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“When Pigs Fly…”
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“When Pigs Fly…” This is what some have thought of when I have told them that I will be back blogging soon!  Well, maybe pigs can fly… hmmm… maybe just maybe, Charlotte spun herself a masterful web, and Wilber excitedly and enthusiastically ran towards that web and bounced into it, thus propelling himself into orbit (well, orbit in this case would be just a few feet off the ground) giving the illusion of a pig flying… hmmm… “H… E… double hockey sticks”!  Another popular one, when I have mentioned that the blogging will commence soon!  Who am I? I know many might ask that… well, folks… I’m am one of the two founding members of Daddy Thoughts… where have I been? Good question and one that I will answer shortly!

First, I would like to welcome myself back!  Haha… I have been M.I.A for soooo long and a lot has happened since my last blog post. I might have even considered myself AWOL, leaving one of my best friends and Daddy Thoughts partner and cofounder behind in the trenches of blogging warfare (blogging warfare said in an announcer type of voice that is echoing loudly throughout a stadium, it’s fun… try it!).   Never the less, I am making my comeback!  Celebrities have comebacks, musicians have comebacks, and athletes have comebacks, so why can’t a father of two have a blogging comeback? Yes, that is right folks I said father of TWO! It was not a mistype, or misprint.  No error, mistake or typo… I did indeed say father of TWO… How did this happen? (Well, unless you are under the age of 12, you probably know and understand how this happened).  What I mean is, how in the world am I now a father of two…. And how in the world have I been gone sooo long from Daddy Thoughts that I now have a 2-year-old and a 3 month old! The Details are coming. You’ll have to wait until the next blog, which I promise is just around the corner! I know, the suspense is killing you… stay tuned for next blog!

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My So Called Over-Complicated Life
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I ran a mile and half today and it felt great. I haven’t run in over a year. In reality, with the exception of a few weeks of poorly training for a Muddy Buddy bike/run event that I did with my best friend a little over a year ago, it’s actually been many years since I’ve hit the pavement. And the funny thing is, that as enjoyable as the run was, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to do it again. Or maybe that’s more of a sad thing. And it’s essentially because I have no time. One of my good friends told me on several occasions that I needlessly complicate my life. He’s right.

I have a few traits that contribute to this phenomenon of self-complicating one’s life. First, I feel like my weekends are longer if I do something on Friday nights, so I generally like to plan something for those evenings. Second, my free time (like most people) primarily exists during the weekends, so my wife and I manage to schedule all the tedious tasks during that timeframe. Thirdly, I know my free time is limited, so I feel like I need to cram in visits from close friends and family in-between my many tasks. Factor in that I’m a father of two who works an average of 50-hours each week, that we just bought a house which needs lots of attention, and that I then try to relieve my wife by tending to our children when I can… and, well, you can see where this is going.

And I simply continue to pile it on. I try to plan date-nights, man-dates, visits to friends and family who have new arrivals. We have several weddings coming up, a baby shower, I want to visit my and my parent’s home towns up north, and my wife and I want to go to her mom’s house in Texas for Christmas. We had wanted to go to Greece in the next year or so, and can’t wait to get back to Paris so we can continue to explore Europe … but realistically, I’m not sure when we’ll ever finally work in those kinds of vacations. I mean, how much of what we have to do (not counting the dream vacations) will actually even happen … probably less than half. We’d be lucky if we get a third accomplished in the next two years, if they could all be spanned out that far. And I’m guessing it’ll be closer to five years before we start considering those dream vacations.

One of my closest cousins lives only an hour and a half away and I’ve not been able to visit him since before his wife was pregnant. They celebrated their daughter’s one year birthday a few months ago. And yet, none of that seems to stop me from wanting to do things like volunteer to help my old condo’s Budget Committee. I invested so much time in the Budget Committee the year before, and we made excellent progress. But it was the first of a series of steps that would need to occur over the course of a few years. And so I feel like I have an obligation to see it through. And yet, realistically, there is no time for it.

It’s almost like this is some form of masochism, except my vehicle for pain is stress; And I really don’t get off on being stressed, but I can’t seem to turn away from it and continue to want to do more; But now this stress is starting to wear me down; Not only me, but my family too. And I’ve got to stop, but I don’t know how … so I write instead … which, of course, is something else I enjoy doing, but have not time for.

