Death & Appreciation

I don’t ask this often but please share this.  Death & Appreciation.  Both extremely difficult topics for me to write about.  Death, because I’m not very good at dealing with it.  Appreciation, because I feel like most people don’t have any appreciation in life and it makes me feel bitter about it.

I woke up this morning knowing it was going to be a long day ahead of me.  I wanted to keep sleeping, to not deal with today.  Yesterday brought 12 hours of work, followed by laundry, dishes and dinner, taking the garbage out, and than more work.  I stayed up till almost 2am, and finished watching the last episode of Season 1 of Revenge (great show by the way).  Back to today, waking up, I woke up feeling mentally and physically, and in a way, unappreciated.  So why was I not looking forward to today?  I had a full day of work (busy time for quarter close at my job), I wanted to make sure to get home on time for the family Bears time, and I had a funeral to attend during the day.  Unfortunately, I felt as though there wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything done, especially on 5 hours of sleep.  As I looked ahead to the day, I couldn’t help but feel down.  Than something happened… something great.

My wife, Mrs. Z, text me a picture of all the things she appreciates about me.  It’s like she read my mind and knew exactly what I needed.  All the things I read made my heart feel happy.  I felt appreciated.  I felt loved.  I felt as though I could take on the world at this point.  To get a note, email, text of all the things you love and/or appreciate about your significant other when you least expect it, is amazing!  It really turned my day upside down.  However, I still had a funeral to attend to.  This person was like a grandpa to me (he was my grandfather’s sister husband), who actually invited my mom, me, and my grandparents (my immediate family) to the states from Kiev, Ukraine.  I knew him well and respect him and found out the other night, he passed away at the age of 85.  Now, my opinion is that if you live until 85, you should be grateful.  Now I know that you should be appreciative as well.

Attending this funeral this afternoon was difficult.  I cried as I hugged his daughter (my aunt), I cried as I hugged his son (who I don’t see often but know him well enough), I cried as his granddaughter gave a speech about him, and I cried as the casket was lowered.  And as I looked over at my grandfather, I thought to myself how impossible it will be to deal with his death, and tears just began rolling down my face uncontrollably.

As I made it through that, I made my way back to work and have continued grinding it out until just now.  I’m waiting for a report to get done, and will pack it up to make it just in time for the Bears game.  After all of today, here is what you all need to know.  Things I’m learning that I never thought I would.

I learned today one reason to get married is to have a support system 24-7.  My wife comforted me, she was loving, and that means everything to me.  Death comes so fast, yet it seems that day may never come.  Everyday here on Earth needs to be appreciated because tomorrow, death may come get you.  So don’t waste your time with bullshit (sorry for the language), instead of complaining, being unhappy, criticizing, judging, being lazy – go do something with yourself.  Go serve some sort of purpose in this world.  Each of us are born so insignificant and die insignificant.  We are remembered by some and soon forgotten through generations.  But we have an option to make a difference, to enjoy life, to appreciate things.  I consider myself a positive, energetic person but I feel like I have more and I’m wasting it.  It’s time to make a difference.

I want to spend more time writing.  I want to spread my word.  I want to provide advice.  I want to help people.  I want to give people energy, positivity, love.  I’m not sure how I’m going to do this yet, but I believe this is what I’m meant for and with the support of Mrs. Z now, knowing she got my back no matter what, I will get there.  I will make a difference.  I will appreciate and when death comes for me, I will be ready and know that I did all I can here.

I don’t ask this often but as I mentioned at the top, please share this.  This post is for Alexander… I love you and respect you.  Your memory lives on with me forever.

Max 10.10.2013

I hate when kids are sick.

As a father of two, I believe one of the worst feelings I get is when my kids are sick.  I feel awful about it because I can’t do anything to make them feel much better.  My girls are 4 and almost 2 and I believe I need to figure out a way to cope with them being sick because naturally as part of life, I have a lifetime of illnesses that I will be dealing with.

The reason this came to mind is because my oldest one is currently sick and spent all day yesterday just laying there.  Mrs. Z took good care of her, but at work, I  was thinking about her all day.  It definitely stresses me out and distracts me from other items I’m trying to accomplish.

So as an experienced Dad of 4.5 years… what are the techniques you won’t be able to find anywhere else to make a sick child feel better?  Feeding them ice cream and letting them watch movies all day.  My philosophy of being sick, is medicine doesn’t do much of anything.  The real healer is time.  Unfortunately, when my kids are sick, I get impatient.  I think I am older, I can tolerate the grogginess, fever, cold, runny nose, sore throat.  I know kids are tougher than you think, maybe tougher than adults, but as a parent, natural instinct is to protect them.  When they are sick, I feel like I haven’t done my job as a parent from protecting them from germs.  I know this is all crazy talk, but I tend to be a bit of worry wort when it comes to certain things.

So how can I, as a parent, feel less guilty about kids being sick?  How can I go about my day doing the daily functions without having a dark cloud over my head?  Since I believe I understand life pretty well, I have come to the following conclusion to try to make me feel less anxious about this particular situation.

