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mismatched socksIt’s been nearly 7 months since my last post and boy, a lot has happened.  I tried keeping this blog in the loop of the things daddy does but with a career, working on starting a company to move into a new career, keeping mommy happy which in turn keeps baby happy, and writing the first page of many different novels to come and some times revisiting those novels late at night when baby was keeping us awake, well, you know…

As you can imagine, Griffin has hit certain milestones.  Some early then others and some later, but hitting them just the same.  Like any good father, being daddy has been a lot about making time for those milestones so I can take pictures of them, video tape them, and then re-watch them with mommy over and over again after Grif goes to sleep.  I can say that this never was the plan, and the more I just get to watch him eat his first meal of solid, try to take his first crawl, or stand up for the first time in the crib all his own I know some of these milestones are just better served as a memory that I’ll hold on to until I can’t anymore.

Jackie has tried her best to keep up with the milestones in Griffin’s baby book, a chore better left to mommy, but being daddy means we have to hear about it over and over again and look at the book every time a new milestone is complete.  Though it may seem redundant at first, being daddy is about remembering the labor intensive work mommy puts in to keeping that baby book up to date, in line, and fresh.  Milestones, like matching socks, are better kept together; nice, neat, and organized.  But like the best pair of socks, it’s the ones that we find after they go missing that we cherish the most.  And those milestones are usually stored away somewhere deep in our memory, peeking out when we need them to the most.

What I learned today about being a father:

I’ve been sick for the past three days.  So sick, in fact, that both jobs were ignored and Jackie took Grif to the in-laws for the day to stay away from me.  I made the suggestion, but while they were gone I went through the motions of thinking about how empty our apartment was, and how much more miserable that made me.


Being daddy is about working and doing everything you can to provide for your family.  So I spend the majority of my week sitting in an office working on keeping a business I run afloat, then spending more time at my home office building a business I run to try to get it afloat.  All this time is spent away from my family, and even though I’m at home during my second job I am trying to deal with clients while they are in the office so I don’t have to bother them at home when they are with their family!  Quite the conundrum really, but I’ve tried to make it work as best as I can so I can give my family something better than what we have now.  But being away from my family is hard, especially because I’m consistently reminded of the milestones I’ve missed from the pictures Jackie texts me or the videos she shows me when I get home.  I love being kept in the loop, but being there is much, much more rewarding.

What I learned about being a father was two-fold; when I saw Griffin standing in his crib without our help, his childhood literally flashed before my eyes.  Less than 8 months ago he was still just a tiny being inside Jackie’s belly and we worried about him being healthy or what kind of parents we would be.  Back then, like it was so long ago, we called the doctor when something didn’t seem right or sought advice from people who have been through this before, worried that w

e would screw something up along the way and our child would learn to hate us before he was even 1 year of age!  But as he stood tall and proud, balancing himself up on the side of his crib, a new set of thoughts ran through me…damn, I’ve got lower that crib.

Kids grow up, and they grow up fast.  And I also learned that when you’re sick, no matter which parent it is, parenting doesn’t just shut down or go away.  I had it easy for most of the day I stayed home sick.  Jackie took Griffin to her parents for half the day, giving me time to rest and try to make myself better.  When she got home she was frustrated, even angry, and let me know that being daddy doesn’t get a break just because I’m not feeling well or because my partners in another country need me on a conference call at 10PM while Griffin is trying to sleep.  Being daddy, she tells me, is also about being present and especially about being quite when baby sleeps.

What I think I know:

For those who have read this blog in the past, I can honestly tell you that everything I thought I knew did not teach me anything about what I know now, and that still isn’t very much.  Eight months later and mommy is still the most important part of baby’s life.  Jackie is Griffin’s lifeline, his go-to when something doesn’t feel right or he doesn’t think daddy can take care of his needs.  When mommy leaves the room, baby notices.

But what I think I know is this; being daddy is about cherishing those few moments after birth that we get to have with our sons and daughters when mommy is away.  Sure, it takes a few minutes for our infants to realize that things will be alright, but being daddy is also about earning that trust, taking care of our babies and spending time with them no matter the situation.  We can’t be present for all of their milestones no matter how hard we try, but it’s just as important to be there for them when we can, make an effort and turn off the TV, put down the cell phone, reschedule that important meeting, and speak to your child as much as possible.

