Gone Baby Gone

I drove out to the middle of the desert, stopped the car, and left my son.

…with his Aunt.

I wasn’t ready. When she first made the offer to babysit him for a few days I was a little hesitant. I didn’t know how he would respond to being away from home for so long. I always wonder if people can handle him. He’s like an unstoppable ball of energy with an engine that never stops. Eventually MM rightly convinced me to let go and allow us all a small break from each other. I made grand plans to party like the good ole days. Free and unattached with little regard for curfews or sobriety. I planned to golf all day and drink Cadillac margaritas every night. I envisioned staying up late with my wife watching movies and eating pizza straight out the box. I planned to pack up the house in preparation for our big move all while blasting my favorite albums with the curse words left in. Then the day came to drive him to the meeting place in the middle of nowhere halfway between our house and his aunt’s. When I woke up that morning there was a knot in my stomach. I felt sick and my mind was racing in all different directions. A feeling I am all too familiar with. An anxiety attack. As I drove through the mountains with my son in tow I desperately racked my brain searching for the source of my anxiety. Some stressful impending situation? No. Money problems? Not at all. Guilt? Nope. Then it hit me. I was heartbroken. I was giving my son away. The long drive felt like we were having our final long and drawn out conversation before we went our separate ways. It would only be for two nights, which I know makes me sound slightly pathetic, but this was the first time he would spend more than a night away from me. Far away where I couldn’t get to him the second I thought something was wrong. He would be independent of me. I felt this odd combination of fear and sadness and I had no idea how to make it stop. In the past, once I could narrow down the source of my anxiety it was easy to squash. But this was different. This was deeper. When I finally arrived at the meeting place everything happened so fast. The exchange was a blur without giving me a chance to think. My sister-in-law had beat me there and the minute I got out of the car she came at me with a million excited questions. She can be quite the chatterbox. Her own daughter was there with her children. One of which is very close to Donny in age and he was excited to see her. She practically taught him how to walk the day of his 1st birthday. He looked eager to learn some new tricks from her. I secured Donny’s car seat to Grace’s(MM’s sister) car while trying to keep him from wandering in the street and making sure I did not forget anything. I briefly spoke to Grace’s daughter while Donny eagerly hopped into the car seat and settled in his auntie’s car. I gave a few last instructions and made sure Donny didn’t have to potty before they hit the road. I was trying to do so much at one time that before I could catch my breath they were gone. It all happened so fast. I only remember telling him to listen to his Auntie and be a good boy. I don’t even think I kissed him goodbye. It felt like we had just arrived 30 seconds ago and now I was already on the dusty road trying to find my way back onto the interstate. I felt alone and empty. Not whole. When Grace drove off she not only took Donny away from me, she also took a piece of my heart with her.

When I finally arrived back at home I went straight to bed. My buddies were waiting for me at the golf course but I needed to lay down and collect myself first. I felt horrible. I could have stayed in that bed all day watching reruns of The Golden Girls and eating ice cream out of the container. After about a half an hour of cat videos with the curtains closed I came to my senses. This was silly. He was just going to be gone for a couple of nights. He was with people I trusted and with kids his age. It was like a slumber party. He was going to have fun. He was going to be fine. What was my problem?

I eventually made it to the golf course that afternoon. And again the next morning. It was great. I went running on my schedule and showered late in the afternoon. I met up with old friends and got a haircut. One of the nights I managed to get in a few margaritas. But nothing made me as happy as waking up the morning he would return to me. I was anxious again. This time it was a good anxious. I couldn’t wait to leave the house to get him. I arrived 30 minutes early to our same dusty meeting spot in the middle of nowhere. When Grace showed up I tried to play it cool but I was so excited I was shaking. When she lifted him out of the car seat and handed him over I kissed his face and squeezed him tightly to me. I literally felt whole again. I even brought him his favorite peanut butter crackers and a juice box for the ride home. As if I had to bribe him to restore his affections. Silly, I know.

IMG_8613

I’ve had my heart broken before and I’ll always remember what a friend told me then, “Don’t worry, it only hurts like this the first time.” I sure hope that’s true in this case as well. I know eventually his first day of school will come. Then summer camp, college, space travel, and marriage. But for now I’ll just focus on his next adventure without me, Grandma’s house. This weekend in fact. He and I will make the 400 mile drive up to my Mother’s house where I will leave him for 3 nights. I’ll be worried again. Mostly for her this time. He’s a wild child and my Mom is going need all the energy she’s got to keep up with him. I hope she has some back up in mind. Once I drop him off and begin to head back home, I wonder if the feeling of helplessness will shift. Not to Donny, but to my Mom. I wonder if a small piece of her heart will long for my safe return. I think I’m more sensitive and emotional than my mother, or maybe she’s just better at hiding it.