Kids being sick is out of our control most of the time.  And my personal philosophy is that anything that is out of out control, you can’t worry about.  It’s tough not to worry, I get it.

For instance, I begin to think about the ramifications of the oldest one being sick, than the younger one will probably be sick, daycare solutions can be a problem because we don’t want others to get sick, appetites are not the same, deciding what medicine to provide to them, should we send them to a doctor.  The worries and decisions seem to be endless when you constantly think about it.

But, if I take a step back and try to think about it again.  You can’t control your kid being sick.  It takes time to get better.  If you spend time worrying, will this make your child feel better?  No, and I understand this.  You do your best as a parent, provide everything you can.  There is no magic wand I can wave to make her feel better instantly and not be sick.  I will do what every parent has the ability to do which is love her.

Max 10.01.2013

Sacrifice

I never knew and I don’t think most people know what sacrifice actually means. I think it’s something I learned over time. According to Websters, there are multiple definitions – “an act of offering to a deity something precious”, “something given up or lost”, “surrender of something for the sake of something else.”

People often hear other say I sacrificed everything, but do people actually know what it means? If you review the definitions above, there are different meanings. I think sacrifice needs to be felt. You need to felt it in your heart. When something sacrificed, I think one knows it. I know what sacrifice means. I know what it means for me. I didn’t know what sacrifice meant when I was in high school even though I might have used the word. I didn’t know what it meant in college. I learned what the word meant once I had kids and today I was reminded of what it means and I think it’s important that people know what it means without misrepresenting the word.

I learned what sacrifice means when I had Ava, and than Zoey. My two daughters mean the world to me. When I say that, I mean I am willing to sacrifice anything for them. I want to provide them the best opportunity for happiness. Notice that I said happiness. Some would say I want to make sure they go to college, or get married to someone that could provide for them, or I want my children to be successful. None of that matters to me. My goal is to give my best attempt to make sure they are happy. I want both of them to be positive and have a optimistic view for life. I want them to be generous, caring, loving, and have the values I instill them to be happy which I will do. If there is one goal in life I CANT fail in, it’s making sure I accomplish this for my girls.

My dad didn’t teach any of this. What did he teach me? He taught me that if I touch his toy model cars, I get beat up by him to make sure I know that I’m not allowed to smash his cars together. Last time I saw my dad, I was 7 – a little over 20 years ago. I remember saying goodbye to him at a train station, I may even have saw a tear on his face. I was moving to the United States from Ukraine with my mom, grandpa and grandma. He was staying behind. I always thought back… was this him making a sacrifice for me? Was he doing this because he knew I would be better off without him? I look back now and will never truly know what was going through his head. What I do know though?

No matter what the situation, no matter how I feel, no matter what obstacles are in my way – I will NEVER do that my daughters. They are my everything. I have and will continue to sacrifice everything that is me and anything I have to make sure they find happiness. Let’s look at an example of the smallest sacrifice I have made, and this is my opinion of small sacrifice which some can think is big.

I worked with elementary school children for over 5 years through high school and college. A teacher is something I always dreamed of being. Molding young minds into little adults. To be able to teach them, give them dreams and goals, to watch them grow – watching them grow up would amazing and fulfilling. Instead of this, I got an accounting degree and am currently a financial analyst for a publicly traded company. Previous to this, I worked for a CPA firm preparing tax returns and doing accounting work for small businesses. So from teaching children, I went to making sure we hit sales targets and preparing various reports to management. Could it be worse? Absolutely, it can always be worse. But is this what I dreamed of my life being? No. Do I have an option now to go back to school and get my education certificate and become a teacher? Yes, absolutely. Will I? No. Why? Sacrifice.

Financially, my family cannot afford to this. I need to make sure my kiddos are fed, and not only fed, but fed organic (free of GMOs) to live longer and healthier lives. They need a roof over their heads in a good neighborhood so they don’t get mixed up with the wrong crowd and not making the good choices. I need to make sure they wear good warm clothes. They need great medical facilities around them, just in case. They need good schools around them. I want to make sure they have all the tools surrounding them, besides me, that will give them the best chance at life. Does everyone have the option to feed their kids organic? No. Do Moms or Dads lose jobs and thus can’t even provide the basic necessities for kids? Yes. Trust me, I understand that not every situation is ideal. I understand that not all people have opportunities or given opportunities. What I do understand is that I came here when I was 8. I couldn’t speak English and I had nothing. My mom had nothing. I had no Dad to teach me what Dads are supposed to teach. Am I doing what I want? No. Am I able to provide for my kiddos? Absolutely.

Sacrifices are made every single day for them. Small sacrifices, big sacrifices, and in between. Now that I think about it, are they even sacrifices or is it just the unconditional love I have for them that makes me do whatever I need to to make sure they are taken care of?

08.31.13 – Max

Happy Last Month of August.

Damn You (or thank you?), Walt Disney!

So here I am. It’s late in the evening, my fiance is away for his bachelor party weekend with the guys, the kids are fast asleep from their fun day grocery shopping and visiting-the-grandparents-with-mom day. I would like to take a time out from the hectic day to day responsibilities and just sit down and write an honest post about my future husband and our relationship these days. Here goes nothin’!

