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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.



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.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Looking at this question now, I wonder if any of us really had a chance to answer it?  I’m starting to hear it already, from friends and family alike, how child looks like this and that and how adament my wife is about him becoming a swimmer.  My lovely wife, she’s a fiesty one, and she gets pretty competitive when it comes to playing board games, running a 10K, working out at the gym, her education, her accolades, and now our baby boy.  Fathers, sure!  That’s who I hear it from the most!  Guys want to know if I’m going to breed my son to play basketball (as I was pretty good once upon a time) or baseball (that too) or soccer (yep) or if I’m going to push him to be writer (still working on that) or a magician (I was terrible), but what I tell them is he’ll decide exactly what he’s going to be…Unless my wife has her way.

What I learned today about being a father:

Kids don’t have choices, they have options.  Jackie and I talk about what our expectations are for our child, and I firmly believe that you need them, but as I’m putting our list together I start to wonder if our expectations are too demanding.  Not demanding in that they are too much (though they most likely are) but demanding as in how will are boy now whathewants out of life? 

Parents are driven to create success situations for our children and to teach them all that we can.  I know a few things about sports and could teach child about the sports I grew up to know best, but I couldn’t teach him anything about what I don’t know.  I want to be able to open him up to his own experiences, let him make choices based on his interests and preferences so he shapes his life.  In my late teens I became pretty independent, made decisions good or bad and was held responsible.  It was hard, but sometimes I think what made it harder was the fact that my parents tried to direct my lifes path.  There was nothing wrong with their direction, but I created a fork when I was 16 and when my path began to pull away from the path they had begun to build it created immense friction in our relationship.

I look back on it all now and chuckle, knowing that my parents were doing what they thought was best for me and I know my wife and I will do what’s best for Griffin, but will we?

What I think I know:

There has to be a point in our children’s lives when we let them make choices, whether good or bad, so they can learn to take responsibility of their life.  But when does that happen?  Is there an age that we, as parents, have to let go of the strings, stop trying to build a road that they don’t want to travel down anymore and if so how do we know?

Being daddy doesn’t give me the answers to any of this, nor does my life experience.  I know I’m better off letting Jackie talk about the future Griffin is going to have rather than deter her from being the best mama she is going to be.  It was only three weeks ago that he joined the outside world, and everyday I watch him change from this incredible, tiny thing, into a small child.  Soon he will be a boy and then a teenager and at some point he will become his own man, but I’m scared, even worried sometimes because I don’t want to push him into his future.  In a snap, just like that, he will be his own person.  Maybe an explorer or a writer, an actor, a scientist or star in his own podcast reality show, I don’t know, but whatever he’s going to be, it can wait.  For now, I am enjoying the moment, him being him and me being daddy, and letting mama worry about teaching him how to swim (I was never good at that).

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…

I work with a bunch of women, seriously.  My current career path has me working long hours around a bunch of mothers and grandmothers, easily making up 80% of the people I am around on a daily basis, in meetings with, or working in close quarters to.  They have seen me in all of my glory, through my promotions and my wedding and now the birth of child and I can not stress enough how these women, whom I know so well but also know so little, are proud of daddy.

What I learned today about being a father:

Newborn children, especially first borns, are the doorstep into any meaningful conversation.  I write this with a smile, because I’ve learned so much more about the people who surround me on a much deeper emotional level.  For some, I am their boss, for others co-workers and for others clients, but all these people want nothing to do with me work-wise until they can talk about child. 

They want to see pictures, which I now show with honor, and talk about the birthing process and the sleep processes and the nursing.  They want to ask about mama, tell me what she’s going through and how I can be more help and then listen as I explain my goals and what I’ve realized being daddy is all about so far (because, they will tell me, there is so much more to learn). 

Some cry, others just hug.  Today, of all days, more and more people have come to me to for something other than business plans, correspondences or advice.  They have come to congratulate, pat me on the back, and tell me how proud they are of me, and I couldn’t feel better about my life.

What I think I know:

It’s all in the pictures.  A few days ago I wrote a litte about catching the moments, and I came to the conclusion that those moments are better captured not with the lense but with my own eyes.  I still believe this, but through the thousands of pictures I took (seriously, thousands) everyone else is able to get an idea of the moment and ascertain for themselves what they think of baby.  It truly is an experience to watch faces light up with joy, to see the disgruntled co-worker (because we all have them) take part in the celebration of a new being, a baby, whom all immediately consider him one of their own.  They love his small mouth, his round head, the simplesest expressions that they get from the pictures and especially his big toes!  (akwardly large, even the doctor said so)

The point I’m trying to get to, I guess, is that even though I’ve gotten to know these women enough to know something about them through the birth of my son I’ve become closer to them then I could ever have imagined.  I have become, in a strange sense, one of the ladies.  It is different with other fathers, sure, and this feeling of camaraderie probably changes with time, but for now I’ll take my hugs and I’ll show my pictures, I’ll listen to the wonderful stories of parenthood that people come out of the woodwork to share, and I’ll continue to do my best to raise my son and be the best husband I can be.  My family makes daddy proud.  With each picture I show and with each smile my little guy brings I’m reminded just how proud I am.

Me, being daddy

I’m scared. 

