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Author Archives: beingdaddy101

mismatched socksIt’s been nearly 7 months since my last post and boy, a lot has happened.  I tried keeping this blog in the loop of the things daddy does but with a career, working on starting a company to move into a new career, keeping mommy happy which in turn keeps baby happy, and writing the first page of many different novels to come and some times revisiting those novels late at night when baby was keeping us awake, well, you know…

As you can imagine, Griffin has hit certain milestones.  Some early then others and some later, but hitting them just the same.  Like any good father, being daddy has been a lot about making time for those milestones so I can take pictures of them, video tape them, and then re-watch them with mommy over and over again after Grif goes to sleep.  I can say that this never was the plan, and the more I just get to watch him eat his first meal of solid, try to take his first crawl, or stand up for the first time in the crib all his own I know some of these milestones are just better served as a memory that I’ll hold on to until I can’t anymore.

Jackie has tried her best to keep up with the milestones in Griffin’s baby book, a chore better left to mommy, but being daddy means we have to hear about it over and over again and look at the book every time a new milestone is complete.  Though it may seem redundant at first, being daddy is about remembering the labor intensive work mommy puts in to keeping that baby book up to date, in line, and fresh.  Milestones, like matching socks, are better kept together; nice, neat, and organized.  But like the best pair of socks, it’s the ones that we find after they go missing that we cherish the most.  And those milestones are usually stored away somewhere deep in our memory, peeking out when we need them to the most.

What I learned today about being a father:

I’ve been sick for the past three days.  So sick, in fact, that both jobs were ignored and Jackie took Grif to the in-laws for the day to stay away from me.  I made the suggestion, but while they were gone I went through the motions of thinking about how empty our apartment was, and how much more miserable that made me.


Being daddy is about working and doing everything you can to provide for your family.  So I spend the majority of my week sitting in an office working on keeping a business I run afloat, then spending more time at my home office building a business I run to try to get it afloat.  All this time is spent away from my family, and even though I’m at home during my second job I am trying to deal with clients while they are in the office so I don’t have to bother them at home when they are with their family!  Quite the conundrum really, but I’ve tried to make it work as best as I can so I can give my family something better than what we have now.  But being away from my family is hard, especially because I’m consistently reminded of the milestones I’ve missed from the pictures Jackie texts me or the videos she shows me when I get home.  I love being kept in the loop, but being there is much, much more rewarding.

What I learned about being a father was two-fold; when I saw Griffin standing in his crib without our help, his childhood literally flashed before my eyes.  Less than 8 months ago he was still just a tiny being inside Jackie’s belly and we worried about him being healthy or what kind of parents we would be.  Back then, like it was so long ago, we called the doctor when something didn’t seem right or sought advice from people who have been through this before, worried that w

e would screw something up along the way and our child would learn to hate us before he was even 1 year of age!  But as he stood tall and proud, balancing himself up on the side of his crib, a new set of thoughts ran through me…damn, I’ve got lower that crib.

Kids grow up, and they grow up fast.  And I also learned that when you’re sick, no matter which parent it is, parenting doesn’t just shut down or go away.  I had it easy for most of the day I stayed home sick.  Jackie took Griffin to her parents for half the day, giving me time to rest and try to make myself better.  When she got home she was frustrated, even angry, and let me know that being daddy doesn’t get a break just because I’m not feeling well or because my partners in another country need me on a conference call at 10PM while Griffin is trying to sleep.  Being daddy, she tells me, is also about being present and especially about being quite when baby sleeps.

What I think I know:

For those who have read this blog in the past, I can honestly tell you that everything I thought I knew did not teach me anything about what I know now, and that still isn’t very much.  Eight months later and mommy is still the most important part of baby’s life.  Jackie is Griffin’s lifeline, his go-to when something doesn’t feel right or he doesn’t think daddy can take care of his needs.  When mommy leaves the room, baby notices.

