Daddy Diary – Not All Superheroes Wear Capes – Sometimes It’s Just Mismatched Pajamas & Crew Socks From Target

Nervously, I sat silently at the breakfast nook table awaiting an answer from my daughter. Ava was the Star Student of the Week, and the theme for this month was being a superhero. She was supplied with a poster with various blank sections that required fun, personal information about herself. There were sections that required a list of fun hobbies, an imaginary superpower, and the names of people in her super team (family members). There was also a section reserved for the identity of who was a superhero to her. I sat with her filling out each section. Finally, we arrived at the section that required the identity of her own superhero. And so, I asked the question and anxiously sat on the edge of my seat waiting for an answer. In popular culture, the role of the father is sometimes boiled down to an unaware nincompoop that faints at the first sign of a soiled diaper, is inept at preparing a decent meal, and is devoid of emotional intelligence that is essential for raising children.

Fortunately, young children are not well-versed in popular culture. They won’t succumb to the whims of societal pressure. So as I waited for Ava’s answer, I was hoping for some unbiased truth that wouldn’t sting too bad. Her choices were plentiful: Moana, Doc McStuffins, or any member of the PJ Masks super squad. Selfishly, I was hoping I would make the cut. To my relief, Ava revealed that my wife and I were her superheroes. As a parent, especially being a father, one only wishes that the job you perform as a parent is recognized on some level. To be loved, respected, and appreciated by your children is the greatest reward anyone can dare to hope. Through her lens, we were granted superhero status, and I felt joyous inside. So, I began to ponder what superpowers did I inherit after becoming a parent. I was able to readily identify five super-parent abilities. If you are a parent, you are probably familiar with the list below very well.

Super-parent Abilities

Intuition

  • I knew that my daughter wanted to be Moana for Halloween before she ever told me. So when I inquired about her preferred costume for Halloween, she confirmed that my assumption was indeed correct. Fully equipped and tailored with the Heart of Te Fiti pendant, Hei Hei the chicken, her magical oar, a Moana wig, and an authentic dress from Motunui (well, Target that is); she won the best overall costume for her age group. Parental “spidey senses” are quite useful when your entire world revolves around anticipating your kid’s wants and needs. And it is especially helpful when identifying potential danger around every corner. Case in point: Miles loves to be the “line leader” when entering school. However, he isn’t tall enough to be seen through the glass window by anyone on the opposite side of the door. On this particular day, he dashed to the door before me, and seconds later I spotted another gentleman about to open the door from the other side. Instinctively, I outstretched my arm (36/37 dress sleeve’s worth) to prevent the door from swinging open, thus “saving” Miles as noted by Ava on the poster above. Funny, without coaxing an answer from her, she was able to remember this incident from months ago.

The Power of Persuasion

  • When I first became a supervisor, one of my directors called me into her office to perform an exercise that I believe would provide insight regarding my character and thought process. She asked what would my superpower be if I was a superhero. Inspired by a series I was watching at the time – Jessica Jones season 1 – I believe I surprised her by referencing a little known villain by the name of Zebediah Killgrave. Killgrave’s mutant abilities included but were not limited to mind control and master manipulation. I admit this was a curious selection on my behalf, and my director’s facial response said as much. Why would I choose a villain with seemingly evil superpowers? Because, when utilized with principled and honest intent, the power of persuasion can be a valuable tool when interacting with a toddler. My communication skills are best described as thoughtfully measured, honest, reassuring, and transparent. In my profession, these traits are quite useful when speaking with colleagues, hospital staff, sales representatives, and vendors. Oh – and toddlers. Whether extracting splinters, administering breathing treatments for the first time with a scary mask, or persuading a child to trust you with a hairdryer as you quick-dry nail polish; establishing comfort and trust is essential as a parent.

