Cracker Jacks and Oranges: My Kids Have the Best Dad!!!
I suppose I am prejudiced, because I picked him, but Raymond is a wonderful dad! I am sure when we dated and eventually married sooooooo many years ago, he didn’t have a clue about the roller coaster ride we were in for. Sweet little marriage with 2.5 kids, growing old together, holding hands and walking on the beach….forget that! As the parent or foster parent to 19 children, we have spent our marriage trying to have a positive, loving impact on the the children who have passed through or are in our lives. I am the flakier, impulsive, eternally optimist slob. He is the more grounded parent, making sure we have enough money to pay the bills, the house is somewhat clean, and the meals are on the table. He is like a big kid himself with the children…enjoying playing with them and gently bopping them on their beans when he tells them he loves them. He despises the lime light, and has asked me never to write about him in my blog…hopefully he will forgive me for this post.
During a recent visit to the grocery store, he demonstrated everything I love about him:
The store we shopped at was one in which the discounts are great, but the ambiance is lacking, as are the shopping bags. This was his domain, as he does the shopping weekly. This is his life…no frills, just get down to business.
Filling the cart with basics, (pasta, spaghetti sauce, bread, cheese, eggs and milk,) he purchased enough to provide for our home as well as for our 2 young adult children who are struggling financially. Because I do not generally go grocery shopping with him, I did not know he did that. His sense of support for his children extends into adulthood. Even though they are out of the house, he is still their “go to” person for flat tires and a listening ear. When he listens, he takes things more serious than I do…for me, there is always a silver lining. I will try to cheer my child up, make her/him happy. However, sometimes children just want to bitch that sometimes life just SUCKS! He listens, commiserates, and gives them that affirmation.
Because he was shopping with a budgeted amount, I was playfully reprimanded more than once for putting something in the cart that was not absolutely necessary. However, he DID justify the expense to put in one special thing for each of our children; Cracker Jacks for Steven, fresh oranges for Dinora, pasta salad mix for Angel and Lay’s Salt and Vinegar chips for me to bring on the weekend visit with Marie. Most importantly, while getting in line at the cash register, he reached over into a bucket of flower bouquets and spent time picking out the best one for me. (Yes, he DOES buy me flower every week.) Practical, loving and romantic. Isn’t he great?
After filling our cart at the grocery store, despite a long line at the cash register, Raymond was patient. So patient, in fact, that he let a woman with only a few items pass in front of him. Smiling, he said “Go ahead of me, please. I’m in no hurry”. He chatted with the cashier, expressing genuine interest, and he assisted an elderly woman in carrying her groceries to the car. He cares about others, strangers, anyone in need. Is it any wonder he has been a great father to our children?
Any set of parents will experience difficulties of varying degrees. Raising children with disabilities magnifies those difficulties. It is a huge financial strain, and any thought of retiring and spending our days walking on the beach holding hands is for naught. Potential retirement savings have been spent on the care of our children, funding therapists who do not take our insurance, taking time out of work when they are hospitalized, transportation to hospitals and therapists out of state, and other expenses many parents would never dream of having. Quality time between Raymond and myself can’t be spontaneous, but needs to be scheduled. (Rest assured that romance is alive and well with us!) Family and friends are often not our best cheerleaders. (Is that a polite way to put it?) The challenges have been huge, but Raymond’s support has never been greater. He has rolled with the punches, as though having a screaming child rescued by paramedics from the side of ferris wheel during a PTSD episode, having a child with twelve personalities (and trying to get along with all twelve), spending the whole day at Disney World in a quiet cove of trees while our son who is autistic collects bugs and worms, never knowing whether to buy girl clothes or boy clothes for your daughter are normal parts of parenthood. It’s is just normal family life to him. And I thank GOD for that…because I could never do this alone…
To read more about our life, here is a link to my book:
The Apple Tree: Raising 5 Kids With Disabilities and Remaining Sane
Link to the Readers Digest review of my book: http://www.rd.com/recommends/what-to-read-after-a-hurricane/