"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied." I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again."
And to address this manly thing. This seems to always be a conversation worthy of a headline or a social media post. For me this comes down to fulfillment of responsibility, and gentle leadership. As men we are often viewed as leaders. To lead gently is not to command. To lead gently is to empower and inspire. This is a much greater task that demands a great deal of empathy and vulnerability. To be strong and to lead in a gentle manner requires a level of connection that takes an investment of time, and takes requires effort. It is very challenging to lead children/ near impossible without connection. Its literally in our biology. Connection is first, it is the thing we most seek. Then all things come after. To think that we can thrive and lead without this is faulty I believe. Adults are just experienced kids. Connection still reigns supreme. Establish this and foster this and you are on the right track. Connection also demands vulnerability, it demands being seen, it demands letting people in. I am not referring to letting people take advantage of you, I am referring to allowing others to know you and experience who you are. If you can find a balance between taking care of your responsibilities and leading in a gentle way, you my friend are behaving in a very real manner. Hence you are a "real" man. Manhood is not about a look, it is not about some false ideal. Manhood is a very real expression of a committed individual to others outside himself. Its a life of service. To lead we must build others up, and this starts at the most basic of needs, the need to connect.
Man yesterday was a landslide. A landslide that left me in tears, and brought me the realization that I had unknowingly landed myself right where I was. Our oldest is 3.5 and she is basically a teenager. Talking to her baffles me almost everyday, and her recall of events and interactions is nothing short of someone that has a photographic memory.
We are very diligently working on asking for things that she wants. As an older sister, she takes the liberty of snatching things from her sister countless times each day. She understands the difference between statements and questions and is fully capable of both. She also is very familiar with the word please. Her first go to move is to grab and pull. Then she will use a statement if the grab and pull doesn't work. Typically the statement comes out quite loudly as you can imagine. Then the screams start. If I can catch the interaction at the beginning, I will remind her to ask, and her sister thankfully, usually complies.
While traveling across the country a few weeks ago, I had one of those moments that I don't believe I will ever forget. We had a layover in Houston for a few hours on the way back to LA. I had been holding our daughter on the flight, and had managed to keep her asleep through the landing and getting off the plane. I was having a hell of a stroke of luck, but was pretty tired at the same time.
I need to be better. You need to be better. We need to be better. There is a real problem going on in this city right now. There is a real problem going on in our country right now. There is a real problem going on with this planet right now. Open up a newspaper, hell just look at the cover, click on any social media channel. What is the first thing you see? Some bullshit about someone killing someone else, or stealing something or lying, or someone beating/killing an animal, or this damn political mess we are in, or a bomb going off in some public place. This is sad, this is real sad.
We have been missing the point for awhile now. People just don’t care. They/You/I don’t care for each other. They/You/I don’t care for our planet. Most importantly, They/You/I don’t care for ourselves.
Fatherhood is such a turning point. Life really comes full circle when you begin to lead a small version of you into this world. Introducing them to everything is quite an experience. In my marriage my wife and I consciously made the choice that I be the one to bring home income, and she would be the one to focus on the home, and raising the girls. I have spoken about these roles in the past, and I think it is very important to recognize each as their own individual challenge.
Holy shit its early!
This is what runs through my head each morning. Most of the time this is in the 4 o’clock hour, as I lay in bed and take a few deep breaths as I get a last few morning "reach your toes out as far as you can" stretches in. Every morning its a hobble to the bathroom to pee and then take the dog out effort, which seems like all I can muster. I literally have 7-9 alarms set on my phone, just incase I get stubborn and can’t figure out how to get my eyes open. Whilst in a stupor of tired-dom I attempt to find my clothes in complete dark silence, not to wake the beautiful ladies in the room. Half the time I am successful, half the time, just absolutely not. My daughter has a connection with me that is Awesome, even with no sound, that little girl senses when I get up. Its crazy, and so real. I am forever thankful for this little angel.
Don’t Count on the Nap Fool!
I head back to the homestead about midmorning for my dad time. This is a time we have set aside for me to spend with my daughter each day. The best time ever. I would highly recommend this to any father. It helps me stay grounded. When I get lucky her morning nap will line up perfectly with this time, and I get to lay shotgun for a heavenly little nap. Well this happened a few times, so I began to plan on it. Dumbass. This shows up every once in awhile, so I have learned to take it like an extra scoop of ice cream, with a smile.
Sometimes you have to Poop with your Kid in the Bathroom.
It will happen. When you have baby, and your the only one home, and you have skimmed all you can. There is only one choice. Take them in there with you. I am familiar with 2 methods as of today, of which I am sure there are many. The Ergo-Poop and the Cheap/Small Stroller Poop. Due to the physical arrangement of the Ergo-Poop (using the Ergo-Baby Carrier of course), its a bit of a face-off in diversion tactics. If you are trigger shy, this may not work for you. The Cheap/Small Stroller Poop is a logistical play. Ideally your child has a toy and it facing not directly at you. Depending on bathroom dimensions, this can get shifty. Either way, I believe you will come up with your own arsenal, but these are two that have worked for me. Keep in mind, that my daughter is only 10 months old.
If Mom is Sick, We’re Getting Take Out!
I am very fortunate and blessed and have married a beautiful woman that enjoys cooking food for our family. Because of this, my skills in the kitchen have continued to plummet downhill, where I am basically pinned in between knowing how to make eggs and salad. Anything else, there is probably gonna be smoke. For the most part at the end of the day, I write off thinking about dinner. I leave that to my wife, and she crushes it on the daily. I am eternally thankful. When mom is sick, I am the dad that has no idea what to do. It is learned helplessness. We have a few favorite take out spots and if it wasn’t for smart phones, those numbers would be easily committed to memory.
There are specific clothes that I have that are “Dad Clothes.” They are loose and comfy, and half the time discolored. If you happen to see me around the house, I may be wearing all of one pastel color, something with flamingos on it, or clearly mismatching but very colorful attire. I leave these clothes out, and intend to use them each day. More times than not, I end up with multiple pairs of dad clothes lying around the house, much to the chagrin of my wife. Just because I have dad clothes, does not mean I am talented at putting them in the closet. I am not against going to the store in dad clothes, binky in my mouth daughter in my arms, and having no f*cks to give.
I am Terrible on No Sleep
This has proven to be a street with a lot of learning on it. I feel deflated when I am tired. I need sleep to make this engine run during the day. As our daughter has gotten older, my wife has begun to work again which is fantastic. She loves what she does, and loves the adult contact. And she can take our daughter with her, which is a HUUUUUGE Bonus!! So at night when our daughter is not sleeping, we are at a crossroads. My wife always takes the lead, I have been getting up and helping if she needs it. There really is no “I” in team. We all have to show up to make this thing work. Some nights are just better than others. I can tell you we have each other’s backs so this works. Without that, not sure what we would do. This makes the weekends, and those morning dadtimes Uber importante to catch a wink if needed.
Days are So Long!
I am very blessed to love what I do, and love the people I am with all day. Each day beginning at 5 ish, and walking in the door at night after 8 makes for a tired dad. At work, I have to be on, at home I am on. That is just how it is. I just eventually get tired. I couldn’t be happier, but I could get more sleep haha.
I Understand Forgetting to Pee
First of all this statement is ludicrous (not the rapper). This is just not a thing. The urge for #2 will come in waves, and will go away. But #1, that is here to stay, you can pinch, your can sit down, you can walk around, but this is going no where. Its like trying to hold back a herd of wild horses with a wet piece of tissue paper. Until you have a sleeping 10 month old on your arm. This prized sleep that is going on is like winning Game 7 of the world series every time. Those horses can just hang out. No pee here. My wife told me she forgot to pee one time, and I looked at her like she was out of her mind. This was for sure impossible. A few months later she left for 3 days to her best friends bachelorette party. It didn’t take a whole day and big bad daddio forgot to pee. Not only did I forget to pee, I forgot I had to pee. I was floored. Don’t worry I peed later on in the day.
