Good Enough is the New Perfect

Damn it all, it’s been way too long since I have sat down to blog it up.  So, I guess I need to play a little catch-up, huh?
First, let me start with some good news.  Ferris had his 90 day review, and while there were some tense moments between him and the CEO (The Wife), I am happy to report that his contract with us has been renewed, and he will be with us for a long time…pending a successful 12 month evaluation that is.  Just kidding kiddo, you can stay.
The big news since we last spoke (I wrote, you read) is that Ferris started daycare this week.  Unfortunately yes, the time has come for the Wife to head back to work.  Well, not to imply that what she has been up to as of late was a 3 month vacation by any means.
In a perfect world (my perfect world that is) we would never have to send Ferris to daycare at all.  No, we wouldn’t be rich and saddle the kid with a nanny 24/7…..wait, I take back the rich part.  We “WOULD” be rich, but no nanny.  In fact, in my perfect world I would be able to do something like this (writing that is) for a living, which would allow me to stay home and kick it with the Mini-Me.  I totally said that last part (“kick it”) just to get under the Wife’s skin.  She seems to think that I view being a stay at home parent as a party or something.  It’s good to see even with all our ups and downs through this whole process we still haven’t lost our sense of humor; or at least our sense of messing with each other.

I dare you to try and tell me this is not awesome

To clarify, I *do not* think being a stay-at-home-parent is a party.  I realize it’s hard work.  Shit, I saw how hard it was on the Wife, but I think she’s sees how excited I get when I talk about the idea of staying home, which in turn probably makes her feel like I’m not taking the responsibility too seriously, when in fact I’m smiling at the idea of spending every day with my boy.  But alas, this is all for naught, as we don’t roll like that (money wise), so we are like most families in America these days, and need 2 incomes just to say we barely make it.  Well, that might be a little over-dramatic; we do well enough.
That’s kind of the theme of my thoughts today; good enough, or well enough, is the new perfect.  I stole that phrase from a book the Wife has been reading lately.  Good Enough is the New Perfect started as a blog, but has since found its way into hardcover/paperback in stores around the country.  The idea behind this blog/book is, in my opinion, nothing short of genius.

The blog/book helps new mothers see that their efforts “do” in fact matter, and while you will have more days where you feel like you accomplished nothing, or realize that all you got done that day was brushing your teeth (or not sometimes – don’t judge), that whatever little extra items you happened to squeeze into a day filled with caring for a needy baby (because all babies are needy) was good enough.  This particular message I feel is very helpful because I feel that a lot of new moms think they should not only be caring for their baby, but cleaning house, checking emails, grocery shopping, etcetera; and if they don’t accomplish all these tasks they somehow are failing.  But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Sometimes it’s important to one’s sanity to be able to let go and say that your efforts are good enough.  As a Dad/Partner this has been helpful for me too.
One example of something that was particularly hard on the Wife was the idea of getting out of the house.  The first week of Ferris’ arrival aside, because let’s be for real – that first week you don’t even know what time/day it is, let alone if you can go outside and interact with the living –  it was a little bit before we actually tried to venture out as a family.  One particular reason was because our little one was not the best sleeper, which in turn made him very fussy and unpredictable at any given time.  This fussiness weighed on both of us, but probably on the Wife a bit more than me.  When dealing with a fussy baby you can feel trapped indoors at times, simply out of fear of how they will act.  Then to make the feelings worse, some can’t help but fall into the trap of comparing their situation to others around them.  What I mean by that is in this day of social media it’s very easy to see how, and what, everyone else is doing.  The Wife and I would see posts from other couples we know who had babies around the same time we did (we actually know a lot, surprisingly), and some of them were out and about within the first 2 weeks after giving birth gallivanting all over creation with their perfect angel-babies, while Ferris cried in the background.  That kind of stuff, while you know is not your fault, takes its toll on people (more specifically, Moms), and can make you feel like a failure.
While I have always tried to reinforce to the Wife that she was doing a great job every day (because she was/is), even though I could see she felt otherwise, the message of the blog/book has helped me see other ways I can help.  For example, since Ferris arrived, the cleanliness/habitable level of our living accommodations has reached a high of….you guessed it, “good enough.”
When we first brought Ferris home and someone would come to visit (which hasn’t been many people, but that’s a post for another time) I would apologize incessantly saying something to the effect of, “Excuse our mess” or “Sorry our place is so crazy right now.”  But now, when we get the occasional visitor I’m more like, “Eh, it’s not that bad.  We have a baby, what do you expect?”
By no means do I want to infer that the Wife and I have become so overwhelmed by the kid that we are living in squalor.  It’s just that, maybe things don’t get put away as fast as they used to, or maybe the laundry has found a new home on the floor as opposed to being hung up or folded and put away, or maybe our couch has become a catch-all for anything and everything baby related.  I mean seriously, it looks like Baby Mt. Kilimanjaro on our love seat.  As far as the clothes on the floor thing, the Wife will tell you the floor has always been my storage place of choice to begin with….whatever.
This is an actual picture of our couch (at one point in time)….and yes, I have already received glares and threats from the Wife for posting this.

