2nd Year

Well I thought the First Year went by quickly, it seems as if I blinked and the second has disappeared. I thank everyone for coming on this journey through depression, weight loss, nursing, parenting, and life as a whole. It has meant so much to me that you have decided to come along for the ride.

Second Birthday

 

Firstly, the numbers. In the past twelve months I have written 67 posts, starting with Quoth the Raven and ending with this one. I have written about my success, my stumbles along the road, and the treatments I went through to save me from myself.  I began to share about my struggle with weight, and the steps taken to change the image that was in the mirror before me.  I explored more of my own struggle, ideas behind death and the nursing implications, what it is to father someone who is not your biological child, and a pictorial view of the town I love so much. From these posts, and many more, we can sum up the year with some key numbers;

  • 64,659 Words Total
  • 696 Words per Post (average)
  • 139 Comments
  • 348 Likes
  • 6,288 Views, of which the top five countries were
    1. Australia
    2. United States
    3. Canada
    4. United Kingdom
    5. New Zealand / India

These are just the figures from the Maintain The Rage website and do not account for comments, likes and shares from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, or Reddit.

When I started Maintain the Rage I had the intention of sharing what I had learnt, my tips and tricks, and general advice. I quickly realised that I would immediately be thrown into the Do these five things if you want to be rich, successful, and sexy category. I shifted to sharing about my life, not in an attempt to illicit pity or praise, but to show that you can do all the things you want to do, to juggle the different activities, work, school, family, and life, to show that even if your are struggling, thats ok. I hope that this has been a well received shift and that I have made the right choice. But judging by the reads and conversations with people in comments, direct messaging, and face to face contact, I am going to say it was the right move.

For the future of Maintain the Rage I am going to stay the course, I will continue to share my journey as a Parent of both a 1 year old, a 3 year old, and a 16 year old, my life as a Nurse, my journey through life with my Wife, my Scouting life, and my struggles and successes with depression and anxiety, and the victories and struggles through weight loss.

I thank everyone of you who have come on this journey with my and hope you have enjoyed and taken away something from the posts. I encourage all of you to ask me what you want to hear about, and what part of my life you are curious about. I also encourage you to share this blog with family and friends, not for mere likes or views, but so we can expand the community that Maintain the Rage has and continue to share together.

Thank you again,

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Dear Mum

Dear Mum,

There are so many things I want to say, and I feel that I lack the vocabulary or the nuance to say them all. Firstly, and more obviously for-mostly, I love you. That isn’t to be taken lightly or seen as a passive line, I mean I love you. You are selfless, generous, loving, kind, and caring. You are the largest influence in my life for those traits in me. Without your influence, I would not be half the man I am today.

Always by my side

Always by my side

You are alway willing to sacrifice your time and your energy to help others. The number of times you have taken the girls for a weekend or longer to simply help Alinta and I out is beyond calculable. You care for the children and are willing to care for them our way, not yours, simply to be kind. You put others before yourself, often to your own detriment, and think nothing else of it. The example you have set for Ashley and I, and our children, lays us in good stead. The example of selflessness you have set has given me one of my most valued traits as an adult. I will never be able to live up to the standard you have set, but I will continue to try.

Mum and Dad

Mum and Dad

Your generosity, to date, knows no bounds. You are more then willing to pick up a tab, pay for the coffee, or pay for a meal, without even giving it a second thought. You have taken to be sneaky just to be generous, which is both frustrating and appreciated. Your generosity is held high amongst my friends circle, and they can even see the same generosity in me. You give more than just financially, you give with your time, your heart, and emotionally. Your level of generosity has impacted almost everyone you have come in contact with. The number of stories I have heard from people you have worked with, or come in contact with that highlighted your generosity is ridiculous. Don’t ever change your giving heart.

Mum & Darby

Mum & Darby

I knew growing up that you loved us. Even when we where in trouble as kids your love could be seen through it all. You invest so much of yourself into others, through your love, that you leave others better then when you found them. I have the inordinate joy of seeing you love on the girls, like you no doubt loved on Ashley and myself. I see you hold them, hug them, kiss them, play with them, and put them first. I see the mother that you were, and the Grandmother that you now are. It warms my heart, just to see you with them.