All of Us are Tired
I am tired, and mom is tired. Surprisingly, it doesn’t appear that our lil angel is tired, but she is starting to show signs. Like I mentioned earlier, there is no “I” in team. We are trying to manage this crazy storm of Awesome. We all need help now and then, and we all need to pick up each others slack. At a certain point each person will become irrational with not enough sleep. The goal here is to all stay rational. Nothing is going well if one of us has reached this threshold. All efforts are to keep in the world of rational thought. There is a lot of tired along the way. But were livin’, we are really living’.
Don’t Compare, Just Support
We are a family. We all have roles. Our roles don’t look the same. Do! Not! Compare! Support Mom and Win! Compare roles and go down in flames. Help in any way you can. Enough Said.
Let Her Fail, or Fall!
I am extra guilty here. I tend to want to keep my daughter extra safe. I am constantly watching her, and trying to make sure she is safe. I am learning to be a bit more relaxed. My wife laughs at me all the time. In fact this morning she laughed at me for this. It is ok if she falls and ok if she fails a little, I am mainly saying this for myself haha. Well its a lot of learning for dad. I am totally game for it.
Don’t let this blog steer you to thinking that I would change anything. I have never been happier in my life, and am thrilled every morning I ever so daintily get out of bed. This life, this dadlife, this husband-life, it’s my favorite. Its the greatest gift a man could ever ask for.
2 years later commentary
Your Pooping Skillset Grows
Literally have pooped in Walmart with a shoeless toddler on my lap. And if you think about it, I am not letting my little girl walk around the Walmart bathroom shoeless. Think about the logistics of this. Try to wipe while talking about doggies and wrestling a small wild human. The floor is lava, literally not a chance she is touching it. Good luck tying your drawstring on your gym shorts that have a phone and your keys and your wallet in them. They are heavy and headed for the floor without a taught string. And one arm is handled. Nothing against Walmart, this is a public bathroom conversation. No shoes you ask, well she didn't want to put any on, and some arguments just aren't worth standing in the rain for 8 minutes while you wrestle a toddler that has a point to prove.
Since having two, pooping has become social hour, and anatomy time. Since I have girls they always are staring and asking questions. Over time these stumblefests of sounds have become, hilarious questions, and sounding out PEA-NUUUUTS, to Papa has a Penis, I have a vagina. With plenty of giggling. Its a real gem of an experience, because to be really honest its hilarious. But as any of you with kids know, if you laugh hysterically at something they say, you have just cemented this in their mind and they are gonna say it 2 zillion times in the next week. There are no bounds as to when the penis/vagina conversation comes out. Sorry grocery store patrons and restaurant goers, my child is gonna ask about penises and vaginas haha.
My wife had a strong desire to go back to work. She loves the social contact and she loves to provide for the family. Part of our thing as parents is actually being home to raise our girls. If one works, the other is home is the very basic math of this equation. We decided that I would take a step back from working full time and stay home with the girls. This sounded great, not work 15 hour days, sleep all the time, hang out with my girls, get some time to reset.
Well let me be the first to tell you I had another thing coming. Staying home all day, and assuming the role of the caretaker, and the champion of the home is quite daunting. Its completely opposite and unequivocally one of the most challenging things I have ever done. At first it was amazing. 3 weeks in to having 2 small kids all day every day, I was drowning. I was drowning in household duties, I was out of ideas about what to do with them all day. I was incredibly adult bored, and I say this because disengaging from your children to participate in adult activities like talking to another adult yields you no gain, as this seems to begin the backslide into toddlerdom. They are constantly wrecking shop, or pooping, or hungry, or jamming a fork in an outlet. It literally does not stop. There were days on end I felt like a prisoner in my own self created prison of my things and my children. My wife would get home from work, and I would want to flip the off switch, but this clearly wasn't fair, because she was tired from working and needed some rest as well.
This is really where I had to swallow the big ol slimy frog. I have been the one working and have felt the struggle there. I have now been the one at home at felt the opposing struggle. What I have learned is that I have come up short on my end. I have failed at my end of the bargain, and I have to be better. We as a unit have had to work very hard on our communication and our understanding for each other. When the worker comes home, both of us are still parents, and that just how it is. When the dishes are piled up, we are both parents. When the laundry is piled up we are both parents. You see work is not 24 hours a day, but championing the home, and care-taking for children, this knows no bounds.
Granted bills have to get paid, and someone has to work, and the experiences are different. Our needs became very important. We had to sync up on what each other needed to be successful, on the things that each one of us needed for sanity. And to be really honest with you, the thing that gets you through, is unwavering dedication to the family unit, with no regard for self. A mindset of service and empathy, before thoughts of selfish nature. The days when we struggled the most were the days our communication was sparse, despite external pressures. We have had days of intense external pressure and stress, when our communication was on point and everything was great.
We are still battling to figure out this working equation. Our unfailing focus is raising our children. How do we use our talents and strengths to provide for our family such that we don't have to work their whole childhood away? The value of this time, far exceeds our career aspirations. And it makes us viciously seek solutions that can accommodate our focus. We moved our family from LA to Kansas to reduce costs and pay off debt. We have changed jobs, and living arrangements. We have sold cars and travelled in our remodeled motorhome, which we currently reside in. All of these are in the name of spending time with our children and not chasing the Joneses. By the week we still give away clothes and stuff. Morphing our lives into whatever it takes to focus on our girls. And to be honest, we don't miss any of the stuff, we still are of the view that we have way too much.
They are all available its just which ones do you want. I have been home with the girls for months, as my wife has been working. I have done the sleeping in thing (its overrated). I have done the getting up early thing (its the ticket). In the end the game is personal sanity. How do I exist in my day, such to thrive in my life? What is the equation for me personally in my current circumstance so I can succeed? For me it includes fitness, for me it includes studying pertinent material for this moment in time, and my future endeavors. For me it includes time with my wife. For me it includes time to play with my kids. For me it include some sort of social outlet. I prefer to have some time working. I prefer to be out in the world part of my time. Granted all of these things fall into the greater framework of being available for our children, and being available for each other.
Our time together has morphed into late nights reading and bing watching our favorite show. This sometimes burns us on the morning as sleep ends up being less. But to what end? More sleep, less quality time. Where is the win? Well this is just your own equation. We have spent a lot of time choosing things other than sleep in the name of quality. Are we better or worse? I would say better, but this doesn't discount the value of sleep.
Years Fly By
Days drag on, and Years fly by. This little quip is so on point. I can't believe how big our girls are, I can't believe they can put on their socks and shoes, and our youngest is almost done with diapers. I had a few days last week that took 7 days. The minutes were hours, and the sun took siestas 4 or 5 times in the sky and just didn't move for hours. It seems like yesterday that they took their first steps, and it seems like 10 years ago. Time really gets skewed with children. What has really helped us is to stay plugged in. Stay in the ever expiring moment. Have enough 10,000 foot perspective to realize the days you are in are very few. The moments that you breathe in are the best of your life. The discomfort and the struggle don't remain with the change of seasons and the drone of time. But the memories and the laughs, and the blinks of glory that come with children. Those remain. Invest heavily in the moment. Exist and thrive in the present.
Don't Compare, Just Support
Relationships are about giving of yourself. The best days we have had are when our focus has been on each other. Focus on their journey and what they want. Your struggle is always your own, and this will never change, its always your battle. But your partners struggle, this can be changed. You have a crazy ability to change their situation. Empathy and care for their situation and their experience yields exponential results. Roles change, experiences are different, there is no better or worse. Your different people with different circumstances. If you don't think their role is difficult, switch, I dare ya. Its quite enlightening. Either way, be there for your person. Your a team, and bickering and selfish ploys aren't gonna move you forward. Having children is about moving forward and focusing on team. If you can focus on this, I believe you will find more success, and the road will be less rocky.
Your connection with your person is vital. Your understanding of whats in their head and their heart about your situation is so important. You have to listen to get this perspective, and you have to be present to understand. You're in this together, and your better together. All of the times when we have had the most trouble, our communication has faltered. Once we listen to each other and make necessary edits, we feel more united and feel more connected. The journey, no matter the hurdles really smoothes out. If you haven't seen a resounding them, connection and communication are the avenues of success. If you find yourself frustrated and in a pinch, ask yourself am I connected? Am I communicating clearly? Remedy these and I bet you are working towards harmony.
