Saturday, August 10, 2013
TRUE STORY….GABRIEL HAMMOND’S BIRTH
This is our true and heartfelt story of turning pain into passion. This is a true story of our beloved son, Gabriel Hammond.
It all started with the ultrasound at the local Mad River Community Hospital. The ultrasound revealed the possibility of Down syndrome. The two-dollar question was did Gabriel have Down syndrome? Meeting with the doctor, she told us that yes, Gabe did have Down syndrome.
No one prepares you for the disappointment, loss, fear, and many of life’s potentials forfeited when you learn that you have a baby who has Down syndrome. The feelings of new parents of kids with down run from anger to depression to frustration to resignation. It is like the six phases of grieving. It feels a bit like a death within the context of birth in that it is a death of a vision. A parental hope and dream of what could have been most likely will not be now with this new twist of having a “special need”. It is a feeling, ultimately, of being lost in a world of unpredictability and not having a map of where you are going. This is truly “uncharted water”. That feeling of fear and sense of loss will be forever ingrained in my heart and mind. We knew nothing of Down syndrome or special needs kids. To this point, we’d had six healthy children and had never met anyone with Down syndrome or any similar disability.
As we learned that our Gabriel had Down, we really had to dig deep and see if we could find the upside of Down syndrome. But, fear ruled the day. Who is our boy? What will he be when he grows up? Can he play football? Will he go to college? Will he be “normal”? Will he get married? Will he have children?
The lessons learned have to do with my deciding to have the right perspective, attitude, actions, and behaviors. The decision to love unconditionally is ours alone. This unconditional love, stemming from the decision to love Gabriel, has transferred some of my pain into a perspective which is surprising, refreshing, and very interesting.
The lessons we learned include:
• There is no one-time fix. This is a long-term journey requiring a long-term approach.
• A positive mental attitude and my positive confessions are not enough to get me through.
• Whereas Gabriel may have a disability of his intellect, there is none of his spirit.
• His worth has very little to do with his intellect or ability to contribute to society.
• We’ve learned to give without expecting anything in return and love him unconditionally.
• We learned to love freely, regardless of the payback.
• We learned that everyone has special needs. Some of us just hide them better!
My commitment as a father begins with loving my son and equipping him by helping him receive the best- In every way I am compelled to maximize his potential. I also need to maximize my potential to love, accept, understand, and help Gabriel where possible. My commitment is also to help my family to love Gabriel, to be patient with him, and to see past his challenges and focus on his many positive attributes.
My Mission Statement is this: “To personally and practically love, accept, and go forward in raising my son to his fullest potential with God’s help”. As I do this, I know that Gabriel has the potential to teach us to look for the things in life that are truly important. May I be as good a student as he is a teacher.
My fear of being a dad started pretty young. It probably had a lot to do with how I was raised. I was raised mostly by my mother and grandmother, and my father was not a large part of my life in any way. It really hurt me, but it also taught me how important the role of father is.
Then when I started dating I went into it with the mentality of trying to find a wife and mother for my kids. I mean, that is a lot of pressure for a young man to put on himself… and on his dates. But I had no wish to fool around in my search. I am the type of person that locks onto a goal and doesn’t let go. I wanted a loving, strong, smart, and submissive Christian wife and fourteen kids.
After a few dates in my late teens and early twenties I just stopped looking for a while. No one seemed to match what I was looking for and I decided to focus on getting my life in shape to become the kind of husband and father I wanted to be. After all, if my future wife was out there I wanted to be the perfect match for her as well.
As I grew older however I realized what I was trying to get myself into. I had the childish thought that once you got to be an adult you just would know how to be a dad too. Well, by my late twenties I had figured out that nothing came naturally and everything had to be learned, mostly through trial and error. That terrified me. I didn’t want to screw up my kids. And I had no one to look to as an example. I certainly did not want to be like my father, or my grandfather, or my great-grandfather. My uncles did not do so great either.
I had hoped to get the advice of the same older man that had helped me to learn what a man was in my teen years but he passed away shortly after I graduated. I was alone and floating, trying to find something to hold on too.
I tentatively started dating again, not really sure I was ready for the responsibility. Twice I found a woman who looked good, but it was all an act. After a couple of months they dropped the charade and I saw the woman underneath. Yikes. Lying, scheming, manipulating… was this the only kind of woman out there?
I almost gave up in disgust, figuring that maybe I wasn’t called to be a husband and father like I thought I was. Then I met her.
It was a blind date. Well, sort of. We had connected through friends and had exchanged an email or two mostly validating the claims we had heard about each other. Both Christian? Check. Good age range? Check. Both not casual daters? Check. Although I was not too hopeful as she seemed kind of distant and cool via email I still figured it wouldn’t hurt to eat dinner together.
I was waiting outside the restaurant when she walked up and questioningly called my name. I looked up from whatever I was fiddling with and in an instant fell in love. I know, love at first sight is a bunch of hooey but that’s how it happened. It wasn’t that she was ‘hot’, though she is beautiful. It was everything I could tell about her at once.