Reflexes & Speed

    • I am blessed and thankful that neither of my children has experienced some kind of severe calamity in their early childhood. Nonetheless, that is not to say that I’ve been immune to close calls. As I mentioned before, especially with children, there is potential danger around every corner. And while it is always good to anticipate unforeseen peril; properly reacting to said peril is paramount. Now, one doesn’t need to be exposed to gamma rays or bitten by a radioactive spider to be endowed with uncanny strength, speed, or reflexes. Fear and adrenaline will work wonders. One such time involved a mental lapse on my behalf. One afternoon, I was taking Ava for a walk through the neighborhood. As I turned to close the garage door, I failed to engage the brake on the stroller. When I refocused my attention to the stroller, it had begun its descent down the driveway. Now, I may not possess superhuman speed like Quicksilver or Flash, but this big guy performed his best Usain Bolt impression and raced down the driveway to safely secure the runaway stroller. Calamity averted.

Hearing

  • As a parent, trust me, your ears will become perfectly synchronized with your child’s sound, both frequency and decibel level. You will also be able to detect the absence of sound. Sometimes it can be too, too quiet. How sharp will your hearing become? One night after putting the children down for bedtime, I retired to the family room to enjoy a few television shows. Faintly, over the volume of the television, I could hear my son crying out. With super-parent speed, I vaulted up the stairs to my son’s bedroom and discovered he was having a nightmare. I retrieved him from his bed, draped him over my shoulder, and soothed him back to sleep. Another circumstance found me pulling into my driveway after a day at work. As I exited my car to grab some groceries from my trunk, the sound of a distraught little girl caught my attention. Instantly, my brain began to decipher whether the child was mine and what direction the wails were being emitted from. Grocery bags and all, I ran to the backyard and found my little girl in distress over the presence of a bumblebee. We had to move dinner inside.

Invulnerability (not really)

  • After my wife and I closed on our house, we soon discovered a beehive inside a basement wall. My mother-in-law lived a few blocks away, so Stephanie was at her house tending to a newborn Ava. As I was at the house attempting to pinpoint where and how bees were filtering into our basement, I was summarily stung in the face. As I staggered to my mother-in-law’s house to put some ice on my cheek, I found Stephanie with an inconsolable child that she was unable to lay down for sleep. Swollen, burning cheek and all, I took possession of Ava, turned on Kenny G’s Greatest Hits, and cradled her to sleep on a nearby couch. No, my skin is not impenetrable, but I suppose it heals rapidly and is somewhat pain resistant – that bee sting hurt!

For more of my adventures, check out entries from my Daddy Diary for your reading enjoyment.

Daddy Diary – Beyond Dirty Diapers: 5 Things Every New Parent Will Loathe That They Were Never Warned About

Now, before I bear the entire brunt of the Internet parenting community, I wholeheartedly agree that becoming a parent can be a wondrous joy. Nevertheless, I would not be honest if I did not admit some aspects of being a parent that is quite a pain. Sure, you are bound to encounter that one parent that extols the sheer happiness and bliss of having children. And don’t get me wrong, in many situations, this is absolutely correct. However, as new parents will soon realize, there are some facets to parenthood that we unconditionally detest. Dislike. Hate. Loathe. Now, for the purpose of this post, I am going to exclude the usual suspects: changing diapers, lack of sleep, etc. Because, being a parent or not, who would love cleaning up feces 8 times per day on 4 hours of sleep? And Lord, for our first child, my wife wanted to use cloth diapers. That novelty was jettisoned out the window by the time our second child arrived. Soaking, scrubbing, and washing cloth diapers with OxiClean and a toothbrush did not lead to a happy disposition. I confess this particular pain point was self-inflicted insanity. However, parents-to-be, I am warning you. There are certain situations that you may not be able to avoid, and you may be caught with your guard down. I am here to provide a heads-up.