Today child and mama each have doctors appointments and I can’t be with them to hold hands and reassure them everything is going to be OK.  We get his newborn test results back from the lab, and because tests and doctors make mama worry none of the three of us were able to get any sleep last night.  Mama held onto child tight whispering in his ear that everything was going to be fine, that nothing was wrong with him and that the tests would come out negative for any signs of chronic diseases or disabilities.  It wasn’t an easy night, and it isn’t an easy day because once child ran out of juice daddy held mama tight and whispered in her ear that everything was going to be OK, that the tests where going to come out in our favor for child, and mama too.

What I learned today about being a father:

Doctors and tests never worried me because I always knew that no matter the outcome of anything I would deal with it head on and not falter in destruction of disease or potential disability.  It was easy for me when all I had to think about was me, but today my life has embarked on a totally different attitude towards the health of my family.  I’m worried, and have been all day only because I didn’t completely think there was anything that I should be worried about until mama began to break down.  

Mama is in good health, but since the pregnancy she has run into some complications with her lady parts.  She is scared that we might find out something is more wrong then she thinks, and before last night I didn’t know to the extent what she was worried about.  She opened up about what could be wrong, what might be wrong, and what could happen if the x’s and o’s line up the way she fears they can.  She has over-researched her symptoms, done too many personal tests that can not truly be considered tests and continues to come to the same conclusion: that we will not be able to have more children.

Griffin, our boy, is our first.  And as a new mother the thing that scares her most is not being able to have more children.  She’s scared for herself, but finds solace and humor in knowing that we have him.  But if you add-on the ideas of all that could be wrong with him that we don’t know about with a woman whose hormonal balance is completely out of structure we have created a recipe for super-sized anxiety, (hold the added stress).  Being daddy I worry about my wife, I worry about my child, and I worry that I won’t be there in this time of need whether the news is good or bad because I am back to work. 

What I think I know:

Though I have never considered myself an over-the-top romantic I know that a little support in the right direction goes a long way.  I like to leave little notes in my wife’s purse or travel bag, maybe stuffed in the pages of a book she is or is not reading, to let her know how much I care about her and how wonderful she is.  I don’t do this to gain from it, I just know that sometimes she needs a little pick-me up, a reminder that I’m here for her and that despite what she thinks I am thinking about her.  At the doctors she found my note.  I don’t know how things have turned out yet, but when she texted me to tell me she found my note I could sense a that strength coming back in her.  It read, ‘Found Ur note.  U R the sweetest man I know.  I love U.  Need milk.’

Positive letters from mama make my day better, and no matter how low I can get I know that doing what I can to brighten her day is what being daddy is all about.

Tip of the Week:  Carry the Load.

The Load can mean many different things for different people, because every situation is different.  For me, my wife needs me to be strong when she can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel or when the what if’s seem too out of her control.  Being Daddy means I have to carry that load for her, be up when she is down, leave loving messages for her to find even if it isn’t me. 

But whether it’s that emotional load our significant others can’t bear or the load that is all the new things that go with taking your baby somewhere, being daddy is being strong when we need to be, empathetic when she needs us to be, and loving as much as we can be.  Oh, and don’t forget the milk.

When I first found out mama was pregnant I read all the daddy books that were out there and tried my best to read literature that my wife set neatly on my desk so that I would see it when I got home from work.  I learned some good things, became more understanding about the changes she was going through and did everything to help her out that the books suggested.  The fact is nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen.  All the books and websites  gave great advice on what to expect when my wife was expecting and helped out more than I like to admit.  They were invaluable in creating a better partnership during her pregnancy, but offered very little on what happens next.

I looked all over, and there is information here and there about being a first time father but what that information doesn’t focus on is what it means being daddy.  I went back to my books, re-called all of my friends and sought out the golden rules from my elders on living with a newborn and a no-longer pregnant mama.  After hours of searching and reading articles and talking with fathers I couldn’t find the answers that I was looking for.  So I started this blog to give a behind the scenes look at being daddy, offer up my stories, theories, advice and updated knowledge even though I don’t know what being daddy is all about…Hey, we have to start somewhere.

What I learned today about being a father:

Back to work and everyone’s friendly for the first day, asking questions about child and mama and laughing at my expense because sleep is hard to come by and I look like a mess.  Coming back to work after a few weeks off is hard enough, but going through the chitter-chatter of life amongst co-workers makes it just that much more difficult.

I work in a professional setting with many already parents and grandparents who are all interested in what I’m going through.  I ask them questions about what their first years as parents were like, and what I learned is that none of my co-workers had the same answer. 

Being daddy is unique for each man just as each pregnancy is unique for each woman.  A few of the men I talked to seemed to remember nothing about the first few years of their kids, but had plenty to say about not getting enough sleep and reassuring me that, “It gets easier.”

“What gets easier?”

They think about my response for a second, they shrug their shoulders and reply the same way.  “I don’t know.  Being a father?”

What I think I know:

Being daddy is harder than most of us think.  It’s not hard like being mama, but hard in a completely different sense with a unique learning curve that is more dictated by the man then anything else.  It seems that no matter how many years experience one has or how much time someone has put into being daddy, they don’t really have the answer to how it gets easier, or what it actually takes.  There is no simple, laid out plan to creating an environment in child’s first year that says this is what you’ll deal with and here’s how so-and-so will affect your life and here’s how you can be the best daddy for your child.  It’s not there, I’ve looked!  I’ve explored the depths of fatherhood from across the oceans of time and swam against its currents seeking out answers to being daddy!  And ahoy!  This is the best I can do…

In time, being daddy might get easier, and maybe what my fellow fathers are trying to tell me (that no book can) is that being daddy is like being naturally gifted at something, you don’t know why, you just are.