Much Love Y'all, I see you in the trenches.
Dammit! Really! How OLD am I? The answer is 35 and I just SHARTED. Its December 31st 2016 and I SHARTED. 2 kids, breakfast, writing blogs, tired as HELL, I had not the faintest idea that I had pooped in my pants. Dadlife punch in the face! You may laugh, and go right ahead because I am laughing hysterically as I write this, but weird stuff happens. And any more I have No Shame!
It was what you would call a normal morning in our house. Our oldest daughter (Biggie) has to be escorted out of the room by7amevery morning so mama and our youngest daughter (Smalls) can sleep for a few hours. She has been up for the better part of an hour nursing/reading/wreaking havoc on the bedroom. My poor wife has been tagging in and out from child to child since about midnight. Keeping 2 asleep for more than 10 minutes is a crazy challenge most days.
So I took Biggie downstairs to watch one of 4 movies the thousandth time. LatelyThe Secret Life of Petsis the one we are memorizing. We have a serious routine in place. The 3-2-1 Go turn on of the Christmas lights. Biggie starts terrorizing the bookshelf/pulling out all the diapers and wipes/eats breakfast/draws on the walls/reads all the books/eats randomly while walking around and babbling to me about what to do. It basically feels like the goal is to keep a very drunk little human from killing herself. When you add another small person to the picture the wheels can come off the bus in no time. Today I saw this having only 1 child to manage as an opportunity to get a few blogs written whilst making my coffee. She was pleasantly busy doing non threatening activites, so I saw some moments to take advantage of.
Amongst trying to put a rational thought together through the fog of toddlerdom I had to choose whether or not to trust a fart. So logically as a 35 year old man, with a decent amount of experience, I did. And all was good. I went on writing down what I can imagine where disconnected wanna-be ideas. Biggie was terrorizing all things put away, and I decided to get up and pick up a few things. Then it hit me, maybe 20 minutes later. I am not really sure of the time, due to plenty of distractions clearly. What I thought was a trusted fart, turned into a terrorist of a turd. I F***ING SHARTED! Awhile ago!?!? And I didn't event know. How is that even possible?!? 2 kids and the holidays.
So then not to take this blog to a place of too much information but that is kind of the premise of the whole thing. I went into the bathroom to assess damage and try to bring myself back into the world of wearing clean pants, and what do you know my toddler follows me in the bathroom as always. There is no sacred place anymore. They will find you, and ask questions about everything. So I had grabbed a pack of her favorite things baby wipes, and set to work. It was not an ego boost to hear my daughter say “wipe, wipe, wipe” atleast 42,000 times while I was in uncharted territory. I could do nothing but laugh, and laugh we did. My wife then had a good tear filled laugh as well.
I share this with you, to my own demise to let you in on the cloud that can be each day. The first month of having 2 children has been a very steep learning curve. We are doing it. Some days it fills like a 24 hr scramble to just stay afloat. The good new is goals for 2017 are pretty simple. Don’t SHART!!
2 years later commentary
I will gladly share this again in hopes that someone will find some clarity. 2018 is winding down and I am still clean for those of you pondering the obvious. I originally was a bit apprehensive to post this blog due to, well the nature of the post. But I wanted to share with you to illustrate the true fog that we were in for the first well year or more of having 2 children. If it wasn't for entries like this, and a slew of pictures I probably would have forgotten most of these things by now.
If you are out there in the trenches, know that you are not the only one, and there are plenty of hilarious stories to boot. Feel free to share yours in the comments if you feel so inclined. A lot of people ask, "Whats it like when you first have a second child?" and this is the reality. Sometimes it's shitty, literally. But don't let this steer you away from adding another little angel to your household. Having two has been the light of our lives and also the challenge.
If there is one thing I could offer, its to find a tribe. Find some people that have kiddos around you. If you don't have them in your immediate area, its surprising as to what you can find online. Between blogs like this, FB and Instagram there are plenty of people out there voicing their experiences, and sharing things that are helpful. After all sharing our stories helps others. All of our kids are exactly the same, and totally different.
Have a little humility and be ok with learning. We all have things we don't know, and we are all doing our best. If you don't know how to laugh at yourself, take this on, and run with it. Some days it literally has felt as if laughing has saved our lives.
Much love to all you parents out there with young ones. Your Rock Stars! I got a hug for ya. I hope this blog brought you a laugh.
Last night was a monster. Day 9 for our newest daughter, and my wife and I were reminded that we are still complete amateurs getting throttled by 2 very small cute girls. Holy Holy! The night started with us taking our daughter to her first doctors appt, which was very successful, and we are so blessed to have a healthy baby. This was her maiden voyage outside the house. The double stroller was in full effect, we are a legit team of humans out there. It felt pretty good, and mildly terrifying at the same time. On the way home we enjoyed the orchestra of screaming children, a very small screecher, who makes sounds very similar to what you might hear from an eagle, and the other one that has mastered what we call attendance, saying mama-papa-baby-nonna 3 thousand times, and has a much louder and more directed scream. It was glorious, I looked over at my beautiful wife and laughed, as we both shook our heads saying “Our Life.”
We got home and put our eldest to bed and stayed up for a bit to watch some tv and wind down. Let me tell you, this time may be 20 minutes, it may be 3 hours, but it is so needed. We need our time together, it is so important. We got to bed at a normal time for us which is about 9. Little did we know, sleep was not on the agenda.
9 days ago, my wife pushed our daughter out with no assistance from drugs. This is a story for another day or two. These past days have not been very eventful for her. She just left the house for the first time this afternoon for the doctors appt. Walking up stairs makes her light headed, and is done in a hobbling fashion. She has been feeling light headed and has a pounding headache. Something new on her body hurts every day. She has been getting little sleep, and she is nursing 2 children. We are truly speaking about a time of recovery and healing. Papa and Mama time is just not at the top of the agenda, and its very easy to just let this slip. With this comes distance. Let’s just say distance is not a good thing. With our first, I think the distance crept in easier. Not that we are seasoned vets or anything but we know how this can go.
Mama and Papa got a little frisky (in the most high school make out way) after both girls were in there beds. Let me first paint a picture of our sleeping arrangement, We have two queen beds laying right next to each other on the floor, one is slightly higher due to a box spring. This is where my wife and I try to sleep all night. On my side of the bed is the other queen bed, this one is on the floor and this is were our eldest sleeps most of the time, well that is where she starts. The reason the bed is a queen is because most of the time one or both of us parents end up in bed with her. On my wife’s side of the bed is a woven basket we have fashioned into a baby sleeping arrangement, its super comfy to say the least. It is great because it creates separation and we can pick it up and move it easily. So back to the high school make out session going on in the middle of two sleeping small giants.
We heard a whimper, all base running came to a immediate halt. It felt like we were in Jurassic Park being chased by Velociraptors. “Which one was that?” “Shit I don’t know.” We both chuckled. Back to the game. Maybe 30 sec later our oldest then began to cry. "Dammit!” She was calling for mama. Mama to the rescue. She pretty much fell right back to sleep. “Game ON!” Things started to get steamy, and I felt a tapping on my back. I may as well have been struck by lightning. My body froze. “She’s touching me!!!” I whispered in a mortified tone to my wife. I turned and my beautiful daughter was standing there with no expression, and her arms by her sides, sleepy as ever. The feeling that you have is a mix of embarrassed/pissed/sexual frustration/I'm a parent, is a very weird experience. Thankfully this was not the "why is daddy tackling mommy?" conversation that I am sure takes place with a 4 year old, yet still mortifying and hilarious for us. Either way Mama/Papa time was finished. Valiant effort! We'll try another day.
