DAD is as DAD was
The Introductory Start
When I thought about starting a parenting column, I pondered some things. I wondered how to start that first one off. I also considered that writing a column might be out-of-my league. Lastly, I wondered if our precious new addition, a baby boy born on January 10, 2014, would ever give me the time. Obviously, I’m past the out-of-my league part, and I’ve somewhat found the time. That leaves kicking it off. If you’re going to do a food column, then it’s probably pretty easy. You eat a cupcake from some new-fangled, scrumptious place, ponder over its majestic flavors, and then write about it. I’m not a food column type of person, though I do love the new world of cupcakes. Yum!!! For this column, let’s try some good, old-fashioned honesty.
I’m a stay-at-home dad in his second round of child rearing after a long hiatus, 19years between sons. I have two older boys from a previous marriage who are actually young men, well sort of, mostly … I guess not really. I won’t say that this second round of child rearing was my idea, but I wasn’t completely against it either, well, at least eventually. You’re probably saying to yourself, oh, he’s one of those guys, a divorced older man married to a younger woman who (to his chagrin) wanted children. Well, if that’s what you were thinking, then you’re absolutely right, and you deserve a cookie or perhaps a red velvet cupcake.
After my wife and I got to the point of no return, I’ve often wondered how many other guys like me are out there. The prestigious clinic in San Francisco where I went for my vasectomy reversal indicated there were plenty of us. From what I could tell, they were right, because business seemed to be booming. Statistically, I have no idea, but I would love to know if there’s enough for group sessions. Someday I’ll tell you about the trials and tribulations that brought this spectacular bundle of life into our peculiar family. All I can say is that I’m a very lucky man to have my newest son and my beautiful wife. I’m not saying that because she’ll be the first one to read this, but because he’s an amazing baby and she’s an incredible woman. I’d write that even if this was going into my private logbook (diary for military people) knowing that she’d never read it.
There are a couple of more things you should know about me. I’m a retired Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) after 22 years of dedicated service in one of our fine armed forces branches. Since my retirement last year, I’ve grown a beard and let my hair grow fairly long, typical retiree actions (I assure you). I promise that this is not going to be a military column, because there are already plenty of those out there. Sure, there will be some armed forces stuff in it, because that was a large part of my life, but I’ll keep it to a bare minimum. I envision this column as an introspective look at our peculiar situation and unusual family dynamics, all of which surrounds our core function of being parents.
I’ve noticed volumes of differences between parenting in today’s world and parenting back then, the 90s. It all makes for amazing lessons learned, as well as a great deal of humor, poignancy, and thought-provoking reflection. For example, I take our baby and dog, an Aussie Doodle named Pardner, out for an hour-long walk nearly every day. During this walk I’ve been stopped on more than a dozen occasions by people telling me I look like that guy from the Hang Over movie. When I have my sunglasses on, Rayban terminator type, and our little boy is in the front facing carrier, one of four carriers, they aren’t far from wrong. Why four carriers? I’ll tell you in a later column. Anyway, I’m not looking to be the next wave of celebrity lookalikes, but I have to say that this makes me really happy. Not because I look like someone famous, and I certainly didn’t do it intentionally. It just happens to make a lot of people’s day. In fact more than a few people have told me those very words. Pretty cool, since I’m just walking by with my beautiful son, who doesn’t care anymore than I do, that I look like a real life Alan Garner (the character’s name in the Hang Over). The lesson to me is that the embarrassment from this would’ve never allowed me to do something like this at 25. At my age, 44, humiliation isn’t even a concept anymore, so it’s no problem whatsoever. That’s a really good thing, because we can’t hang out in a fifth wheel all day long, now can we? Did I forget to mention that? Yes, we live full time in an RV, which is by choice and not from circumstance or necessity, more on that later, too.
As you can see, if a person can get past all or hopefully most of those normal feelings of embarrassment they have in regards to being a new or seasoned parent, then life with a child or children can be even better. I’m not preaching to anyone, I’m merely saying it’s something I’ve learned, as I was only 20 when my first son was born. I remember feeling a lot of embarrassment for many reasons during my first time as a new parent. I also know that I let it hold me back from enjoying many fantastic moments in my more youthful fatherhood period. For this go around, I didn’t have to adjust anything. It came (is coming) naturally, because I’m much older, but also because I’m a third-time parent, so hindsight and being long in the tooth goes a tremendous way. For me, a little vomit in my beard or name-your-food substance on my shirt is a whole big, whatever. Am I a slob? Oh, I have my moments, but I try to go out in public in decent enough shape so my wife doesn’t disown me. However, if I’ve got baby goo, gunk, or secretions on me, then I wear it with pride and shrug while smiling if anyone mentions or notices it. This also goes a long way for other things, like my wife breastfeeding in public, wailing cries on an airplane, and getting asked if I’m the baby’s grandfather or father. Yes, that has really happened to me, and it’s even funnier, because at any moment, I remain completely shocked that I’m not. Like father, like sons, right? As alluded to, my oldest son is 23 and my former youngest son is19. However, they seem deathly afraid of having their own children, so I’m hoping that remains true for the foreseeable future. I can assure you that I’m more than happy to wait for my grand pappy years, and I certainly know my wife doesn’t want to be a granny yet.
With this column I hope to bring even more joy to a few people’s lives by relating some of my now and then observations of fatherhood. I also plan to share my experiences (good or bad), provide food for thought, relay relatable material, and give some insight to my small demographic (stay-at-home dad, second round of child rearing, older/retired military, living full time in an RV). That brings me to my wife, who is a pediatric nurse and lactation consultant; that means when I mention medical/breastfeeding information I am not just making it up. I will differentiate between my humble point of view and her evidence based thoughts. Yes, she’s up on all of that. Me? Well, not so much, but I am great at relaying information while keeping it light and most often humorous, yet in line with the gravity of the information being presented.
I’ve also decided that a good moniker will be a necessary addition in to keeping up with all the new age columnists. I often feel as if I’m a bit off of my rocker for going through all of this crazy child rearing stuff again at my age and after being fairly successful the first time. However, all parents, whether they’re awaiting baby or are veterans, often feel the same way for deciding to have children, especially more children. They think back to those glory years when it was only one mouth to feed under one brain to shape, and they audibly sigh. Then their tiger or tigress does something cute, incredible, or YouTube worthy, and they instantly remember why they’re in the game or back in the game. I find myself continuously thinking of the song Bless the Broken Road from the country music band Rascal Flatts. Yes, it has been a very broken road that’s brought me straight to here, and I wake up every morning thankful for it, well, almost every morning.
Until next time,
Dreaming About Daycare