Answering the "Phone"

Answering the “Phone”

The kind hearted nature that you have it obvious. You do not try and be kind, that would show through, it comes to you as second nature. The above scene is an excellent portrayal of just that. With Darby sitting in your chair at work, you don’t hesitate to answer the mouse as if it were a phone, when it was passed to you by Darby. You entertain Darby by playing along to her game, in her reality, instead of bursting her balloon and dragging her back to reality. Your kindness has always been that way. Simply ask any person you have ever worked with or engaged with, and they will say you are kind, almost to a fault.

Mum on the Boat

Mum on the Boat

You care for us, our wives, our children, your husband, and somewhere in there right at the end, yourself. You always make sure that I am taking enough breaks, relaxing enough, taking time to care for myself, often while you are sacrificing yourself for someone else. You are actually interested and invested in our daily lives. As the great mother you are, you are still making sure I am sleeping enough, eating enough, drinking enough water, exercising enough, and generally existing at an acceptable level. I am eternally grateful for the level of care you continue to provide.

Wind Farms

Wind Farms

Finally, you can have a laugh. Sometimes at a joke that’s funny, sometimes at someone else’s expense, and sometimes at your own. You always have a smile on your dial, you try and lift the mood of the room by saying something timely, or funny. You know when it’s appropriate to pull a prank on someone, like about banking hours, and when its time to leave it alone. I enjoy the moments of stitched up laughter that we have shared, and I look forward to many more like them.

Christmas Mum

Christmas Mum

You have always been my greatest support, even if I didn’t realise it. You have been my rock, my safety net, my sounding board, my confidant, my example to live by, and my loving Mother. As I said at the beginning, there aren’t enough works, or words that are of a high enough calibre to describe what you mean to me, and those around you.

I love you Mum.

Luke Sondergeld

Step Dad

As most of my regular readers would be aware I am a father to three beautiful children, two young girls who are One and Three, and a 16 year old boy. For those doing the math in their heads, no I did not have a son at 15, Joseph is my wife’s son to her first husband, and he is my son, period. Having a step-child is no real different to having children, you still need to love on them, guide them through trials and tribulations, and you need to be there when times are tough for them. I wrote a while ago about boundaries, and encouragements for the children, and all of this is extremely relevant, but there are some pitfalls, and they are quite deep.

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When I first came on the scene, dating Alinta, and generally being around Joseph he was Nine years old. I didn’t force any sort of title on him, I told him my name was Luke and he could make his own mind up. Over the proceeding months, I showed him how to properly set a table, showed him chores he could do around the house to be useful, playing imaginary games in the back yard, and generally hung out. One night, at the dinner table, about three months into the relationship, Joseph stops eating at looks at me, and he says I think I am going to call you Dad. My heart melted. The hardest thing with any step relationship with a child is creating a close enough bond with them so they feel as though there is no difference between you and who would be their parent. Our relationship has grown since the early days, he gives as good as he gets now which is refreshing, but he still calls me Dad, no matter how angry or twisted he gets.

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Another complication which needs to be addressed is the Biological parent. In my instance Bio-Dad. Once Joseph had decided to call me Dad he was quickly getting confused between the two of us in conversation, I suggested that while he was with his mother and I he could refer to his Dad as Bio-Dad, keeps it all clean and simple. What I hadn’t  expected was when he visited Bio-Dad and he was talking about me as Dad and was corrected by his Nanna to call me Step-Dad, Joseph got quite fired up and defended me as just Dad. This isn’t the case for every parent, step-parent or otherwise, but it is still a complication.

The other half of this problem is arranging time with the Bio-Parent. I know plenty of people who loathe seeing their child go to the Bio-Parent, get spoiled rotten for two weeks, then come home. Initially, I loathed Joseph going away, as I would have to spend the next 3 months correcting him and directing him to get him back to where he was before he left. Since then I have softened, I do not stop Joseph spending time with his Bio-Dad, we arranged a number of years ago the Easter and Term 3 school holidays are free game for Bio-Dad, instead I encourage Joseph to do all the things his Bio-Dad wants to do, but stress that he doesn’t ask for any expensive gifts. His Bio-Dad is not a wish granting fairy. The short and tall of all of this is you need to be comfortable allowing your Step-Child visitations with the Bio-Parent. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be rough, but it is in the best interest of the child, and that’s what’s important.