We have 2 children and 2 very different birth experiences. Recovery is a crazy thing. I for one never even thought about it before we had our first child. Weeks and weeks of discomfort, and this doesnt even touch the psychological piece to the whole thing. In each case Mama and Papa still have a relationship and we have to take care of that as well as the kids. This leaves a list of to-do's that is the longest. It's very easy to forget about romance, and get stuck in the second to second craziness of the whole thing. Imagine 2 children yelling/screaming while your changing the babies diaper the older one is throwing wipes all over the room. Moments like this are like sand on the beach.
Later this night in question/early in the morning I woke up to being thrown up on about 4amby the older one. Then it was change clothes, re sheet the beds, take a bath and a shower, then go back to sleep. This throw up routine happened 2 more times before noon the next day. Nuthin quite like puke. A poopy diaper is one thing, but being puked on is a whole different experience. Especially when it's a toddler. All she wants to do is hug Papa for comfort, when her mouth is a erupting volcano of mashed French fries, vegetables, and mamma chias. Due to events such as this our house is a Laundry Bohemoth! The amount of clothes we go through in a week is quite daunting.
This was a day with no events other than baby stuff. We were Mother Effin exhausted, and have been since. I am trying to figure out how work and fitness play into this equation. I remember a good friend of mine told me one time "Having a 2nd baby is 100% harder!" I didn't believe him. I thought that 2 would be just a few more diapers to change and it would all be good. I was way off. And my friend was on point.
I could go on for days, letting one thought run into the next. I apologize for the incongruent nature of the entry, but that's how about everything feels right now.
2 years later commentary
Reintroduction to your partner is a very interesting situation. Our sex life has without question leveled up after each child. The intimacy you share is exponential in comparison to before kids. Well this is that case for us. I personally was completely floored by the after effects of birth. I am not sure whether to chalk it up to being and man, and not relating to it until I was in it with my wife, or just blind ignorance. But until we were there I just hadn't thought about it. There is a significant time period where mom needs help doing the simplest of tasks, and this is better to have some idea of on the way into a birth, then be surprised by it. So if reading this might give you a hint, Awesome.
Horrifying is the best way to describe the discombobulation of feeling your child touch you when your gettin after it. I can still remember this day like it was yesterday. There have only been a few other times since that it has happened. You just get better at taking it in stride. It will still spin the mood a little bit for sure. Sometimes you have no choice but to completely abandon. Frustration in more than one way.
Trying to adjust to your new life, or better yet your upgrade in life is quite challenging. To this day our girls are changing by the day and make the simplest of tasks take 45 min and include world class tantrums. That's just kids. Our oldest is workin on 4 and our youngest is 2, they both have their intricacies. We went ahead and moved and switched jobs just to make things a little bit more complicated.
Everyone always talks about the balance. How do you balance your life? Well we are still working on that, but I can tell you if you write down the things that are important to you and you see the things you care about in front of you, it may change things a bit. One thing that really helped me was thinking about energy. I have one tank for all these things. An overload in one area is gonna cost ya somewhere else. That just how it goes. Being ok with this has really helped me. Realizing that shifting focuses, and adapting is not losing. But it requires humility and learning which can be a challenge.
When I think about all the struggle, and all the sleepless nights, and stress filled days, it all vanishes every time I see my girls or my wife laugh together, or give me a hug, or say papa. Wait till your youngest calls your oldest by her name for the first time. I almost drove off the road yesterday when it happened. My wife and I were noodles in the front seat hearing it. What a gift we as parents have been given. Don’t ever forget that. And for the love if God, reach out to other parents and connect. They need it. And so do you. Much Love Guys.
Three years have gone by. Our family has grown in an exponential way. We have two beautiful daughters that fill our lives. I am eternally thankful and indescribably blessed in this life. I have never been filled with more love and gratitude. I cannot tell you that this journey has been easy, nor do I ever expect it to be. During these years, my wife and I decided I would be the one to work, and she would raise the girls. This has been quite the challenge in many ways.
Reconciling the chasm, to move forward together is quite the task. The daily reality for one is totally different than the daily reality of the other. Yet it is the same. Now we find ourselves at quite a juncture. My wife is amped to get back in the workforce, and I can’t blame her. I have nothing but respect and awe for what she has done in the past 3 years. It is incredible to watch a woman grow a baby, give birth to a baby, and feed a baby with her body. Then she turned around and went back for another.
Speechless and Grateful, is where I find myself.
Now we are beginning to change the roles a bit. I am taking a larger role caring for the girls, which is very new and pace-wise a huge change. I love it, and am seriously challenged by it. This is an area of tremendous growth for me. Lots of learning going on, with lots of questions, and first experiences. Frustration abounds, and when the dust settles, I find myself with a new lesson and an opportunity to grow. To be honest, allowing myself to slow down a bit, and just enjoy the time has been the greatest gift. The space has allowed some perspective, some much needed perspective. Reframing your life is sometimes exactly what you need. In my case, this is true.
My wife is super pumped to start working and pursuing her professional interests, and I couldn’t be more supportive. Caring for children all day can get a bit smothering. It can make you feel as if your life is not your own. Your personal interests seem set aside, and you are now in the backseat. This is quite a realization, a daunting one at times. After awhile it is easy to lose a sense of self. You don’t have to look very far to find some information on this topic, as everyone with children feels this a bit.
A close friend pointed me in the direction of Mark Nepo the other day. This man is incredible to say the least. Along with surviving cancer, he is a philosopher and a poet to the tune of 30 years. Below is his entry, and it provides quite a bit of context to a few parents raising children.
""We Must Take Turns”
We must take turns, diving into all there is and counting the time.
The gift and responsibility of relationship is to take turns doing the dishes and putting up the storm windows, giving the other the chance to dive for God without worrying about dinner. While one explores the inner, the other must tend the outer.
A great model of this is how pearl divers search the deep in pairs. Without scuba tanks or regulators, one waits at the surface tending the lines tied to the other who soft-steps the sand for treasures he hopes he’ll recognize.
He walks the bottom, watching the leaves of vegetation sway and sways himself till she tugs the cord. He swallows the little air left as he ascends. Aboard, they talk for hours, placing what was seen, rubbing the rough and natural pearl. In the morning, she dives and fills their baskets and the counts the time, hands wrapped around her line.
Quite plainly, these pearl divers show us the work of being together and the miracle of trust. We must take turns: whoever is on the surface must count the air time left, so the one below can dive freely. "
Parenting is about growth, its about raising humans. To raise a human, you have to step outside yourself and think for them. One parent is responsible for the kids and the other goes out to pursue themselves. Yet both are part of the same journey. Being at home on both sides of this equation takes some work. I am finding this now.
Success in one area of your life does not lead to less value in other areas of your life. It grows you as a person. It makes you more whole. Don’t pay attention to the lack. Look forward to the opportunity for growth.
Let Go to Grow!
2 years later commentary
We are further down this road now. We have left our jobs and moved across country. My wife has continued down the career path and is navigating the ups and downs of full time work. I see it bothers her being away from the girls so much. I still feel the pull to work some so maybe our answer is some blend of us both working. We still are of the belief that we will take care of our children. Nothing can replace this time, no job, no amount of money, no babysitter or nanny. We firmly believe that investing our time in our children is the best thing we can do, for them and for us.
The days are long as my wife works 30 minutes from the house and we have 1 car currently. So we gather everyone up and make the journey together. It seems a bit much, but not having a car for 10 or so hours a day with 2 restless kids can get a bit rough on the sanity. Plus they enjoy spending the extra time with mom.
I have been searching for games and activities for the girls and this has really been challenging. Toddlers like to go from one thing to the next without cleaning up. I am constantly left in the wreckage of lego explosions and mini doll and dress-o-paloozas. The clean up song is literally a Godsend. The screen time temptation is real. There is something so tempting about finding an activity that consumes your kids, and seemingly takes the pressure off you for a minute. But just as I think to myself and get cautioned by my wife, too much of this and control and attention start to be harder to gain. I literally notice a shift in my girls demeanor when the tv is on. They don't listen, they are short and distracted. You can see it, they almost appear to have become more powerful. Its a trip. Discussing amount of time with them beforehand seems to work very well. Define the boundaries and they do great. Just putting the tv on for relief makes it a bit harder to reconcile.
