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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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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 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 came across a wonderful website, fatherhood.org, that I wanted to share with you.  If you’re a dad or know a dad I suggest that you share this with them, let them check it out and decide what to do with it themselves.

What I learned today about being a father:

I took off work two hours earlier than I normally would.  I wasn’t being productive, thinking about a new idea I came up with rather than doing the work that was in front of me that needs to get done, even if it doesn’t need to get done today.  That’s one of my major flaws, my mind races in different directions, seeing things that aren’t there and wondering how I can get them there.  My new creation has me researching vitamins and energy supplements and how they interact with the chemical balance of juice.  I’d go into detail for you, but I just spent the last 20 minutes writing about it before I realized how boring my description is, so I’ll move on instead.

Anyhow, I thought about going home but I didn’t.  I was missing my family, but I have realized that at home I can’t get any work done at all.  So, I went to the library instead.  I know, not a cool move by daddy, but for two hours I was able to research in peace, no phones ringing at work, no mama needing daddy at home.

When I came home Jackie was on her way out.  She was frustrated, Griffin had been fussy all day.  And when I told her I left work early to do some research I saw a defeated look in her eyes, the longness of her face being pulled further into the ground.  She didn’t say anything at first, kind of shrugged it off, and continued to tell me about her day.

What I think I know:

Wrong.  Everything about being daddy over the last 24 days told me that what I was doing was completely wrong.  It wasn’t wrong because I left work early, every thing was covered and the work that needed to get finished did, but it was because I used being daddy as an excuse to sneak away for a few hours to do the things that I love do, attempt at being creative.

She thinks I take up enough time with this blog, doesn’t understand why I do it or why I anyone would read it.  I can’t explain it to her, but the reason she fell in love with me was because I aspired to be a writer.  She liked my creativity, my inspiration from life events that gives me ideas to better our future, to create some thing or write some thing that changes the way one person, just one, looks at the world.  I have always wanted to do that, but being daddy is what I’ve done to change a life.

She didn’t have to tell me she was tired, or that she was disappointed that I didn’t come home when I left work.  She didn’t need to, rather she just went about what she was doing.  On her way out she looked at me and simply said she was proud of me.

And being me, I didn’t get it.  I still don’t.  Jackie, my wonderful wife, knows me well enough to support my ideas, whether they are crazy, intangible, out of the ordinary or just plain weird.  Being daddy has created a different future for us, a new path that hasn’t been written or paved and who knows, maybe future daddy’s ideas will be the ones to change the world.

But in the meantime I need to just focus on being daddy today.  Future daddying depends on it.

Daddy Question:

The blogosphere is full of creative people who have creative ideas and unique perspectives.   How do you balance your creative side while being the best parent that you can be?

Griffin John, Future of Me

My Future, Griffin John


Welcome to How To Be a Dad

I just came across another compelling website, HowToBeADad.com.  Like so many other fatherhood websites this isn’t a site that defines dads or dads to be.  It’s a fun play on the musings of two different fathers and their livelyhoods and has some great articles to entertain and somewhat enlighten us.

But is this it for us daddies?  In my research this is pretty typical of what I find, sites dedicated to being daddy for our entertainment only.  Below is how they introduce their site:

If you were looking for a website telling you how to be a dad… You didn’t find it. We aren’t experts in “dadology.” We aren’t even sure such a thing exists. We’re just here to tell you that being a parent sometimes means experiencing things without an authority, letting love and humor get you through. For those other times, we recommend a sturdy helmet.” – Charlie & Andy, The Dads

We are not looking for the answer or the authority on daddying, but for many of us we are looking for some advice that doesn’t hint just towards the funny. I know, I know, you might be saying, “why so blue?” I’m not down or out, just searching for information and trying to provide an alternative to what isn’t out there.

What I learned today about being a father:

HowToBeADad.com is funny and whimsical and has many great blurbs that I will gravitate back to.  I like to joke around, and Jackie tends to my jokes with some laughter when necessary, but mostly hates my sarcasm and tells me to save my jokes for her father (because we get along really well and understand each others jokes, it’s a guy thing).  But as for understanding how to be a dad, I fell we, dads, are all in this together and it has been proven time and time again, through avid internet research, the lack of daddy articles in any parenting/baby magazines, that we, dads, are like fish out of water when it comes to parenting.

What I think I know:

Women have a sixth sense when it comes to being mama that seems to be in direct correlation with the zero sense men have being daddy.  Give a women a baby and she may look at him/her funny for a second, but then it all just works out.  Motherhood is embedded in the back of their subconsciousness.  Men, on the other hand, takes weeks, months, years and maybe a lifetime to figure out what being daddy is all about.  There isn’t enough information out their for us, so we have to work together to at being daddy.  I know we need some relief from our everyday contributions in the realms of parenthood, and I’m glad that I can find them with websites like howtobeadad.com.  But I also know that we need to take ourselves and the lives of our children seriously.

I believe that being daddy represents an opportunity for all fathers to help mold a good life for our children and give them the tools and opportunities to be successful human beings, and that learning to be daddy has been a fun and challenging experience for me.  We need to enjoy the experience, but referring to the experiences and challenges we face in a manner that doesn’t take parenthood seriously may not be the best approach to fatherhood that we can take.

Tip of the Week:

Being daddy is great, but know the difference between taking care of your child and watching your child grow up.  My wife, bless her heart, got into the habit of asking, “Can you watch our son for a minute?”  I nipped that in the but when I caught on to the trap she was setting for herself and me, and told her to ask me to take care of our son so that I could feel like the little things I could do mattered.


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.