So now, instead of getting frustrated and complaining about the mess around us, thus not adding stress to an already tired and stressed out Mom/Wife, I try and be more understanding, and even take that extra time to maybe pick a few things up here and there, or even pick up some of the Wife’s slack so she can get some extra rest.  This helps us both feel like we’re not complete slobs, and that we’re “actually” riding this crazy wave and managing pretty well.  You’d be amazed how taking just 10 min to fold the kid’s laundry and put it away makes one feel pretty accomplished.
The Wife may not openly agree with my assessment completely, especially not this week since she has returned to work, and thus been exhausted every day after work, but I know deep down she agrees.  Trust me, the couple of times I have managed to get that love seat cleared off so we can actually use it for the purpose it was intended, I see the joy in her eyes, and it makes me pretty happy too.
So, I say all that to say this….as new parents, you have to learn to let go a little.  Not everything is going to be perfect.  Yes, there will be some days where you feel horrible because you can barely function, and it only makes it worse when you compare your situation, or baby, to others around you.  So, is it easy to keep things in perspective when your child is crying and you don’t know why; you’re starving because you haven’t eaten all day; your mouth feels funky because you just realized you haven’t brushed your teeth all weekend, and to top it off you see every picture and cute video the other pregnant couple made of their overachieving baby, laying there so peaceful and serene as they describe “what a good baby they are”…..? No, of course it’s not.
But remember, you’re doing a good job.  It may not be easy, it may not always be fun, and anyone who tells new parents that “awesome” and “fun” is the way it’s always going to be is full of shit; but this too shall pass, and one day your little one will be the cute quite angel.  Trust me, I’m speaking from recent experience.  And you know what; any time I got really overwhelmed I would just stare at Ferris while he slept and smiled because I know I have the cutest angel for a son on this planet….and for me, that’s good enough!
See…I told you he was the most gorgeous kid in the world. Oh, well, I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.


What do you mean he didn’t come with instructions?

Ferris is almost 3 months, and at this point I can honestly say, I still don’t know the kid.  I mean, of course I know he’s my son, and yes he recognizes me, to a point that is.  Do I think he really knows who I am, no, but he does know that I a person that is around all the time, and, on occasion, will give him his milky goodness he pines for; which warrants me a smile from time to time.
What I mean when I say I don’t know him is that I still don’t know what he wants when he cries….which is all the time.  During the entire pregnancy the Wife and I read numerous articles and book pertaining to babies…..ok, the Wife read the articles and books and she would forward them on to my email; I perused them.  We also attended a birth class.  In all our research and learning we constantly read/heard that from day 1 we, as good parents, should be learning our baby’s “cues” and “signs” for everything he needs (i.e. hunger, being changed, gas etc).  Well, I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t always work like that.  All of his cries look and sound the same.  And on top of that, he’s fussy about 75% of the day.

Don't get any ideas. This is not an actual pic of Ferris

The reality of being responsible for this new life was no more real than the first day we arrived home from the hospital.  If I forget everything about his birth someday (which, will never happen btw, it will be forever burned into my memory), the one thing I know I will always remember is the feeling I had when we got home, and I knew we were on our own for here on out.  I was absolutely paralyzed with fear.  I was afraid to make a decision.  I remember sitting on the couch staring at him asleep in his car seat thinking, “Now what?”
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to be a father.  I have always said how great I would be, and how easy I would make it look.  I now realize how ignorant that way of thinking was, and I have come to regret my ignorance.  So far, being a parent is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and I don’t feel like I’m doing a very good job.
As I mentioned earlier, Ferris is fussy and upset approximately 75% of the day; the other 25% is spent sleeping or eating, and maybe, just maybe a small time of smiling.  This has taken its toll on the Wife and me, from different angles, but the same frustration.  We find ourselves quickly exhausted by the constant crying and saying, “What do you want,” as if we expect him to answer us out of nowhere and clearly articulate his desire.  And, other times, we can’t help be feel defeated because nothing we do to soothe him works.
The more I think back on all of the articles and books we (the Wife) read, and classes we took, my frustration grows even more.  The authors/instructors would always say “how things” would be with our new baby with this air of absolute certainty, but in the end, they would always squeak in this little frustrating disclaimer saying, “Remember, all babies are different, and will figure things out on their own time.”  So, in the end we are left with no sense of certainty what so ever.  Where this may be ok with some parents, it doesn’t really jive with people like the Wife and I; two overly-logical people.
Books such as this piss me off. They give vague ideas of what "could" happen with your baby. And when it doesn't, oh well!!