The financial game of switching jobs and roles gets a bit hairy as well. As the one making the money from before I always felt I had a sense of what was happening, now that I am not this person I couldn't feel more distant. We have really had to work on our communication. Multiple bank accounts, multiple people it takes check ins. For us once a week seems to have some success. Everyone is very different here, but the thread that links us all is systems and communication.
Can you attach today and right now to your direction and focus in life? This has been an important home base to operate from for us. Most things have been new that we experience. So does today make sense as a part of the journey or not? If it doesn't fit, we change it. If it seems to be some version of stripes we must earn along the way we stick it out. Some jobs just don't pan out. Its not about failing, its about finding your fit. Some activities with the girls just don't work out, its not a failure, we just look for new ones.
Watching your partner work their way through something your familiar with is quite the adventure. Because I have the exact same journey but completely different on this side. Truly being supportive can sometimes be a challenge, because I feel the other side of the blade as well. As the poem above says we must take turns. We must pursue our own lives, to be better partners. We must have space to grow. The greatest gift we have (our children) joins us. So we must alternate. There is a cadence to this, and we have been figuring it out.
My heart goes out to all the parents that are out working long days to make ends meet. My heart also goes out to the parent that stays home with the children. Both of these are valiant efforts, and for us its about closing the gap on the different experience. Our days are so different, but we are both driving at the same goal. Empathy and Communication are musts in our life. The days we have this present are much better than the ones where it may be lacking. The equation has many variables, but the constants have to be our connection and our availability for each other.
If you go out there and read anything about having babies, and how to raise them. Talking, singing, laughing, and smiling to them are always recommended. The more interactions a baby can experience from his/her parents the better. Their brains are constantly developing, and with each day there are changes. At first the changes seem a bit slower, but after about 3-4 months, things start changing overnight. All the while they are taking information in their wildly growing minds.
Since day one, my wife and I have been doing all of these things with our daughter. Dancing has also been very commonplace in our household. I can only hope that all of those things have been helping her. Because we are not planning on stopping.
The best part about the whole thing is that it has really helped me. As a brand new dad, there are a whole lot of “what the hell do I do” moments. When your holding a newborn baby, that has no experience, and is just simply breathing and observing, Anything is helpful. Talk to her, dance with her, laugh, sing, whatever. Before you know it, you are in the game. It almost doesn’t take any thought. Just do the thing. The songs that I sing to her, consist of words like “You should go to sleep, because your a baby and your tired.” Definitely not the most riveting of lyrics, and I have a terrible voice. When I talk or sing to her, my voice goes up like 5 octaves. But it works, and it makes us both feel better.
This has been the biggest confidence builder for me. There is nothing worse than feeling that you cannot provide for a human that you are responsible for. And being frozen with uncertainty is a terrible place to be. Just interact, its all valuable for them, and who knows it might even make you feel like you have some stripes. It has done wonders for me.
2 years later commentary
These moments of having no idea what to do absolutely do not go away. They just ramp up in ferocity as they get older, and I am no where near done as our girls are still young. I am glad I have a few more years before they become teenagers because WHOAH. When I look back at these times that everything seems to be a blur, the only thing that really was of help was to interact with them. To be in the room and put forth effort, whatever seems to make sense to me, was the best move I could have made. In our culture we must banish this whole right and wrong thing. Each day we all wake up with a set of tools that has gotten us to this day. And they did a pretty good job. But sometimes, and commonly as a new parent we come upon situations that we don't have the tools. We can learn too and this is ok. Don't beat yourself up over your amateur status. Everyone was an amateur at one time, even the big wigs that wrote those books we are all supposed to read. Life is about experience and learning and becoming. All of these require a lack of resources, all of these require being in the room and not knowing. This is the beauty of parenthood. We get to learn to live again. We have the opportunity to do this again, and this time we have some experiences and some stripes.
Your kids are yours, and your intuition is also yours. Stay plugged in to both, and I believe you will figure it out. If you are in need of some inspiration, or advice reach out to someone you feel comfortable with. Always remember, they are just a person as well. What they say is their experience and it may have worked. That doesn't mean it works for you. But it damn well may offer some insight. Work on yourself and be clear with what you want. This is a good place to start from. All things will begin to fall in line as you focus on where your going, as opposed to the friction of the moment.
The beauty that is present when our girls read books to themselves, and dance and sing songs in their pjs is hard to explain, but its immensely joyous to watch. All of this grew from a place of amateur status. All of this beauty came from not knowing what to do, and following our intuition. What it grows into from here, who knows. But each day you are planting seeds with your children. The ones you plant when your in the room and present will prove to be the strongest and most steadfast trees in the lush forest that becomes their life. The ones that you plant when your not paying attention, well I am sure you can imagine how those will turn out.
Having 2 kids is a challenging situation. Hell, having 1 kid is a pretty challenging situation. 2 just lets you know further more that you are not in any form of control, even though you may think you are. You see, when you have 1 child and something goes wrong, you have 2 adults capable of finding solutions. Even if 1 of the adults is gone, the other is fully capable of dealing with whatever may arise. Now when you have 2 kids and something goes wrong, you are outgunned and on your heels. Immediately when something happens with one, you have to secure the other, you immediately need more hands.
I want to use puking to drive home this example. As you know if you ever read this blog, we have 2 daughters. The oldest is now 2 and the youngest a bustling 7 months. We have been a part of the puking dilemma multiple times, as I am sure many of you have. In the first example my wife was home with our oldest and actually pregnant with our youngest. Our oldest threw up everywhere. I think the original nucleus was in the kitchen, then up the stairs and into the bathroom. I got a message from my wife to come home, so immediately I headed that way. About 30 min later thanks to trusty LA traffic, I had traveled 6 whole miles and made it home. I came upstairs to see my pregnant wife sitting on the bathroom floor with our daughter, both naked covered in puke. This was the first of the puking incidents. It was apparent that the tag team that was to come was gonna give us a run for our money. The issue was that our daughter didn’t want to move or do anything after she threw up and she fell asleep on my very pregnant wife. So the easiest place to stay was just on the floor. Good thing my wife is a warrior and took this in stride.
The next time I got a text about the puking was probably a year later. My wife texted me the same thing. So I dashed out of work and headed towards the house. Luckily, one of our close friends was at the house. Because the puke was once again everywhere. But this time it was different. We had a fresh baby in the house. Well 4 months fresh, still pretty new to the equation. So immediately when 1 pukes, the other is exposed. Thank the Good Lord our friend was there to hold our youngest. Because I don’t envy anyone that is being puked on by a large toddler, and having to fend off/keep safe a curious baby. When I arrived home, our Godsend of a friend helped the girls up to the shower, and helped clean up.
Just 3 days ago, my wife left for work and I was attempting to get the trifecta. Getting both girls to sleep and then myself is my new goal anytime I am watching them. The sleep is amazing, but the glory in this moment is unmatched. I had gotten our 2 year old to fall asleep, just by about 82 seconds. I was still laying there, not to make any sudden movements to bring her out of her slumber. The 7 month old was on the other side of the bed playing with some toys in her own quiet way. Then I heard it, the guttural blluuuppp, a sound heard anywhere and immediately recognizable. I was laying right next to her, so I was a goner. First launch was a small amount of puke on the pillows. By that time I picked her up and headed for the bathroom, as smoothly and quickly as a possibly could. In the 27 feet to the bathroom, I got 3 rushes of warm toddler contents down the front of me. I don’t wish a puke shower on anyone, but I would have to say, my concern was only on my girl. I wanted her pain/puking to be mine immediately just so she could feel better. This is a very strange change for me. I thought I would be grossed out for sure, but I was not at all, and I was covered. Its amazing the changes that take place inside of you that you are not aware of with kids. When the time arises, you all of the sudden have some new tools in your tool belt. I took off all of our clothes, laid them on the floor, and turned on the shower. Where is the 7 month old? SHIT!! I very calmly told my post puking toddler that I had to go check on sissy. I quickly washed my hands, and ran my naked ass into our room. She was just playing away. Thank GOD!! I put her in her pack and play (essentially a small baby looking cage) and headed back to the bathroom. My oldest and I took a shower and cleaned all of the puke off. She literally projectile vomited into the undercarriage of my beard. Getting this out was quite a feat. I still don’t regret having a beard, even after having it filled with toddler vomit. Manstuff really. If you have a beard, you understand.