Daycare/School Tuition

  • My 5-year-old daughter can explain how a bat uses echolocation for flight navigation. My 3-year-old son knows his vowels and understands what doleful means. My daughter and son both can name all of the continents. There are science projects. There are spelling tests. Therefore, I cannot complain too much about my children’s schooling. Nevertheless, the cost of quality education can be financially debilitating for many parents. It is not unusual for one parent to take a temporary hiatus from work, stay home with the little ones, and forego the need for daycare or early education programs entirely. Seriously, the cost of daycare might as well be a second mortgage and car note. And if a school is closed for any reason, you may find yourself scrambling for child coverage, or you may have to forego work for the day. So you may miss a day’s pay and still have to pay for that day of schooling – double whammy! Trust, investing in your children’s future by providing quality education is one of the biggest responsibilities that a parent will undertake. Nonetheless, be forewarned, it is going to hurt.

Parental Title

    • Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Hey Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Hey Daddy. Hey Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Hey Daddy. When your child is an infant, you eagerly await to hear those magic words that indicate a verbal form of parental recognition. Hearing mommy or daddy for the first time is a milestone that every parent anxiously anticipates. However, when your child starts to seriously form thoughts and sentences, brace yourself for a torrent of inquisitive inquiries and miscellaneous proclamations – all prefaced with mommy or daddy. Let me tell you, forget waterboarding as an enhanced interrogation technique, play a voice recording of a kid repeating daddy or mommy on a continuous loop, and watch your subject snitch out the entire organization and identify intended targets. You can add sleep deprivation for good measure. We hate that too remember.

Car Seats

  • Trust me, the installation will never be as easy as the instructions or video will illustrate. Simply put, properly installing a car seat will be a pain in your back. Squeezing into a backseat to engage in a life and death struggle to safely install a car seat is no fun. Ask any parent, once that car seat is properly installed, you never want to remove it again. EVER. However, you will not be so lucky. One night, my wife came home late with one of the kids and I was greeted with the task of cleaning up vomit from the car seat. So late into the night, I had to remove the entire car seat, remove the upholstery, wash it, dry it, put the upholstery back on, and then reinstall that bad boy. Keep that instruction manual close – you are going to need it.

Be a Referee

  • My children can have the same color bowl with the exact amount of popcorn in each, and they will still find a way to bicker over who gets what bowl. If you have more than one child, prepare for the incessant arguing and bickering over the most meaningless subjects. Lord have mercy.

Daylight Saving Time

  • Every autumn, you perhaps eagerly anticipate the time when you get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep. If your state observes Daylight Saving Time, you know what I am referring to. But guess what? If you have a little one, your child’s body has no idea the time has shifted back an hour, or the time has shifted forward in the spring for that matter. So if your child’s wake up time is 7 a.m., be prepared to be stirred from your slumber at 6 a.m. And conversely, if you’ve jumped forward an hour, prepare to drag your kid out of their bed from a dead sleep. The solution for “falling back”: adjust your child’s bedtime 15 minutes later each progressive week (up to an hour) leading up to Daylight Saving. The reverse should be done in the spring and adjust bedtime 15 minutes earlier. I was lucky with my second child, as Daylight Saving does not appear (3+ years and counting) to have affected his sleep schedule.

Daddy Diary – Be a Father to Your Child – 10 Essential Parenting Skills & Responsibilities That Every New (Or Not So New) Father Should Embrace

My opening statement may be slightly harsh. However, to be perfectly frank and candid, some men just are not built for this thing called fatherhood. Unfortunately, this thing called fatherhood does not come a written manual. And, if you were to query a large sample of individuals, they would assert that parenthood itself is not suited for everyone – regardless of gender. Sure, there is no shortage of books on the market that provide some informative, smart, and well-intentioned guidance.

Nevertheless, every possible action required by a parent cannot be anticipated or scripted. Some of the parenting knowledge that I have extracted over the course of the last 5 years has been trial and error. There are some things that cannot be learned from a book. I have learned that fatherhood owes much to natural instinct, forethought, sacrifice, and sometimes just plain common sense. Nevertheless, I would be misleading the audience if I allege to have never referenced a book or scoured the Internet thoroughly for parenting information. Generally, the exercise is hit or miss. I found a lot of lists missing in-depth information for new fathers.