This whole parenthood thing is a trip. It’s so emotional and challenging. Sure it’s rewarding but it definitely comes at a cost. I think the whole left side of my head has begun to turn gray following these last two years. I can honestly say that Donny owns a piece of my heart. If you could break it into little pieces he at the very least owns a third. I can’t imagine having another kid. That would be insane. That would be two-thirds of my heart gone. Claimed. Owned. Who can live like that? It’s not physically possible. Right now I still have the two-thirds majority. Which is the only thing keeping me from crying into a bowl of fruity pebbles whenever he goes away.

THREE  THINGS:

  1. Thing I learned today – I love being a Dad. But it’s not the end all be all. I miss playing golf every week and staying up late at night. I miss hanging with my friends and traveling. I love my life and wouldn’t change anything about it. Parenthood is amazing. Having the freedom to do YOU is equally satisfying.
  2. Random Thing – I have had a pet turtle since I was 13 years old. This will be his 11th change in residence. Time to settle down and buy a house so he can relax and kick the bucket in comfort.
  3. Sports Thing – With 73 wins and a(soon to have) Championship… remember when I said that? I don’t feel so good anymore.

Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the twentieth 20 2-0 twenty-twen-twen Daddy Day By Day. And it only took me 2 years to do so. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at daddydaybyday@gmail.com or simply comment below. Please click on one of the two “follow my blog” links on the right. For you mobile users the links are at the bottom of the page. Talk to you soon…

Advertisements

My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I used to date this super sexy girl who like most super sexy girls, was crazy. She had a few wild ideas but the one that will always stick with me is that she wanted 5 kids. After only a few weeks of dating she revealed to me that she had dreams of a big house with a white picket fence that she could fill up with what amounts to a litter. Needless to say, I ran for the hills.

12218_IMG_91_1213224988

My son is awesome, but he’s kicking my ass. I may be winning our daily battle of wills but these new grey hairs tell the real story. Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat fearing the day MM presents to me another urine soaked tube with a pink plus sign on the end of it. Most of my friends and family have multiple kids. Some seem to be trying to build a small army. They just can’t help themselves. They all seem happy but at the same time I can’t help but remember what this one guy at the gym told me about a year ago,

“Me? I have two. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you need to have two.”

Then there was this guy I worked with who had three kids. This is what he had to say,

“Two is tough, really tough. But three? That’s just stupid. You’re always outnumbered. You better hope your oldest kid is old enough to make his own sandwich.”

The horrors of having multiple children were on display this past week at the park. A place that has become a free parenting workshop every time we’re there. On this particular trip the lesson began immediately. As soon as we arrived I saw one of the other guys I often talk to, I call him Specs. We, midday Dads, always gravitate to each other out of solidarity and fear. Fear that if we don’t huddle together in the corner we’ll get trapped talking to the other Moms about nutrition and poop. As oppose to what we want to talk about, sports and poop. I quickly walked over to Specs and Donny ran over to his son, Ry. I hadn’t seen Specs in quite a while because of what was tightly strapped to his chest: a beautiful 6-month old baby boy. Before the word “congratulations” could fully get out of my mouth Donny began to cry. He and Ry who usually got along handsomely seemed to be in some sort of conflict. Ry always brought his three big dump trucks to play with in the sand and had always shared them with Donny, but not today. In fact when Donny picked one up Ry quickly snatched it out of his hand and ran away to hide it. Donny was confused and upset. Specs half-called after his son while also telling Donny it was ok and that he could play with the other trucks. Donny picked up the second dump truck. Ry immediately returned with a scowl and snatched the second truck out of Donny’s hand. Specs again chastised his son who simply ignored him and hid the second toy. Specs apologized to me while telling Donny he could play with the last dump truck remaining. I could feel a bit of embarrassment in Specs’ voice. I assured him it was ok. I’m learning that sharing might be more of a learned trait than an instinctive one. Donny picked up the third truck and I’m sure you can figure out what happened next. As Donny sat there feeling empty and alone I retrieved his monster trucks from my backpack and gave them to him. He was disappointed but he took his monster trucks anyway. As did Ry. Right out of Donny’s hand. Specs had enough. He raised his voice at Ry and demanded he stop and give Donny his trucks back. Ry responded by running away with Donny’s toys as fast as his 2-year-old legs would take him. Specs apologized and slowly pursued his once sweet and friendly son while trying to avoid waking the infant strapped just below his chin. To be honest he looked kind of silly. A grown man trying to quietly speed walk after a screaming child with another baby hanging off him like a exopregnancy. I saw him battle with Ry at the other end of the park while Donny not so quietly sobbed in the sand beside me. Luckily, I had more trucks. I’m a veteran Dad now and I’m prepared for everything. However, park peace would not be found on this day. To the right of us a little girl laid with her hair buried in the sand and began making sand angels. Her mother pleaded with her to stop. To the left a young rambunctious boy was kicking sand at two other children that were playing together. One of the children immediately started screaming from the sting of sand in his eyes. When things like this happen I always like to observe the parents. Such an uncomfortable situation that I was happy not to be involved with. I realized that I was surrounded by madness. My own son in front of me still bitter despite the fact that his trucks had all been returned. Children to the left of me with faces covered in sand. Both of them screaming with one Mom refusing to look in the direction of the other Mom who looked mortified and apologetic. A child to the right of me kicking and squirming in the sand disregarding the specific request from her mother to lift her hair out of it. I started to breakout in a cold sweat, only this time I was already awake.

