believe what had just happened.  Not only the loss and recovery, but the kindness of a man who didn’t owe me anything.  Regardless of the inconvenience to himself, he showed me grace and kindness that no one else did in that situation.  He didn’t take the chance interaction as casually as I would have.  He didn’t know how much I needed that kindness in my life at that moment.  And that’s what was so amazing and humbling about it.