Therefore, I have decided to compile a detailed list of skills and pieces of advice for the gentleman; information that may not be readily available in a book or compiled on the Internet. This list is by no means an exhaustive list; as parenting is an organic and ever-changing journey. Becoming a new father can be absolutely terrifying and petrifying. Trust me, there is grit and grind to parenting. It is involved and it is exhaustive mentally, emotionally, and physically. To quote Furious Styles (G-rated version): Any fool with a penis can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children. Again, many men aren’t built for the grit and grind to come with being a new dad. So, let’s explore some essential responsibilities every new father should take up. Continue reading

Daddy Diary – How Fatherhood Challenged My Masculinity While Restoring My Manhood

Regarding the everyday activities of life, more specifically fatherhood, I am rather matter of fact with my observations and narratives. I am always open and honest about fatherhood with respect to its profound impact over the last 5 years. My role and responsibilities are painfully simple: do what is right and do what is necessary. Sometimes, I am able to experience success, and other times, unfortunately, I fail. Nevertheless, I am frank about my fatherly adventures when queried. During one of these conversations, a work colleague remarked that I was a “different” type of man. At least different from the men from her generation. You understand, as a woman of a certain age, men from her generation did not carry out the parental duties that I routinely performed. Or at least that is what I was told. I always wanted to be a father actively involved in the growth and development of his children, so duties as a devoted dad didn’t seem all too odd.

Now, those parental duties include, but are not limited to: ironing school clothes, laying the kids down for sleep, packing school lunches, taking the kids to school, etc. These are not the occasional chores I discover myself immersed in, rather, these responsibilities are integral components of my daily life – normal life. Sure, balancing work and parental responsibilities is an exhaustive exercise that strains a gentleman’s resolve both mentally and physically. Nevertheless, one does what is right and what is necessary. That is what I had convinced myself to believe. Now, in some respects, I never devoted too much time & thought to gender roles of old within the family unit. That being the man is the provider and protector. Meanwhile, the woman takes care of home and the children. Nonetheless, I am not wholly immune to the societal conditioning that subconsciously molds one’s psyche and behavior regarding the subject matter in a negative.

As my coworker observed, I did not behave like the typical man. I cleaned. I cooked. I changed diapers. I ironed onesies. I gave baths. Truthfully, our society definitely has an opinion – offered by both men and women – about how a man should conduct himself as a man. And generally, those opinions lean heavily on the view that the male should – by the sweat upon his brow – toil the Earth as a sole provider. For women, a man is a man if he lives to a standard of XYZ. For men, a man is the man if he lives to the standard of XYX. We are reduced to a little more than a workhorse; with judgement rendered upon performance in the boardroom & bedroom. And whether implicitly or explicitly, people’s personal views are always on display. I remember my wife and I attended a sleep training class for Ava when she was a newborn. The instructor advocated that we lay our daughter down to sleep by at least 7:30 p.m. Given my late work schedule, I would not arrive home to around that time. That left me virtually no time to spend with my newborn daughter. I asked if it was feasible to extend bedtime later into the evening so I could spend more time with Ava. The instructor’s response: I did not work the weekend, so I could make up time with Ava Saturday & Sunday. In that moment, I felt totally dismissed, as if my time with my daughter was not valuable. Was I that inconsequential? Side-note: I didn’t follow the instructors guidelines. I sleep trained both my children and they are doing just fine.

Allow me to offer another example. My schedule starts late, so I am on a.m. duty with the kids. As in this case, sometimes differing parental schedules produce varying duties. One particular morning I stopped in our cafeteria for breakfast; the cashier observed I was not rushing through the cafe as I can only assume is my normal routine. I noted that I may look to be in a rush constantly, but that is because my typical morning routine almost demands it. Casually, I told her about a typical morning: making sure the kids use the toilet or in the case of Miles – clean up his soiled pull-up, get them showered & dressed, get breakfast on the table, pack their lunch, and drop them off at school. And somewhere in the mix, I get myself together with a shower and clean clothes because arriving at cubicle smelling funky is not an option. I then drive as fast as I can – without getting a ticket – to work. Puzzled, she asked if I was a single father. I assured her I was not a single father – just an involved one.