But what I think I know is this; being daddy is about cherishing those few moments after birth that we get to have with our sons and daughters when mommy is away.  Sure, it takes a few minutes for our infants to realize that things will be alright, but being daddy is also about earning that trust, taking care of our babies and spending time with them no matter the situation.  We can’t be present for all of their milestones no matter how hard we try, but it’s just as important to be there for them when we can, make an effort and turn off the TV, put down the cell phone, reschedule that important meeting, and speak to your child as much as possible.

Those milestones, the time you spend with your child, will always be kept up somewhere, in the back of your mind, for you to look forward to remembering again.  And if you want to be a real hero for your wife, always keep an eye out for that missing sock, because you just might be rewarded handsomely when you find it.

 

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Griffin is starting to smile, a lot.  He has finally overcome that newborn frown, the grimace of both pleasure and pain, sleep, and utter dismay.  His eyes are starting to lighten up, turning from a deep, metallic blue to a lighter, more southern-Pacific 25-ft wave type blue with eyes so big they are mesmerizing.  He controls a room better than any executive speaker I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, only that Griffin has much less to say.

What I learned today about being a father:

This may be the new high-point in fatherdom.   There have been so many ups since Griffin’s birth that I didn’t know how much further it could go but from my current experience this may be it.

I’m told that there comes a point, around six to eight weeks, when child begins to smile and giggle and begins to understand (how they can tell this, I’m not sure).  Jackie and I have overcome the obstacles of new parents and have gotten to this point where now, more than ever, neither of us wants to put him down.  He is changing so quickly, growing so fast, getting heavy and long, and his facial expressions are becoming more deliberate making every time he smiles that much more special.

Mama has come a long way and worked to make sure that Grif has had everything he needs, and now, she said, he’s starting to give back.

What I think I know:

Nothing can prepare you for that look in your child’s eyes when you feel, no, you know that they are seeing you.  Before I could have sworn up and down that I recognized the connection, but yesterday it was oh-so apparent that there was no questioning that he was smiling at me.  My heart sank, and I nearly broke into tears today telling a co-worker about it. 

I’m a softy, what can I say.

Jackie was happy, too.  And now I feel like I finally can have a conversation with my son about all the things that are on my mind.  It’s interesting what comes out of our mouths as parents, we start talking in the third person, calling ourselves “daddy” and “mommy” explaining to our 6-week old our day or what it is we are doing right at this moment; “Daddy’s going to take a shower”, “Do you want to help daddy cook?” And then answering for them, “Of course you do.  Of course my big boy wants to help daddy with dinner.”

What I realized yesterday is that he is listening, with an intensity I can’t recall having ever in my life.  Not during my education, my college career, or my professional career.  His eyes are a gaze, staring directly into mine, and he reacts to the different pitches of my voice.  He scowles when I try to sing to him, questions when I am humming along to his children’s music, and gives deep, exhausted breathes when I try to tell him my stories.  But when I talk, just to talk and ask him about his day or have a conversation with mama, he hangs on every word.

I know this is what bringing up child is all about, and I can’t but help want more of it.  Being daddy I watch myself, my actions, my words, just about everything I do, because now some body is actually paying attention.  This is how my child is making me better, and when I thank him for it he gives me a smile, a wink, and an “atta boy!”, just for good measure.

 


When I woke up on Mother’s Day I hesitated.  It was earlier than usual for a Sunday, and I hadn’t been feeling good for  few days.  I wanted to go back to sleep for a few hours, join Jackie and Griffin for a few more hours of shut-eye.  I laid my head back down, staring up into the ceiling thinking about Jackie’s Mother’s Day gifts.  We had purchased a whole new set of workout paraphernalia, new shoes, new socks (buy one get one free!), a few new shirts with shorts to boot.  We don’t have the money, we are fighting our way out of debt, and yet I didn’t bat an eye at the things she said she needs.