She didn’t bother with a lot of makeup. Her clothes were simple but fit her well. She wasn’t trying to show off her cleavage. And when she smiled… she did not hide anything. Everything about her screamed honesty and simplicity.
It was all I could do not to grin like an idiot. She was still cool and cautious at first but as we talked she started to relax and let down her guard. Like me, she had been though a few liars and actors. By the end of the date I knew she felt as strongly about me as I did about her.
As our relationship progressed I shared with her my desire for children and my fear that I did not know how to be a good father. Her response really helped me.
She reminded me that our Heavenly Father was the best example anyone could have. Every man on Earth is flawed in some way. We should not take our example from them. Instead we should look to the Lord to be our example. This holds true in all aspects of being a man; being a husband, a father, a worker, and a friend.
As I have gotten older and we have had our kids, I found out how very true this was. I could not pattern myself after any person I knew in my life or that I saw on television. I had to read and stay in the word to see what it really meant to be a good father and husband.
That does not mean I have not made some mistakes. However I trust that the Lord will take care of my kids and help me to give them what they need, especially Him.
Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College. As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife. Ken can be reached at…. http://www.morningsidenannies.com/
Name: Gabriel Hammond Profession: Young Man (Downs and Autism—Don’t Judge him!) Years in Business: 14 1/2 Family Info: #6 of 8 Kids Hobbies: I Pad apps, swinging, manipulation of the Earth. Activities of Interest: Animals, trampoline fun, hot tubbing, eating, cruising, being mellow and observation of his surroundings. Super Power: He spreads joy around as if it was candy…..he is joyfully in the moment and causes others to stop and joyfully participate with him! Burning desire: To be an awesome player in the Universal Narrative. Something no one knows about me: A Hippie Chick observed Gabe with Grandpa Tom on the Arcata Plaza and said: ” He is so joyful—I seek moments of joy—Gabe lives in Joy”…..”I think he is more evolved!” Gabe has a tender heart toward God and people—a rare combo! Keys to Success: Total, absolute joyfulness—This guy is rarely unhappy or angry! Favorite Quote: Abby—Abby—Abby!!
In honor of Father’s Day and fathers everywhere….
www.becomeabetterfather.com is sponsoring our 5TH Annual Father’s Day Writing Contest.
We want to know our readers opinions of what it takes to be a AWESOME father.
We value your opinion and would love to hear from you and what you think makes a great dad.
The question we pose is:
” MY DAD IS AWESOME BECAUSE__________________.”
Here are the official rules…
- Write about what you think an AWESOME father is (A poem,essay, or other writing form) LIMIT 300-500 WORDS and simply email to us!
- Email your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org
- You must have your entry posted by midnight, Pacific Standard Time, June 30th, 2013.
- July 1st, 2013, the lovely Mrs. Hammond will pick a winner based on what she think rocks!
- The winner receives a free full one-hour consultation with Scott Hammond, an Every Day Book, a full-featured blog post on www.becomeabetterfather and much more!
- We will post an entry on this blog in July 2013, containing links to the winning entry…… so you will get a free link out of the deal.
- You will win an autographed copy of the Every Day Dad: the Guide to Becoming a Better Father!!
- You will feel good about your life and mission….
That’s it and good luck! The question remains: “MY DAD IS AWESOME BECAUSE…..”
Scott Hammond FO-9
Father of Nine
Name: Micah Hammond
Years in Business: About 9
Family Info: Large
Hobbies: Construction of amazing contraptions from duct tape, cardboard, and other household items
Activities of Interest: Legos, Video Games, Mine Craft, anything with Video
Burning desire: To become King/Ruler/Emperor
Something no one knows about me: Has an amazing tender heart
Keys to Success: Total, absolute creativity—-Is able to move on after blowing up
Life is a game with a glorious prize,
If we can only play it right.
It is give and take, build and break,And often it ends in a fight;
But he surely wins who honestly tries
(Regardless of wealth or fame),
He can never despair who plays it fair
How are you playing the game?
Do you wilt and whine, if you fail to win
In the manner you think your due?
Do you sneer at the man in case that he can
And does, do better than you?
Do you take your rebuffs with a knowing grin?
Do you laugh tho’ you pull up lame?
Does your faith hold true when the whole world’s blue?
How are you playing the game?
Get into the thick of it – wade in, boys!
Whatever your cherished goal;
Brace up your will till your pulses thrill,
And you dare to your very soul!
Do something more than make a noise;
Let your purpose leap into flame
As you plunge with a cry, “I shall do or die,”
Then you will be playing the game.
For every man who has ever been scolded by his wife for encouraging a child to “run faster” or “swing higher” or “try harder,” or who has been admonished for teaching them to make mouth, hand or armpit fart noises, I salute you.
Mothers are excellent at nurturing children. Fathers are good at riling them up before bedtime and testing their physical limits. We show kids how to cannonball into swimming pools, skateboard down steep hills and jump BMX bikes over poorly constructed plywood platforms.
We also instruct them in the fine art of belching, breaking wind, turning random objects into guns and lightsabers, toilet “pee-sword fighting,” and other uncouth behavior. We have to do this. It’s our job.