These were not isolated incidents, and over time, it started to become tiresome. More often than not, I discovered myself an outlier to the prototypical male. I did not fit the standard definition of the “alpha male”. I looked around me, and some of my peers were not putting in the work as a father that I was performing on a daily basis. I would take notice of men and their antiquated worldviews regarding gender roles. Conversely, I would hear women and their relationship horror stories regarding my contemporaries behaving badly. It didn’t seem fair. And I wish I could assert that it did not bother me, but it frustrated me beyond words. I never let it affect how I fathered my children; my duties as a father was non-negotiable. Nevertheless, I began to struggle with my confidence and self-esteem. As a man, I felt weak. I felt like a sucker. I had stopped working out. I had stopped writing. I had stopped mentoring. I cannot categorically claim that I was depressed, but I wasn’t the best me I could offer outside of being a father. What was the best me? First, allow me to offer some personal history for perspective.

For much of my early schooling and better part of college, I did not have an identity. I was a soft-spoken, overweight, slew-footed gentleman that walked with a gait similar to a penguin. I began to form an identity when I joined an organization in college – The Society of African-American Men. Making men out of boys was one of our battle cries. These men became my brothers from another mother. I learned a great deal through our shared organizational kinship. In the end, I didn’t earn my degree, but I departed Michigan Technological University with a wealth of knowledge for life. I had began to formulate an image, an identity. A non-athlete, I found solace in the gym with heavy weights that satiated the more primal side of soft-spoken Glen. I found a voice through this blog, as I found total strangers actually interested in my musings. I became active in the community to the under-served and marginalized, more specifically young black men. I had discovered my purpose.

Fatherhood changed everything and I was ill-equipped to cope. I was sleep-deprived and stressed from work; becoming a father was draining my virility as a man. I would look at the children’s outfits I sorted and ironed, thinking to myself – why? I would wonder if other fathers were out there changing cloth diapers, shoveling Michigan snow, and still putting in a 40+ hour week. I felt less-than and inadequate with no outlet to express what was going on inside me. Because, as years of programing had subconsciously taught me, showing emotion and vulnerability wasn’t something a man did. Any day of the week I could feel angry, despondent, or defeated. I was struggling emotionally and mentally within my own solitude, but I pressed forward.

I don’t have any vices to retreat to; I don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. So most times I was just devoid of emotion. People would say happy Friday and become so elated about the impending weekend. Inside, I burned with irritation and disdain. There weren’t any days off in my world. And when Sunday arrived, I was angry about the forthcoming Monday. Sure, my kids brought me joy, but a majority of my days were consumed with work in some form or another. I never spoke about my feelings and I never let people see me break down. Some colleagues on my team nicknamed me Eeyore. They decorated my cubicle with stuffed animals and balloons with happy faces to try and make me smile. It didn’t work.

“But they don’t know about your stress filled day, baby on the way, mad bills to pay”, rapped the late Biggie Smalls. Everyday Struggle has always been one of my favorite Biggie songs; albeit my life did not mirror his early drug dealer escapades, I could relate to the pain of the everyday grind and hustle. I remember when Stephanie told me she was pregnant with our second child Miles. While I was surely excited inside, my face told a different story. Immediately, my mind began to calculate the cost of another child on my salary. As a man, it was ultimately my responsibility to ensure we were fine. I’ve always been a hard worker, and I had steadily moved up within my company. Nevertheless, with a second child, I had to make a big move.

