Monthly Archives: November 2010

I am thankful

While Wednesdays are typically a ‘Wordless Wednesday’, this Wednesday deserves to be put into words.

I am thankful.

Two years ago, I came home from work to find my wife holding two positive pregnancy tests. I can’t remember what I was wearing that particular day, but I can remember what she was wearing. I can remember how the room was set up, the lighting, everything. Fast-forward to two years later, and I’m the father of a wonderful 15 month-old son. For that I am most thankful. To get to be with that little person every day. I’m thankful for my wife for giving him to me.

This past year has been a year of good thanks. We went from a two-bedroom apartment to a beautiful house in a wonderful city. My wife found her first job since graduating college, and has since gone full-time. I’m on the cusp of perhaps some exciting changes at my own job. We added another canine member to our family. Our needs are met and our wants can be realized.

My mom and dad are wonderful grandparents. My brother became godfather to my son. I became Catholic.

To think about how much our lives changed from Thanksgiving 2008 to 2009; it doesn’t seem like it could be topped. But this past year has given us a lot of change and a lot to be thankful for.

It hasn’t been a year without sadness or loss, though. I lost my grandmother in June, and this Thanksgiving and holiday season will be awfully difficult without her. But through everything, I know she loved us so much and I’m so glad Parker got to meet her, because I know he brought so much joy to her.

‘Thanks’ is often a word that just gets thrown around. Said in passing. Thanksgiving is that time when we can reflect on being thankful. In appreciating the things we have been given, and giving back thanks to our loved ones.

But just suffice it to say that I am truly, very thankful this Thanksgiving. I wish my very best to you and yours this holiday season, and thank you.

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Fatherhood Friday: Buying clothes

When we first found out Parker was going to be a boy, we were a little worried about clothes. Until that point, we’d only seen really cute clothes for girls. Boy clothes tended to be filled with dump trucks, or camo, or dinosaurs.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some dinosaur clothes, but we like to have Parker wear clothes that maybe older kids would wear, or maybe that even I would wear. Thankfully, we were able to find these clothes, just by looking in the right places, specifically places like Old Navy and The Children’s Place.

Last week we went on a bit of a shopping spree for Parker to outfit him in winter clothes. We were able to find some things like a puffer vest, a nice jacket, a cardigan, etc. Just. So. Damn. Cute.

How can a 15 month old look so grown up? I decided a long time ago I would rather forego personal luxuries to spend on Parker instead. We can’t help it, how can you not spend money to make someone look like this?

The holidays have arrived–in our house, at least

That’s right, we did it, we put up our holiday decorations this weekend.

A lot of people think the first weekend in November is too soon, I call them Grinches. We just really enjoy the holidays–and especially Parker. He loves the lights and the ornaments and the decorations and the bells, so we put them up so he can have maximum enjoyment. Additionally, my wife works most weekends so we don’t have a lot of opportunities to do this until Christmas is upon us.

So we did it. And mostly, it was for this reaction:

We also went to Old Navy and winterized him with a new jacket, a puffer vest, a long sleeve thermal crew shirt, and a zip-up cardigan.

Happy Holidays!

Fatherhood Friday #2: Why it’s awesome to be a dad

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on reddit semi-frequently and I posted a comment today on a thread asking “Why are Redditors so poor”. The original poster commented that making money isn’t difficult, that he found something to do after his day job and was so successful in it that he decided to quit his job and focus on his ‘after work job’.

I said:

I wouldn’t say I’m ‘poor’, together, my wife and I afford a comfortable middle-class life–we’re 25. We just bought our first house in May, we have a 15 month-old son.

I work in the public sector, she works for a large national department store chain.

To be honest, the reason I’m not rolling in the cash is for a number of reasons.

1) I work in the public sector, as I mentioned. Not often going to find high salaries for people working in the public field in their mid 20s.

2) I have a family I have to support. My job has great benefits (esp. health benefits), flexible hours, steady wage increases, fairly decent job security. I don’t really have much luxury with ‘risk’ when I have a family that has their own needs.

3) When I get home from work, I want to play with my son. He sits with a babysitter during the day, and when I get home, I see his eyes light up and he comes running up to me and hugs me. I want to spend my evenings building block towers, and reading books, and teaching him new things than picking up something I can ‘do from home’.