We headed back into the room, to meet up with our screaming roommate. I now have one limp and tired toddler that is soaking wet, and a screaming 7 month old that keeps getting on her knees and falling down in her baby pen. Triage folks, its about triage.
#1 Dry off and Dress Toddler
#2 Put Toddler to bed
#3 Get 7 month old out of pen
#4 Take her out of room where Toddler (hopefully finished puking) is now sleeping
#5 Fail miserably at putting 7 month old to sleep
#6 Check on sleeping toddler 28 times
Survival. Its about survival. We are trying to keep the 7 month old alive, and keep the toddler from going Godzilla on her. This is a story about love. But its always a battle. Someone needs to sleep. Someone needs to eat. Someone needs to be changed. Someone is doing something new that we cannot figure out. Did we eat? When did I shower last? Can we do laundry now?
Having 2 is incredible and incredibly challenging. Our oldest is just getting to where she can tell us what’s wrong, when she wants to at least. Otherwise, we find ourselves sifting through screaming fits, and dirty looks. I am assuming this is a small preview of how the teenage years will go. We are all constantly learning about each other, and this is a beautiful thing. Turns out when you have another baby, you already forgot about all of the shit you had to do for the other one at that age. Not forget like you don’t know what to do, just conveniently forget so you are so viciously made aware with the new one. I completely forgot how a young baby will incessantly scream and cry in the car. Our oldest grew out of this , and I guess I just thought we were done. I was definitely mistaken. This was a rude awakening. Then the much louder toddler joins in. The glory of this situation is hardly done justice to with words. We and you are totally screwed.
It’s an illusion. Control is completely an illusion. I mean you are in control to a certain extent, like you pay for everything and you are the one that can reach the high shelves. As far as antics go, you are a guest. When both of your kids are mobile, you will start to realize the lack of this so called control. You suddenly start dreaming about padded walls and naps. Children reframe life. When you have 2 its man to man defense, so awareness is heightened for sure. When you are by yourself and you have 2, you are currently losing with zone defense. I am not sure how 3 or 4 or 5 go, but thankfully they get older and they learn. When they outnumber you, this is where elegance comes in. Say few words, get maximum response. Triage and elegance folks. Put out the biggest fire first, and be direct with your tasks and actions. Parenting truly is a jungle. Kudos to all of you in the trenches on the daily.
2 years later commentary
I look back on this night and laugh hysterically and remember it like it was yesterday. The warm surge of toddler vomit on the underside of your beard and chest is not likely a feeling that will wash away anytime soon. But thankfully it hasn't happened again, but we have had more nights with puking as the main event. One night all four of us got a bug that until today has us unsure as to what happened. The best guess was that we had bad food. It started with a barrage of puking from our oldest in the bed, in the bathroom and all over our room. Then our youngest started in. Then mama brought her violent puking in the already tumultuous scene. She was having her way with the toilet for six bouts with the exorcist sounding experience. All of our towels, all of our sheets were covered. I was so confused to whether I felt the puke coming on because of everyone else's puking, or because I actually felt the same way. I went downstairs and gagged myself just to get it over with. This is always a fun experience. I kinda felt halfway here and halfway there. The semi puking didn't really make me feel better, it just knocked me just enough off normal that everything else became harder.
The cleanup was pushed to the next day. We literally just left a pile of wreckage in the bathroom, that we then just threw into multiple trash bags straight to the dumpster. No one wanted to clean that mess up, and not to mention we were all so depleted that it really didn't matter anyway. Sleep and hydration became the priority, nothing else really mattered.
You know what really sucks that no one ever talks about. Sick kids really make life a challenge. Wait till your sick too. The magnitude of throwing up yourself, and caring for a throwing up child is crazy town. Its all consuming on multiple levels. It literally seemed like it took us a week to recover from this night. Between yawns all day, to tantrums, to thousands of cups of coffee, we were feeling it hardcore. Other than those instances puking really hasn't been a big hurdle for us.
As the years fly by and the days drag on we have become very accustomed to dealing with situations with the girls. Its always about triage, and thats honestly the easiest way I have to relate to it. Who is in the worst condition? Take care of this first. Then deal with the next most threatening fire. Usually by the time the worst is resolved the other is dwindling, as toddler problems aren't always long winded occasions.
To be real honest at one time in my life, puke made me puke. After having being puked on multiple times. I really don't care any more, it doesn't bother me. Kids have their own magnificent way of destroying your irrational but very real phobias. Space doesn't matter with kids and neither does time. Your relationship transcends this and you will never be the same. I see all you parents out there killin the game. High Five and big hugs to you. Tell me your puking story in the comments.
Our oldest is 2 and is on the cusp of the toddler version of sprinting. She is getting pretty quick, and her version of fun just happens to be eluding her mother and I. Just over the weekend we went to the beach and she was flat outty. I saw her make her ever so graceful saggy diaper exit and just followed. I was doing my own little dad-experiment just to see how this went, in hopes of gaining some insight into what she was thinking. I am a huge believer in letting children venture out and do what they want as long as its safe. When I started to follow her she was about 100 feet from our basecamp at the beach. Basecamp meaning where mom and the towels were.
She was just above a casual toddler stroll for the first 50 yards or so, then she picked up her pace to quite the scamper to catch up with these 2 older ladies out for a stroll. She never looked back or for that matter to the side 1 time. She has very impressive closing speed I might add. She basically from what I could see said hello to these ladies, and they were very happy to have such a bright child joining them. I am very proud of my daughter for having the sense of wonder and individuality to just go. I know plenty of adults that could use a lesson or two in this. Contrary to the excitement for her explorer attitude, this is also a tremendous lesson in fatherhood for me. Being aware when with my children is of the utmost importance. In no time she could be around a corner, or down some stairs, or something worse could happen. If you have experienced that brief moment when your kid is gone, your heart drops, your whole world crashes, and its full on panic mode. Then you fully know what I am talking about.
When it comes down to it. People in general these days are too distracted. Presence is a damn joke. Bodies are together, but no one is engaged with each other, just groups of people disconnected. They all seem to be connected to their cell phones without a problem, as emphasized in my rant that can be foundhere. As a parent, we cannot afford this luxury. We need to stay with our kids. The reality of the world we live in is that not all people want the best for kids. People take children and do terrible things. Too high a price for some social media updates/other non essential tasks at the moment. Your children are your task, get after it.
When my daughter was about 1 we were at a park. My wife and I were sitting cross legged in the grass helping her take her first steps. I am guessing at the age, but a 3 year old boy ran right over and sat in my lap. I had never seen this little boy before and he literally sat down in my lap. I was surprised and laughed because honestly it was funny. He then started to pat my beard, and take my hat, which was pretty forward of him. At this point, I was able to see what was going on from the 10,000 foot view and I removed him from my lap. If I was his parent, I would come over and at the very least have some very serious words with the person whose lap my child was sitting in. This looked absolutely terrible, and this poor boy clearly just wanted some attention. God forbid if someone with dangerous wishes was sitting where I was, because this kid just dropped in my lap in the most literal sense. My wife and I walked him around and tried to find who his parents were. There was no one. This little dude was just infatuated by me, so much that a nearby woman saw what was going on and took over leading him around. Thank You Woman, I owe one in the largest sense. Eventually she found his grandfather, or what appeared to be so, asleep on a bench with his earphones in. I wanted to lecture this dude, but held my tongue. Then his little dude ran over to me again and did the leg hug, face in crotch move, which is all kinds of terrible. The grandfather gave me a shitty look, as I would have done to whomever. I coulda punched this fool. My wife and I then left with our daughter because this scene was going nowhere.