I learned a lot that day. Multiple children, multiple issues, multiple reasons to quit while I’m ahead. Was this enough madness to crush any silly notion of wanting a second child? YES! I’M happy. I’M content. The problem is, I’M not making the decision. You see, that super sexy crazy ex-girlfriend became my super sexy crazy wife. Before we married I was able to talk her out of 5 kids. The problem is we never agreed to only 1 either. And now I think she’s got that crazy look in her eye. It’s probably just a phase but I’ll spend the next several weeks avoiding rom-coms, chocolate, and oysters just in case. MM may want another son, Donny may want a little brother, but my sanity may need a vasectomy. Then again, my Dad had 5 kids and stepped up to the plate for 2 more. He never seemed stressed out. In fact, my Dad was always a pretty happy and content dude. So maybe MM and I can come to some sort of compromise. I’ll let her get a puppy.

 

THREE  THINGS:

  1. Thing I learned today – Donny is turning into a very outgoing kid and he needs a playmate. Badly. And my old dog ain’t cutting it. If it was up to him I think he would welcome another child.
  2. Random Thing – My Dad’s birthday is tomorrow. He passed away several years ago. I don’t remember exactly how many years ago because I don’t see the point in keeping track of things like that. I still find myself waiting for the day when I can look at my son without feeling a bit of sadness that my Father, Donny I, never got to meet his grandchild, Donny III. Happy Birthday Dad, from your son who still misses his Dad. IMG_0156
  3. Sports Thing – With 73 wins and a(soon to have) Championship, The Golden State Warriors are factual the best team in NBA history. Eat it Scottie Pippen.

 

Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the nineteenth Daddy Day By Day. Lately I’ve had a real pressing urge to write a blog regarding the presidential elections currently taking place. Or maybe I’ll write a blog reviewing children’s movies. It could go either way. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at daddydaybyday@gmail.com or simply comment below. Please click on one of the two “follow my blog” links on the right. For you mobile users the links are at the bottom of the page. Talk to you soon…

Wicked Game

IMG_1859

She got me. Again. I believe the current score is Mommy Moneybags(MM) – 31 Me – 2. She got me again with a total setup question. She would later dispute that there was ever any type of setup, but I know better than that. It was something about how I would describe my life to a practical stranger blah blah blah I wasn’t totally paying attention. My answer was nonchalant and uninspiring. The traditionally stupid husband I am sat there smiling afterwards. Quite content with my doomed response. Like a mouse eating cheese off a trap. Calm and carefree, never hearing the snap or seeing the lever closing down on its neck.

images-1

I love my wife. I really really do. She’s in the running for Most Amazing Fantastical Thing I Can Call Mine award! She has a relaxed demeanor, she’s supportive, and above all else she’s smoking hot! She’s also brilliant, so when she decides to lure me into saying something stupid, its masterful. She picked the perfectly worded question. Not something simple and easy to navigate like, “does this dress make me look fat?” Do women still ask that question? We, men, over the decades have developed a catalogue of appropriate responses to that oldie but goodie. No, she threw me a curveball as gorgeous as she is. A question that had only two answers, my answer and the right one. When my answer was given, BOOM! She went all girl on me. A pretty girl, but girl. I paid for my simpleton answer for the remainder of the weekend. With each passing hour I tried to understand the difficulties of a beautifully crazy woman loving a charmingly stupid man. Thankfully MM likes me again. I think she even loves me. The least I can do is learn from these moments…