Afterwards, a fellow Redditor responded:

Back when I was 25 I decided it was time for me to “grow up” and start pursuing adult goals, specifically, marriage, children and owning a house. I’m 30 now, so it is really interesting for me to listen to your story, and consider how differently my path might have gone.

My parents divorced, and my dad was a workaholic, so from a very early age I realized I wanted to do things a different way. Specifically, I didn’t want to miss my children growing up due to work. At the same time, I wanted the typical middle class comforts such as two cars, air conditioning, etc. I realized I needed a certain amount of wealth, and I also realized that working 80 hours per week into my 60s was not for me. What to do?

About 5 years ago I sat down with the girl who is now my wife, and laid out a “5 year plan” detailing where I wanted to be at 30. Namely, I wanted what you have now- a regular 40-hour schedule, a young son, a house, and (the holy grail) a wife who could be a stay-at-home mom for awhile while the kids were very little.

For the past 5 years we agreed to both work for the future, both of us working full time, her working overtime on a regular basis, and me spending my time split between a full-time consulting gig and a start-up business that I was hoping would replace her salary and let her stay at home. Of course, this past 5 years also included the total collapse of the real estate market (right after we bought the house) followed by a stock market collapse (right after we started saving and investing). Fate kicked me square in the nuts, and I lost a few years just getting back on steady footing.

So looking forward, what will 35 look like? Well, it looks like 5 years from now most of our material goals will be met. My wife may need to keep working solely for the insurance benefits, but I expect her to drop back to a “part time” job at most, and be able to focus on the kids we hope to have. As for me, I have learned that I am just like my father, a hopeless workaholic who is now forced between two full-time jobs; I expect I will be a horrible father, but will provide my wife with the opportunity to exceed as a mother. In other words, yup, dad is an asshole, but mom will be able to stay at home and give you the attention I never will. Kind of sad when I type it out and read it.

Its like this- something happens when you hit the end of your 20s, and most of the thing you used to enjoy just kind of lose their appeal. Example: I love roller coasters, but I feel silly waiting in line without a son. I’m too old for that crap- and I’m sure people assume I’m a pedo bear in disguise. So you decide: “I’ll have kids, so I can relive all the awesome stuff from childhood, and all the stuff I missed the first time around”. But, being crazy like me, you decide first you’ll pay your dues, so when you finally have kids, everything will be perfect, the sun will shine, and magical unicorns will fly you to Disney World for free.

So you spend a few years working, while the wife does the same. You don’t go out much, and try to be as frugal as possible. Friendships and family sort of fall away because you are so focused on the future goal. Grandma dies, and you tell yourself- “no time to grieve about lost opportunity- focus on the future…the futureTHE FUTURE

And then you look back at yourself on a quiet Friday afternoon, and it dawns on you just how insane your plan has been the entire time. I’m 30 now, my wife is 34, and the doctor has already explained to us that between waiting so long to have kids and preexisting medical issues on her side, adoption is now our best chance and healthy offspring. And since having kids “the normal” way is now out of the picture, why not pay off the house first? And once we’ve paid off the house, why not enjoy a few cruises for all our hard work before we settle down and adopt?

If you asked the 12 year old me what I wanted when I grew up, I would have told you a normal house by the beach with a few kids, enough money to feed them, and most important- the time to really dedicate myself to fatherhood.

The 30 year old me has the house by the beach (and the pile of associated bills and overdue repairs). I have enough money to feed plenty of kids, but I feed strangers’ kids via charity because I have no time for kids of my own. The wife and I both work so much that our social lives are pathetic, and we’re both so tired that a dinner followed by a movie at home and some sex is a thrilling evening for us both.

By the time you get to be my age, you will have a 6 year year old boy at the start of his school career. You’ll have a little clone of yourself to take trick or treating. I’ll tell you something- right now, I’d trade you every penny I have for that. Don’t be jealous of some numbers in a bank account; I’d trade them all to be playing baseball with a 6-year-old right now as opposed to finding the strength to do another 18-hour shift of work, watching as another weekend is traded away for some more money that I’m not even sure I want anymore.