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Parenting a step-child can be difficult. Some children make it exceedingly difficult for you to really fulfil the role of Mum or Dad, others make it all too easy. As a step-parent you are not second rate, or just a fill in, you are their parent, sometimes more so because you chose to be there. You looked at the Child and decided that you can step up and be the parent they need. To all my brothers and sisters out there who are parenting a step-child, stand up, be proud, and know that you are awesome.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Placed Upon

Through out our lives we get called a lot of different things, whether by virtue of our job, by our loved-ones, our friends and those around us. These names, these titles, carry with them a certain level of expectation from the person giving them to us; it places us in a position that we may not fully understand ourselves.

Placed Upon

For myself, I’ve been called, and still am called many different things;

Each of these comes with their own level of expectation and assumed level of knowledge and understanding. It is a huge responsibility to accept some names, and for some people it can be what breaks them.

HMAS Perth

When I was in the Navy, simply being referred to as Sir meant that I not only had an understanding of the situation being discussed but would have the answer to any questions and strategic oversight to know what to do next. In the same breath, when I was referred to as Mr. Sondergeld by a superior, that expectation shifted to a subservient role, I was expected be able to follow, blindly if needed, any direction that I was given to follow. Between my counterparts, my ship mates and those I served a while with, I was Sonny. The young officer who bent the rules when dealing with enlisted rates, took a relaxed outlook on most situations, believed that the best answers often came from those below, not above him, and someone who could get the job done, or at least know the guy who could. I was still just one man, one young officer, but all of these differing expectations and levels of understanding were valid.

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In our daily walk we often have differing levels of expectation put upon us, as a Father that is extremely obvious when a young boy starts the conversation with “Dad I want to ask you something” or when your little girl is standing at your feet, tears in her eyes, quietly sobbing and mumbling ‘Daddy’ with her arms extended. These are the everyday expectations that can break people, and we as a community need to support them and let them know its ok to not have all the answers, and know they are not alone.

There is also a change in our behaviour when these names are used, when we are called out by a particular appellation we respond in a particular way, like a child being referred to by First, Middle and Last name by a parent.

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My Son and I both participate in Scouts, myself as the Leader of the Scout section and my Son, who until recently was a Scout, is in the Venturer Section. I had a rule that the second we put the uniform on, I was no longer Dad, I am Bass. This did two things, it meant that he knew that he was on the same standing as any other Scout, and secondly every other Scout knew he was going to be treated the same. It was also a bonus for myself as I didn’t have to worry about trying to seperate my brain between Dad and Bass. The changes in behaviour between a Scout Leader and a Father are surprisingly subtle, both require finesse, discipline, honesty, integrity, leadership, quick wit, behavioural management and patience. The main difference is I personally have one Son and 20 Scouts. So the scale, and subsequent odds, are a little off.

Wife and I

In the relationship between my Wife and I, we refer to each other as Wife and Husband. To some this may seem odd, demeaning or detached. But we see it for what it is, a voluntary commitment to each other to the exclusion of all others till death do us part. I have referred to my wife as Wife in conversation with people who have not known the reasons behind our family tradition, and have been met with hostility, shock, and at times amusement. To me there is no greater pet name, than Wife, and nothing makes my heart sing more than hearing my beloved call me Husband. For us this works, for others, maybe not. But even this endeared name that we have embraced carries with it a level of expectation, that we will be supportive of one another, be a united front, openly communicate, place the other before ourselves, make time for each other, share, love and laugh together, but most of all Love each other. And that’s an expectation I don’t mind living up to.

Do you have a name that has been placed upon you? Something where the expectation is sometimes too high? Do you know someone who has a name bestowed upon them that they can’t live up to? Is there a name you don’t think fits? Write it down in the comments section below and share your story.

Maintain The Rage

Luke Sondergeld

Childhood Rage – Part One

Following my post last week about how my wife and I Maintain the Rage in our marriage, my 15 year old son asked me why I haven’t written about him, and the joys of being a Dad. So here it is, Childhood Rage how I endeavour to raise my two children to be somewhat respectful, independent, useful and productive members of society, and how I Maintain my Rage when my best intentions don’t quite work out.

This topic is too much for one post, so I am going to split this over two weeks, this week will be focussed on what I do as a parent to achieve all of the things I mentioned previously, and next week I will go over how I regroup and Maintain my Rage when things don’t go according to plan. With that said, along with my wife as we are a united front, we maintain boundaries and structure, push for improvement and love unconditionally.

