17. Someday

For most parents, the season of our lives when our children are young looks distinctly different from the rest of our lives. It’s expected. We understand the burden of having young children. We know the time investment that it takes and the limitations of our children’s physical, emotional or temperamental state of being. We adjust accordingly. We don’t take the whirlwind holiday in Europe with toddlers and newborn in tow. We don’t climb Kilimanjaro on maternity leave. The trust we have in the temporary nature of this season is one the the things that gets us through it. And the…

16. Fear

There’s a family at the end of the bread aisle. The parents are elderly. Their son is about my age…I think. It’s hard to tell their ages really. It’s hard to tell the effects of time from the entropy of a certain sort of life. They snap at each other. They quibble. They’re not too different from any elderly couple who have spent a lifetime together having the same argument in the bread aisle on Sunday evening in the supermarket. There’s a bitterness to it though; a fatigue. They’ve broken off from the outside world. I can see in their…

15. Fatigue

A lifetime ago, I was walking across a field with a gnarly old SEAL senior enlisted on a deployment in some dusty corner of Africa when he turned to me and said something I’ve never forgotten. “This is the best way to feel when you need to kick in a door. Dead tired. Hollow.” It sounded strange but I felt exactly like what he said. We’d been up for three days straight. We’d wandered into an uncharted creek trying to find a place to fix one of our boats and stirred up a hornets nest of smugglers. We ended up…

14. Time

In any enterprise, there’s at least one singular scarce resource; that one thing on which all depends but is limited in its availability. Successful enterprises identify that scarce resource and manage it effectively. Sometimes understanding which resource it is, isn’t obvious. Money problems are often time problems in disguise. Time problems are often lurking talent gaps. Groups that fail to recognize what their true scarcity is fail spectacularly in ways that often puzzle those responsible for their success as they invest more and more in things that don’t matter and fail to protect that which is critical and can’t be…

13. Anger

A few weeks ago I came downstairs to find my son chewing on my newly purchased Apple Airpods. He had destroyed them. I didn’t leave them out. I put them in their charging case in a drawer. He found them though. Then he pulled them out and ate them. I lost my temper. I’m not prone to violence. I can’t remember any time in my life where I’ve gotten so angry I’ve had to put my hands on someone. Anger for me is mostly about yelling and swearing. I’m a big loud person. And I’ve got a bit of resting…

12. Marriage

Marriage in a special needs family is many things. Easy is not one of them. Around here, we do a passable job at keeping it together in front of other people. We’re awesome on social media. Out in public or at parties or other social events we’re the model couple. We’re helpful, patient and affectionate. It’s not an act. It’s real. But we, like everyone else, tend to signal to the world the best versions of ourselves. Our marriage is no different. We’re a special needs family after all. And it gets ugly sometimes. The honest truth is that I…

11. Joy

By the time I was 32 years old, I’d spent four years behind the walls at Annapolis, completed three tours in a war zone, moved a dozen times, finished business school, cared for my mother who was dying of ALS and had three children with my wife in three and a half years. I felt like I’d been ground to the nub. And I was ready for the part of life that was supposed to be fun. That’s when my son was diagnosed. Tolstoy was right about families. The happy ones may all be the same. But the unhappy ones…