But why do these things? I guess that’s the big question. Well, because they make me feel good. Because I feel needed. Because I feel like I’m contributing to some greater good. And maybe even just because I want to, and sometimes it’s just nice to do something I want to do instead of the many things I feel I have to do. This brings a song to mind. The chorus goes “You can’t always get what you want.” That’s right, “You can’t always get what you want…” which is how I feel. But is that really fair? I mean, sometimes some of the things you want end up being something that you need. I know I can’t give any justice to explaining it. But sometimes one just needs to do something to feel whole or feel like they contribute to more than just themselves or their family. I recall a little more to that song, “But if you try some time, you just might find… You get what you need.” And so I’m trying. Trying to run, trying to write, but probably not trying to participate in the Budget Committee. As much as I feel like I need to help them, I gave them a good enough start last year to keep the ball rolling. And in the end I do need to have some checks and balances. Hmmm… could this be a breakthrough. I may actually make it my cousins in the next year. Who knows, maybe I will even make it to Greece in the next year or so. Nah, who am I kidding.

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Fathers Are Caregivers Too
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For those of you who know me, or have spoken to me when my son was younger and would be sick, you may recall my frustrations from interactions with my son’s mother during those times. It had been a struggle for me to spend time with him and provide him care during his times of need (although that’s not so much the case now).  At first I thought it was perhaps from my own selfishness of wanting to be there for my son, or the confidence that I could care for him just as well as his mother, which drove that frustration.  I’m sure each parent has been there when his or her child may be sick.  You know your child is not feeling well, you can hear the pain in their voice, and you want to do whatever you can to make it better.  It’s more difficult when they’re very young, because they’re unable to communicate the source of the pain, so all you’re able to derive is the discomfort they are in.  I mean, sure, there are easy tells (such as a fever); but you’re not always lucky enough to have an easily identifiable symptom to help isolate a probable source of their pain.  As they get older, and they can speak well enough to communicate a tummy ache or headache, it’s still not always clear to what extent they have an issue. Is he going to vomit, or is he just constipated?  Did he bonk his head or is he having some sort of symptomatic migraine?

My son is almost four now.  And these days (sometimes to my amusement) I get more descriptive answers from him when he’s communicating pain:  My tummy is full, I ate too much.  My tummy hurts, I have to go poopies.  My noggin hurts, the dresser bonked it. But it was the earlier period (between two and three) where one could not rely on his communication skills to diagnose pain, which was a point of contention between his mother and I.  Whenever my days for custody would arrive and Iain was sick, the immediate stance of his mother was that since he was sick, I was more than welcome to come visit him that evening, but that he was staying home with her that night.  Not an option, not a possibility for discussion, just:  these are the terms.  Now I didn’t always question whether or not he was sick, but I definitely questioned her ability to determine if it was to an extent that he shouldn’t spend time with me at my home.  I mean, I’m his Father.  I’m just as capable of taking care of him too.  I can check his temperature, read him stories, and keep him hydrated.  And who’s to say that it isn’t some mild 24-hour bug, or something less severe (like constipation).  I’m capable of administering medicine, or feeding him roughage.  What’s worse was during that year it seemed as though he was always sick.  Whether it be from a lack of a normal shot schedule, his exposure to other kids during the church day-care on Sundays, or something his mother brought home from her internship at the hospital… every time I was scheduled to have Iain, I’d get a call at the 11th hour that he’s not coming over, but I can come see him if I like. Um, hello, we have a custody schedule. I’m not so insensitive or selfish that I would expect him to always be with me when he was sick.  One would have to be heartless to take a doubled over kid with a fever, who had vomited earlier, out of the comfort of his current home just to stay a night or two with his dad.

Sure, when he was an infant, and even in the early toddler stages, I conceded to his mother’s demands that he stays home when sick so that she could provide him the necessary care.  But as he got older, and I was more capable and confident, I found myself always upset and questioning this arrangement.  First off, who really wants to spend time in their former wife’s home, even if it is to see your sick son?  Factor in the constant scrutiny you feel you’re under, because they’re obviously watching everything you’re doing and judging you… or at least it seems that way.  And I had the added benefit that my former wife moved in with her parents.  So I felt the additional weight of two more sets of eyes watching me.  Then there is the inconvenience that I was obviously coming straight from work (yes I’m making this part about me), would typically have dinner with my son at my own home, but now I had to rush to someone else’s house.  There were many times that I would come in and everyone there would have just eaten, yet another missed opportunity with my son.  Plus it’s not like they offered me anything (perhaps that was expecting too much), but you can kind of see my point (I did finally get offered some left-overs once; maybe twice).  Then there was the obstacle of wanting to do things for my son, which I typically would do at my home when I had him, that his mother or grandparents felt obliged to address in their home (ex:  setting the bath schedule, changing diapers, putting on a T.V. show, etc.).  I mean, this was supposed to be my time, and essentially I was subjected to endure a form of torture because his mommy wanted to care for a sick child, who (might I add) many times appeared completely normal while I was there (I’m not going to go into the excuses I received of how he was feeling/acting earlier in the day which warranted her decision, because I’m sure they could probably be substantiated, but that’s not the point here).

