Thank you for visiting my blog!
I decided to start writing about and sharing my experiences as a single father raising my four children. But the site is called Six Kid Chaos? Allow me to explain…
This past summer I turned 45 years old and started to question my place in this world, what I was doing, my relationship with my children and what I wanted out of my future. For 21 years I worked with the same company in the restaurant industry. A job that requires a great work ethic, lots of desire and long hours that went into the few hours of the mornings on some days. Working in one of the company’s biggest locations for over 10 years will take its toll after awhile.
I have been married twice, and unfortunately divorced twice as well. When my first marriage ended I had two beautiful daughters, Emily now (16) and Megan now (13)… I was 240 pounds and horribly out of shape. I remember looking at myself in the mirror on New Year’s Eve that year and had the sudden realization that woman would have to see me naked again so I better do something about what I saw in the mirror.
I made a New Year’s resolution that night to get myself into shape. What started with a Wal-Mart entry level weight bench, some great advice from friends about diet and exercise I was on my way. I took that spring and summer to educate myself about nutrition, and get my butt into shape. I knew nothing… what is the difference between a protein, carbohydrate and fats… I even had trouble learning how to run as dumb as that might sound? It’s running right, you go out and run! And that is exactly what I would do go out and run almost as hard as I could and I had trouble getting down to the end of the street. It wasn’t until a coworker, who was a former collegiate runner in the day explained to me how to run… simple yet life changing concepts.
I believe that is when I realized that there was a million and one other things that I would need to learn if I wanted to truly transform my life. And I started the learning process, and yes I got sidetracked from time to time, I have never stopped trying to learn.
That summer I got my first exposure to the sport of triathlon, and I was hooked. I absolutely loved every aspect of it, swimming, biking and running. I entered 5 Give it a Try races that year and I was hooked. Over the next three years I entered every race that I could including one of my highlights Ironman Kentucky in 2009. The following year I was able to win my Age Group championship and was fortunate enough to meet Olympic Gold medalist Simon Whitfield who presented me with my series championship.
It was during this period I met my second wife, and together we had two more children Jennifer (5) and Austin now (3). She had two kids from previous relationships as well bring our combined total to six, and hence Six Kid Chaos. And for many years I had the extreme pleasure of raising an army of six children. We bought our first house and for a time life was great. One of my highlights was a 16 kid dinner I made and served one night. Yes you read that correctly, 16 kids (I have video proof!)
To understand a little better, my wife was an early riser and would start work at 7am or earlier some days, and there were nights when I wouldn’t get home until 3am, some days 4am and then at least an hour to unwind. After all who comes home from work in a regular 9 to 5 job, and goes to bed at six? We existed on different schedules, and this trend continued when Jennifer and Austin were born. Even more so as we stopped sleeping in the same bed together, as anyone with babies knows they get up a lot in the middle of the night.
With Jennifer, the wife would sleep on the couch with a crib beside her so that she could feed as needed, and actually allowed me to sleep while she was home from work for the year. With Austin, she was like “Not again…” and took the bed with the crib at the end and I slept on the couch for the year that she was off… After that two years we were literally living on borrowed time. Neither one of us knew how to reconnect with the other. Things finally came to a head a year later when we rented a cottage for the week, which we had done the previous two years, we didn’t do a single thing together the entire week.
I would often sit alone down by the fire, smoking weed while the wife and her family were up in the cottage playing games, cards, etc… I had many long nights that week to think about life, and what the future may hold. I actually left early that week to come home. We talked the following Tuesday night, she wasn’t interesting is marriage counseling and that was that.
From September 2016 to May of 2017 we lived in the same house, worlds apart while we took shifts with our six kid chaos.
Those nine months were the toughest of my life, weed for me became a chronic addiction and I would smoke constantly.
I felt sorry for myself… I completely stopped working out after a few months… It felt to me like I was living in a padded room of an insane asylum, most personal effects were packed away in order to sell our house. It was white washed walls in every direction, and not a picture to be seen. I am sure I became depressed, I stop enjoying work and I was turning into a mean evil bastard that only cared about getting high.
I barely paid attention to my children, causing issues with my eldest daughter that I am currently dealing with. It amazed me to find out what my 15 year old was doing with all this un supervised free time she suddenly had. With Dad not home, and stepmom not paying any attention to her, well Emily got herself into some serious trouble with drugs and alcohol. Imagine the example I was setting for her, completely unaware what she was doing in the very next room.
