Daddy Diary – I Was Wrong, I Miss My Children’s Childhood Already

Well, good people, life is still unbelievably insane. My work-life balance still suffers from a burdensome imbalance, work days bleed profusely into home-life, and meaningful rest remains a distant hope. I find solace by understanding my labor helps provide for my family. Burning my candle at both ends is an observation offered by a coworker. It’s tough. However, I try to find bright moments. Sporadically, during varying occasions, I purchase surprise gifts for my children. The items are never elaborate, however, my children are elated with their unexpected presents nonetheless. Their unblemished happiness is a small sliver of joy that I can extract from this current state of affairs called life. My previous post detailed the struggle of balancing a new management position with the birth of my son. Often I would think aloud how eager I had become for these turbulent times to pass.

The same coworker gently reminded me that this time can never be revisited, and it was very important that I enjoy my children to the fullest during their childhood. Tenured parents often remark that I will long for these times, but it is difficult to grasp when you are in the parental trenches so to speak. Nevertheless, I’ve granted some thought to the subject and compiled a list of parental experiences that I will certainly long for as my children grow older. There are some duties that a parent performs daily and consistently; these tasks become ingrained within your person. Speaking for myself, this includes, but not limited to: packing lunches, ironing school clothes, morning school preparation (shower, dress, breakfast), school drop-off, teaching ABCs or 123s, bedtime wind down, etc. When these activities cease, only then will I probably feel that tremendous void. It’s like empty nest without them leaving the nest. So, enjoy, maybe someone will appreciate and relate to this compilation of early childhood happenings I will surely miss.

  1. I will begin with one of the quirkiest behaviors that my daughter exhibits. For Ava, from almost the instant she was born, my arm doubled as a comfort blanket for her. As she began to formulate words and recognize colors, she would beckon and gesture for my “brown”. We would sit on the couch watching cartoons, and she would say, “I want some brown.” Simply meaning she wanted to cuddle next to me and hold my arm for comfort. She wants to cuddle less nowadays, but every now and again, she will plop next me and request some “brown”.
  2. As I stated above, redundant activities breed a familiarity that results in a parental bond shared between child and parent. I sleep trained both Ava and Miles, but Ava’s training was more intense. She was difficult to put down to bed. And no matter what time she went to sleep, like clockwork, she would rise between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. My work shift did not start until 10:30 a.m., so I was up extremely early for my day. We would sit in bed watching Octonauts or Doc McStuffins – most mornings I would drift in and out of consciousness as the Doc diagnosed her latest toy boo-boo. Sometimes I find myself watching those same cartoons as a retreat from life’s tumult. It reminds me of Ava and Miles.
  3. I am going to miss the days I could hold my children with one hand. Ava is nothing but legs and Miles is akin to a small duffel bag of bowling balls. I won’t be holing either with one arm any time soon.
  4. When he is up to mischief, Miles devilishly averts his eyes to avoid looking you in the face. My wife claims I do the same thing. She may be correct with that assertion.
  5. Daycare drop-offs are exhausting – physically and mentally. Mornings proceed at a breakneck pace as we scurry out the door. However, morning jam sessions in the car – Earth, Wind, & Fire of course – is the preferred artist. And although we’ve listened to the same tunes over and over again, our carpool karaoke never gets old.
  6. Witnessing your child’s learning and development is a wonder to behold. You will notice something new every day. It could be subtle. It could be blunt. Watching their transformation from babies incapable of coherent communication to forming progressively complex sentences is amazing. Last week, my son climbed on the couch, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me sir, I need help.” He is 2 1/2 years old. It was cute.
  7. The kids absolutely the zoo. Both love the train ride and penguin exhibit. And no matter what, Miles demands we visit the rhino and “z-bahs”. He really does love animals. He can’t sleep without his stuffed rhino, “z-bah”, giraffe, and sometimes monkey.
  8. Is is bad that I slightly enjoy eradicating creepy crawlers that terrorize Ava? Daddy – get it!! If but for a moment, I feel like her super hero.
  9. For a little over a year, I slept on the floor next to Ava’s bed. Despite my efforts to make a comfortable palette, that floor was unforgiving and my back reminded me every morning. Through nightmares and soiled sheets, I manned the night shift accordingly. As I transitioned back to my own bedroom, sometimes Ava would request I sleep next to her for the night. As tempting as that hardwood floor presented itself to be, I had to respectfully decline. However, a bit of me does miss our mini slumber parties.
  10. I am going to miss writing about my kids during this time. Writing truly is therapeutic, and I seriously don’t do enough of it nowadays. However, I am going to get a kick out of my kids reading these journal entries when they are older!