Maintaining Boundaries

Any good parenting course, book, blog or otherwise will  always talk about the need to maintain boundaries, to have rules in place, to be a parent and not a friend, and to know when those boundaries have become blurred or ignored completely. I know that from an outside perspective I can be seen to be a hard task master. A dear friend of mine shares a similar regime and he calls his a ‘Dad-Tatership’. Ultimately, I want the best for my children, I expect the best out of my children, just as they should expect the best out of me. I have a clear set of rules for my eldest son, who is nearly 15, including a chores list, do’s and do not’s, pocket money, and expectations for schooling. These are all outlined in a contract, which he signs, and we renegotiate every Summer Holidays. The rules and punishments he helps develop (that stops the fighting later on) and the expectations are listed by myself and my wife.

I run pretty tight ship, there is an expected bed time, there is an expected morning routine, there is the expectation that there is work before play, there is an expectation of manners and respect, and there is an understanding of knowing ones place. My son knows he can come and talk to either of us about anything, whether he takes that up is another thing, he knows we love him, he also knows the reason for the boundaries and expectations are to prepare him for the real world.

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I am a firm believer in no empty threats, if you tell your child If you do that I am going to kill you, and you don’t actually kill them, its empty, the child knows that you aren’t going to kill them, and therefore the assumption will be, they can get away with it. The threat of the other parent also doesn’t sit well with me either, as a parent you need to be able to discipline and control your child when needed, if you use the other parent as a threat or weapon the child is going to realise you do not have control of the situation and abuse it.

Words can be powerful for children, as can actions, the child needs to know that the punishment for breaking the rules isn’t because your angry, but because they did the wrong thing. This could mean the best course of action is to send the child away for 5 minutes to collect your thoughts and calm down, then go and see the child and calmly explain what the punishment is and why. It is also important to know what is going to allow the child to reflect on what they have done, a smack on the hand or tap on the backside can sometimes be the most appropriate punishment, but I know, for example, my son hates to be separated from people, and not be included in things, so the most effective punishment for him is to remove him form what is going on and leave him alone.

We have recently taken to the 12 Labours of Hercules as a punishment. The idea being he will receive a list of mundane, boring, but constructive tasks, like pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and washing cars, and have no electronic devices until the tasks are completed, the punishment will last as long as it takes for him to complete the tasks. If its a day, sweet, if its a week, sweet, the record to date is 6 weeks, for a task that actually only took two hours when he finally sat down to do it.

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Push for Improvement

First up I am just going to say, I don’t celebrate mediocrity, not with myself, not with my wife, not my children, not with anybody. If you complete a task as given, or complete something that is an expectation, like your job, I won’t celebrate it and tell you how awesome you are. I will thank you for completing the task, because acknowledgement is important, but no celebration. If you go above and beyond, or do something unexpectedly well, that will get celebrated. I expect a lot from myself, just as my parents did for me and themselves. This attitude is how I purchased my first home at 19, joined the military at 21, bought my second home at 27, and how I am now studying Nursing at University. I push myself to the absolute limit and expect nothing short of awesomeness. I am therefore going to expect the best from my children. Having said that, if they are just starting to learn the guitar and they smash out smoke on the water after 15 minutes, that gets celebrated, if six months later, they can still only punch out Smoke on the Water and haven’t progressed, I will start to push. If we push our children and expect better of them, they will continue to grow and flourish. Fight mediocrity and Push for Improvement.

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Love Unconditionally

I love my children, I love them when they are happily playing, I love them when they are quiet, I love them when I at my wits end and close to pushing them out of the car. I love my children. And that is unconditional.

Love, especially with children, needs to be that Agape Love, the unconditional, not matter what, kind of love. My children, God bless them, test me every day. My daughter just the other night pitched a fit because she was hungry, she pulled out of the cupboard what she wanted, pitched a fit because we prepared it for her, then pitched a fit because we served it to her, pitched a fit when we left her to eat it herself and finally pitched a fit when we ignored the previous fits. But I still love her. My son continues to push the boundaries between being stationary and moving. I have seen herds of frozen snails move faster than my son in the morning. I am perpetually frustrated by constantly telling him to chew with his mouth shut, or not talk with a mouth full of food, or do the simple tasks that he needs to do every day, like put on deodorant or comb his hair. But I love him.

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My children know that I love them unconditionally, even when I lose my temper and yell and scream, I love them. They also know that I am here for them no matter what. That’s what we need to be as parents – there for our children. We are not their friends, their play pals, or their life sized dolls, we are their parents. We are their protectors, their confidants, their guides, their sages, their fences around the play pen, the guardians in the night and shelter in the storm. We as parents need to act like it more often.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld