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Category Archives: Family Matters

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.

 

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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.


I feel like I’m starting from scratch again!  You wouldn’t have guessed that Jackie gave birth over a month ago because it feels like it’s happening all over again.  The constant complaining, the shouting at the Playstation 3 for cutting out on shows, the weeps and sobs when that commercial about the orphaned dogs comes on TV, and that’s just me!

Seriously though, Jackie is going through some new emotions and changes in her attitude that I just don’t get.  Griffin is feeling it too, following right along with mamas reactions towards how daddy makes a bottle, how daddy folds baby’s clothes, and how daddy can’t seem to utter a word in when mama’s yelling at everything and anything.  I’ve always liked rollercoasters, no, loved rollercoasters, but this is the bumpiest, loopiest, most upside-down ride I’ve ever been on! (Speaking of rollercoasters I suggest Six Flags in the Chicago land area, epic rides)

What I learned today about being a father:

It’s been nearly four days since my last post, and I know what you’re thinking, “Why so lazy daddy?”  I promise when I say I’m motivated, obligated, and doing my best to emancipate myself from my wife to keep up on this blog.  I am trying to convey this in the best way possible, but over the last four days my wife and sister (who is in from out-of-town) planned a Cinco De Mayo party without telling me; one that I had to take off early from work to prepare for.  My sister was supposed to help me cook, Jackie run errands and prep our small two-bed for company, while I did all the grocery shopping, meal and bar preparation.  Though I wasn’t keen on the idea of making food I for twenty in our little kitchen, at 6AM I had it in my mind that with all the help from the other two this wouldn’t be an issue.

Daddies, never make plans that something won’t go wrong.

My sister ended up lame with a hurt back, one that would end up making sending us to a hospital and making her bed ridden for the remainder of her stay in town, at a hotel room, with my parents coming into town.  Jackie called grandma over to help clean the apartment which turned into grandma and mama sitting on the couch watching Grey’s goo-gooing and ga-gaing over baby.  Daddy went to work until 11AM, then to the store to buy the goods, then home and unloaded and went straight to work prepping, baking, and cooking for the next 7 hours.  It was a whirlwind of on-goings and what-the-heck-am-I-doing dessert making, but it all worked out in the end.

And that’s the thing, Jackie, completely ignoring my pleas for help, just kept saying, “B, it will all work out in the end.  Everything will be great.”  Smiling wide, looking at baby.

What I think I know:

Despite the problems with my sister and Jackie’s emotional ups and downs, all in all it was a great weekend.  My parents were able to meet their grandson for the first time, and though they had to take turns, one watching my sister, one at the two-bed holding Griffin, they couldn’t have asked for a better, more complete weekend.

I didn’t get it, to be honest.  I talked it over with my parents Sunday night, wondering with the serious back issue my sister faced (and I mean serious-serious, she couldn’t walk, stand up, move from her laying position, or get to the bathroom in time because of the pain) and the long road they took to get here why they thought it was such a great weekend?  It was damp and rained off-and-on all weekend, we didn’t even get a chance to go out for dinner or lunch or hang out as a family.  Moms (I call her moms, can’t really explain why) and dad chuckled, and they agreed that it was great because they got the chance to not only be fun, loving grandparents, but they got to be parents again.

The art of being a parent never really goes away.  My parents house has been empty for over five years, and though the enjoy us staying over when we come into town they never, ever have to take care of us.  This weekend moms and dad went to work on my sister, and I, older brother and all, got a chance to give good brotherly help as well.

As everything changes, some things never do.  My parents, the guardian of their children, went into protection/take care of mode without hesitation.  They relished this role, the role of parent, husband and wife taking care of their little girl.  It was amazing, perfect even, just watching them do what they do best hoping that in the coming years I can be the best daddy I can be.

Once the smoke cleared, the grandparents gone and my sister back home, I sat with Jackie and listened to her complain about our dinner, yell at her phone, scold the dog, and tell me how need to stop telling people stories because it takes me too long to get to the point.  The point is, and I’m sorry it took this long, she gave me a kiss, thanked me for watching Grey’s with her, let me hold baby and got me ice cream, just because. 

Being daddy it sometimes feels like we are starting over again and again, but it all works out in the end.


