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Overnight Success
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This past week was encompassed with anticipation—excitement of spending a child-free evening with my wife, and a pinch of anxiety stirred in due to the growing restlessness of our teething daughter.  You see, my wife and I finally decided to schedule our daughter’s first overnight with my mother, her Mémère.  And although our daughter had been sleeping through the evenings, two new front-teeth had cropped up now causing her unrest.  This manifested itself as inconsolable evenings during bedtime, followed by several waking fits through the night.

The first step was keeping my parents in the loop on her behavioral patterns.  The second was ensuring their home was baby-proofed and that they had the necessary essentials (ex:  pack-and-play, baby-monitor, clothes, diapers, and food).  Once we reviewed with them our baby’s feeding schedule and nightly routines, the hardest part came next:  leaving our baby.  Luckily we were mentally prepared and simply kissed our distracted daughter as we said a happy good-bye and left.  The alternative, of course, would be breaking-down with sappy dramatics that would have caused our daughter to feel insecure.

The planned events for our date-night began with a finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  I’d be lying if I didn’t attribute some of our excitement for the evening towards us seeing the culmination of this franchise to its critically acclaimed ending.  We managed to catch some of the prequels replaying on ABC Family during the week leading up to its theatrical release.  And then we re-watched the Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows Part 1 the evenings before our date.  With our daughter in safe hands, we were ready to enjoy the movie with each other’s company.

My favorite part of the film (and trust me, this isn’t a spoiler):  10-minutes of obnoxious and hostile dialogue from two self-absorbed women in attendance.  One was a juvenile who spouted colorful metaphors and then moved to another seat.  However unjustified, it was after being on the receiving end of hostile remarks for putting her feet upon a seat occupied by the parent of the other woman.  This other woman, being outwardly mature in appearance, then relentlessly pursued the juvenile physically and verbally; refusing to back down until she could convince the intimidated youth to resolve the conflict outside with a fight in the parking lot.  Luckily security intervened and escorted one group out (the juvenile and friend; voluntarily).  In my mind, it should have been the other woman and her parent.  I mean, seriously, who creates such a scene in a movie theatre over a ridiculous altercation like that.  I think we know who the real juvenile was that night.  And although I missed 10-minutes of dialogue, I was still unfazed in my enthusiasm; especially considering that I knew then it was going to be a free movie, as I would accept no less from the theatre’s management.

With the movie behind us, and twenty bucks back in our pocket, we continued our date to the next event—sushi.  The twenty went towards supplementing our dinner with drinks and desert.  We made it home late, enjoyed our quality alone time without children, and then crashed without the worry of awaking to a crying baby.  Instead, we woke to relaxing silence at 7 am, which is a marked improvement to the 5 or 6 am feeding times our daughter sometimes commands.  And although it was refreshing, it was also a little empty—missing our beautiful daughter’s wide grin and emphatic morning babbles.  We had a much-needed night alone, our batteries were recharged, and now we were ready to be back together as a family.  Our daughter’s overnight was a success!

Now this success isn’t measured purely on the ability for my wife and I to enjoy our time alone without children.   Or due to our realization that we miss our child and look forward to her coming home.  True success is measured in how well our daughter fared at my parents.  And it isn’t achieved without careful planning.  We checked-in a couple times between events, and were comfortable with our preparation and that of my parents.  We were relaxed because we knew she was safe, and we knew her success would be on how safe and comfortable she felt.  We were eager the next morning to hear how it went.  And to our relief, she was a perfect angel and went to bed with ease.  There was no late-night restlessness.  She slept through the night and woke happy with cheerful lallations.

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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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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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Extended Days: Daddy time
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Just a quick update on: recent changes coming with the shared-custody arrangements/scheduling between my son’s mother and I. For some time, I’ve been a proponent of increasing the number of days my son stays with me during the week. It’s a logical progression towards the full 50/50 shared-custody that will take place once he starts school (pre-k or kindergarten).

Soon after the divorce was finalized (almost a year in the making) I ran into some resistance whenever the topic of increasing my son’s time with me was broached. I was certain that the outcomes were due to residual enmity resulting from the circumstances which lead to our divorce (as I imagine is normal with most divorces). Only time could prove whether that was an appropriate assumption. So, here I am—a little over two years from the day she left with my son—and finding that perhaps time does heal some wounds, proving that my hopes at the time were well based.

With the communication improvements between me and my son’s mother, we’ve been able to discuss and agree upon the extending of an additional day during the time each week my son spends with me. This is being termed, “Daddy time”. At first we’ll introduce a new day every other week. Then that will bleed into an every week arrangement. I’ll have to work out some scheduling changes with work of course. And luckily I’ll be able to depend on my Fiancé and mother to help out during times that I’m at work to facilitate the additional Daddy time I’ll get to spend with my son. I am extremely excited and know I couldn’t have done this alone . . . So thank you to everyone who has been supporting me in these endeavors, and in giving me the opportunity to bond more with my son.

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Colby’s First Night Away
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Colby’s First night away….

It was drizzling… the damp night was dark, only lit by the likes of our moon, and the dim street lights, which fought there way to shine through the light drizzle.  What lies for Colby’s parents, on this eve of the New Year?  Well, a party of course!  On this evening before the first day of two thousand and ten (2010), Colby’s parents have made plans to go to a party.  A party that was about a forty-five minute drive away, no less, at his daddy’s sister’s house.  Colby’s parents were very confused on how to make arrangements for this certain evening.  His parents knew that they wanted to go to this party, but they also knew that they now have a precious lil’ baby boy to consider in their event planning. 

Colby’s parents had very mixed feelings about this particular evening.  If they were to go, which they wanted to do, it most likely would be planned with Colby needing to stay the night at one of the grandparents home.  It would stand to reason, that if Colby’s parents went out and got home late, let’s say about 3ish in the morning and Colby needed to get up and eat about 5:45ish in the morning, then Colby’s parents would get no sleep.  But, Colby has never been away from mommy and daddy.

Well, this is what we were contemplating.  We definitely wanted to go out, but we knew that it was not good for any person involved, if we didn’t get the sleep that we needed, especially after being up late at a party.  So, we concluded that Colby needed to stay the night away from home.  It was not easy on me, though.  I was glad that we made this decision, but at the same time, I was sad that he was not home with us.  It was like, something was missing when I arrived home.  And that was Colby! 

In the end, we had a great time at my sister’s New Year’s Eve party, and everyone had a great time.  I enjoyed myself very much, but I did miss the lil’ guy!!!  It was a relief though, knowing that he was safe and sound at one of his grandparents’ home, being taken good care of.  It is also a relief that we were told that Colby was a very good boy, and slept very good too!

It is just a whole new ball game, to plan an evening out.  It will be like this every time now, and I realize this.  With Colby maturing and developing, I know that I will not want to miss anything, which makes leaving him, (even though I know that he is completely well taken care of), extremely hard.