Daddy Diary – Failure, Regret, & Trying To Be a Better Father

As a matter of public record, I have passionately stated that there are many aspects of early childhood parenting that I would certainly not miss. Among a few parenting pleasures that include, but not limited to psychologically torturous, sleep-deprived nights and cleaning projectile bodily fluids that require immediate attention, there are numerous memorable daddy moments that have rendered me mentally scarred. Nevertheless, there are memories that make me smile and moments that I will truly miss.

Unfortunately, this heartfelt feeling that makes me smile inside is stronger with my daughter than with my son. The first 2 years of my son’s life has been quite a blur. Seriously. As an infant, I struggle to recall our interaction as father and son. Conversely, with Ava, I can vividly remember many smile-worthy nuances, from the first time she was able to roll from her stomach to back and then reverse the position through the time she first crawled across the carpet for me. With Ava, I would designate random stuffed animals with silly names. Geoffrey the Giraffe. Mitchell the Monkey. Ella the Elephant. Reading books to Ava became Sing-a-Long Story time where I sang the stories to her. My uncanny mimicry (a hidden talent) of certain cartoon characters – to Ava’s delight – was mostly on point. These memories are plentiful.

However, in my experience with Miles, I cannot readily draw such indelible memories. Now, I know if I dutifully grant enough thought and concentration, I would be able to stubbornly retrieve a few from my recollection. It should not be that difficult – but sadly it is. And so, it is with regret and guilt, that I can’t summon as many memories from his first 2 years as I can with Ava. I can distinctly remember balancing, holding Ava on the underside of my forearm as a rubbed her back so she could fall asleep – maybe. I feel I was able to give more of myself to Ava than Miles, and thus the parental connection, sometimes, feels different between the two.

Miles’ birth arrived at a peculiar time in my life. I was a team lead at the time, maybe 9 months into my position, and then suddenly I would be promoted to the role of supervisor months later. On the job training was in session. As I was soon to discover, management is painfully demanding. Every day became a matter of professional survival and maintaining one’s sanity. In addition to supervising standard operations within the team, managing direct reports has proven to be an extraordinary challenge – a severely underestimated one by my calculation. Dealing with a motley blend of personality and emotion, I am a perpetual sponge, as I absorb and absorb the challenges my team offers daily. And so, my work life balance is disproportionate. It’s pretty horrible actually. I absorb and pour out of myself almost everyday. My leadership and decision-making are constantly questioned and criticized. I question myself. And in the end, the burden is mine, and sometimes too much to shoulder.

When my shift is finally over, it feels as if I have no more to give of myself. As a community volunteer & mentor. As a husband. As a father. And now I live with a guilt that I have shortchanged my son in these past 2 years or so. I live with the regret of failing to capitalize on the joyful moments I should have captured with Miles. I think about the missed opportunities and my own personal failings as a father. I simply needed to do better and I faltered. The energy and life I poured over Ava just was not there for Miles. I tried. I tried. But work bled into home life and time became a constraint. I could see all the things I felt I was doing wrong, yet felt powerless to change it. Nevertheless, a gentleman makes time for what he values the most. No excuses. You have to make time. You have to get innovative. You have to create your own opportunity to do better.