IMG_6275

But I just can’t! Not this one! I still can’t wrap my head around the correct answer. Its been a week. Instead of trying to understand the un-understandable it would probably serve me well to stop writing about it and just enjoy it. It, being my sexy forgiving wife. The incredible woman who I somehow convinced to marry me. She may still give me some crazy girl behavior every now and again, but more often she gives me the perfect wife I always wanted. Peaceful, sensitive, loving, radiant and ravishing. My Valentine every day of the year. I kind of get why she was upset over the weekend. Sorta. Not really. I will screw this up again. I think if I just keep loving her as much as I do today, as much as I have everyday, she’ll keep me around forever.

IMG_6270

I do think she’s setting me up again. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, two days away actually. I haven’t gotten her anything. Not because I’m a complete idiot but because she told me not to. I usually do flowers, chocolates, cards, blah blah blah whatever is being sold in shades of pink and red. However, a few months ago we decided to stop giving cards altogether. They’re someone else’s words that just end up in the trash anyway and have you seen the prices for those small pieces of cardstock? Regarding the flowers and chocolates, she told me she doesn’t want them. The flowers, don’t get her started on that ridiculous Valentine’s Day special (2 dozen roses for $103.52 – yeah she did a fake order) and as for the chocolates… I ended up eating all the chocolate last year and past years. I was glad I bought her the good stuff: Godiva. I didn’t eat them right away of course. She just wasn’t that interested. This Saturday is Valentine’s Day and I’m doing what she told me to do. Nothing. Again I find myself content and carefree. Like a bear with a belly full of salmon, smiling and walking through the woods with his dumb unknowing nose breathing in his last breaths. Completely unaware of the trap ahead…again

 

'Boy, you're lucky it's the same leg as last time...'

 “Life proceeds along a path, though the path is invisible. There is definitely a path for human beings that leads to absolute happiness…If we continue to advance along this road without abandoning our faith, we will definitely come to savor a state of life in which all our desires are fulfilled both spiritually and materially.”

-Daisaku Ikeda

 

THREE  THINGS:

  1. Thing I learned today – We’ll know by Sunday if I’ve learned anything at all
  2. I used the adjective “crazy” to describe my wife in this blog. And I meant it. Almost as much as I meant “Amazing Fantastical Mine Relaxed Supportive Smoking Hot Brilliant Gorgeous Pretty  Beautifully Crazy Sexy Forgiving Incredible Perfect Peaceful Sensitive Loving Radiant Ravishing.” She’s pretty cool.
  3. If you’re reading this MM, I just want to point out that I seriously have nothing for Valentine’s Day. Sooo…tell me now if I need to make any corrections. Please.

Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the fourteenth Daddy Day By Day. Yeah, it’s a V-Day blog. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at daddydaybyday@gmail.com or simply comment below. Please click on one of the two “follow my blog” links on the right. For you mobile users the links are at the bottom of the page. Talk to you soon…

The Man That Rocks The Cradle

It feels like its been a year since my last blog post. It has been a year since I last punched a clock. It was this week in 2014 that I officially became a stay-at-home Dad. For the past year I’ve lived primarily in sweatpants and cargo shorts. I usually shower well after midday, and rarely shave more than twice a month. While this may sound like a slacker’s wet dream it is far more work than it seems. It took a long time to get used to what turned out to be a pretty extreme lifestyle adjustment.

When I talk to older men I am often asked, “Do you change diapers?” Are there fathers out there that don’t? In my head I have a quick-witted response along the lines of, “Faster than a pit crew changes tires” or “I wipe Donny’s butt cleaner than a fat kid licks his plate!” But what comes out is usually a hushed and nervous sounding, “Me? Oh yeah, it’s no big deal.” I hate that question because the one that usually follows is, “What do you do for work?” or “How’s the job going?” When I tell them that I stay home it comes out sounding quiet, ashamed, and embarrassed. The only reason is because I, like so many, hold this misguided stigma about men who stay home and have the audacity to personally raise their children. “That’s women’s work!” “It’s unnatural!” Unnatural? Taking care of my kid??? Penguins do it, why can’t I? It took almost a full year to accept that I could be more to my family than a paycheck. That I could trade in my 40 hour work week for a 168 hour one. That I could strive to be the foundation of my family. That was then and this is now. I have finally embraced the role that life has led me to. I have found the self-worth that initially escaped me. That sounds silly to me, now. My old job sucked! I had somehow brainwashed myself into thinking it was better than the amazing opportunity MM had given me. The work I do today will actually have an impact on someone’s life. The work I do now has a chance to change the world! For better or for worse. I have a kid and I get to raise him MY way. The control freak in me loves that.