The Wife and I are the kind of people that in life, everything has its place.  Every problem “should” be able to be solved with a clear, systematic approach, with a logical solution.  Needless to say, Ferris is not of the same thinking.  In the early weeks after Ferris’ arrival, I found myself dumbfounded that the Wife and I could not seem to get much more accomplished in a 24 hour span than brushing our teeth.  We just could not figure it out.  After several failed attempts to pull ourselves together, get the kid dressed, in order to go out and about, I found myself saying, “How is this possible?  How is it, that two, fairly well educated, highly functional adults be so easily defeated by this little person?  How is it that we cannot figure this out?”  As hard as I have felt this time has been on me/us, it has been exponentially harder on the Wife.
The Wife has been home with Ferris from the time he was born, which has been no picnic.  I feel really bad for my Wife.  All she wants is to play with our little guy and enjoy the fruits of happiness that we have heard so many of our other friends with little ones talk about.  Instead, she spends most of her day feeding and dealing with a very fussy baby.   After a while it wears a person out.
When I come home after work, as well as on the weekends, I try and do as much as I can with Ferris so that my Wife can escape for bit and have some space to breathe.  Whether it’s letting her run all the errands (which she is surprisingly ok with now, lol) on the weekends, or encouraging her to leave for a bit and take a yoga class, or even just to take a quick nap; whatever help I can provide.  But, it only helps so much because at the end of the day she still returns home to a fussy baby.  And now, with the Wife soon returning to work, she feels even more defeated because their time was spent this way, and not more enjoyable.
More evidence of our logical-wall getting in the way of being able to “go with the flow” is when other people ask us how we are doing.  The Wife and I are pretty honest people.  We’re not going to sugar-coat the situation for you; you asked, so we’re going to be honest.  Where most people would say they are doing great; never better even, while they look like they have not slept in weeks, the Wife and I shoot you straight.  We tell them is kind of blows, and the Ferris is kind of a dick most days.  This is usually met with shocked and dumbfounded looks.  Because let’s be honest, majority of people out there don’t “really” want to know how you’re doing.  They just want to hear you say you’re doing great, that way they can feel good about themselves for asking.  Listen, people, we’re not saying we don’t love the little booger, because we do with all our hearts.  It’s just sometimes he’s kind of a jerk with the way he acts.
The few people who have been able to move past our brutal honesty have always given us the same advice, which in turns drives me nuts.  And that is, “Oh, I’m sorry he’s so fussy.  Don’t worry; it will get better with time.”  Really?!?  That’s your fucking advice?  It will get better with time?  Wow, thanks, now I feel so much better.  I will always remember that when the boy is screaming in the middle of the night, or when he refuses to go to sleep for more than an hour out of the day.  No more getting frustrated over here because I was given the Buddha-like words of wisdom of, “Don’t worry; it will get better with time.”
Seriously, why could this kid come with an instruction manual?  You get an instructional type manual with every product you buy these days; from the 900 page owner’s guide in a new car that explains what to do if your car acts, feels, or sounds a certain way, to the simplest toy Lego set.  Hell, even our baby monitor came with 2 types of instruction manuals; one big booklet (int 4 different languages) to read, and a 2 page cartoon illustrated dummy guide.  The monitor gets 2, but the object we’re monitoring gets none?  How does that make sense.
Honestly, hospitals should gigantic War and Peace sized owners guides to hand out to every new parent when they are being wheeled out of the hospital, it certainly would make things much easier.  Instead, the dump you on the curb and wish you the best.  They say, “Congratulations and good luck,” but what you really hear is, “Don’t fuck it up.”

No pressure or anything.

Late is the New On-Time

Earlier this year I had a grand idea of starting a Dad Blog.  This idea is nothing new to the blog universe, but it was for me.  You see, my Wife was pregnant with our son, Ferris; the first child for both of us.  Now, I must admit our son’s name is not actually Ferris, but for the purposes of this blog it will be, plus it gives me a chance to pay homage to one of my all time favorite comedies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, because honestly I think that is exactly how the Nug is going to be when he becomes a teenager, but more on that in later posts.
I mentioned I had this idea of the blog earlier this year to emphasize how long it has taken me to get around to starting it.  Ferris was born in mid-January, and we are now in late March, and I am just now typing my first words on this topic.  To be completely honest, I can be a bit lazy, but not this bad.  It has really has taken me 10 weeks to finally muster up the energy, motivation, and just sheer focus needed to start something that doesn’t completely revolve around the 12 pound monster that lives in our apartment now, and has utterly absorbed our lives.
Trust me, that is not in the least bit an over exaggeration.  The Wife puts it perfectly when she says to Ferris, “Where has the day gone?  Oh yeah, that’s right, you have sucked it away.”  Well, she’s also referring to something else, but you get my point.  I’ve come to realize that during the pregnancy I never gave the amount of time and attention this kid would require on a daily its full respect, but I believe no new parent ever really does.   One positive note out of all the time sucked away during the past 10 weeks is that it has also given me time to experience things; get really immersed in being a dad.  Plus, it’s given me a lot of material to write about.
So, here we are 10 weeks late, but here is my letter to our newborn son:

WELCOME TO THE WORLD BUDDY!!!  Your mother and I are so happy to finally meet you.  There are so many things we can’t wait to teach you. 

Your mom is a very smart lady, and your dad….well, he’s pretty swell.  To be completely honest upfront, you will most likely get 95% of your intellectual knowledge from your mom.  But that last 5%, well that’s where I come in.  The knowledge I bring, while small in comparison to your mom, is in my opinion some of the most valuable knowledge a boy needs to become a well-rounded man.

While I may not be as book-smart as your mom, your dad excels in some very, let’s say, very specialized areas.  Here’s a list:

#1 Sports – As your dad I am charged with teaching you any and everything about sports. I’m going to teach you how the Slider revolutionized the game of baseball; how to throw a tight spiral, and how to properly wrap-up and tackle; how to drain a 3-ball on that sucker playing loose and not respecting your perimeter game, or how to drive it to the hole and dunk on that same joker in the paint; you’re gonna learn the beauty of the triple deke and slapping a one-timer into a goalie’s 5-hole; I will even teach you how to lace in that nice corner kick on a lazy goalie in the net.

#2 Movies – Your dad is a movie fanatic.  You dad will introduce you to the best that cinema has to offer.  You will learn what it means to make someone an offer they can’t refuse.  You will also learn such other valuable things like how one ring can rule them all, as well as how you’re so money and you don’t even know it.  But most importantly, and I stress MOST, you will know of the way of the Force….and the Shwartz, lol.

With that comes the art of quoting movies.  Learning to quote movies at the right time and the right place is an art form my friend.  Trust me when I tell you this, there is ALWAYS a movie to quote in any situation, and don’t let anyone (your mother included) tell you different.

#3 Manners – Boy, if I can stress anything to you it’s this, your dad is a stickler for manners.  Nothing irks me more than a kid that acts unruly in public, and even worse the parents that just act like they don’t see it.  You will not be allowed to act up in public, throw fits in the store, scream “NO” when your mother or I request (that’s putting it nicely) you do something.  Just so we’re clear, if you ever hear us “ask” you to do something, know that there really is no choice; do it, or pay later. The same applies when we are at the dinner table; manners are non-negotiable.

 Now, your mother might try and chime in on this and say that your father’s table manners are less than stellar, but trust me, everything I do is well within the bounds of acceptable behavior…..when you’re older that is.

#4 The Art of Telling a Joke – Your dad does not “toot his own horn” very much, but one thing that I know for sure, I’m pretty damn funny.  Your pop can spin a good tale or two.  It’s all about timing my boy.  Whether it telling a simple joke, jones-ing on your friends, or telling a story, it’s all about timing kiddo.  Eventually, when you have mastered the art of timing, I will teach you the single greatest line you can use in any occasion…“That’s what she said!”  Ahh hell, who am I kidding?  I’m going to teach you that from Day 1, lol.

#5 The Bro Code – This is for you and me alone to speak of.  If nothing else, you will learn of the Bro Code. You will learn the hallowed code of all men that is passed down from father to son, from generation to generation.  This is not optional son.  I urge you, never break the code.  The consequences could indeed be dire.

Well buddy, that’s about it.  Oh wait one more thing.  In all seriousness, your mom and I will give you the greatest gift of all, and that is the knowledge that family, and the love of family is always first.  Will we always agree? No.  Will we always get along and like one another? Certainly not. But we will always love each other, and be there for each other in times of good and bad.  And kiddo, you have no idea how much family you have waiting for you to love you to pieces. 

So yeah, that’s the letter to my boy.  Is it as cool as the dad on the Google commercial that sends his daughter emails from the time she was born; no.  But you know what; this is me, and I’m cool with that.
Our Ferris is a pretty lucky kid.  He doesn’t appreciate it yet; hell, he doesn’t appreciate much right now.  All he knows is breastfeeding, poopy diapers, and crying like nobody’s business.  Like I tell him, he’s so damn lucky he pretty cute.
Until next time.