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Category Archives: mama break

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.


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.


I can’t dance, and I’ll be the first to admit it.  Tonight, after 23 days of being latched at the nip, mama decided to take some time for herself and hand daddy the reigns to child.  She was reluctant, stalled with excuses like reading him a book, pumping, maybe doing a basket of laundry (maybe), but in the end I gave her my certificate of reassurance that I wouldn’t burn the house down (see Stupid Things Daddy Does II) and I wouldn’t submit Griffin to any of my crazy daddy ideas that I have floating around in my head (not yet, at least).

Once the door closed behind her Griffin pooped, I changed him, plugged in the iPhone to the iDock and turned it up.

And we danced.

What I learned today about being a father:

This was the moment I didn’t know if I was ready for.  I mean, I’ve thought about for 23 days, thought about the time when he and I would be alone and how I would handle all the things that happen that mama usually takes care of.  Jackie, bless her heart, went over all the precautionary details if he was fussy, how I could tell if he needed to be changed, where the bottles were and how much to feed him (not too much, though, when she gets home she wants to breast feed!).  The Nuk came in handy, I fought off serving him bottle as long as I could, and played and danced until daddy ran out of gas.

Kids are tough and desire a lot of attention, especially now.  In two hours I realized what mamas put up with for a whole day.  I was inspired, however, by the music of O.A.R., Grasshopper Takeover (a band from my hometown who didn’t sell many records but made some beautiful music), Phoenix, The Head and The Heart and Dave Mathews Band.  When I didn’t think I could keep him entertained much longer I just did what I thought I had to do, I turned the music up!

What I think I know:

If the neighbors were looking in our windows they would have seen a wiley young man in his early 20’s (days, that is) in his diapers and his aging daddy in his underwear dancing the night away.  It was majestic, our flow, our glide across the hardwood floors, the way his legs struggled  about without notion or rhythm.  In the end, it was the greatest time of both our lives.

I lulled him to sleep while singing along to Led Zeppelin, “Hey Hey What Can I Do…”, and held him in my arms until mama got home.  He was half asleep, she was sweaty and lovely, beautiful mama.  Right then and there I knew that I was lucky, because I knew that I had more and more dancing to look forward to.


When Jackie hands Griffin over to me after he falls asleep and she goes off to take care of some of her mama duties like breast feed, feed herself, bathe, study, search the internet endlessly for information on what she might think is wrong with him, I secretly hope that he wakes up in my arms, opens his eyes, and sees me first.

What I learned today about being a father:

I could sit for hours with my little guy and watch his little chest move up and down as he breathes in his sleep.  I get goo-goo when he is dreaming, and then suddenly his little arms shoot up and over his head and then they slowly descend back down by his sides, his hands resting peacefully on his bulging belly.  He’s growing, I can tell and the doctor said so and when I see his now pudgy fingers I waive Jackie over quietly just to point them out.  “Here here here, you’ve got to see these things.(!)”  She runs over on tip-toes and looks at what I’m holding up, his fingers gripping my pinky, and shakes her head at me.

“Can you believe that little wonder was in my belly?”

She says it with inspiration, amazement, awe, and pats her tummy and goes back to doing whatever mamas do.  I grin daddy proud, and slowly one eye pops open, Griffin’s right eye, and his pupil moves around to see what’s going on.  He doesn’t open his left eye, not yet at least, but it’s at this point, when he first wakes up, that he is always smiling, and it’s daddy’s turn for babyface time.

What I think I know:

Children are a wonder, and it’s amazing what women have to go through to get them here.  I wanted to share that moment today because it was a first for me to experience what Jackie calls ‘Babyface Time.’  I have had the luxury of witnessing many handfuls of time when she has woken him from his sleep, but it was a first for it actually happening to me.  He doesn’t like me as much, I can tell by the scowls and way his eyes crease and his brow raises and lowers, but in that moment I feel like I get it, whatever it is.

I started writing a long time ago on accident, just pros and anecdotes about my life and my thoughts and I moved on to other things like fiction and screenplays (all for personal use of course) and in everything I do I write about the it in life that defines us.  I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I’ve been searching for it, researching it through the various religions and texts and stories and movies for a long, long time.  I’ve spent so much of my life breaking down and discussing with people the in’s and out’s of destiny and nature, the ideals of philosophers, theologians, naturalists and my dog Archie, that I failed at the time to realize one thing; I’ve never done anything as significant before as being daddy.

I could talk all I want to about life but never really know anything about it until I was a part in creating it.  Babyface time, looking into Griffin’s eyes and thinking about all the world that I have to offer him, made it  pretty clear, but I don’t know how to explain it other than with the moment when he opened his one eye, his right eye, and he looked right into me and smiled.

And like so many others before her I took an hour of Jackie’s time trying to explain to her the feelings and the emotions and the clarity involved in the simple look that Griffin exposed me to listened with as much might as she could before she readily put my insights and pontificating into simple terms that being daddy made me understand, “He probably just shat in his pants.”

As usual, she was correct.


I can’t stand still, sit for a prolonged period of time, or sleep without humming, strumming or some type of swaying.  I haven’t noticed the changes, but those around me have called me out on my inability to be still.  It all has something to do with child.  The side-to-side sway that relaxes him or the quick shake of a leg while sitting on the couch and holding him are

all now imbedded in my subconsciousness and I can’t stop myself from doing them even when he’s not around.

(mama break)

What I learned today about being a father:

Keeping up with daily posts has not been easy!  Between the cleaning up after, making meals for, and creating a reassuring atmosphere for my wife (I love you honey!) and trying to care for child where does everyone find the time?  The balancing act between being daddy and being daddy 101 and all my other hobbies is difficult.  Because now, more than ever, people need me.  Daddy’s old way of being isn’t necessarily obsolete, it’s just there is a new way of doing things.

What I think I know:

Learning to live differently, for someone else, began when I first moved in with my wife.  My old life of freedom and independence, doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, went out the door the moment we shared keys.  It was hard then, but I got used to it, and thrived in it.  Being daddy has created another new challenge, a new sway, if you will, on where life is going to take me.  Mama still needs me, which is something that hasn’t changed, and noted every time I have to step away from the computer to give her a break (mama break: mamas term for when she needs something, instead of saying, “honey, can you do me a favor,” she now just yells, “mamas break.”, and I respond accordingly).

(mama break)

Being daddy I will learn my balance, but at the beginning we have to choose what’s most important to us.  Writing this blog has helped me learn from my mistakes, understand better what mama and baby need, and reminds me that being daddy is the most rewarding person that I can be.

So I put it to you, anyone who may read this, how do you create balance in your life when being daddy or being mommy?  Balancing a relationship, career, and personal time is tough; adding in a newborn makes it even tougher.  What’s your sway like?

Oops, and mama needs another break.  Until next time…