A position in a department I had been eyeing opened up. I prepped for the interview for about a month. I performed well in the interview and was considered an excellent candidate, but I came up short. I received my rejection notification via e-mail (I can’t make this up) on my birthday while I was on vacation. I sat on my couch and cried. I felt absolutely hopeless. Like a scene from Soul Food, Stephanie tried to give support, but I felt like a failure nonetheless. I simply did not know what was going to happen next. A few days later, I was back on the grind. Miles Jackson Palmer was on the way, and tears don’t move bill collectors. By His grace, I secured a management position months later. My supervisor had convinced me to apply even though I had severe reservations about my chances.

Still, in the present day, my work-life balance was challenging to say the least. Sure, I was able to secure some stability on the financial front, but emotionally and mentally I was struggling. And with two children, the stress roared down like an avalanche. I was trying to fulfill my duties as a professional at work while also going above and beyond as a father. I was cracking. I had long stopped attending church. Truthfully and selfishly, I tried to use the weekends to recharge – I didn’t want to go anywhere! However, at the behest of my wife, I attended a men’s group that met 1 Saturday per month as an exercise of fellowship and ministering to one another. During a group conversation – I cannot be ashamed to admit – I broke down into tears. I shared my testimony with the group. My feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness, fear, and frustration. And then an older gentleman told me something that flipped my thinking on its head: Never let someone make you feel ashamed for being a father to your children.

Damn. It was that simple, but the surrounding noise in my life made me susceptible to self-destructive thinking. I was trying to live up to a misguided image that society conditioned me to be, and not what my children needed me to be. I was depreciating my self-worth because I was conditioned to think responsibilities aligned with the matriarch secondary to those of the patriarch. That is foolishness, as both are equally important to promote a strong, healthy household. The church elder told me I was uniquely equipped with both paternal and maternal instincts. And I should not feel less than a man because of it. Those words, as straightforward as they were, struck deep inside my core. That day began to change everything for me.

Recently, Ava had a minor accident when she fell off her scooter. My daughter tends to be emotional and has a flair for the dramatic – that’s just her personality. A couple of family members attempted to console her, but the tears were flowing with no stoppage in sight. So, I intervened, scooped all 3+ feet of her lanky frame into my arms, whispered into her ear to relax and promised I’d sit next to her at bedtime while we listened to Kenny G. One minute later, no more tears, and all was good. Do not be mistaken, children are very observant. So, I have to believe all those nights I spent training her to sleep through the night as a baby (even keeping a log), administering her daily breathing treatments, getting her washed and clothed in the morning for school before dashing her off to school, and everything else that arrives with fatherhood – it created that father/daughter bond that is magical. And I never stopped being her protector; I still honor requests to sleep on the floor beside Ava’s bed until a thunderstorm passes. Or pop up at 2:32 a.m. to sooth Miles because he is having a bad dream. Never let someone make you feel ashamed for being a father to your children. And never let yourself feel ashamed for being a father to your children. The other day, Ava wrapped her arms around me and said, “I love you Daddy.” The sound of her voice was so genuine, innocent and pure – I wanted to cry.

Back in the recesses of my mind, the concept of being masculine; fatherhood has torn down all that nonsense and reinforced what being a man should be. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to feel vulnerable and express emotion. It is okay to cry. Far too often, men hold on to hurt, fear, and anger until it erupts in a negative fashion. We’re human and these feelings are natural. There isn’t any shame in that. If you are in the struggle, seek out other men that share, have shared, or have knowledge regarding your struggle – sharing your testimony can be seriously therapeutic. I also meditate to alleviate stress. Sometimes, I just disconnect from the world, sit in the dark, and listen to raindrops playing on my Google Mini. A work in progress, I am reintroducing the constructive activities that I love to do – writing this story is one of them. A man doesn’t necessarily possess the attributes of a father, but a father undoubtedly needs to be a man. Because whether a man is changing a diaper, helping with homework, or reading a bedtime story; a man does so without hesitation to facilitate the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual strength required for his children to succeed in a world when he is no longer here. And there is no shame in that.

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…

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.

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