Operating in the present day, I realize that there is opportunity in my failure. Although time is not promised, I attempt to comfort myself with the idea that I am a beneficiary of time, and Lord willing, I will have said time to correct my early missteps. And hopefully the memories we forge now and in the future will be meaningful to Miles. I look forward to teaching Miles how to read, write, and count. I look forward to teaching Miles how to knot a necktie. I look forward to teaching Miles how to cook a mean meal. I look forward to teaching Miles how prepare for a job interview, and how to react when he does not get the position. I look forward to teaching Miles how to properly love a woman, and how to respond when that woman possibly does not love him back. Overall, I look forward to being a better man and father to him, strengthening the bond between both of us. It is going to be memorable.

Daddy Diary – Fatherhood is Also…

My previous daddy stories have generally focused on the challenges, albeit with a twist of humor, of being a parent. Today, I wanted to focus on those moments that spontaneously elicits that feeling of warmth and joy that makes being a parent a blessing – even when you are transformed into a makeshift sofa for two sick children because your burgeoning pot belly is mighty comfortable (see picture below). Whether it is the pride you feel because you have garnered enough trust from your daughter to dry her damp fingernail polish with a cool blow dryer or being awakened from a deep slumber because your son crawls over to you and plants a sloppy kiss on your cheek; parenting challenges are always tempered with those special moments of thankfulness and happiness. Here are a few of my reflections below.

  1. Fatherhood is also commuting to a shopping mall during your lunch break, meandering through the children’s department, and discovering an irresistibly cute dress that your little girl can wear at daycare.
  2. Fatherhood is also witnessing the sheer excitement and joy your daughter experiences when she spies a dual rainbow on a misty daycare morning. And you are momentarily  reminded how nature’s beauty can sometimes escape an adult’s eye, but not the eye of a child.
  3. Fatherhood is also patiently waiting for your son to finally form the sounds that constitute the word daddy, and when the time begrudgingly arrives, listening to him say it again and again until he falls asleep.
  4. Fatherhood is also having a bad day at the office, but receiving this daycare notice at the end of the day: Ava did her class work nicely and followed directions well. She also sings so sweetly! The Bear prize in Ava’s bag is for being a wonderful singer and helper.
  5. Fatherhood is also arriving home after work and having both your children demand you open the car door so they can pile into your lap behind the steering wheel and pretend to drive. Please don’t call CPS, the car was in park and engine was off.
  6. Fatherhood is also watching your son furiously tap his foot and clap his hands to Serpentine Fire by Earth, Wind , and Fire. Fatherhood is also watching your little girl grab a toy microphone and attempt to hit Philip Bailey notes from the aforementioned group.
  7. Fatherhood is also appreciating those quiet, infrequent moments when your son scampers into your arms, peacefully lays his head on your shoulder, softly acknowledges that he is sleepy, and slowly drifting away to sleep.
  8. Fatherhood is also having your arrival proudly and loudly announced when you enter the daycare facility to pick up your daughter – made even better when said daughter runs down the hallway to greet you with a hug.
  9. Fatherhood is also attending your first, exclusive daycare outing for fathers and feeling overjoyed as your child sings beautifully off-key  along with fellow classmates.  And to top it all off – she takes a bow at the end.
  10. Fatherhood is also never stopping to be amazed by the continuous learning and development of your children. Spanning the gamut of them learning how to walk to reciting their address by heart, your children will astonish you in more ways you could ever dream of.

Daddy Diary – Fatherhood Is…

Fatherhood is having a frank discussion with the nursing staff to switch your daughter’s room because the adjacent occupant is disruptive and your child needs her sleep.

Certainly, this will not be a surprise for many individuals, but fatherhood does not arrive with a meticulously crafted how-to manual that addresses every parenting contingency. It is simply impossible to document every circumstance that may or will arise. Now, I was inspired to write this post after a fellowship meeting with other men from my congregation. It has almost been two years since I have been in the presence of like-minded men; exchanging and offering wisdom to ferment personal growth.