Moms and dads have different parenting styles. Moms comfort kids when they’re feeling down. They encourage them to discuss their problems. Dads teach them to look for a solution and move on. We wrestle our kids to the floor and tickle them and until they forget what they were depressed about. Moms express their disapproval with a tsk-tsk sound and accuse us of acting like children.
We take that as a compliment.
For decades it was assumed that the mother-child relationship was the most important one in a kid’s life. Within the last several decades, however, psychologists have realized just how much fathers matter. Raising kids is about balance. Moms are great caretakers. Dads have a more relaxed attitude toward parenting. Together, they form the perfect unit. When a child comes home crying with a scraped elbow, mom will console them with tender words. Dad will distract them by saying “Just walk it off” or “That’ll feel better once it stops hurting.”
If someone gets stuck on a homework problem, it’s usually mom who offers assistance. Dad will glance around the edge of his newspaper and shout “For God’s sake, give it another try.” When there’s a tantrum, mothers do their best to reason with a child. Fathers correct the problem with a stern glare and a threat to “jerk a knot in somebody’s tail.”
Fathers serve another important purpose. They give kids a realistic look into the male world. Girls learn from their dads how men should act toward women. Boys learn how to control their anger and deal with their masculinity in positive ways.
Kids learn lots of other cool stuff from their fathers, like not to bully or be bullied, and how to maintain a healthy balance between timidity and aggression. Dads roughhouse with their children in order to show them that kicking, scratching and biting are wrong. Kids learn self-control when a father says “Now, enough is enough,” and “Take that noise down a notch.”
In other words, moms protect children and dads give them self-confidence. We throw our kids into the air amid shouts of “Not so high.” We bounce them on the bed and mothers cry “Someone’s going to get hurt doing that.” Men know that cuts and scrapes are part of life. Women know to stock up on the bandages and antibiotic cream. Either of these parenting styles by themselves might spell disaster. Together, they keep kids safe while increasing their self-reliance.
One of my favorite confidence building moments as a father took place when my three-year-old son, Tyler, was learning to ride his bike. The training wheels were off, his helmet was on and he was ready to face the big challenge … . Well, almost.
”Dad,” he called out nervously, “Do I have to do this?”
”Of course you do,” I replied. “This is the only day of the year zombies allow three-year-olds to ride their bikes without training wheels. I saw it on the news.”
”But I’m scared,” he said.
”Just keep your wits about you and stay balanced.”
Tyler tightened the chin strap on his helmet and sighed. “Okay, I guess I’m ready.”
I gave him a push and he was off. A few yards down the street his bike hit the curb. Tyler fell to the pavement and scraped his knee.
”Dad, I hurt myself,” he cried.
”Naw, you’re just shedding worn skin” I said, applying a Band-Aid to the wound. “Keep it up. You’re doing great.”
And so it continued. There were a few more crashes that afternoon, and several more Band-Aids, but Tyler hung in there. At one point his mother stepped outside and shouted, “Don’t you think he’s had enough for one day?”
”We can’t give up now,” I hollered back. “He’s almost got it.”
On the next try Tyler kept his balance for a second or two longer. Then he was on his way, wobbling down the street on two wheels. I can still call up that old memory as if it was yesterday. It was every father’s Hallmark moment.
”You did great, son,” I told him when he pulled to a stop. “Now, let’s head inside. Your mom needs a hug.”
Tim Martin resides in McKinleyville.
Nice email from a new friend who liked the Every Day Dad book….
So glad to finally have your book in hand. I feel like I need to take a week and outline everything that is challenging me in the book and create a game plan to devourer the time-wasters and grow in vision for my life and my lil’ babes.
I seriously love the book…I felt like it would be something I would immediately do with a bunch of dudes from my Church, but for now I totally can tell the medicine is for me in a “now” sorta way. This is seriously an amazing 3-in-1. Your book is a true gift; thanks for paying the price to serve this!
So I hope to give you updates as I grow in this, but as of now I feel a bit plowed over with everything the Lord is putting on my plate…I need help! Would you be willing to send me the Personal Strategic Planner you mentioned in the book? I would so appreciate it. I would also love a chance to ring you and get some leverage on this planning puppy…I know we’re basically BBF’s so this wouldn’t be any trouble, and if it sucks for you I can surely figure this thang out.
Thanks for being such an awesome light and providing barring for me: You Rock!”
I am not sure at which moment in time I get the permission to become a grouch–but it happens with too much frequency.
Here is what it looks like:
Cruising home–had an average day…
I get home and then discover the “2nd job”-Being dad and father and husband and more…
Look out the Grouch is rearing his belligerent head!
I go from zero to belligerent in less than :60.
Scary stuff bro…why is this?
Causes? Contributing factors? What and why and how did I come to this?…
What happened to “Become a better father” and all that mission, vision, and goal setting to be that effective parent and father?
(The short answer is –out the window!)
What are some of the causes for “Dad Stress” and how can we mitigate them going forward?
See Part 2 of the Grouch on the Couch for these and other answers.