Finally in May I had to move out, and actually carried two properties for a month as I had to get out of that house, and I moved myself and my oldest two daughters from my first marriage in with me. I had full time custody of them for several years now… (That is another blog entry to come…) I continued to work in the restaurant business, and would learn at the end of the summer what the consequences of working nights and weekends while you’re 15 and 13 year old children were home alone a few nights a week unsupervised.
Finally in September after a particularly rough night at were where I completely lost my shit in front of my general manager and staff, slamming down plates in the window in frustration with all the cook-ups and long meal times. It was at that exact instance that I realized I was a broken man. Call it a moment of clarity if you will, I knew right then and there that I had to get out. I went back to work a few days later fully expecting to get fired about that horrible Saturday night, and I had allowed myself to think about life beyond the Keg. I didn’t end up losing my job, but I had spent four days thinking about what else was out there as I had spent the last 30 years of my life working in the restaurant business and 21 with the Keg. Almost half my life with one company and it wasn’t easy to walk away.
I believe I had a flight or fight response, and knew deep down inside that if I didn’t leave right then and there I never would. So for my own mental health, the love and relationship of my children I wrote a designation letter, tossed my keys on the desk and closed the chapter on that part of my life. I knew there was no turning back.
I spent the next few days with some anxiety on walking out of an excellent paying job, that came with a bunch of an amazing experiences that I look forward to writing about in the weeks to come. I had money to live on for awhile due to the sale of my house months earlier. When I first received those funds I started to treat myself like a king.
The first thing was to purchase a fully loaded, brand new Jeep Wrangler built just for me. Material possessions for me and my children soon followed, road trips were planned, the very best tickets were bought to every event that I wanted to see this past summer and I literally lived like a King.
I jokingly called it “The Summer of George!” in reference to Seinfeld. It was actually pretty amazing some of the things that I was able to do, and I am very happy that live gave me the chance to live like that for awhile. It taught me a very, very valuable lesson.
None of that shit mattered at the end of the day. All the things that I surrounded myself with could not replace what was missing deep inside me. Happiness. Sustained happiness. I had burst of it, but it was manufactured happiness, brought on by my ability to buy it. I brought my friends along for the ride, acting like a big shot often paying for golf, or getting us the best tickets to Monday Night Raw and telling them that it was on me. I was sharing the wealth.
Christ for my 45th birthday, I bought tickets on the field for the Blue Jays Canada Day game… you know the ones you see on tv that are in front of the regular stands and you are literally sitting on the field.
It was awesome to sit that close, and I took Emily with me. But it was damn expensive, I am ashamed to admit this but the two tickets cost more a month’s rent. This kind of thinking went on throughout July and August as I took a ten day road trip to Chicago and St. Louis which again was a great time and an annual trip moving forward but a much cheaper version. We camped, we went to Wrigley Field and Busch Stadium the next day, returning home to Canada to drop off my friends, pick up my kids and then headed up to Ottawa for a camping trip with the girls.
I wasn’t able to connect with Emily nearly as much as I wanted to and I believe this experience and my overall disappointment with the trip made me start to look at things in a different direction.
At nights I couldn’t get her to come out and sit by the campfire, she would rather stay inside and stare at her phone. Those nights, strumming my guitar and sitting by the fire with only one of my two daughters I finally noticed just how far my daughter had slipped away from me.
She wouldn’t go swimming with us, she wouldn’t play frisbee or mini golf, or volleyball or anything of the things that Megan and I were doing. Sure she wanted to go to the mall shopping with us, and she was right there when I let the girls drive my Jeep on some deserted roads out in the country but other than that, it wasn’t much.
When we got home I spent a lot of time reflecting on that trip. The trip I originally saw in my head, and the one we ultimately had were completely different. The next few weeks saw a complete change of mind about money and what it could be used for, taking it and investing it into my children? Why that is the best use of it I could ever think of… my son will only be 3 and 4 once, he will only be home from school for the next 10 months and why not… WHY NOT? use that money to stay at home and be a father to four kids full time.
And that is exactly what I am currently doing. I wanted to document the whole period of my life as much as I could. I recently met an amazing lady, my next door neighbor who has helped me, and inspired me to give back as much as I possibly can. This website, this blog, sharing my story and sharing what I have learned along the way has been very therapeutic for me, the writing process and if I help one other man improve his life, his relationship with his kids then perfect. Absolutely perfect.
Enjoy the ride, I am curious to see where it goes myself!