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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.

 


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.


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.