The scary part here is he never knew. That poor kid probably is still at the park doing the same shit. In retrospect I should have stopped and taken a moment to tell the man what had happened. But we all have things to learn I guess. We as parents need to accept our role in our kids lives. We need to be ahead of the game in this regard. NO you don’t need to go read a book. NO you don’t need to take a class. But by all means, do so if you are open to it. Just be present with your children. Just be with them. If they wander, follow close behind. Presence is better than Presents.
2 years later commentary
We now have another daughter who is quickly approaching 2. It is hilarious to read this entry because she is so very much the same while being totally different. Since the first entry we have moved to a farm in the midwest which is much more conducive to children roaming free, and that they do. I fully support them exploring but also still am aware of the dangers out there. They both have done the grocery store disappearing act, or the standing inside a clothes rack at target move, that gives me a silent freak out. And damn, now they are fast. Our oldest is almost four and likes to play games, and her crazy sister just wants to be a part of everything.
Since that experience at the park, we elect to go on hikes or activities where everyone is mobile and active. I still remember it like it was yesterday, and to be honest it scares me even more thinking of one of my girls doing that to someone. I struggle to even go there in my mind.
Have you seen the leash thing? These parents that have their kids on leashes. Its attached to a backpack, or a sort of chest harness. I am not quite sure how I feel about this. I understand the need, because I have experienced the momentary terror of losing track of your child first hand. And using this leash would definitely keep them close. But to what end? Is this a bandaid for an ever increasing distraction of parenting? Are we that disengaged with our children in public that we need to lash ourselves to them? Are our children that distracted that communication is just not possible? I just feel like there might be a more conscious way to go about this. Is our world in such a place that external stimulus and need for attention, greater than our drive for connection with those closest to us? The answer is yes, and this is where the leash comes in.
I think we as parents need to have an honest conversation with ourselves and delve into the details of what makes us present, and what steals our attention. Our child's safety should not be on the chopping block with texting, or reading updates on Twitter or Instagram. The simple connection between parent and child literally gives the child a foundation on which self worth is built. It gives them confidence, and teaches them how to love, and how to connect. The lack of connection, well this leaves a gaping hole in a child. The leash is not the problem, but its not the solution either.
Is it possible to structure your day so that when you are in the room with someone you are engaged with them? Could you pull this off? Would your day be better? Granted, work is an exception here, as are libraries, etc. But take a look if you haven't noticed already. The disconnect of people despite literally being next to them is terrifying. No wonder empathy seems to be at a all time low, and there is so much hate. The hyper-connected distant generation. Its not official unless its on Instagram. Damn it's sad.
I heard this the other day and it hit home for me. "Be in your own shoes." If your gonna be somewhere, actually be present. Don't be the guy not paying attention. Have you seen the video of the girl walking into a water fountain because she is walking and texting? It hilarious, and pretty sad. Distraction is so prevalant. Its literally driving a wedge in between us and our lives.
My wife and I talk about this a lot in an effort to be more present with each other and our girls. The presence of devices is inevitable in our lives. But how and where we use them is completely up to us. If you need to post, or send a message or make a call, or do some work. Go somewhere and do that. Don't do that while trying to have a conversation, or helping your kids. I know this is a challenge and I literally fail daily. But at some point, we have to value those in front of us, more that our little social media monsters.
I can't imagine the remorse of losing someone because of such a distraction. Stay present. Stay engaged. I would imagine that everyone will be much happier if the time we spend together is time with connection. And don't forget to keep and eye on your kids at the park.
The first 90 days, after your baby is born, are a very interesting time. Granted this time may be a bit longer or a bit shorter, but about the first 3 months are a bit fuzzy. This whole experience feels like a crash course. Lessons are learned, and some of those are like taking a heavy weight pounding.
I had the fortunate experience of having a fellow father tell me that there is nothing wrong with not feeling attached to your baby at first. He continued to tell me that it really feels like a job, with no pay. You put out all the effort, and to be real honest, the baby isn’t giving you much back. We spend this whole time waiting through the pregnancy, and the excitement and anticipation builds, and then nuthin. You have this very small human that just eats, sleeps, makes dirty diapers, and there is a good amount of crying. It begins to feel like a groundhog day scenario. It is easy to almost feel jealous of the relationship that the mother has with your child. This is definitely a check your ego moment in life.
This is the time to be a father. Provide what is needed. Spend time with your child. Get right in there and change diapers, rock your child to sleep, or just rock your child they may not fall asleep. Skin to skin is huge. Take off your shirt and hold your baby. Remember they are learning all the time and need a hell of a lot of loving, and quality time.
A huge hurdle for me was to not let my emotions rise when our baby girl began to cry, and scream. I would go through all the emotions from calm and collected, to frustrated, to frantic, to angry, to worthless, to confused, and all the while the baby is crying in my arms. Crying is how they tell you they need something. Trying to figure it out, will keep you a bit calmer. They are tired, or hungry, or need a change. Go through those three and usually you will find the issue.
Pretty soon your baby will start to smile, look at you, and recognize you. He/she will reach for you and let you know that you exist. This is the best feeling! There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
2 years later commentary
I still remember the frustration and the unsure experience of this time. It was so real and just swallows you up. Following your instincts, however frail they may seem. It truly does improve, and your get better, and you learn how to be a father. This whole game is about learning, you truly become a student of your child.
One thing that always helped me was to focus on the needs and stay away from the emotions. Literally write down what they need, and go through this list when things begin to go awry. I like all of us was so easily swept up in the emotion. My amateur status and their frantic tantrums sent me whirling into a mess of frustration and declining sanity. I can think of multiple times I just had to set my daughter on the bed or in her crib and just leave the room for a minute for a breather. It’s not a joke, just some piece of separation and perceived control because I was losing exponentially with my daughter. But really we were just both learning. The razors edge of the skills gap in fatherhood is sharp. You will learn, and you will be great. Nothing will give this to you but time. Throw yourself in there, and be present.
When your child smiles at you, or giggles, or reaches for you. It turns you to butter. It melts you in your shoes. Literally you feel your heart get warm, you feel the rise of emotion and the fire in your soul. When these moments come, you think back to the struggle and laugh. It seems so small. The magnitude of the joy that continually hits you from your children so far outweighs these early struggles that you can’t even compare.
Communication with your partner is also of the greatest priority. Remember, your on the same team. Sometimes this is quite the challenge as the lack of sleep and intense change can get to both of you. Take your turn and offer to care for your baby. Change diapers and give baths and feed if a bottle is around. Take your baby on walks and dance and sing to them. Supporting mama and giving her healing time, and self care time will do wonders not only for her, but for your sanity too. Being very present and very clear about what each other need is so helpful. A healthy dose of empathy goes a long way.
Give yourself the space to learn and feel new. Loss of control is a hard thing to contend with. Beware of the connection to anger. This time is full of opportunities to learn and become better. Don’t let the struggle wear you down. Being very intentional about time for self can literally save your sanity.
These first days, these times are of huge value. Take pictures, write in a journal. Be Present, and stay plugged in with your baby and your partner. Take one day at a time. Some days I remember trying to take 5 minutes at a time. The panic is when you are in the time of the greatest learning. When it’s uncomfortable, be easy on yourself. Take a deep breath and just be in the room. This is your time to shine. Remember, everything is a phase. You child will move through this. If you need help, reach out. There are people that have been there and will help and listen to what’s going on.
Congrats and welcome. This is the greatest time of our lives.
This has been an incredible challenge for me! The right/wrong dilemma. There are a billion decisions that have to be made raising kids, opinions will vary just like colors in the rainbow. As a family unit we need to establish a way of doing things. We have, and you too are sure to run into some hurdles along the way.
My wife and I haven't always agreed on how to do things. So in most cases one of us will have the solution that is the one that works. Guys, if your method happens to be the one that makes the most sense, for the love of Gawd, don't say you were right. There is no glory in this road. There isn't much worse than having there mother of your child pissed at you. This is a game of solutions, and you and mom are on the same team. It sometimes feels that you are playing against each other. But it's just not the case.