I endured this hell because I love my son, and felt it was for his benefit.  But, if we’re going to be honest with one another, having Daddy come over to play with his son and then put him to sleep essentially was unnecessary and a selfish act on his mother’s part.  If he’s well enough to play with Daddy, then why can’t he travel 20-30 minutes to be with his Dad as he was supposed to be; who is capable of giving him a similar level of loving care; and where that child is still comfortable and at home; at his Father’s home.  It seems we’ve forgotten a simple fact:  a child of divorce parents has two homes… because when mommy isn’t around and our little one has a boo-boo, whom does he ask to kiss it:  Daddy.  And when he’s with his Father and he suddenly doesn’t feel good, who is going to take care of him:  Daddy.  It is the inevitable role that any single parent must play when they have sole custody of their child for some percentage of time.  Perhaps it isn’t engrained in all males, or an inherent trait.  But whether it need be learned or not, a parent must provide for their child.  Fathers are caregivers too!

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Fathers for our Brides
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Albin Polasek Museum—currently host to a playful 1950s underwater photography exhibit taken in Florida’s Silver Springs—has a beautiful Sculpture Garden which served as the venue for my sister’s wedding this past Saturday on March 5th. Amidst the vibrant flowers and remarkable sculptures, I took video of a bride’s procession, accompanied by a string duo, to her friend and now husband. And I watched in awe as his unwavering vows to my sister overcame the blaring air siren (testing for tornado warnings?), thunderous low flying jets, and obnoxious boats looking on from the neighboring lake. And what was an otherwise beautiful ceremony, will no doubt be a memorable experience in their prosperous marriage as resounding applauds followed his performance.

This momentous occasion was also marked as the official debut of our new daughter amongst my family at large. As many parents of newborns observe, my wife and I kept our preemie daughter close to home for the first two months of her life. Born five weeks early, her progress was monitored by our Pediatrician who stated our daughter officially caught up developmentally at her two-month visit. And it was at this point that she was cleared for general exposure to large crowds. Not to say that our daughter had any complications or couldn’t leave our home and be around throngs of people, but it was in her best interest to minimize risk since she was more susceptible to contagions as a preemie. And being that my father is one of six children, our gatherings tend to be quite a crowd.

Now my wife Megan is a planner. And even though she carefully timed the feedings, our daughter determined that she would not only be hungry just before the ceremony, but inconsolable for a time after her feeding. So Megan unfortunately distanced herself from the ceremony to prevent a crying baby from interrupting it, unknowing that other events would inevitably perform the same task. At least with my videoing the wedding, she was able to later enjoy watching it; although that’s not always quite the same.

But what was most interesting to me was what I noticed during the reception following the ceremony. Like many wedding receptions, we had our cast of friends and relatives that clumped around tables and loosely mingled with new faces of extended family that they scarcely recognized. There were the unexpected visiting cousins, the dedicated aunt traveling across the country, and the otherwise reclusive family members. And yet, the general theme I noticed about the families of newborns and toddlers was the role of the dedicated fathers for their committed brides. These men (myself included) held their children, chased after them, and attended to their needs much to the relief of their wives. It was clearly the mom’s day off, or at least the best attempt of it that we could muster under the circumstances. I know my own wife sometimes considers my involvement with the kids a blessing since there are many men who shy away from taking part with their children, especially during their early years. But this undoubtedly was a testament, at least of the men in attendance at my sister’s wedding, that we are indeed doing our part and being involved as fathers for our brides.

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Forevermore
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Here it is!  Twenty-Eleven.  MMXI.  Fifteen days into the New Year.  Can it be that I’m finally about to post something again (rhetorical question)?  Typically we writers are told to stay away from asking the reader a bunch of questions.  So, maybe this means a change; a new direction; maybe a new writing style for me . . . are these more questions?  That one sure was.

So what has changed?  What is different?  Hmmm . . .  I’m married now.  I know, I skipped right by that.  I guess it’s to be expected.  My last two posts were on either side of the big day (one in February, the next in May); considerable time between the posts as my writing tapered off and my attentions turned to preparing a future with my new wife.  Although, you may have been able to derive all of this from a few of my tweets.

That future began on a Friday, February 26th.  A cool breeze flowed in from the lake as dusk approached.  Perfect weather:  crisp blue skies with a peppering of thin, faint clouds.  My bride and I stood amidst tall oak trees, hanging moss, and large fallen leaves that failed to resist the Florida cold.  My little boy—almost three—shivered next to me in a black tux and Chuck Taylors.  I exchanged a toy train with him to receive the entrusted ring box with vintage wedding band for my new bride.  It was just past four-thirty—the big hand swept slowly up—as we spoke our written vows with our parents as witnesses.  And at Azalea Park, in front of Greek columns atop a crescent-shaped wall, we said: “I do.”

Forevermore.

Forevermore

February 26, 2010

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