What I learned today about being a father:

Workout clothes are not enough.  I started to daze away, my body so relaxed from the sounds of my family breathing and the echoing of cars driving by Mineral Point.  I love the sound of the city, the way tires rub heavy on the cemented roads. I love the way wind flows in through screened up windows, the way the leaves sway in the early morning sun.  Laying half asleep, I realized that it’s the sound of productivity, the moving and shaking of life finally waking up.

Archie licked my face and like that I was up and out of bed.  We put on some walking shoes and leashed up, went out for some fresh Mother’s Day air and Sunday sun.  We took a stroll to the store, bought some flowers and treats for Grandma and mama, some items to create a strawberry and spinach salad for the cookout we were having at the in-laws.  By 9AM I was prepping breakfast, lunch, and trying to make an epic splash for mamas first mother’s day.

By the time Jackie and Grif woke up I had burnt the bacon, overcooked the eggs and let the coffee get cold, but I had already ran to Brueggers Bagels for fresh made bagels and fresh brewed coffee, with roses.

What I think I know:

Being daddy is knowing that the first mamas day is the most important.  Take a load of off mama, and do your best to make her the breakfast of her dreams and deliver it bedside.  If you can’t, improvise.

So I messed up breakfast but I was spot on for lunch, dinner, and dessert (just cupcakes, but who doesn’t love cupcakes?).  Grif, grandpa, uncle and I shot some hoops, played some catch, and watched some basketball.  Grandma got to hold baby, mama got to chill, and even Archie was able to make a play date out of the day with grandparents dog, Sophie.  As un-special as everything was, it was probably the most special day we could have had.  Our family, all in one place to celebrate mommy dearest and her special day.  Even I can’t mess that up.

Like Griffin’s shirt says, “Mommy’s Rock!”  Hope you had a special day mamas, you deserve it.


Baby. Check.

Mama. Check.

Being Daddy’s Survival Guide to the Coming Apocalypse.  Check.

Now that I’ve got your attention, there are going to be so many things you can’t take with you when the apocalypse strikes.  And even if it doesn’t strike, as daddy I want to be über prepared, ultra ready, and light years ahead of the game so that I can take care of Griffin’s needs, mama’s wants, and keep daddy’s sanity, even if I don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.

What I learned today about being a father:

Basketball is my zen.  Shooting hoops on the open court relieves any type of stress that builds up inside me, relaxes all tension in my torso, my back, and especially my head, so when the apocalypse hits the fan, the needs for myself are few and far between, but I know that a basketball and a needle and pump will be key to keeping me cool, calm, and collective.  As for baby and mama, well, those are two extraordinarily different beasts all together.  Jackie, my beautiful wife, has already stated that if an apocalypse does show up in 2012 she’s going to be super angry, and even if her anger doesn’t stop it from happening, it may just slow it down.  Because trust me, you don’t want to make mama angry.

What I think I know:

Baby’s needs come first.  Clothing of all shapes and sizes is key to battling the things we can’t control, like the weather.  Make sure to pack no less than one pair of each size of baby clothes 6 months from child’s age.  The thinking behind this is  pretty simple, no matter the situation Griffin is going to keep growing.  At the beginning it’s better to keep him comfortable, so whatever he’s wearing at the time plus five outfits his size are key to the transition from pre-apocalypse living to post-apocalypse surviving, but watch out for that nuclear summer, it could throw a complete wrench in what types of clothes you’ve prepped.

Next you’ll need at least three blankets.  Imagine, if you will, a slow-moving apocalypse, one that doesn’t “happen” right away, but takes some time to rev itself up.  Blankets cover baby, keep him warm, add just another layer of protection to whatever might be ailing us at the time.  Three blankets because most likely one will get ruined from the running around, trying to survive mode that mama and daddy will be in.  So you will need one to replace the one you lost and another back-up for when baby blows out and dirties the one you are using.