It’s 11 years and counting since we’ve met, and just a couple months less than that, that we have been dating. It hasn’t always been all ‘hearts & flowers’ (to quote the super trendy E.L James novel I’m sure the ladies will know). We started dating when I was heading into junior year of high school, he-his senior year. There were plenty of ons & sort-of-offs; fights and jealousies. In the first about, 5 years, I grew to resent those times, even though my now-fiance kept telling me that no matter what happened, in the end it would make us stronger. Teenager that I was kept denying that fact as I always thought for my whole life that a relationship was supposed to be like a Disney princess movie. It never occured to me that some day I wouldn’t go riding off into the sunset with my prince to our beautiful Cinderella style castle. I of course watched The Little Mermaid and Cinderella one too many times, but that’s a blog post for another day. Moving on…

During the rough times through those years and even on up through the births of our 2 beautiful daughters, we would always come to a point in a heated conversation where he would say, ‘we aren’t compatible, we are completely different.’ Back in the day I would always want to disagree with that statement because I thought that being  completely different than one another was a bad thing and meant that we shouldn’t be together. Now as we grow older together, experience all that life has thrown at us regarding our children, finances, daily struggles in life, family, etc., I realize that for us personally- it is a WONDERFUL thing. Let me explain in further detail.

For me personally, my husband is everything I wish that I could be. He is lively, outgoing, charismatic, charming and silly. In a business sense he is smart, loyal and motivated; hardworking almost to a fault. During family time he is as fun as can be yet gets things accomplished. I often watch in amazement (while he thinks I’m staring off into space or in another room cleaning), while he playfully swings our girls in his arms as they giggle to the point of hiccups. Then somehow he transitions that into a laundry-folding-dance-party to our favorite adult tunes that the kids have a newfound love for (why don’t they love it during my karaoke sessions on the car ride to school?!). Somehow, this kind of thing never happens for me. My days with the kids seem to happen like I am going through an acted out to-do list. Diaper, bottle, breakfast, potty time for #2, brush teeth time, poopy diaper change, snack time in the middle of mommy-tries-do-the-dishes-time, someone spills snack all over kitchen floor and tromps it all the way to the bedroom and smashes the crumbs into the rugs which leads to mommy vaccuum time in the middle of dishes time, and it goes on. I also feel like I haven’t found my nitche in the business world and I work just as hard as the next guy but I don’t go way above and beyond like I should. He makes me strive to be a better person and mother. A better friend and employee. I feel like he is constantly teaching me about myself and about others and I find myself worshipping him like my own personal philosopher. Sometimes when I get into a Disney princess mode about a personal tiff with a friend or a work related annoyance, he snaps me back to reality and out of my daydream. We come up with logical and sensible ways to deal with it instead of just expecting people to be something they are not, or situations to disappear if I ignore them long enough. As much as I want my love fest for my husband to continue, I’d also like to believe that I am complimentary to his personality traits as well.

I am observant, quiet, goofy and loving. I believe that we should work to live and not live to work. I like to go see and conquer the world and he is more of a homebody, content on our tiny patio having a chat under the stars (or the balcony above us). I am a human scheduler, often reminding the family of meal time and appointment time. If it were up to my loving loverpants, the family may grow up on McGMO’s Hashbrown breakfasts and salami sandwiches. If he is having an issue with a relative or friend or coworker, I am the one who looks beyond the exterior. I read into and analyze situations and people in a way that he does not. I am the handyman of the house, the pest control, and the main boo-boo mender. Taking all of these (& more) differences into account, we have been able to turn a would be struggle into a learning experience. The fact that we continue to accept, learn, grow and most of all love eachother for what we are as human beings and not instead for what we dreamt up with the help of another persons idea in cartoon form (damn you Disney!), or how we think society is telling us our relationship should be, is the reason we are getting married in two weeks. As we see and know, divorce and separation, bitterness and resentment is all too common in the world these days. I believe that if all people were to truly open their hearts and minds, unguard themselves & forget all of the relationship/love propaganda of yesteryear, we may see a change in those stats. Sometimes it’s easier for people to walk away than to really try to truly understand their partner or to concede and see things in a different light. Sometimes it’s easier for someone to find comfort somewhere else than it is to hash out their differences and work it out and have those difficult conversations. We’ve had plenty of those conversations and I’m sure we will have plenty more but I know that because of our differences, not in spite of them, we will forge our path through a loving marriage. Sometimes people, our differences are what keeps us together. Some of us are too focused on the wrong things to take a step back and notice it. Some may be too stubborn to accept it.

To my soon to be husband, I love you with all of my heart and with everything that I am. I love all of the ways that you push me and teach me. I love that you are everything that I wish I could be and I hope that I am that to you. I can’t wait for 85 more years of learning, loving, and creating our family memories. All those times you said the hard times just make us stronger, you were right. We are stronger than ever and it can only continue from here. We make eachother better people in ways I never even thought possible and I can’t even begin to thank you for just simply being you. Every single day I am a better person because of you. I love you more than I can verbally or physically express. I can’t wait for 9-6-13.