Those milestones, the time you spend with your child, will always be kept up somewhere, in the back of your mind, for you to look forward to remembering again.  And if you want to be a real hero for your wife, always keep an eye out for that missing sock, because you just might be rewarded handsomely when you find it.

 

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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.


When her hand waves across her lips I know she’s telling me to get baby‘s nuk.  When she holds him out in front of me and he has that relieved look on his face I know he needs to be changed.  When she’s ready to nurse looking at me frantically I know she’s looking for her nipple shield.  When she sits down next to me, lays her head on my shoulder and sighs, I know mommy needs a break.  Welcome to mommy speak.

What I learned today about being a father:

My wife has always had her things,you know, a look that says how she feels or sound she makes when she needs you to do something for her.  I have them too, but Jackie’s are less subtle, somewhat more aggressive, and now she has added new mommy speak territory that I can barely keep up with.

I’m pretty good at rolling with the punches, but yesterday I was missing cues left and right.  She started doing this thing with her elbow, waving it up and down as she bottle feeds saying things like, “Hey, B, over there…” than pointing with her tip-toes to something on the floor, or maybe on the desk, or maybe in the kitchen.  I scamper back and forth in our little two-bedroom, picking up items and showcasing them like I’m the Price-Is-Right.  I’m no show model, either, but when I don’t get whatever it is she’s asking for correct she rolls her eyes at me and let’s me know how she has to do everything herself. 

“Honey,” I say.  “Just tell me what you need and I’ll get it.”  She sits down with baby, ignoring my incompetence completely at this point, and let’s baby know how hard it is being mommy, out loud of course.

What I think I know:

Griffin is three weeks into this world now and I can tell you that he understands mommy speak better than I ever will.  He laughs at her jokes (with me as the punch line) and snarls when I do something wrong or handle him in a way that doesn’t suit his mood.  I see it already, baby and mommy conspiring against daddy to take over the household (which they already rule) and soon, one day, his soul. 

The bond created between mother and child is very unique.  She can hush him up with the twist of his body, make him smile just by looking at him, and when she gives me that look, that “You’re in the doghouse” look, he does too. 

Mommy’s needs are great and her life is moving at a pace that I will never quite understand.  I’ve studied her moods and her antics for over five years now and have gotten pretty good at heading off any issues at the pass, but mommy speak is different, more complicated, and now involves another entity that is attached to mommy’s hip like the two guys from that move “Stuck On You“, starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear.  Being Daddy is all about making adjustments, and I have realized that if I can relearn to read my wife better I can also understand my son.

And when mommy sends me text with pictures like this,

Good morning Daddy!

I know she’s telling me she loves me.


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…


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.


As baby settles in to his new routine we have clamored over who gets what picture taken with him and when.  In our small two bedroom we have cameras and computers and other picture-taking electronics strewn throughout across our space, waiting with our breaths held to catch baby’s first full-fledged smile, a new pose we have yet to see, or for that time when both eyes are opened wide and attentive.

What I learned today about being a father:

It’s been a struggle to keep track of which pictures are on which camera or if these or those pictures have been posted to Facebook or sent to Shutterfly or not.  Mama and I keep telling each other to get the camera, or saying things like, “we need to get a video of this.”  What I’ve learned over the course of our first week is that the harder we try catching the moment the more moments that we’ve missed.  Last night mama and I put the cameras away, stored the video recorder back in its attache, and have just been more conscious of keeping our iPhones closer than before.  But we don’t worry anymore about a look or a smile, or a new pose that baby hasn’t done before because we are now both being more attentive seeing it for ourselves.

What I think I know:

I’ve been a father for one week, and it’s been the happiest most difficult and shortest week of my life.  I never gave the concept of “they grow up so fast” much thought, but last night mama and I talked about how much new hair has come in on baby and how much his face has filled out in such short time.  I always knew that baby would grow up, because that’s what babies do and if we didn’t I wouldn’t be as I am, but man, they grow up so fast.

I thought we’d have a chance to enjoy each and every one of his little moments for eternity, but I think I realized that we only have a small amount of time to relish them, and that if I don’t get to see them first hand, not behind a camera or a lens, that those moments really won’t stick with me the way I want them too.  I can close my eyes and see baby better each and every day over the past week than I can trying to find the pictures in a file on my computer.  Being daddy isn’t simple, but knowing that it’s better to see than to realize that he is growing up so fast might just make it easier on the both of us.