I take pride in my work ethic, working hard and going above and beyond to do what’s best for my family and my company.  There has never been a time in my life where anyone would have found me asleep on the job.  I’ve worked in many different environments since I was ten years old, work days that lasted over 15 hours, and have somehow managed to put in the extra time to keep up with my personal activities and entertain Jackie’s very often at times warped idea of what constitute as “doing something fun.”

All that changes in an instant, and on a short elevator ride from the basement of my office building to the third floor I became a victim the second worst kind of enemy behind time, sleep.

What I learned today about being a father:

When the elevator reached the 8th floor a co-worker of mine tapped me on the shoulder.  “You OK?”  I was startled and nearly buckled, leaning into the corner of the elevator I had shut my eyes for what I thought was just a second, but on the way up I had dozed, just like that.

He smiled widely and, aware of our new baby, simply said “You’ll get used to it.”

Please be aware, you’ll never get used to falling asleep in an elevator.  I mean seriously, it’s a metal box with no soft edges.  The mirrored plates that line the inner workings of most elevators are usually cold, sticky to the touch.  Has anyone else ever noticed the unnatural film that is invisible to the naked eye that builds up inside elevators?  The sides of my hair changed drastically from said film, sticking out in ways I never thought possible.  A quick trip to the bathroom and a few finger-fulls of water would do nothing to contain the new bend that had formed.  And though it was only  a few bunches of hair, by the looks of me it had become obvious to myself (and everyone else in the office) that being daddy has changed me.

What I think I know:

To make it through the day I was extra caffeinated and made a point to walk around for at least 20 minutes of every hour.  It was the longest day of my life, and my coworkers all had something to say about how pale I looked, how my the redness of my eyes was out of control, and there were only a few pokes of fun about my stint of sleeping in the elevator (like all great work stories, mine made its way through office email).

Though it was tough to get through the work day, it was much easier when I got home.  At home it’s go-go-go, and being daddy means that I have to be prepared to take Griffin out of mama’s hands so she can take care of her needs, make dinner while baby feeds and mama pumps, rock child when he’s fussy, change pants when it is needed, and by all means never, ever, forget to take out the garbage.  Being daddy is about resilience, fighting off being tired and finding the extra energy throughout the day to make things happen.  Today, when I got home, Jackie could tell I was tired, worn out, beat up from the inside and that I needed some time, just a few minutes, to rest my body…And then she went all in about the dealings of her day and I can tell you this much, no matter how hard the day is at work, no matter how tired I think I am, it’s nothing compared to being mommy.


Griffin is growing at a staggering rate and our ration of diapers is running long on the sizes that don’t fit him.  We were warned, but we’ve been asking people to bring us things we need when they come to visit, such as diapers, baby wipes, formula, sanity, you know, the everyday things that mamas and daddies need to make sure their baby is taken care of and that they don’t forget about each other in the process.  Now I’ve got a corner full of newborn diapers that don’t fit and a drawer full of newborn/0-3 month old onesies that mama has thrown on the floor to make room for the 3-6 month old clothes…what a mess.

What I learned today about being a father:

Can you believe it’s been four weeks since Griffin was born, I started this blog, and my hair has started to turn colors other than the nice, dark auburn color I’ve grown to know so well?  In the last 28 days so many great things have happened, but now a reality of sorts is setting in…Change is upon us! 

Jackie and I thought we could plan for this, but we were totally wrong.  Our diagram of baby growing and parenting was thrown out the window 27 days ago, and we’ve been trying to pick up the pieces ever since.  I’ve learned that she is the decider, when she makes a move I just go with it.  When she says to do something that doesn’t make sense I question it every time on accident, not on purpose, trying to gain a better understanding of reason, and she motions with many different contortions of her body and face of how ridiculous my inquisitions are.

What it’s come down to is this; when Jackie makes a mess I clean it up.

What I think I know:

“I didn’t make the mess on purpose, it’s for the baby!”

Sooner or later you will hear this line, or one very similar to it, that describes mama’s reasoning for whatever it is she is doing that daddy doesn’t quite get.  Being daddy has taught me to look past my wife’s simple indiscretions, keep my mouth shut and my head down (to see what’s on the floor that’s not supposed to be there) and never, never ask a question in the form of a statement. 