The next thing you’ll need to think about is baby stuff; what are necessary items that need to fit in the small back-pack already being filled with 10 days of baby clothes, three blankets, a basketball (deflated, of course), pump, and needle (and we haven’t even gotten to mama yet!).  The first thing I can think of is Griffin’s Nuks.  When we need something to calm him down or help put him to sleep his Nuk comes in really handy…But wait!  There are Nuks for the different stages of his life, so how do I decide which Nuks to take?  Easy, even though there are Nuks for all stages, the best Nuks are his newborn ones, so I pack three of those and then two more for down the road or barter material (because I’m sure we’ll need some good barter material, and what if we run into a family with no Nuks and acrying child but has an extra tent, don’t you think they’d be up for trading the tent for a Nuk?).

So we’ve got some basics handy, ready to roll.  Now we need to decide if we load the rest of the space up with toys or formula.  This is the tough spot we are put in being daddy, but for me, formula makes the most sense.  Because Jackie is able to nurse I work it out with her first that she’ll continue to nurse as long as possible because we can only get so much formula in our bag that’s filling up fast.  Jackie agrees (even though I know she will argue against my suggestions, just because I suggested it), so we grab two containers of formula and put them into Zip-Lock bags.  Why Zip-Lock bags, you ask?  Because they are more pliable and take up less space in our carry along, leaving more room for our next essential objects:

Our E-Reader.  Now bear with me here.  Even though the apocalypse has come and energy will be hard to come by, by taking our E-Reader we can load as many children’s books on there as they have in a library, thus saving tons of space (and weight) than packing all of Griffin’s books into the limited space that we have.  We will purchase a solar pack that plugs into our E-Reader, what, with the nuclear summer and all…

And lastly, but not least, our digital camera.  Even though we’re facing the apocalypse, we are still going to want to get pictures of Griffin growing up, and plus we have yet to get our first family photo.

Though I haven’t gotten to what Jackie would bring just yet, I can tell you from experience that she wouldn’t bring anything if it meant taking up space for baby things, and we’d be just as fine as we are now (though she’d probably make me leave my basketball, it’s OK though, because I always lose those pesky needles to fill them up with air, pesky needles).


I love this image. Who sticks their hand down the back of a baby’s diaper? How funny.

I’ve thought long and hard about all the things I’ve learned over the course of Griffin’s first five weeks, and I have to say that the one thing I feel most comfortable with is changing diapers.  Now, this may seem typical being daddy, the role of the father being the care taker, the take-charge-taker to take care of things that mama is tired of taking care of, which is exactly what I am.  When it comes to diaper changing I feel I am swift, exact, focused, and never as grossed out by baby poop as I thought I’d be.

What I learned today about being a father:

In it’s simplest form, diaper changing can be summed up like this; if the poop sits, change it.  However, many in the land of Parenthood want to give you a step-by-step instruction, a platform to refer to when you can’t tell if the diaper needs changing, or if you should use baby wipes that are scented or not scented, warmed or just room temperature.  There are so many different diaper changing instructions that I could spend hours upon hours of boring you to death with them.  But no, I am being daddy 101, the student/instructor for other dads to watch, assess, and then be told how to do it properly.  I may not know daddying all that well, but what being daddy has taught me is the art of the Diaper Daddy.

What I think I know:

Instead of the persistent notions that diaper changing is always done in stages or steps, like the blogger of “How To Change a Diaper, for Dummies,” wants us to think, no two diapers are the same.  There are mistakes to be made, bad decisions to be had, and lots of big and little messes that will eventually need to be cleaned up twice.  So to stress the challenges your babies diapers can create for you, I want to show diaper changing from a completely different point of view;  my babies perspective.