However- in all fairness to myself- I hope the 40 year old me will look back at the 30 year old me and say: “suck it up, and hang in there”. Assuming we stay the course, assuming luck continues to go my way, I could be psudeo-retired by 40, adopt a litter of kids then, and spend the second half of my life dedicated to being the best father ever.

I’m just afraid that by the time I get there, I will be so jaded and tired from the work I’ll decide to get another dog and a Porsche instead. And this much my dad taught me well- it ain’t worth shit. My dad and I are friends now, but neither of us has time for the other. By the time I’m 40 he’ll likely be dead. Its strange too, because we both know it. Even when we get a few moments to joke around, there is this looming sadness always. The ghost of what might have been.

tldr; when you get home tonight, lay on your back on the floor, and use your foot to make him “fly” above you. Tickle him until he turns red. Blow on that little belly until you are both nauseous from giggling. No matter what happens 5 years from now, you’ll both be glad you did.

And you better believe I’m going to do just that. And that’s why I’m a dad.

Fatherhood Friday: It Gets Better

So by now, many of you may have come across this post. And a few weeks ago, I had posted this.

In the wake of the gay bullying suicides, Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project, to help LGBT youth understand that no matter what is happening in their lives right now, it will get better.

Nerdy Apple’s blog above shows why it’s going to get better. Because parents everywhere are accepting their children for who they are. Because parents are starting to step up and stop not only the bullying of their own children, but the bullying of others. I am saddened by the actions of the other mothers in the blog. Veiling their bullying for ‘concern’. ‘Christian’ or not, it’s plain wrong.

And what’s worse, that little five year-old was hesitant because he knew there were people out there that might make fun of him–a preschooler. There’s no greater action as a parent than to stand-up for your child, for accepting them for what they are, and loving them unconditionally

I, for one, commend her. And for all those LGBT youth out there, it does get better, because there are parents out there that are going to make sure of it.

We survived!

Yesterday was the first day in his entire life that Parker stayed with someone that was not a family member. With my wife going full-time at her job, we found it necessary to hire a babysitter. And all was well!

It’s a little nervewracking to hand over the care to someone when you’ve spent almost every waking minute with someone for the first 15 months of their life. But we made it through the first day, and now we’re on our way.

But last night when I got home from work, Parker ran up and hugged me and then gave me a big kiss–unprompted. There’s not much in your life that can make you feel better than when your child gives you a kiss at such a young age. The affection that such a little heart can give…

Election Day

Election Day in the United States is always heated. It’s the boiling point for months (and even years) of attacks, rhetoric, talking points, polling data, etc. When we thought not much could top the elections of 2004, 2006, and 2008, 2010 arrived. In 2008, we hadn’t even heard of the Tea Party. In 2009, we were laughing at the Tea Party. In 2010, they’d become a force to be reckoned with. At the same time, 215,000 people attended a satiric rally in Washington, D.C. this weekend. A tongue-in-cheek demonstration that captured the wit of ‘the other side’. More Americans–especially young Americans–turn to Comedy Central to get their news than ever before.

It’s been an entertaining election season to be sure, but perhaps the greatest thing about Election Day is the day after. Power is peacefully transferred. There are no riots, no mass demonstrations, no attempted coups. One side wins, the other loses, and that’s it. It’s certainly not the end of politics. In fact, it just sets in motion more battles to be fought, and soon, presidential candidates will start to emerge. But it says a lot about the nation and its citizens; that no matter how frenzied a race becomes or how close an election might be–we accept the results, often with little protest. Everyone, Republican, Democrat, Independent, should be proud of his/her country today.

So get out and vote. I could take this opportunity to tell you who I voted for and why you should too, but that’s not the purpose of Election Day. Research the candidates for yourself, determine what issues are most important to you, and hold your elected officials accountable. And perhaps most of all, appreciate a peaceful election.

A show my son must see…

Some joy came to me from the library today:

This is actually the fourth time I’ve watched the entire West Wing series. I would put this show up against any show in the history of American television.

Hopefully Parker will have as much as an interest in American civics as I do, but even for those who don’t like civics, I’ve found that they still find The West Wing appealing.

Any other shows you’d want your child to watch one day? And can any possible top The West Wing?