Our partnership is more than that, however.  It’s being on the same page, turning corners and expecting that the other will be there.  I don’t mind doing the heavy lifting because that’s what I’m good at.  Mama is good at reacting to the changes of baby’s needs, knowing when to create space (even when it is by tossing clothes on the floor, in the crib, or out the car window; it was an accident) and having the magic touch that calms babies emotions after spending too much time in daddies hands.

Being daddy takes a lot of understanding and reacting at a moments notice.  No amount of preparation will prepare you for the changes that are being thrown your way, for the odd times when mama uses baby as a reason for doing what she does, or for the calming, loving effect your little child will have on you.  It sounds cliché, I get it, but within the cliché is much truth.  Our children are a miracle, a miracle created by the actions of individuals, which makes us pretty cool too.  Sometimes the heavy lifting is reminding yourself about that, telling your partner how awesome of a job they did, and knowing that every time you ever said to yourself that you wanted to make a difference in a person’s life that you are.

I know there’s more to this story that I haven’t learned, but I’m keeping my eyes open and my ears alert to all the learning that hasn’t been described in detail for me.  Mama is making sure of that too.  I mean, just last night she taught me how pack old clothes into plastic containers and mark them for when we have our next child…”You want another one?”

Sometimes being daddy is questioning mama’s sanity…sometimes.

Being Daddy Tip of the Week:

Do everything you can to listen to instruction from you partner.  Mama’s do not like to have to explain themselves twice…and remember that whatever she is asking you to do is “for the baby.”  So rub her feet, and stop asking questions.


I’m a martial arts junky and a fan of foreign films of just about every genre.  Last night little Grif wouldn’t go to sleep.  I did the dance with him, actually dancing with him, singing in elaborate voices that sound more like Cartman from South Park than a real human being, and pushing him back and forth in his stroller in our small two-bedroom (he likes the car seat, even when not in a car).

I did everything I thought I knew I could before having to sit down on the couch.  He kept grabbing, whining, smiling, making baby noises that creep out the neighbors.  I was spent, so I turned on the Netflix, him dangling from my arms.  I strolled through the offerings and settled on a movie about 17th century Mongolia.  From the moment the movie started Griffin, now sitting up in my left arm looking like daddy, became fixated with the television.  His eyes were wide, his mouth shaped in a small “o”, and he was still.

What I learned today (tonight) about being a father:

When mama grasps for peace and quiet she hands baby over to daddy.  Being daddy is a mix of taking care of mama and baby, but when she relinquishes control of her child its double duty for daddy. 

It’s important for mama to get her sleep and for us dads to learn how to take care of ous infants.  But be warned, because everything I thought I knew up to this point went out the window.  I ran through the list in my head titled “How to Keep Baby Quiet”, thumbed through chapters 1, 2, and 3, until the list went blank.  Jackie got out of bed, twice, but each time she reached for him I told her “I got it.”

I really thought I did, and when I didn’t I gave up trying so hard, sat down and turned on the telly, and that’s when my miracle happened…silence.

What I think I know:

As new parents we trend on proven ways to calm our babies down.  I had to watch a video before leaving the hospital, the 5 S’s (Swaddle, Side, Shoosh, Shake, Suck) and it worked for all of two days before my being daddy radar kicked in.  From there I moved on to other things, like singing, humming, skin-to-skin, dancing, baby-walking, cheering on mama when she was about ready to nurse, etc.  All those things were great, and here I am four weeks into his life and everything has changed again!

Being daddy is all about adapting and babies changing quickly.  Sooner or later he might be a terror on the bike path, a car junkie, a rodeo clown or a professional skydiver but the one thing I know is that I have to learn now how to take care of him today.  I never thought TV would be the answer, and I know that I don’t want it to be a staple in my sons life.  Heck, when he was born we dumped our cable company for this very reason!

But it was dimwitted luck that I found success through my martial arts films, and even though I know it wasn’t because of the film, rather, it was because I used the one piece of advice I actually think helps from the 5 S’s film; I relaxed. 

No amount of training or film study can prepare us for the changes in our children.  We have to roll with their punches, adapt to their environment by creating an environment based on merits we choose and hope that some day they succumb to our wills, willingly or with force.  But until then we can’t let our emotions get out of control.  Their crying won’t stop the more anxious we get, so when the time comes find something that calms you down, and baby will take cue and follow suit.

Then enjoy some Stir Fry for lunch, and celebrate passing the lesson of being Kung Fu papa.