Griffin: So I’m sitting here with these two people. They’re familiar, but I don’t like how they keep touching me.  Get off me! (flaying hands, kicking feet).  Ok, here we go, picking me up again, Ugh!  Ok, ok, now she’s shaking me, getting dizzy, holding on, holding on…Ooooo, whatever that was, what a relief.  This feeling, so warm and squishy, not so great for my skin, though, and I’ve got nice, soft skin.  Oh, she’s saying something, yeah, that’s right, tell him I did my business, though I don’t know what my business is it sends him into a frenzy, makes mama say strange things and get all frantic.  Here we go!  I’ll cry a little bit, add some tension to my business, make them think this isn’t that cool, cause it’s not, it’s pretty warm.  Wait.  Wait, why are we going into this room?  I don’t like this room…yep.  She’s setting me down; I’m down.  Uh-Oh.  They’re looking at me funny, saying strange things and their voices, they don’t sound like them.  WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!  Now she’s trying to shove that sucky thing in my mouth and I don’t like what he’s doing down there and here we go!  Here we go people!  That cold breeze; Ouch!  Something sticking to my leg; that’s right mama, you tell him to be more careful because those sticky things hurt.  Burrrr, it’s freezing in here!  Get this sucky thing out of my face!  Hey!  You!  Big guy with the overhanging belly and strange, hairy face!  Put that thing back on me…I’m warning you, uh-oh, you did it, it’s out.  Take that old man, enjoy the shower, haha!  What?  What did she say?  No, seriously, I don’t mind the cold anymore.  You don’t have to put that thing back on me, in fact, get all these clothes off me, I’m much better that way, serious.  Let me breathe a little bit…Ooh, that’s nice, I like that warm wipey thing….yeah yeah yeah, I get it, it’s messy, what do you want me to do about it?  She shoves those things in my face and I just do what comes natural…uh-oh…got…to…fight…him…off…come on legs, kick that thing out of his hands…arms, come on arms, twist, shake, hit, slam…dang it, he got it on…Oh well, here comes some more of that hot stuff…Hahaha

Being daddy is all about finding Daddy’s Sway, or your own way of doing things.  No diaper changes will ever be the same.  Griffin is easy, until I get those diapers off.  He crunches his legs into his belly, swings his arms wildly, kicks back and forth, making diaper changing as difficult as it can be.  But once I’ve got the little thing latched on, he stops everything and gives me a little smile, his facial expressions changing like he’s having fun and enjoying our little romp.  And, more than I’d like to admit, he soils the new diaper just as fast as I could get it on.  It makes me think that changing diapers to him is just one big, dirty joke, and he’s the only one laughing.

He’s got his daddy’s sense of humor, that’s for sure.


What’s in your wallet?

Jackie takes the best pictures of babies.  When our niece, Harper, was born she went out and bought one of those expensive Canon cameras with the adjustable lenses, interchangeable flashes, and all the other bells and whistles.  It’s a beautiful piece of electronics that has made her good quality of picture-taking to great. 

Being a grad student has slowed down her ability to take her picture-taking to the next level, but we’ve seen a revival of that passion of hers since Griffin was born.  She takes the best pictures, creates these awesome slide shows and collages intertwining all the things from our courtship, our engagement, our wedding, and beyond.  She keeps her masterpieces on her computer for the most part though, never really satisfied with the way the end product looks.  Something about the generic photograph paper at all the big box stores, just another thing I don’t get.

What I learned today about being a father:

I miss my guy.  Today especially for some reason.  I am fortunate enough to have a bright picture on my desktop of him, though, and I keep a special one that mama took in my wallet.  There is nothing significant about today, neither good or bad.  Today feels like just a day, and maybe that’s why I was thinking about doing something other than my work, like taking the time to read some new blogs, maybe skip out on work and go see  a movie (I love movies, and I’ve heard great things about The Avengers), but looking at my boy’s picture not only stopped me from being foolish, but has given me a reason to do better.

What I think I know:

We all come across these times in our lives, whether it’s a rough day at work or a bad argument with a loved one that makes us want to do something that isn’t typical, something maybe dangerous or completely out of character.  I’ve never thought these things were bad, just some situations call for us to be unconventional and spontaneous and I think we all know when this is and when it’s not. 

Today, when my mind was wandering, wishing I was doing something else and contemplating jumping ship from work, it was the picture of Griffin that stopped me.  I realized that what I’m doing, I’m doing for him and my family, trying to create a good future for us so that he can have a life that he deserves.  He stopped me in my tracks, made me re-think my priorities, and helped me be a good daddy and do the right thing. 

So, if you happened to waiver, watch pictures of your children, because even now they’re talking back to you.  The hard things that come with being daddy feel a lot easier and make a lot more sense when you know why you’re doing them.


I’ve gained some extra weight since my wife got pregnant, gave birth, and makes me do all the cooking.  I enjoy food, but never to the extent that made me believe I would gain 15 pounds during this pregnancy.  Luckily I came across a great blog (see Being Daddy Links) by averagechildhood about weight gain for mamas.  I commented about my weight gain and was informed that a study has been done that shows men go through weight gain during pregnancy much like women do.  Her responses, and other responses to my comment, made me feel a whole lot better about what I know call my “Daddy Fat.”

What I learned today about being a father:

Mama break was in full gear yesterday afternoon when I got home from work.  It was an atypically long day for me, and when I got home Jackie was sitting on the couch eating dinner from Noodles & Company, but she didn’t get me any.

“I didn’t get you any.”

I didn’t flinch at the realization, because she didn’t expect me home for dinner.  So I took the dog, Archie, on a fast-food adventure so she could stick her nose out the window and let her shaggy dog-mane flip-flop in the hurried wind. 

Archie, you see, was our first baby.  Jackie picked her up just over three years ago.  We nursed her through worms, pneumonia, and all sorts of other ailments that a small, less than 2 lb baby dog may not have gotten through without the loving care of a parent or parents. 

The way Jackie treated Archie was a sign of her parenting style, always in your face and over protective, teaching, guiding, loving, and playful.  She adored Archie, and just like with Griffin Archie and I really didn’t have a chance to get to know each other until mama was done making her mark on the dog.  I don’t want to compare us buying a dog to mama giving birth, but when I get home from missing my family all day I include little Archie in that phrase, and Jackie likes to say that she’s his big sister.

What I think I know:

I wasn’t fond of the idea of getting a dog, and to be completely honest Jackie went over my head and purchased Archie without my knowledge.  It was early on in our relationship, and though it took me some time to get over it (the added responsibility, the costs, the health concerns, etc.) each and every day I am glad to come home to Archie just as much as I am to Jackie and Griffin.  Archie and I have a strange bond, one I didn’t notice until the other day when I came home from work and no one was home.  I called mama who didn’t answer, and searched the small two-bed for Archie (sometimes she doesn’t rush the door right away, just to make sure you’re really home).  When she wasn’t around I sat down hard on the couch, alone, and missed my family even more than usual.

Yesterday’s ride was a great ride for Archie and I.  We get to go on walks and I still let her lay on my lap when we watch TV, but I’ve noticed lately how she treats Jackie differently, how Archie lays in her bed instead of on the couch when Jackie, Grif and I are all hanging out on the couch.  How in the morning Archie doesn’t come shooting out from underneath the covers when Jackie calls her, and how hesitant Archie has become to really come near mama and show her how much she loves her. 

Griffin’s birth has been hard on Archie, the once dominant figure in the household has now taken a back seat to Grif, who needs mama’s full attention.  Archie doesn’t eat as much, doesn’t wag her tail as much, and barks more often than is usual.  On our car ride, though, I realized that everyone, especially our closest pets, needs a little Babyface Time, too.

And after our ride to get a sandwich I let her run around the front yard, dig in the dirt box behind the apartment, and chase some squirrels.  We went upstairs exhausted, me from a long day at work and her from a few extra minutes of being outside.  We grabbed the little guy from mama, whom had a rough day, and told her to take the next three hours off.  Grif, Archie and me, well, we took a nap on my favorite chair, changed some diapers while dancing to Griffin’s noise maker, me singing a made-up song and Archie barking along, and hung out until it was time to go to bed.

Sometimes being daddy is knowing when to give that added attention to the ones who are not getting it, letting mama take some time off for herself, and letting the dog in all of us run around for just a few extra minutes longer.