A busy weekend has made me fall behind in my #40Days40Dads project, so I’m going to have to double the dads on some days this week. Today’s featured father is another treat for me, as my wife’s brother Mike has given some really funny, faithful and insightful answers to my questions.1
Visiting Mike’s house is a lesson in love, chaos, sports and faith. Numerous groups of siblings are engaged in various games–the younger kids will be playing with dolls, while the older kids are playing knockout or Yahtzee. Someone is always eating. Someone is always chasing someone else. Someone is always demonstrating cartwheels. The kids are also often taking care of each other in a way that seems to exceed their years. Theresa and I have been present for their family’s evening rosary as well, with the older kids taking turns leading a decade and helping to get the younger kids to participate or just pay attention. Mike and his wife Ashley have found a way to let the chaos continue enough to let their kids have fun with each other and build their social skills and relationships, but also control the chaos enough to set priorities and boundaries. It’s inspiring to see and something that I hope Theresa and I are able to emulate in our family.2 Thanks for playing, Mike!
Mike is the father of two sons–13-year-old Zeke3 and 9-year-old Xander4, and six daughters–12-year-old Zoe5, 11-year-old Anna Xavier6, 6-year-old Azalea7, 5-year-old Rose8, 3-year-old Terez9 and 1-year-old Leza10.
What was the moment when you first felt like a father?
First of all, before I go answering your blog, I was more than a little surprised that Theresa was expecting after you promised that you would keep your relationship to hand holding only…No one is buying your visited by the angel Gabriel story either. Might want to hang low in Chicago for a while.
Ashley was 34 weeks pregnant with our first, Zeke, due Nov. 5, 2002. On August 26 when Ashley went to the hospital at 11 p.m. with a friend thinking her water broke, I went to bed, expecting to be going to work early the next morning. When the phone rang at midnight, and I needed to pack her entire hospital bag, find the camera (batteries and film…it was 2002) and get there before she HAD a baby, it was all suddenly very real!
What’s your favorite part about being a father?
Going to work… j/k The best part is the job of leading them to Heaven. When they are young, they accept willingly what you teach them. Start early!
What’s the hardest part about being a father?
The hardest part is knowing it is your job to lead them to Heaven. I like the analogy that you have 18 years to pack their suitcase. The older ours are getting, the shorter that 18 years seems. Getting them to flush the toilet has also proven to be quite a challenge!
What’s the dumbest/funniest thing that your kid has cried about or fought with you over?
We fight about dumb stuff every day. Pick your battles, and don’t sweat the small stuff. The funniest…A few years ago, we were headed to church, as I turned a corner Zeke announced there was a horse in a neighbor’s back yard. After laughing and assuring him there was NOT a horse in the yard, I took the long way back around the block to prove it to my very insistent 5-year-old that you can’t make up stories. I remember asking, “Are you sure it wasn’t a unicorn?” to drive my point home. Our whole van busted out laughing as a miniature horse stuck its head through the gate on our way by the second time. One point for Zeke!
What are you most proud of having taught/shared with your kids or what are you most looking forward to teaching/sharing with them?
First Communion has been an awesome sacrament to share with half of our kids so far. Preparation starts when they are little, and you take them to Mass. It is very cool to be there with them when they finally get to receive Jesus for the first time.
What’s your favorite thing about your kids?
When I was growing up, I loved holding babies and playing with my younger sisters. It has been cool seeing how much my older ones love their little sisters and “fight” over whose turn it is to hold the baby.
They all grow up in the same environment, but I love seeing how God has given them all their own unique and special talents and abilities.
If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice when you first became a father, what would you say?
Schedule lots of date nights. After spending all day with them, mom needs time away from them. Happy wife=Happy life! The most important thing a dad can do is love their mom. They will learn so much from watching how you do this, right or wrong.
Any other comments to share on fatherhood?
Remember to walk around the house and holler things like “Shut the door” or “Turn off the lights” a whole lot.
When you count 1…2…3 for your kids to come here, don’t count 1…2…2 and 1/2… That drives me crazy when I hear dads do that!
Cancel the piano lessons you have scheduled for them and sign them up for basketball.
I will leave you with the most important piece of advice that I have discovered: Try and spend 10 minutes a day with the Lord in the adoration chapel. Take Him all your worries and troubles about Theresa and your kids. Ask Him how you can be the best dad and husband for Him that day. He will put it all in place for you. Fatherhood is an amazing journey. You have no idea how amazing, beautiful, and life-giving Theresa is about to be to you after you get to see her give birth to your child. Enjoy the ride and savor every day you have with them. It’s been a fast 14 years!
If you’re a father or you know a father who would like to share his story, send him to this link to answer the questions. Stay tuned for another dad’s crib notes tomorrow!
- With eight kids, I’m impressed that he found the time to fill out the form!
- Even if we don’t reach eight kids…
- I was warned about Zeke by his other nieces and nephews before I met him.
- Xander once yelled after me “I don’t like you, Matt!” as we were leaving Mike’s house.
- She is 12 going on 30 and an avid reader of my blogs. Hi Zoe!
- Xavier seems quiet until she starts asking me to do impressions of her extended family
- Azalea will gladly perform an impromptu cheerleading routine for you.
- Rosie once chipped my tooth while sitting in my lap at Mass
- Terez is my insanely cute goddaughter
- If I happen to end up in Leza’s line of sight, she immediately bursts into tears.