Quo Vadimus…..I'm Speaking Latin Y'all

Few people speak, or even know much Latin these days – what, with it being a dead language and all. You might as well throw some Sanskrit out there while you’re at it. But then again I think if people really thought about it there are probably only one or two phrases they’re familiar with. Most people know “carpe diem,” which translates to “seize the day.” I’ve heard the phrase about a million times, but I have never really been one of those “carpe diem” types. But, one of my other favorites, and to be honest the only other phrase I know is “quo vadimus” which translates to, “where are we going?” Read more

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Talking About My Favorite Topic: Me! And the Blog Tour Awards

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Look, I know we’re supposed to teach our little ones to be humble and not be the self-absorbed a-hole celebrities they see on TV these days, but I mean come on, isn’t it okay to be a little self-absorbed?
My kid seems to think so; in fact, , at the young age of 2, he loves to stare at himself in the mirror, and I mean REALLY stare at himself.
Before you brush that off with the, “Oh toddlers are fascinated with their reflection” line, know this – my kid will take every opportunity he can to catch a glimpse of his beautiful-self staring back at him in the mirror. I’m surprised his first words weren’t, “Hey there good lookin’.”
What makes it worse is our living room AND master bedroom each have a wall that is floor to ceiling mirrors, which provides the Boy with a smorgasbord of viewing pleasure. On top of his budding narcissism, he’s kind of becoming a dick too.
The Boy will sweetly ask me or the Wife for a “big hug,” and while we are overcome with his sweet affection he uses that moment to stare at himself in the mirror and give his reflection winks and googly eyes. Oh, and don’t even get me started when he comes walking into our bedroom post-bath in all his naked glory. The Boy loves himself some him, and you know what? The Wife blames me as the cause of all of this narcissism in our household.
Me? Well, I call bullshit. You will never catch me admiring myself in the mirror; I barely enjoy my reflection as it is. I mean, I’m not repulsive or anything, but I’m sure as hell not giving Ryan Gosling a run for his money in the hotness department ; just ask my son. The other morning he walked in our bedroom first thing after waking up, saw me standing there and said, “Ugh Daddy, shirt on!!” He then proceeded to go stare at himself in the mirror for ten minutes. Nothing like being fat-shamed by a little person who regularly walks around with a deuce in his pants.
The Wife went on to explain that it was a clear case of monkey see, monkey do, because she has been telling me for years that there is no bigger fan of me, than me. Still calling BS my Wife said, “Seriously?!? You think you’re the funniest person in any room, at any given time, and your son wants to be just like you.” You know what; I can no longer dispute her claims. The woman is right!
While the Wife might have thought she was going to bring me down a notch or two with her little nugget of wisdom, I’ve got news for her: I’m grabbing that ball and running with it, and I’m bringing my reflection-loving son with me.
So son, I say keep on keeping on, because your Old Man does love himself some him, and yes, your Mom is right, I do think I’m the funniest person around and it’s high time I embraced that fact.
It’s not like it’s just me who thinks I’m hilarious; other people tell me all the time. So what if they’re just being nice; they said it, so I’m taking it! Take my bloggy-friend Vicky for example.
Last week Vicky posted on her awesome/hilarious blog The Pursuit of Normal and was kind enough to bestow upon me the Blog Tour Award. What’s the Blog Tour Award you ask? Is it something you can hang on your wall? Did it come with a cash prize? Nope, it came with something better than cash; okay not better than cash, because cash would have been awesome, but it came with a mention about my blog, which in the world of writing is known as attention-dollars! Because despite what any person tells you; if you write, you love attention.
And in her post she says, “Mike is funny, really, really funny.” Her words, not mine. BOOM Wife, I do believe that is game, set, match for Yours truly.
In truth, I was so giddy when I saw my blog mentioned, I felt like Sally Field at the 1985 Oscars.

Time to do what I do best; talk about myself and answer the Blog Tour Questionnaire.

  1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON? Well, the smartass answer would be this, right here. You’re literally reading what I’m working on. Ok, okay, I’m also working trying to get publications like HuffPo to know I exist. So far, no dice, but it will happen. I’m also working on a few new weekly segments for my blog; stay tuned for updates.
  2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE? Well, it doesn’t. I mean how many “My toddler is an a-hole” stories can we parents tell? Or stories involving tantrums, and/or poop? I mean, it’s all been done. I think that’s part of the beauty of blogging. You know you’re not being original for the most part, but your twist on a repetitive topic may tickle fans.
  3. HOW DO I WRITE/CREATE WHAT I DO? Oh this one is kind of difficult. Not for me so much, but for my editor (aka the Wife). I guess (according to her) my writing style is stream of consciousness. Planning: bleh, who needs it?!? Outlines: never heard of them. I write what I’m thinking about. Why?Because I’m cool like that. However, I do admit I should probably plan better because I think my editor is about to quit on me.
  4. HOW DOES MY WRITING/CREATIVE PROCESS WORK? Since the Boy is still too young to say silly shit to write about, and I’m certainly not going to sit around and watch him all day to see if he does something noteworthy, I tend to have lapses in my writing. I do however have a colorful childhood (that’s a nice way of putting it) to reflect back on when I want to write one of my more serious pieces. But I tend to enjoy the silly shit more, so maybe keeping people waiting will build anticipation.

So there you go. Me, me, and more of me. But to show you I’m not completely absorbed, I want to introduce you to some of my hilarious blogger colleagues that I enjoy reading, and I KNOW you will too.
~ Michelle from Mommy Back Talk is, like me, fairly new to the blog game. Her writing is so honest and true, not to mention spot-on with her post, I’m Sorry. Can we Still Be Friends.
~ The awesome blogger Foxy over at Foxy Wine Pocket. Whether she’s talking about her struggle with the infamous Poop Tree outside her house, or her two loves, Jason Bateman and stalking viewing open houses in her neighborhood, she’ll leave your sides hurting from so much laughter.
~ Jessica from Welcome to the Bundle is easily one of the funniest and most honest writers I’ve ever read/met. Jessica and I recently met at a blogging conference called BlogU. I was the only guy in attendance with about 200 women, and somehow I still lost Prom King to Jessica. To be fair, her outfit was far superior to mine. Follow along as Jessica talks about her adventures in mommy-hood as she wonders if she should help her toddler get ripped at their local baby gym or where she ranks on the list of her son’s favorite things.
There it is folks, the tour is complete. I hope you enjoyed the ride. Please make sure you collect all your belongings and exit the vehicle in an orderly fashion.
 
 

5 Reasons My Son is Like My Xbox

I am one of those quasi-adult parents – you know what I mean – the kind that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, and now in our 30’s we are doing everything possible to hang onto some semblance of our childhood experiences at all costs. So, how do I do that? Well, at pushing almost 40, I’m still a gamer. For you non-gamer parents out there, that means I play video games…a lot.
I don’t just play video games; I invest quite a bit of time in my gaming hobby. I still visit GameStop and Best Buy to purchase new games, I still read reviews on the latest products coming out, and I still geek out with my friends and debate which console is better (Xbox or PlayStation).
My video game playing habit took a major hit in 2012 when our son was born. “Nothing’s going to change for me,” I foolishly told my friends, “I’ll just put the kid in my lap and play while he sleeps. Late night feedings will be cool; I’ll get in a lot of gaming time.” Yeah, think again.
Two and a half years later I continue the struggle to balance my nerdy gamer ways while in real life being a parent – that’s some pretty adult shit right there. In late 2013 I purchased a new video game console, and as we approach its half-birthday, I am noticing some eerie similarities to my toddler.
Only Responds to Yelling – One of the major attractions Microsoft tried to sell hard to the consumers was how their new console would be completely voice activated. Want to turn the Xbox on? Just say, “Xbox On” and it will recognize your voice and turn on. Want to do something other than game? Simply say the phrase, “Xbox go to…..” and fill in the blank and you will be binge watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix, Skyping with grandma, or even watching TV. Problem is, just like our toddler, the damn system doesn’t do what we ask of it, the first, second, sometimes even the third time around. Many times I will be in the kitchen and hear my Wife yell, “XBOX ON, YOU PIECE OF SHIT!!” Luckily, while just as difficult, our son receives a little bit more grace…..and I mean a little.
It’s always fucking watching me – While the last function was supposed to be cool, the next option is just downright creepy. Xbox has a built-in camera system that according to Microsoft, is always on, and is always watching; even when the system is off. So while it’s really annoying that my son follows me from room to room (even to the bathroom where he stares at me while I handle my business), at least when he’s asleep, I know there is no risk of him popping up and filming me while I walk around in my underwear and somehow posting that shit on the Internet. Trust me; no one wants to see that.
May Malfunction at Any Moment – Like any new generation of equipment or technology, there are usually some kinks or bugs to work out of the system. We consumers are usually more forgiving when it comes to techie items,like when my new Xbox crashes for no reason; it’s because we know a system update is right around the corner. But, where the hell is my system update for my toddler that is happy one second and then a ball of fury and flailing limbs screaming, “NO, I DON’T WANT IT!” the next?? You show me that product, Microsoft, and I will be yours for life.
The so-called experts are of little to no help – I’ve come to learn that when those times your techie gadgets inevitably fail you, much like your toddler will inevitably have a complete fucking meltdown in public, the people we are supposed to be able to reach out to, to help us fix our problem, are just as fucking clueless as we are. Sure, your big-box store nerd-smug-asshole behind the counter will eventually fix your hard drive. Just like whatever family member’s, doctor’s, or supposed child-raising guru’s advice might work when trying to calm your kid down, but at the end of the day they can’t ever tell you why the breakdown happened, or how to prevent it from ever happening again. It’s all a bunch of finger-crossing and hoping. So in my book, that makes you all full of shit.
Both are a serious drain on my bank account – Having a kid was a mutual choice between me and the Wife, but buying the Xbox One (aka the $500 paperweight in our family room) was all me. Both have the exact same effect on our bank account, however; they continue to take and take and take. Both require a continuous credit line for maintenance and upkeep. Examples include buying games or new products for the Xbox One, and clothing, feeding and paying for daycare for my son. I invest so much money into both, wondering what I’m really getting in return, which brings me to my last point…..
How my son is NOT like my Xbox – While I joke that my Xbox is a useless paperweight (and will continue to be seen as such given current release dates for new games and products), that depreciates in value daily; the same cannot be said for my son. I see my son grow and change every day. While the Xbox can easily go unused for days at a time, my Wife and I enjoy watching our son as he is becoming a little person; sometimes too quickly for his Dad’s comfort. I will most likely outgrow my video game addiction someday, but I will never outgrow being a Dad.

Happily raising the next generation of gamers
Happily raising the next generation of gamers

Searching For Dad

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As much as I try and deny it when my Wife laments about it, our son clearly has a preferable parent…Daddy. In a perfect toddler world, his preference would be to have us both within arm’s reach at all times, but that’s not always possible. If the Wife needs to leave the house, the boy will typically fuss a bit, he even might shed a tear or two, but if Daddy has to go? Like every morning when I leave for work? Well, if you ever heard the term Bat-Shit-Crazy, that comes from my son, JSYK. Screaming, heaving his body onto the floor, hitting, kicking, and more screaming. And more screaming.
And it doesn’t stop there. My son follows me from room to room when we’re home, saying things like, “Ko Daddy” (aka Come on Daddy) and “What’d you doing Daddy?” I think the Wife actually gave birth to my second shadow. If I somehow manage to leave the room by myself, he tends to get very whiny, and sometimes very nervous and scared; only be relieved and all smiles when he sees me and runs up and grabs me.
Sometimes I get frustrated by the whining, and at times wonder out loud to the Wife, “Why is he so upset? I’m right here.” My Wife always tells me how much he loves me (which I know), and how I’m his hero. She also tells me to put myself in his shoes; he feels lost without Daddy. It makes me really reflect back on my relationship with my father, or more appropriately, the lack thereof, and one very pivotal time in my childhood where I felt very alone.
Over the years people have inquired about my dad from time to time, as I have spent the majority of my time talking/writing about my mother and the abusive relationship we had.. I never really wanted to talk about my dad. I realize now, that’s because the emotions were far more painful because they were born from a lack of his desire to know me, or even see me.
After a nasty divorce when I was just a toddler, my dad who was in the Navy, went off and lived the Navy life as a single guy. This meant I rarely ever heard from him; never saw him; and many birthdays/holidays passed with little or no contact. He eventually remarried and had more children. I met him, and spent a small amount of time with him in my pre-teen years, but for the most part our relationship was non-existent at best.
In early June of 1992, the week of my 8th grade graduation, my father was in San Diego (where I lived) for some sort of naval training exercise. He reached out to my mom to let me know he was in town, but only for a few days; so meeting up wasn’t a lock to happen. In fact, as the words left his mouth, I could sense the instant hesitation and regret because he might actually have to meet up with me.
I wasn’t super book-smart growing up, but I knew how to read people really well at a young age, so I picked up on his hesitation immediately. Pushing that aside, I decided to go for broke and invited him to my graduation that week, stressing that I really would like him to come. More hesitation, but he eventually agreed and even mustered up a half-hearted response of excitement and sense of gratefulness for my invitation. I knew he was lying, but for all my growing up way too fast and being able to sniff out a bullshitter like whoa, I still was a boy without a father. A boy who had always silently yearned for male connection; something I had none of to that point in my life.
My mom tried to be supportive; her attempts however, could not hide her massive skepticism. If she were a betting person, she knew she would win all kinds of cash betting on my father being a no-show to my graduation. But I didn’t care; I knew he was coming.
The big day came. I still remember it like yesterday. It feels today, like it did then; like a scene out of a movie. My dad hadn’t shown by the time the pre-ceremony chit chat and socializing were over. So what? So I didn’t get to take a picture with him before the ceremony; there would be plenty of time afterwards to take pictures and go to dinner. The important thing is that he’ll see me walk and get my graduation certificate.
We all took our seats as the graduation ceremony began. Nervously shifting in my seat, I turned from side to side, looking back and forth hoping to catch a glimpse of him as he arrived. Scanning every face in the crowd, eyes squinted by the bright California sun, I saw parents’ faces full of pride and affection, but none of them belonged to me. Occasionally I would catch my mom’s face; a smile plastered on her face as if she has just swallowed cough medicine. She was trying to convey pride and joy, but just under the mask of faux-happiness was a tornado of sadness, worry, and angst, along with a dash of “I told you so,” as she watched me desperately search the crowd. But I didn’t care; I knew my dad was coming. I would not acknowledge her worry; I would not give her the satisfaction. This time she would be wrong.
The ceremony came and went like a flash; I stood and walked and returned to my seat. It went by so fast I could barely scan the crowd for my dad for what felt like the 500th time, but I knew he was out there and he saw me, so no sweat; that’s what was important.
As soon as all the pomp and circumstance concluded, we were released out into the world; but first back to our parents. My mom found me so quickly it was almost as if she materialized out of thin air. She was beaming with pride, tears in her eyes telling me how proud she was of me, and how much I have grown up, hugging me tightly; too tightly. That’s when I knew; my father never arrived. Even though I knew the truth the lonely, sad, boy inside would not be shoved aside this time. I blurted out, “Where’s dad? Did he see me?” My mother stared at me blankly for a moment, and just as I looked away I spotted the slightest of smiles form on her face. Not only was she not sad; she was happy this had happened. Victory was hers.
So yeah, my son hovers around me, and follows me from room to room. And yes, my son has to be involved in everything I’m doing, but you know what else he does; he bursts into the room on my mornings to sleep in and wakes me up by jumping on the bed, smotheringme with hugs. So my son whines when he can’t see me, or cries like a crazy person when I leave for work, that just means there is a super happy running hug with the scream of, “DADDY” when I get home.
I don’t begrudge him for getting upset anymore; well I try not to at least. And when he calls out, “Daddy, where are you?” I make sure to hug him a little tighter these days when I say, “I’m here buddy”…because I’ll always be here.
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A version of this story has been published in the book Dads Behaving Dadly 2 (clink the link to purchase this book).
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Reframing Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day 2014 was a little over a week ago. As the day neared I began to dread it; the same way I do every year. I had planned to write a piece about how hard the day is for me due to my fractured relationship with my mom, but for whatever reason the words just weren’t coming to me.
I have written a lot over the years about my strained, and now altogether non-existent, relationship with my mother, but recently I have been asking myself, “What message are you trying to get across with this? Are you just complaining; are you looking for a hug? Or are you actually trying to convey a real message and connect with others who might be dealing with the same issue?” To be honest, I’m not sure, but having looked back as much of my writings it feels like I’m doing a great deal of whining and not as much connecting as I would have liked. I’d like to change that going forward.
In 2006, after what felt like a life time of emotional abuse (and physical when I was younger), I cut off all communication with my mother. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I can remember standing on the sidewalk outside of a restaurant where my girlfriend (now my awesome Wife) and I had just shared Sunday brunch. I can also still vividly remember feeling the pain of listening to my mother on the other end of the phone telling me that I was no longer welcome in the family; I had been told this on many occasions during my life, as it was my mother’s favorite dagger to use when bullying me or trying to emotionally break me to get her way. But most of all I can also remember the overwhelming sense of relief when on that day after brunch, I finally stood up for myself and said, “No more!” I chose to be free of the abuse.
I wish I could say life got easier once I made that choice, but the reality is that it didn’t. In many ways it got worse, but those are stories for another time.
Eventually my Wife and I decided to relocate to the other side of the country, not altogether because of my mother, but she definitely factored into the decision. And since living on the East Coast, life has chilled out as it pertains to my estranged family. But every year (mostly around the holidays, and Mother’s Day) I’m reminded of a dynamic that is missing from my life, which I so desperately wish was there. I wish I had a mother/son relationship to foster in my life, and even more now that I have a child of my own.
It has been very difficult to see other friends who have had children cultivate, grow and experience this new and awesome relationship with their kids and their parents. I witness how they change as adults, and cannot help but be a bit envious as they can lean on the lessons of their parents to help them become better parents themselves. I don’t have that feeling or resource for my son, but more importantly I don’t have that relationship for me. This leads to a great deal of my anxiety about being a parent.
I know that parental estrangement is not as uncommon as it used to be, which is kind of sad in itself, because that just means the idea of broken families and estranged kids has become the norm now. In fact, it’s becoming so common that individuals in the media are starting to take notice.
At the end of 2013, I was honored to be interviewed for article written on the Huffington Post Parents website. The article was about people who have become estranged from their parents, and have now become parents themselves. Titled, “How To Be A Parent When You’ve Stopped Talking To Your Own,” was written by Catherin Pearson and did an excellent job capturing the whirlwind of feelings experienced by a new generation of young parents who don’t necessarily have the strong family dynamic to lean on.
In the article Pearson quotes a psychologist (Joshua Coleman) who says that one reason why we see estrangement on the rise is that over the last five decades we have become a “culture of individualism.” He goes on to say that kids are now asking themselves, “Does this family work for me?   Is this where I want to be?” While not altogether untrue, I really feel Coleman’s point of view make this topic way too narrow.
At least for me, and many others whom I have spoken with over the years, the decision to break ties with our families did not come as easy as it sounds in Coleman’s questions. It wasn’t simply a question of does this work for me. The simplistic question strips away all contexts for why people feel the need to break ties. It instead make people sound selfish and self-centered, when in many, if not most cases those same individuals would give anything to have family support.   For me, I had dealt with what felt like a lifetime of abuse, and one day I decided enough was enough. And though I made that decision, almost a decade later it’s still very hard on me; sometimes on a daily basis. Since making that decision I have battled my own substance abuse issues, and I still battle depression on a regular basis. But through all my trials I do feel lucky that I have had some incredible friends and loved ones, like my Wife, by my side to help me through.
The past eight years’ worth of Mother’s Days have been hard; not having someone of my own to call and say, “Hey, thanks for being an awesome mom to me.” But, it’s not like the mother’s days pre-estrangement were all puppy dogs and rainbows either. So for last two years I have made a strong effort to reframe how I see Mother’s Day. While it will always be hard because of my past, I have instead chosen to focus on, not the mother that I had, but the mother I live with now. I am trading in the sadness and negativity of the mother who I lived with growing up, for the mother that I live with now and who is raising our son to be a healthy and happy boy. And like so many ways we celebrate in our house, my Wife chose to celebrate Mother’s Day 2014 with me. She did that by buying me a Mother’s Day gift saying, “I know this is my day, but I couldn’t do it without you.” We both know she could, but it’s still nice to be loved so much that she would say that.
 
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Gifts my Wife got for *me* on Mother’s Day, because we do this as a team.

Avoiding Generation Meh

I was listening to the radio the other morning, as I do most mornings at work. I tend to listen to sports-talk radio while I sit at my desk and slag away at my mindless job. Like many people here in the DC area, I am a transplant from another (and frankly more awesome) part of the country. I hail from the heaven on Earth known as San Diego, CA, but that’s not really part of the story, I just like saying it.

I listen to a show in the mornings called the Sports Junkies. While the show is obviously geared around sports, the four guys who host the show bring a lot of pop culture and other aspects of life into the format to help reach a broader range of listeners. All four hosts are also married and have kids, which anyone knows about radio shtick, helps tremendously with anecdotes and jokes.
The majority of the jokes and humor are obviously geared towards the main demographic of the show (which I fall into), the male 18-45 range we hear so much about in entertainment. I just realized as I typed that how much closer I am to one side of that demo than the other; yikes, lol. And while I normally laugh along and write off most of the jokes about their wives and kids and normal shtick, one topic that was discussed on a recent show kind of grabbed me, and hasn’t let go. Read more

The Marginalization of Dad

We hear all the time “how far we’ve come as a society” on various topics. Whether it’s battling all forms of discrimination, marriage equality, recognition of individual civil rights, and even raising children, we hear how great we’re doing as a society and how proud we should be of all the progress we’ve achieved over the years. But I can’t help but feel that the more and more I hear how much progress we’ve made, I ask myself, “Have we really come so far? Have we really made progress, or are we just masking the poor behavior in new ways?”
Maybe one of the reasons I have a hard time really buying to the idea that we’ve come a long way is because there is still so much of the “old way of thinking” still running around. As I have navigated the scary waters of parenthood the last 2 years and some change, I find that I still hear/see a great deal of judgment and advice (which is frankly unsolicited the majority of the time) from those who came before me into parenthood. Where one would think that those who have traveled these waters before the rest of us would want to encourage new parents to find our own way, lifting us up with encouraging statements like, “don’t worry, you’re doing the right thing for your little one,” rooting us on and offering the small nuggets of wisdom to ease our worry in those moments of uncertainty, instead, I have seen more than a fair share of the opposite; people judging each other on the way they are raising their kids, and outright labeling each other bad parents. It makes me sad.
Today I read a story that showed that even those first beautiful moments after giving birth is not off-limits from judgment, and is instead seen as fair game for ridicule. I present you the story of Daniel Murphy. Daniel and his wife just gave birth to their child, a healthy baby boy named Noah, on Monday March 31, 2014. While this should be a time of joy and peace for the Murphy family, Daniel is catching public scrutiny for taking 3 days of paternity leave to be with his wife and newborn son. Why public scrutiny you might ask yourself? Well, Daniel Murphy is the starting 2nd basemen for the New York Mets, and his main detractors are no other than the well-adjusted, beautiful members of the New York media. Well, mainly one member of the media, radio personality Mike Francesa of the YES network.
Mr. Francesa took issue with Daniel leaving his team on opening day when he got word that his wife had gone into labor down in Florida. Francesa spent a full 20 minutes on his radio show on Tuesday criticizing Murphy for wanting to be with his wife when she gave birth to their child, calling paternity leave a “scam and a half.” Francesa didn’t stop there, he also went on to scold his fellow male coworkers at YES for using their company-granted 10-day paternity leave, accusing them of scamming the system and doing nothing but taking pictures for those 10 days. Francesca, in his infinite wisdom questioned,
“I don’t know why you need three days off, I’m going to be honest. You see the birth and you get back. What do you do in the first couple days? Maybe you take care of the other kids. Well, you gotta have someone to do that if you’re a Major League Baseball player. I’m sorry, but you do … Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple days, you know that”
Francesa wasn’t happy with simply questioning why Mr. Murphy needed to be there during the initial hours post-birth, he had to really bring it home. So he went on to completely minimize the role Daniel should be filling in his new son’s life by saying, “You’re a major league baseball player. You can hire a nurse.”
I really wish I could say that Francesa was the only talking head that had a case of foot-in-mouth disease on this topic, but I would be lying to you. Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason (formerly of the Jets and Bengals) jumped on the Meathead-Men wagon with Francesa by saying on his radio show, “You get your ass back to your team and you play baseball … there’s nothing you can do, you’re not breastfeeding the kid.” And if that wasn’t enough to cement his place in the Hall of Fame of Husbands, Esiason added the gem of all statements saying that if it were him, he would have told his wife to have a Caesarean section before the season to avoid any conflict with opening day, and that baseball is what makes the Murphy family their money, and should always take priority, even over childbirth. Husband of the Year right there folks.
To quote a great sports figure Vince Lombardi, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT HERE???” Seriously men, is this really where we are in 2014? Is this really the image we are supposed to be presenting for ourselves? I mean in this day and age where massive conservatives (who both Francesa and Esiason have supported) throw around the term “family values” like they’re asking for a glass of water, where does the idea of a husband saying, “Sorry wife, I know you’re giving birth to our child, but I have to go play baseball, because that’s more important” fit into the conversation?
While I would love to sit here and stoke the flames of anger towards the ignorant male voices on this topic, they aren’t the only ones pushing forward the idea that dads are the lesser option, or at least the less important option, in the early childhood years. Society, as a whole, is still literally *buying* into the marginalization of fathers . Hear me out.
Just back in 2012, Huggies – the major diaper brand Huggies – put out an ad for their new leak-resistant diapers. They said their diapers and wipes were so good that they could put them to the ultimate test, being alone with dad. They deemed the commercial as The Dad Test. The commercial went on to show snapshot moments of several men and their kids while staying in one house, without moms around, for 5 days. Oh no, how will these children ever survive?!?
Ok, first off…..the imagery and (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt here) the story they were trying to convey is great. Watching video of the time spent between little ones and their fathers is awesome. But to achieve that goal by clearly portraying dads, as a whole, as some kind of Cro-Magnon knuckle-dragging man who just looks at his kids and grunts, is wrong.
And it’s not just Huggies who depicts fathers this way. I see it in advertising all the time. One common theme is that if mom is not around and dad is in charge, life is nothing but chaos and disorder, and it offends me every time I see it. Companies like Huggies call this insulting scenario the Dad test and frame in a way of, “Let’s see how these bumbling idiots survive without mom around. However will he make it?” Yet, when companies say something is “Mom-Tested” it’s framed in a way that the product has lived up to enormous expectations, and if it passes, it’s great. Just look at the ad slogan for Kix cereal, “Kid tested, Mother approved.” Where is the product that is kid tested, and Dad approved? I’ve yet to see it.
What this all boils down is companies feed off stereotypes in order to sell products, and we as consumers endorse those stereotypes when we buy products from these companies. Some may think this is an overly-sensitive point of view to have, but I would ask how they would react if the situation was reversed for any other product. What if the stereotype was reversed and labeled moms in the same helpless light as Huggies did with dads?
For example, there is an unfounded and completely offensive stereotype that women are worse drivers than men. So, what if a car company created an ad campaign and used the same parameters as Huggies, and conducted something called the “Women Driver Test” where they let female drivers keep a car for 5 days, and we see how well the car stood up while in their possession. Are you kidding me; there would be an instant public outcry for a boycott, and those ad executives would be brought to task for gender discrimination. So where is the outcry for dads? Why is it ok for corporate America to continue to play on the old-world thinking that dads are less capable than moms, and therefore less required to be around?
We say we’ve come a long way. We say families are changing and evolving. I say it’s time we stop just talking the talk, and actually start walking the walk. Personally, not just as a dad, but as a man, I feel it’s important to be a constant part of my son’s life, now and forever. I have been involved in every aspect of my son’s life (feedings, changing diapers, playing, rocking to sleep, teaching, discipline etc.), and those are not just moments that happened, they are also memories I get to have for the rest of my life, knowing I didn’t miss a single moment.
Much of the ignorance that was spewed by Mike Francesa, Boomer Easiason and others, as well as the creation of ad campaigns like the Huggies Dad Test, get brushed off by a copout excuse of old world thinking. People like Francesa justify their comments by saying things like, “this is how it was back in my day.” Well, I have news for you sir, this is clearly not *your day* anymore. While I realize, or at least would like to hope, the mindset of people like Francesa and Easiason are the minority, it’s the fact that this close-minded old world thinking is still preached that bothers me. While it’s fading away with the rest of the other the discriminatory thinking that has plagued social issues, all it takes is for one young person to hear those kinds of comments and when they latch onto them, it allows the heartbeat of misguided thought to keep pumping.
In order for us as a society to truly show we have made progress, we have to leave this old world thinking behind. The idea of this macho culture where a man goes out works all day while the woman stays home and tends to the kids, and the man is not to be involved or bothered is ancient and archaic. Instead of criticizing Daniel Murphy or any other man who takes time to be with his newborn child, maybe instead we should congratulate him and aspire to be more like them. I mean, aren’t there worse things in this world than supportive and involved fathers? I think so.

Spanking Does Not Equal Discipline, or Respect

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When I first found out my Wife was pregnant with our son, I was over-the-moon excited.  I had always wanted to be a parent for as long as I can remember and while we were actively trying to get pregnant I couldn’t help but be excited as if it were a complete surprise to me.  I had always had these grand ideas of how I was going to be a great parent, mostly because my parents were such poor examples.  I would simply do everything opposite of them.  How could I fail?

But as the initial excitement that sent me sky-high with joy predictably began to fade, and I started to come back to earth with my emotions, I was met by something I wasn’t ready for; fear.  My joy of finding out that I was getting my opportunity to be a father took a serious turn down a fear-based path that I was caught off guard completely. Read more

Months 22 and 23 Check-In: The Holiday Edition

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Well buddy, your Dad did it again…..I slacked off so long that another 3 months have gone by and I am once again playing catch-up on your adventures.  You know, it’s funny, your Dad has these crazy dreams of being a writer someday (for a living that is), yet I can barely stay motivated to keep on a blog that maybe 10 people read at any given moment.  Well, at least I’m consistent in that I guess.  Well, not to get too hard on myself, I’ll get it right one of these days.
This has been probably the worst time for me to slack off on writing since you’ve had so many adventures this holiday season, and have grown on so many levels.  So we’re going to do this check-in a little different and go month-to-month first, and then we’ll cover some overarching achievements….
October:
Well as I mentioned in the beginning, the holidays have come and gone, and boy what an awesome time you had.
October started on high note as your Dad ran in his first 5K.  I was so happy that you and Mom came out to cheer me on.
P1020643 P1020634It really help Daddy to know you and Mom were waiting for me at the finish line.

Before
Before

AFTER!!!
AFTER!!!

We also completed our first home project.  We completely redid our backyard.  What was once a nasty no-so-kid-friendly area with stone and gross vines, is now a grass-covered play area just waiting for the weather to improve for you to play in.  I can’t wait for our first session of kicking the ball around the yard buddy.
P1020673We took you to your first pumpkin patch.  It’s only fitting since we keep telling you you’re our little Charlie Brown; however, there was no spotting of the Great Pumpkin.  Maybe next time.  You had really good time.
P1020695 P1020690You certainly loved playing on the slides at the pumpkin patch.  We couldn’t get you off them, lol.
P1020704You finished off your second swim course; this time with the older kids in the Toddler and Me class.  You had great time.
P1020727Weeeeeellll….maybe Mommy and Daddy had more of the “fun”
IMG_0216Another Halloween, another cute costume.  Mommy and Daddy are always telling people you’re our Little Monster, and now we proved it.  You had such a blast at the party we all went to.
IMAG0152But we might have kept you out a bit too late.  You got all Cinderella on us.  Who knew you would turn into a pumpkin at 8pm?!?
November:
November really slowed down for us as Mommy traveled for work a little bit, and Daddy started a new job.  With all that, and Thanksgiving around the corner, we kept it pretty low-key.  But we still had some good times.
IMAG0157 IMG_0241Like when we went to the nature center near our house.  You had a blast picking up sticks and looking at all the different animals at the nature center.
IMG_0246Then we all went out for a nice dinner.  You sure do love posing for picture bud.
IMG_0245But you got to keep your head on a swivel buddy, or else you might get PhotoMommed (your Mom TM’ed that term btw).
IMG_0259Mommy went on a long business trip and was missing us, so she asked Daddy to send her a pic of us together.  I like this one…
IMG_0260 IMG_0261But you had a better idea, called bouncing a ball off my head.  You win.
IMG_0268You started exploring the idea of feeding yourself with a spoon.
IMG_0269The result was craziness, lol
IMG_0271So you went back to what works for ya.
IMG_0284 IMG_0295You had some play-dates with some friends….girl friends that is.  2 in less than a week I might add, AND you put your game on display.  Well done my man, well done, lol.
IMAG0188 IMAG0187Mommy spent a good portion of her vacation painting your room.  That counts as home project #2.  It looks so nice now; like a big boy’s room even.
IMAG0197 IMAG0198We had a lot of cleaning to do because we were hosting Thanksgiving for friends at our house this year, and look at that….you pitched in.  Get use to it kiddo; chores are in your future.
IMAG0203Mommy and Daddy were super excited to run the Turkey Trot 5k this year.  This was Mommy’s first ever 5k.
IMG_0308 IMAG0202Excitement for you; not so much.
IMG_0309 IMG_0314But all was forgiven once we got home and you were able to watch the Macy’s Parade on TV, and you even helped Mom get things ready for Thanksgiving dinner.
IMAG0219 IMAG0216And of course, what month would be complete without some pics of you being silly while playing outside.
December:
What a fun month December was.  Not only did we have a trip up to see Grammie and Grampy in Massachusetts to look forward to, but also our own Christmas traditions at home.
IMG_0350 IMG_0346Like spending a snow day having fun with Mom and Dad.
IMAG0244Like you helping Mom and Dad pick out the tree.
IMAG0262 IMAG0263And then helping with the decoration of the tree.
IMAG0274Turned out pretty nice.  Good job buddy!
IMAG0248You even helped Mom decorate the outside of the house too!
IMAG0276 IMAG0277We had an early Christmas (or Crusemas, another one of your Mother’s creations, lol) before heading out on the road for MA.
IMAG0280You got all kinds of cool gifts, but none more favorite than your new ball.
IMAG0288 IMAG0289You and Mommy thought it would be cute to get Daddy a Doc McStuffins phone for Christmas, lol.  You even were showing me how it works.
IMG_0380The next morning it was time to hit the road, and boy were you excited.
IMAG0290 IMAG0294On our trip up North we stopped off at your favorite place to play, the Philly Children’s Museum.  You had a blast.
IMG_0400We finally arrived in MA and you and Mommy got right to decorating Grammie and Gampy’s tree too.  We all had such a great time.
IMAG0322 IMAG0323You got in some practice of unwrapping gifts by taking all of Grammie’s wrapping paper off their roles.  You’re lucky she loves you very much my friend, or else you would have been in big trouble.
IMG_0405 IMG_0424We got to get all dressed up and go to church for Grampy’s Christmas Eve service.
IMG_0420Your awesome Aunt J was there too.  She thinks you’re the cutest thing ever…..because you are.
IMG_0441The fun didn’t stop with Christmas.  Grampy followed through with his promise to take you to Wendy’s for a frosty.  You were in ice cream heaven my friend.
IMAG0340 IMAG0332 IMAG0336You also hung out at Grampy’s church.  You love playing in his office, and even tried out his microphone.  And from the looks of things, you might have the “preaching gene” just like Grampy, lol.
IMAG0344You sure did love hanging out with Grammie in the kitchen watching all the comings and goings; all the way up to our last day.
IMAG0347On the way home Mommy had an awesome surprise for you and found another kids museum in Connecticut.  It had some really cool exhibits, like your favorite; the water and balls exhibit .
Daddy decided to do this entry a little different buddy.  There were so many moments to remember during the holidays.  But, I must also point out how much you have grown in the last 3 months, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.  Your vocabulary has exploded as of late.  You still struggle most times to get across what you want, but you’re finding new ways to express that without getting overly frustrated and defeated.  Your problem solving skills have grown by leaps and bounds.  It has been really fun (and sometimes frustrating) to watch.
This holiday season was definitely one to remember.

21 Month Check-In (With Months 19 and 20 mixed in)

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Well buddy, it looks like Daddy dropped the ball once again.  I failed to get your monthly updates written for months 19 and 20.  While I want to blame my lack of effort on the fact that it’s my busy time of year (working 2 jobs and officiating youth sports in my “free time”); or even on the fact that you have not been the most “awesome” person over the last several months (seriously, this whole living with a toddler thing is hard work); to be honest, I just messed up, and I’m sorry for that.  I can’t say I won’t mess up again, but I will try my best to be better.

Now, onto the good stuff…..

What’s New:

We’re inching closer and closer to your 2nd birthday, which blows my mind. I know I keep saying this over and over, but I can’t believe how much you’ve changed since we last checked in.  While I’m around you every day, it’s when I look back over the pictures from just a month or two prior that I really see how much you’ve grown and changed.  You’re seriously independent now.  You do most things on your own, or demand that we allow you to try.

Learning, Learning, Learning:

With Dad gone so much the last couple months we haven’t really had the opportunity to go to a lot of places.  But one trip you took last month was when Mom took you to the National Aquarium in DC.

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You had such a good time looking at all the fish and all the pretty colors

20131022-120551.jpgDad found it highly ironic that you of all people were playing with the Wheel of Doom.  So, I wonder where the “Benjamin” category is on that wheel, lol.

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We also found out you love arts and crafts time.

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Ok, maybe “LOVE” is a bit too strong of a word.

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Apparently the life of an artist is truly rough.

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It’s really awesome to watch you interact with your books.  You love story time. You now have Mommy and Daddy read you 4 different books at bedtime. Your current favorite is, “The Book of Sleep.”

20131022-124422.jpgYou’ve become pretty good at sharing too.  Just the other day when Mommy asked you to share 1 toy, we could see you trying to process the request, and eventually you gladly handed Mom all your toys you were playing with.  You’re really good about that kind of stuff…..

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Even if it’s after doing something you weren’t supposed to do, lol.

Your vocabulary has really exploded over the last 3 months, and your Mom and I know it’s going to grow even more in the next few months.  You still love the word “NO,” but you have a few new favorites as well.  You’ve become a huge fan of the word “MINE!”  We understand that’s normal and all, but maybe tone it down a bit bro.  We’re starting to understand you and your needs a bit easier as you regularly say “EAT, EAT” when you’re hungry, or “STEP” when you want to go downstairs and play in the basement or go outside.  And you’ve really gotten the hand of signing some words like “please, thank you, and help.”

With all the upswing of new learned skills, there is also a downside, which came in the form of your attitude that has kind of gone in the tank again.  Tantrums are in full effect right now, and unfortunately you have taken to hitting Mom and Dad when you get frustrated.  Thankfully you don’t do this to others (i.e. kids at daycare).  We know it’s normal; it’s just Mom and Dad wish we could help you better work through your frustrations.

Moments to Remember:

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Dad traveled for the first time on a long trip without you and Mom.  I went to visit your Uncles Mark and Andy and Aunt Sara out in San Diego, CA.  While it was great to be home and see my friends, I have to admit I really missed you guys.  But not to worry, Grammie came down from Boston to hang out with you and Mom while I was gone, and she was a big help……

20131022-130641.jpgWhen she was awake, that is…

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That’s alright, you quickly clued Grammie in on how things work around our house; if you’re awake, everyone is awake.

20131022-130703.jpgYour #1 fan Auntie J even spent her last free afternoon with you before heading out on her road trip to Utah.  She moved there for a job opportunity.  While we all miss her very much, we are super proud of her for going after her dreams.  She can’t wait to see you at Christmas.

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Grammie knew how to get right back in your good graces….ice cream

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Finally, we went to the grand opening of the Stamp Gallery at the National Postal Museum in DC.  We took a picture with another famous Benjamin, or if your Great-Grammie Huff were to see this picture, she would have thought it was you, me and Grammie Lombard (lol, that’s an inside joke for Mom, Dad and Auntie J).

On The Menu:

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You’ve become a pretty good eater.  You eat most things Mom and Dad give you.  Except on days you outright refuse to eat anything; which still happens from time to time.  You’re still a big fan of apples and pears.  We discovered just the other day that you like pizza too, as you stole Dad’s lunch and ran off with it, eating it in the process, lol, you’re lucky you’re cute.

Likes:

20131022-130744.jpgYou love spending a lot of time outside.  We try and take you to the park as much as possible.  But, you are just as happy playing out in front of the house with all the neighborhood kids too.

You really love playing with your trucks now, going TOOT TOOT.  It’s cute beyond words.

But I think your most favorite thing to do right now, is wrestle with Dad.  I’m starting to think the Jiu Jitsu gene is in your blood.  You’ve already got some decent moves kiddo:

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Great smash and pass to get side mount buddy.

IMG_0142 IMG_0141A little knee-on-belly to a north-south transition.

IMG_0143And there he goes for the submission, lol.

Dislikes:

Well, nothing really stands out, but then again you’re a toddler so your moods and likes/dislikes change like the wind.

Adventures:

We kept it pretty low-key recently, but we made sure to squeeze in a least a little family time too.

We closed out the summer by going to a really cool street fair where you got to climb all over some fire trucks.

IMAG0706You weren’t quite sure what to make of the whole thing.

IMAG0719But Mommy was totally into it, lol.

IMAG0704You liked exploring the fire house.

IMAG0721All in all a good time.

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You also had a great time at your friend Nina’s birthday party.  Well, to be honest, you cared more about the pool than you did the party, but you had fun nonetheless.

Like I said before, sorry for falling behind here buddy, I will try my very best not to let it happen again.  I can’t believe you are barely a couple months away from turning 2 years old.  It seems like yesterday we were bringing you home.  Even though it may seem like Dad is stressed out or annoyed a lot of the time, I hope you know how much I love you, and moments like below that I cherish the most.

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Love, Dad

P.S. – You’ve become the master of the “selfie” I swear, and you have the Blue Steel model look down to an art, lol

IMAG0026Dad’s new favorite photo of you and Mom

IMAG0886Blue Steel!!!