Fatherhood and manhood were the main topics of discussion. Now, if a man is so blessed to become a father, he should understand that the responsibility is not merely a novelty – it is a serious undertaking. And so, here, I offer a brief testimony with hopes of offering wisdom and clarity to a newly minted father or one that is already in the game. If the tone seems a bit serious, don’t fret, I plan to pen a more upbeat post soon.

1. Fatherhood is singing and cradling your baby girl to sleep in a noisy emergency room until a hospital bed becomes available in the pediatric unit. Fatherhood is then entertaining baby girl for a full day as she must remain enclosed in a hospital crib for care.

2. Fatherhood is rising in the early a.m. to get your daughter on the potty, showered & groomed, dressed, fed breakfast, and then dropped off at daycare. Fatherhood is situating your own shower, groom, and dress routine between the aforementioned child tasks before speeding off to work.

3. Fatherhood is facing down criticism from individuals that negatively question and undermine your parenting. Fatherhood is understanding that one should not seek the approval from those individuals that diminish your character. Rather, fatherhood is knowing your reward lies with a higher, greater power.

4. Fatherhood is creativity – as in carrying a high chair into the bathroom while you shower so you can seat your child nearby for comfort. With fatherhood, you have to think outside of the box.

5. Fatherhood is setting the alarm on one’s phone to periodically wake up throughout the night to administer required breathing treatments for your child. Said mission must be performed quietly and discreetly, therefore, a pillow must be employed to muffle the loud hum of the nebulizer while twisting one’s body to ensure successful delivery of medicine.

6. Fatherhood is knowing that discipline requires the presence of love. Fatherhood is understanding that discipline is followed with a hug, kiss, and explanation of why discipline was required in the first place.

7. Fatherhood is feeling anger, pain, and fear when you discover a child does not want to interact with your child because her hair does not look like his mother or sister. Fatherhood is having wisdom to instill strong self-esteem and confidence in your children.

8. Fatherhood is cleaning up a diarrhea related accident from your son’s car seat at 2 a.m. – only to discover that your washing machine is down because your daughter’s sock has obstructed the washer pump. Fatherhood is repairing said washing machine for the second time – the first repair was not child related.

9. Fatherhood is maintaining a well-groomed lawn, washing dishes, packing your daughter’s lunch, ironing your children’s clothes, shoveling snow, killing renegade insects, etc. Fatherhood is maintaining all of your mental faculties as you head into work to deal with an array of madness.

10. Fatherhood is doubt. Fatherhood is making mistakes. Fatherhood is learning. Fatherhood is fear. Fatherhood is love, patience, dedication, and sacrifice.

Daddy Diary – The Not So Glamorous Side of Being a Father

Dad & Daughter SleepParenthood is tough – no doubt about it. Well, someone once asked me why I don’t write about the not-so-cute reality of parenting. It’s that alternate reality that strains patience and tests sanity. It’s a reality that invokes frustration and sometimes tears. So, at your request, I present to you the less glamorous side of parenting. If you’re not a parent already, this article may be the best birth control next to contraceptives and abstinence. Enjoy.