It’s crazy, somewhere deep down inside us, there is this little piece of something that likes to be right. There seems to be some justification, or some badge of honor in being right. If we can steer this driving force into something that is more team or purpose oriented, I think we can find much more success. It may be a bit cliché, but the working/not working reference gets a lot of traction with me. You try something, and it either works or doesn’t. There is no ownership, no shame, no personal accountability, no badge of honor. There are only solutions. We as a team are getting closer to where we want to be, or we are not.
Next time shit hits the fan, or the diaper, and everyone is screaming. Think about solutions, think about what is working, and what is not working. Not whose idea it was. I think we will all be much happier if this is the case.
2 Years Later Commentary
Working and not working moves directly towards a conversation of mindset. There are those with that operate from a fixed mindset in which our worth and our abilities and intellect are fixed. It creates the need to prove yourself over and over again. Hence being right. The growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as launching pad for learning and improvement. These mindset differences are formed at a very early age and very much affect how we live our lives. If you would like further resources on this, look up Carol Dweck. She is the one who championed these, and the book Mindset will change your life.
I personally grew up feeling like I was always wrong, so my direct tendency is to push to be right. I came from a very fixed mindset place in my life. So this feels like home to me, although it is not a very constructive place to live my life from, nor parent my children. Having a growth mindset to me is very learned and most of the time a conscious work in progress. But for all the difficulty it is, it friggin works. I am happy to take the toil of rewiring my self and my mind, if it means that my girls can see that failure is ok, and we better ourselves constantly by learning.
I never appreciated the beauty of learning in my life. I learned to an end. I learned for the grade, and I got very good grades. I graduated from a Big 12 university with a business degree, and I never really appreciated learning. It wasn't for my own betterment, it wasn't for improving my mind, it wasn't for giving myself more tools in this life. It was for the grade. Dammit. Ya wanna hear something funny. My diploma is still at the university. Don't get me wrong college was amazing, but it was more of a social experiment for me, than it was a scholarly journey. I look back now as I see kids at school, and I am so envious of their position in life, and their opportunity. I am so curious as to what they are thinking about learning.
You see, I was so stuck in this fixed, prove yourself or your worthless mentality that I could only focus on the next instance where I could prove myself. I couldn't see and appreciate expanding myself by reading books, and studying. It was just a necessary chore. I wasn't allowing myself to go there. I couldn't see the 10,000 foot view and concentrate on moving the needle for myself. I was so concerned on what those around me were thinking. Now I became very adept with people during these years, because it seemed to end up as a huge experiment on interaction with others, which I am forever thankful for.
Now I look back, and think about how this mentality works in parenting. Parenting is about the 10,000 foot view all the time, with very loving attention to the moment you are in. You can't ride the roller coaster of emotion with kids, and if you do, crazy is far short of the sensations going through your body and mind. I trained myself for so long to operate in the moment and not really worry about tomorrow. I wasn't concerned with taking the time to learn and get better. And this has run me into the ground countless times. Relationships are about learning and supporting others. You can't be in a constant state of this is right and this is wrong. There is too much gray area. There is too much need for forgiveness and grace. When co-parenting, you are a team, and what you are doing is working or its not. Very simple. I gently urge you to employ a growth mindset, and lovingly move the needle in your lives. Teach your children to appreciate their ability to learn and create anything they wish. Devalue accolades and praise curiosity and hard work.
There are a lot of moments that happened to me since I have become a father, that have changed the way I see the world. I believe that this is the case in all parents lives, but I can definitely speak for myself in this. The whole game is different.
First of all, the obvious, but not so obvious hits me all the time. This child is half me. I created another person. Holy Shit I am responsible for this human. I have to teach her everything. She doesn’t know anything. She has my eyes, she laughs like my wife. WHAAAAA?!?!?
My mom sent me a onesie that I wore when I was a baby. They other day my daughter wore that same “still” soft onesie. It is pictured above. At first it was cute, and it looked warm, then it hit me that I wore that. I looked at myself in the mirror, with a few years, a few more pounds, and a bit of height, and my daughter in my arms, so small and beautiful in my onesie. MindMelt
Then I think about my wife. What a wondrous being! I remember seeing her before we ever were together, and being so attracted to her. It was magnetic. I remember seeing her when she was “barefoot and pregnant” in the house, totally different, but even more in love. Then I watched her give birth to our daughter. Now THAT was a REAL moment in time. Time and Space did not exist in this moment, it was Primal, Raw, and Wondrous. I was still hopelessly in love, with 2 people now. Now I am a father, she is a mother, and we have a daughter. I have never been more in love with my wife and my life. But its different. Watching a woman go through these things and being by her side, you change. I changed, and will never be the same. All you know before, pales in comparison with what you will know after.
There are so many instances when I just need to stop and appreciate this life. These changes have been the best things ever to happen to me. I can’t wait for more. Life as a Dad is constantly mind blowing. Bring it!
Thoughts 2 year later
Still the most amazing day I have ever been a part of was the birth of not only 1 but both of my daughters. I was really actually worried that I would be able to love our second with the same intensity and passion that I love our first. And thats where Love brought me into the light. Love is not linear, love is not inside a container. Love is exponential. When you open yourself to loving someone, you receive exponentially. And damn have we been receiving over here.
To find the words for my respect and reverence of my wife, it would take many leather bound books, in many libraries. Watching your person literally make a child, and then bring this child into this world, and then feed that child, and care for that child with her body. I don't have words. Jaw on the floor. Heart Exploding. And then she did it again. Both births have tear filled stories which I have attempted to capture in blogs to come.
Both of our girls are uniquely quirky and magnificent. Daily they drive me crazy, and minute by minute they steal my heart over and over. I see behaviors in the younger that take me back to when her sister was our only. They play and my heart skips a beat. Wait till you see them hug, or read each other books. I almost cry every time. We have a few things from when I was a baby, and pictures of me in them. Now I carry my girls wearing my vintage jackets now in their size. They love my onesies, and fitting your brain around that is crazy.
With 2 little ones, life is crazy and it seems like we are always behind and have a million things to do. I find myself all wrapped up in the crazy, and then it hits you like a brick. STOP! These are the moments you will look back on. These are the best moments in life. A giggle from the belly of a little girl. "Papa give me a kiss." And I melt. These moments are nothing short of spectacular. Stay in a place in your life where you can appreciate them. Our kids are only around and little for so long. Don't miss it.
Your life changes. I like to think about it like your children continue the revealing of you. You see being a man, being a father requires different layers of you that you may not be in touch with. Believe me it will take you places in your mind, and in your body that you haven't been. It happens to us all. Always learn, always be humble, and always start with love. Immersed in change, its easy to act from fear. This is no place for a man to move forward from. This is no place to parent, or be a husband from. We must delve into ourselves and find the fear in us to know that its all a hoax. Its wholistically limited to your mind. You give it power, or squash it all together. Step into the light and move from love. Its in there for all of us, and we all need that version of you.
Record these moments in your life. You will forget. Journal, video, take pictures, for the love of God these are the days you will look back on, when everything is sagging. I wish you all the feels, and all the warmth that comes from having children. I am forever changed, and forever blessed from my experience. Cheers to being a father. Its truly the best.
So today is Monday which means that all parties survived the first weekend without mom. The first time I have been alone with my 7 1/2 month old daughter for multiple days on end. Before this weekend got here I was a little nervous about how this weekend would go. Mom had always been within reach, even if a few hours away. Now mom was gonna be across the country for the weekend. No bailing out dad this time. Despite a calm demeanor, I was shaking in my boots. I have changed diapers, and I have rocked the baby to sleep many times, but have never been, just her and I for days. Now I am responsible for all the feedings, and all the things.
Today I sit here a father of 2 beaming daughters, one is 3 1/2 and the other is chomping at the bit of being 2, and still to this day I have to tell myself to quiet my mind and slow down. There are so many moments in becoming a parent that you will never see again. There are so many things that are new. There is so much learning and struggle. There is also an immense amount of joy and connection. I urge you to slow down and enjoy these days. The professional, career oriented you might have to take a little step back, but this is not to your demise. Life is not a job, life is not money. Life is about our relationships with people, its about the journey. Don’t let yourself get lost in the race, don’t let these precious moments slip away from you.