2021 is wrapping up and I’d say its been a messy one. Diapers are messy! Being a dad is messy! And I love it!
This year has been my year of becoming. For me the idea of becoming is one of letting go of perfection and being okay with the process of life. As I wrote at the end of 2020, I am under construction. I think if I am becoming, I need to be okay with the mess.
Maybe Sofia is in on this life lesson. April and I had all the plans the world to have her four month picture taken in some of her cutest Christmas clothes, but each time we put her in them, she would have a massive blowout. Sofia is a four month old who is learning how to live so I would I not be okay with her having a blowout or two or 50? Also, her smile as we changed her diaper just makes me love her more.
On January first, 2021 I became a dog parent again. On January first April and I brought Phoenix into our house. After bringing Gryffin into our lives in 2020, we decided a puppy brother would be the best thing for him and us. Well, Phoenix is a crazy kid who lives life at two speeds tornado and cuddle. Phoenix is still a puppy and his excitement for life is contagious. But with two dogs, we can’t seem to clean up the messes they leave behind. I can either choose to love my dogs or have a perfectly clean house.
I became an expectant dad. Two days after taking Phoenix in, on January third we found out that April was pregnant and for the next nine months the mess was yet to come. As Sofia grew in April’s womb I tried to keep the house clean, but it was a battle I couldn’t win. I could either clean all the time or spend time with April. This became a big issue that I took to my therapist. He challenged me to be okay with not cleaning. I felt like if I could clean the house for April, I was showing my worth to her. She told me she needed me to be there with her. The house has been much messier since then.
Through the 2020-21 school year I became an online teacher and it was a mess. Not because I taught from my home through zoom, much of the time in my pjs. Not because I had to figure out new ways to connect with my students, which I think I was successful at doing. I loved being home with my dogs and my students loved seeing them. But teaching through a platform I was never trained to use and being evaluated by my administration (who had never taught on zoom either) as if I were teaching in the classroom was stressful. But as soon as I started giving myself grace and embraced the mess of teaching in a way I’d never taught before, I found joy in my job.
I started therapy and I became okay with my feelings, even the anxious ones. Therapy gave me a way to talk through all my feelings. The best part of going to a therapist is being told it is okay to feel what I am feeling. The worst part is when I go to the therapist it seems like I have to deal with the things in my life which means things have gotten a little messy.
God challenged me to go wild I became a backpacker again. In preparing for the trip I became a runner again (I had taken more than a year off of running). I took Gryffin on a backpacking trip that took me out of my comfort zone and into a swarm of mosquitoes. The trip was messy. That’s what happens when you have a group of guys with different goals and then you add in bad weather. But this mess was so good to be in because it was a situation that I couldn’t control. The mess of the trip made me trust God because I can’t control the weather or the mosquitos.
My water bill went up as I became a gardener. Spending more on water was worth it though. In 2020 April and I started a garden and so we decided 2021 we would try it again. Maybe it was because of all the rain we received this spring or maybe it’s because I have a green thumb, but our garden exploded. We had more tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeños, and other garden varieties than we knew was to do with. Gardening is a mess especially when harvesting time happens right when your baby is due.
My pizza making improved as I became a canner. With all our produce from the garden, especially the tomatoes, April and I decided we wanted to can them so we could make pizza sauce year round. We were also able to make a delicious peach jalapeño jam because we found out we had a peach tree in our back yard. Canning was a fun learning experience alongside plenty of mold and broken glass. We also ruined several pizzas, to the point of tears as we figured out our Ooni Pizza Oven.
I was reminded how much I love working with kids as I became an in person teacher again. In August I went back into the building to teach for three weeks before April gave birth. This was a true mess as my long term sub was taken from me weeks before I was set to go on leave. But as soon as Sofia was born I had to let go of my classroom and know that even if it got a little messy for my students, it would be okay. After my two month paternity leave, my class was a mess, several students had stopped coming to class or had let their grades slip, but time with my family was worth that mess.
Finally, I became a dad! Sofia was born on August 26th. The coolest moment of my year was seeing her enter our world. Since then, being a dad has been filled with laughter and sleepless nights. I am not sure why I feel like things need to be perfect. My desire for perfection has brought on anxiety, but when I am okay with the mess around me I see how God is in control and I am able to relax in his hands.