  • Given the young age, children are not quite aware of all the dangers that the world presents. Stairwells, electrical outlets, the terrifying drop-off that is the edge of the bed – to an infant that is a long way down. Therefore as a dutiful parent, it is your assignment to protect your little one from varying dangers as best you can. It’s like parental secret service. And besides rogue infant explorations, a parent also has to deal with natural health related issues that may arise too. Now, I readily submit, I can be overly protective on occasion. However, when you have visited the emergency room with your little one as much as I have within the first two years, one tends to develop a slight parental paranoia. Having your helpless little one poked and prodded by strangers is never easy, even if you present a strong front for the public.
  • I have visited this subject before in previous articles, but I truly realize why sleep deprivation is utilized as a form of torture. One never realizes how important sleep is until one is deprived of the luxury. Trust me. And when you still have the duty to properly function as a spouse, employee, employer, parent, or combination of any of those; the struggle becomes real. This is how psychologically damning it can be; when your child finally starts sleeping for longer stretches, you’ll still discover yourself waking up in anticipation of them waking up.
  • Speaking of sleep deprivation, you’ll find yourself falling asleep anywhere and in the most awkward positions. I’ve blacked-out on the couch more times than I can count. The floor becomes a viable option when worst comes to worst. Even my car became a welcome sleeping area during my lunch break – even in the winter!
  • So, with time and sleep a treasured commodity, a gentleman will be confronted with some difficult situations. Standard tasks become critical decisions. One has to begin to prioritize the business of relieving oneself of bodily waste, washing away funk and dirt in the shower, replenishing one’s stomach with sustenance, or performing any other rudimentary chore one has taken for granted. There will be days when you barely eat and definitely days you won’t shower – depending on levels of funk of course.
  • Children are a germ factory. Seriously, children are a Petri dish of all sorts of nastiness that will navigate its way to your person. They will sneeze and cough in your face. They will hand you poop when you think it’s granola. They will rub snot in your hand when you think it’s lint. They will expel the digested contents of their stomach all over you. And you can’t disown the little germ magnet. Daycare? Yes, be prepared to become an expert on illnesses such as hand-foot-mouth disease, pink eye, croup, whooping-cough, and a whole host of other bad stuff that I can’t spell. By the time you’ve run through all sorts of nasty bugs, you might as well apply for a position at the CDC as an infectious disease specialist. Oh, and we live in an age where more and more parents often shun vaccines. So, get ready. I’ve NEVER been so sick in my adult life.
  • I abhor being the bad guy. Nevertheless, it is a necessary evil. Children must learn discipline. And trust, your little one may be small, but the intelligence level is greater than you might assume. And best believe, your little one will test you. The moment of truth will arrive when you will have to put your foot down. Through the cries and tears, you must remain resolute. Sure, you feel crummy afterwards, and you might even wonder if their little mind will formulate a lasting disdain for you. No worries, they’ll still love you
  • Lastly, as a parent, you can bid farewell to your privacy. That translates to your little one pulling back the shower curtain like a reenactment of Psycho, brazenly interrupting your intimate time with the porcelain throne, and if you have lofty aspirations of adding an additional germ-spreading, sleep depriving – I mean – bundle of joy to your family, you better lock that bedroom door cowboy!

Daddy Diary – My Best Moments of Being a Dad (Year 1.5)

IMG_2956Continuing in the tradition of my inaugural documentation of my first-year best moments as a father, I wanted to revisit the subject, only this time we are winding towards the 1 and 1/2 year mark. Yes, the terrible-twos will soon upon me and Stephanie. Nonetheless, there have been some really awesome moments that I would like to share since the last time I wrote. And again, in no particular order, here are some of the best moments that I have experienced as a newly minted father. Enjoy.

  • Crawling has slowly transformed into walking, and walking has given way to running. Incoherent babbling has transformed into long strings of incoherent babbling. Thus, the moments when I walk through the door after work and I am greeted with excited squeals and the hurried scamper of feet, the feeling of overwhelming joy is one that is unparalleled.
  • Now, on the contrary – this may seem slightly odd being listed here – when I depart, Ava has taken to the practice of producing a few salty tears, whining with discontent, and even attaching herself to my leg (on occasion both legs) in an attempt to thwart my exit. Now, this was an act only exclusively performed when my wife readied herself for departure. I was now the benefactor of such treatment. No parent wants their child to launch into tirade when they leave – it’s not healthy. Nevertheless, at this stage of the game when the words I love you have not been properly formed, this small act of loving defiance is a reassuring confirmation that my little girl doesn’t to see daddy go, and it slightly warms the heart.
  • Nothing strengthens the bond between father and child more (perhaps I’m exaggerating) than engaging infant bodily fluids in battle. Sure, Ava initiated me into fatherhood with a nice, warm spray of baby urine, but that was nothing. Every father should encounter a bodily fluid moment that pushes him to the limit. I have three good ones under my belt thus far. First episode: The entire family had a bout with the stomach flu. It started with Ava, moved on to my wife, and partially claimed me. That weekend, Ava probably hit me with streams of vomit on 5-6 separate occasions. Coupled with runny diapers – it was a wild weekend. Stephanie was incapacitated, so the entire weekend I was either at the laundromat with our soiled bed comforter, changing Ava’s soiled bed & clothing, going to CVS for medicine & Pedialyte, or trying to stay healthy myself – I was feeling queasy, but the good Lord kept me healthy enough to hold it down for everyone else.
  • The second episode saw me engaging fecal matter that had cleverly escaped Ava’s diaper – Shawshank Redemption style – and totally flooding her onesie with smelly, renegade poop. Changing a runny diaper is a challenge. And stopping a child from reaching into soiled nether regions is also quite a task itself. So, off to the laundry basin I whisked Ava away and armed myself with some latex gloves. I skipped the surgical mask, as it was too cumbersome and hot. It was messy. It was smelly. It was an adventure. Nevertheless, all contaminated articles of clothing were successfully extracted and said infant daughter was thoroughly cleansed of most unpleasant bodily waste.
  • The third episode witnessed me once again engaging infant regurgitation. Except at this juncture, Ava had graduated to adult food, and this wasn’t that adorable little spit-up that infants produce. No, out of nowhere, I was hit with a green, chunky blast that would make Linda Blair of Exorcist fame blush. Even though we were on tile, I instinctively tried to “catch” the contents of my baby girl’s upset stomach with my body to avoid getting it on the floor. I know…I wasn’t thinking at all. Crying out like a baby deer with a busted hoof, I beckoned rescue to my wife upstairs, as I could not move in any direction for fear of tracking the digestive remnants of kale and squash with me throughout the house. In what seemed like an eternity for help to arrive, Ava and I just stood in the middle of the hallway looking at each other, covering in green muck. You have to appreciate moments like those.
  • Okay, on to something more pleasant. I love when Ava runs to a table, grabs a book, and then hurries back to me as she motions for me to read to her. It’s really cute.
  • Feeding my little lady has been a very interesting process. Teaching her how to use utensils and communicate her needs begs patience, but it so very worth the instruction. I even taught her how to “feed” daddy some of her yummy food. That’s really cute too, well, at least to me.
  • Art FairAva had her first art fair in daycare and I bought up what I could that she was involved with – a very proud daddy moment for me. Yes, this picture to the right of her little feet as butterfly wings almost…almost made me cry.
  • In daycare, daily progress reports are given at the end of the day so a parent can read about their child’s day. I love reading about the new things Ava is being introduced to and her interaction with teachers and classmates. I hope I don’t turn into a hoarder, but I have a folder that I keep all her reports in. She’ll probably get a kick out of reading them when she is older.
  • I love daddy and daughter time when we take strolls around the neighborhood either in the stroller or simple walking to and fro, up and down the block.
  • It is simple amazing to watch a child develop the necessary cognitive skills to fully interact with you. One morning, Ava had once again found her way into our bed. Armed with the capability of scaling and traversing any human obstacle in her path to freedom, she attempted to vault over me and onto the floor. Nevertheless, I prevented each attempt. Exasperated and irritated; she suddenly stopped, crawled over to me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and just looked at me. I let her out of the bed. Damn it –  foiled by daddy’s little girl!

Blog Appreciation – Please feel free to share on your social network of choice. Spread a little positivity. Not all fathers, especially fathers of color, fit the mold of a negative stereotype. There are plenty of fathers handling business as men.

 

Daddy Diary – Coping With a Child in the Hospital

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Seriously, it is a parent’s worst possible fear: A son or daughter experiencing some form of illness or malady. As a parent, you diligently guard and try to protect your child from any hurt, harm, or danger. Unfortunately, as mere mortals, as best as we might attempt, we cannot shield our children from everything. And at the 16 month mark of my little girl’s life, Stephanie and I have 3 emergency room visits and 2 hospitalizations under our belt with our ladybug. Trust me, our unexpected trips to the hospital with our little one elicited heart palpitations and surely gave rise to a few more gray hairs. Nevertheless, all is well, and we are all back home doing just fine. As a father, you will definitely enjoy some great moments with your offspring. However, there are going to be some not-so-great moments like hospital visits. Here are a few key points to remember if you find yourself dealing with such an experience. I am no expert, but hopefully some of these points will help. And if you have some advice of your own, please share. Continue reading

Daddy Diary – My Best Moments of Being a Dad (Year 1)

Ava & DaddyThis upcoming Sunday, my daughter will finally reach the tender age of one, and it has been a truly amazing experience. I would not trade it in for anything. A question that I received all the time from people was: What is the best part of being a father? Well, that is a tough one to completely nail down. There are many facets that I love and adore dearly. Nevertheless, I have decided to write down some of the best moments that readily come to mind over this past year. So, in no particular order, here are my best moments of being a father during Ava’s first year.

  • That moment when I have retired from work for the day, and as I walk through the door, my daughter will either flash me a big smile from her high chair or crawl over to me and pull herself up on my pants legs – still flashing that big smile.
  • Sleep has been plenty scarce for the past year. Nevertheless, it is always pleasant to be awakened in the morning because your daughter is playing with your face. And as you open your eyes, the first thing you see is a big toothless smile peering at you.
  • And speaking of the scarcity of sleep, sometimes I am also awakened in the middle of the night, as my daughter has sleepily travelled across the bed and found a nice sleeping spot under my armpit.
  • Actually, anytime Ava falls asleep either in my arms, on my chest, or in my lap – the moment is wonderful.
  • Of course, watching Ava reach her milestones (flipping over, crawling, babbling, walking) has been a joy to see. In the back of your mind, you hope and pray that your child’s development proceeds as normal, and presumptuously you assume it will. However, watching the little things finally take shape is truly spectacular. I remember lounging on the couch one afternoon when Ava babbled those words every father anticipates to hear: Dada. Of course she hadn’t made the connection between her babble to the gentleman that was holding her. Nevertheless it made my heart melt with happiness.
  • Given my work schedule, I am the last one out of the house. Thus, I have been assigned the task of getting Ava ready in the morning. And so, we have developed our own little morning routine as I hustle to get us both ready for the day. Whether we sing along with Doc McStuffins’ toy check-ups or dive adventurously into the car seat on our way to daycare; each morning is a different, exciting experience that I love having with my daughter.
  • I would be terribly remiss if I excluded Kenny G from this post. Mr. G. was instrumental during Ava’s early, early weeks of bedtime. Although we don’t listen to Kenny quite as often now, it is amazing to see Ava’s eyes light up and flap her arms when she hears the first few notes of “Alone” kick in.
  • And when Kenny G is not around for any assistance, Ava sometimes sucks on her 2 middle fingers on one hand and tugs on my beard as she goes to sleep with the other hand. Cute.
  • Now, Ava does cry. Sometimes – a lot. I found out early on that she likes looking at herself. I mean…really, really likes looking at herself. So, in times of distress, I would whip out my cell phone and load a picture of her to calm her down. Instantly, she would cease crying, flash that smile, and be completely at ease. Crazy right? And if my cell phone was not readily accessible, I would quickly retreat to a mirror as back-up. Again – cute.
  • That moment when Ava was born. There is no feeling like it. Staying up for almost an entire day, seeing the labor until the end. One minute, she is in your wife’s belly, and the next minute, she is staring at you like, “What’s up?” I don’t think I really slept that night or the next few weeks thereafter. Not because Ava was waking up crying. No. Because, as a newly minted father, you’re paranoid as all get-out. A brother was checking numerous times nightly to see if his angel’s lungs were in working order.
  • File this moment under the blooper files. My wife, bless her heart, reads a lot and likes to try different things. So, she is really big into skin-to-skin contact. The first night home, Stephanie had to use the bathroom, so she handed Ava over to me. Being a big skin-to-skin advocate, she instructed me to take off my shirt. I put up resistance, but I relented. Well, instinctively, Ava mistook my chest for Stephanie’s chest and tried to extract milk from a place that had nothing bear. Suffice it to say, I quickly put my shirt on before things got weird. #milkdon’tcomefromthere LoL

Daddy Diary – Enter the Sandman…Please

Ava P ToesWell, quite some time has elapsed since I last posted an entry here at The Gentlemen’s Standard. However, my absence does not arrive without good reason. My darling Ava is approaching the tender age of 10 months, and she is in the beginning stages of formulating her own little precocious personality. Emboldened with the newly acquired skill of crawling and standing, Ava has become what we like to describe as – busy. Her infant cries have gradually evolved from primitive distress signals to sophisticated screams of coercion. Fully cognizant of the presence of her upper limbs, she has adroitly mastered pushing away both objects and people who encroach upon her personal space. And along with my daughter’s attempts to exert her tiny will, my wife and I have also dealt with the dreaded, obligatory bout with baby sickness.

Now, if chasing down a 9 month old traveling 5 mph across the floor and up the stairs isn’t distressing enough; receiving an e-mail notification that hand, foot, and mouth disease, along with chicken pox, has invaded Ava’s daycare center certainly does not help to assuage the preexisting stress levels. Add in a high fever for approximately a week and then a trip to the emergency room due to an unexpected allergic reaction (scary) to scrambled eggs, yes, life has been very hectic. My blogging duties, usually performed during my lunch break, is still being replaced by afternoon naps. So desperate for sleep, despite plunging temperatures, I still traverse the parking lot to a warm, waiting car for some shut-eye. Thank goodness for remote starters. Well, hopefully, life will slow down a bit so I can hop back on the blogging horse more routinely. I just wanted to check in with everyone. I hope everyone has a blessed and safe Thanksgiving. Be careful out there during Black Friday – this guy will be sleeping.

Daddy Diary – 6 Ways to Bond With Your Baby During the First 6 Months

Ava & DaddyBluntly stating the obvious: Parenthood is certainly not an easy task to undertake. Through a myriad of trials and copious amount of errors; parenting a newborn child requires enduring patience, understanding, and dedication. Being the product of a single parent household with no father for guidance, unfortunately, I was not educated in the loving art of rearing a child – at least not in a fatherly way. And truthfully, there are some gentlemen that are reared in households with the benefit of a father being present, but are still bewildered and confounded when blessed with a child of their own.

Now, this is not too say that a gentleman cannot glean a wealth of knowledge from his mother, grandmother, aunt, or whomever is present during the maturation process. Nevertheless, for the fatherless son, it would certainly be beneficial to have some wisdom passed down from a male perspective. Therefore, for those gentleman whom could utilize the advice, I have decided to pen an entry regarding bonding with your little. Yes, some of the following points may appear as commonsense, but I have learned not to take knowledge for granted. What I may know and understand; you might not know and understand. And the same statement can be directed towards me. That being said, let’s jump in and explore 6 ways to bond with your little bundle of joy within the first 6 months.

Show Some Affection

This simple directive may appear to be too obvious, but it is not surprising that many adult men are conditioned to hide or reject their emotions, and that denial of a base human trait can directly impact on your child. Please don’t be distant with your baby. Newborns need that loving skin to skin contact, and it is imperative that they receive it from both parents. Your child needs to become accustomed to your scent, to your feel. Prime example: My wife took a trip to New York for her sister’s graduation and she took Ava with her – she was 4 months old or so at the time. When they returned, my daughter didn’t want anything to do with me.

Momentarily wounded, I made sure Ava and I secured some much-required daddy/daughter time. Make sure you have allotted more than sufficient time to shower your little one with hugs and kisses. And yes, that goes for baby boys as well. It would be wise to resist any inclination to “toughen” up your baby boy. A man can certainly show affection and emotion without sacrificing his masculinity. You don’t have to be “hard” all the time.

For more, scroll down a bit for the remaining pages.

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