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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).

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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.


My wife, Jackie, turned 29 years-young 10 days exactly after our son was born.  We celebrated in good fashion with her friends and family making the trip in from out of town and her parents holding the party at their house.  Our small two-bedroom can not accomodate all the people, plus there would be limited amount of place that mama could take baby to nurse. 

We arrived fashionably late, last, actually, and Jackie justified this by taking the stance that now we have a new baby and are allowed 15 additional late minutes on our typical 30 late minutes she uses to get herself ready.  I was ready by 10AM for the 12:30PM party and took care of baby until mama got ready.  As she took baby from me she looked at my bare feet, “Now who’s running late?”, she said, with jaw dropping simplicity and seriousness that nearly set me on fire.  Some things never change.

What I learned today about being a father:

Celebrations are great, but celebrating with your loved ones is even better.  We have been super lucky that her family members have made the extra effort to come in and see baby and celebrate her birthday with us over this last weekend because in life family matters.

As a young boy my family, cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, did just about everything together.  We went on summer trips together, saw baseball games together, spent Sundays at grandma and grandpa’s house.  We lived like a community, and every weekend we stayed with our cousins or they stayed with us or we all stayed at G&G’s (grandma & grandpa’s) because our parents believed spending time with family was important.  This weekend was an eye opener, a realization that as a young adult through my early thirties I lost sight of the important roles are families play in raising us as individuals.  My son won’t remember anything from this weekend, but it was great for Jackie and I to relive the simpliest childhood moments from our past that helped shape who we both are, and those moments we talked about all weekend all had to do with family.

What I think I know:

For my family to come to Madison, WI, they would have to travel from Omaha, NE; about eight hours by road one way and hard to get to through the air, so they have yet to meet baby.  Though they couldn’t be here with us, technology has shortened the distance gap and allowed us to connect on a totally virutal level.  My parents, both ripe for their ages, are not technically savy but have mastered the art of Skype.  They love it, actually introduced it to me last year as a way to communicate face to face, and it’s been fantastic!  I come from a large family and we are somewhat spread out over the midwest, but by Skyping I have been able to introduce baby Griffin (child) to his aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents via technology.  I have spoken to my family more often in the last 12 days then I had in the previous 60, and now that I think I have mastered Skyping I know there are more face to face interactions to come. 

Griffin probably can’t even see everyone through the computer screen, but for me and Jackie we have been able to stay connected, one way or another, with family.  They say it takes a village, but what I think I know is the saying doesn’t mean the village has to do, it just means the village has to be, and we are lucky enough to be able to surround child with a village no matter the distance.