IMG_6230

Mommy Moneybags(MM) has on numerous occasions said to me, “I don’t know how you do it. I don’t think I could.” And she’s right, I don’t think she could do what I do. The level of patience and sanity needed is inhuman. I can barely do it. I’m constantly exhausted and hungry. Repeatedly hauling 30lbs of squirming screaming baby up the stairs while trying to ignore the thick scent of urine and poop. Then dragging the remaining 28lbs of a slapping kicking child back down the stairs in hopes that he’ll sit still long enough for Dad to add three sentences to his blog.

The house is usually a mine field of rubber balls, Blu-ray discs, and razor-sharp Lego’s. Spending my days in an obstacle course, snacking on cheez-its, and being bombarded by a toxic scent doesn’t always leave me at my sharpest. Slip ups happen all the time. If MM only knew some of the things that have gone down without her knowledge. For instance, Donny rolled off of our bed when he was just a baby…twice…and once off the futon! It feels good to get that off my chest. While I’m at it, he also fell down the stairs. (If you never hear from me again MM should be your prime suspect.) Sometimes when Donny is running through the house and falls I simply let him lay there and cry. Not all the time but there are moments when I wait for him to get up, dust himself off, and calm himself down without Daddy’s help.

That’s what I really enjoy about being a stay-at-home Dad. Parenting MY way. Our days consist of less PBS, more ESPN. Less soothing nurture, more ill-advised adventures. Under my watch Donny will learn to pee standing up before most boys his age. I may be doing the work that is traditionally performed by Mom, but I can’t ever be her. It’s simply not in my DNA. There is no such thing as Mr. Mom. Just a Dad and his son. A man and his boy.

IMG_6227

THREE  THINGS:

  1. Thing I learned today – Several male animal species take care of their young. Among them are the Red Fox, Barking Frog, Seahorse, Horned Owl, Homosapian, and of course the mighty Emperor Penguin.
  2. There are two sides to every story. As much as a role reversal this might be for me, its even more so for MM. And she’s performing beautifully in her role.
  3. Sports Minute – For the first time in my lifetime I am a proud fan of the best basketball team in the NBA. Go Dubs!

Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the thirteenth Daddy Day By Day. I’ve picked up some new followers as of late which has been very exciting. Thank You. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at daddydaybyday@gmail.com or simply comment below. Please click on one of the two “follow my blog” links on the right. For you mobile users the links are at the bottom of the page. Talk to you soon…

My Chick Bad

Thursday started like any other day, but ended like no thursday before it. Taking the dog out at night is my job seven days a week. So when Mommy Moneybags(MM) randomly decided to relieve me of that duty Thursday night, I should have been suspicious. I was not. Maybe it was the wine, or maybe it was the merciless beating I was giving her in gin rummy. When I began to wonder what was taking her so long I heard our dog bark, then yelp, then whine. I jumped up from my seat and hurried to the door fist clenched and prepared to defend my woman. I was panicking a little. I always trust my dog to protect my family when I’m not around. He’s a 80 pound pit bull mix with the bark of a lion. Yes, I understand lions are cats but I’m trying to paint a picture here. He’s a wild animal. An untammed beast. Something or someone outside had reduced him to a squirrel. As soon as I reached the door a tall shadowy figure emerged. The first thing I noticed were his weapons. Numerous metallic canes tucked behind him in a bag. He also carried another bag that he dragged behind him on wheels. Similar to a rolling suitcase. Exactly like a rolling suitcase. It was a rolling suitcase. Then I saw his face. The evil smirking face of my best friend, Doc. At that point everything became a blur of shock and confusion. I stood there with my mouth open babbling trying to make sense of why he was at my front door at 10PM on a Thursday 500 miles from home. Before my brain could put together anything close to an intelligent sentence MM handed me an envelope. It was an early Father’s day card. Inside was a golf resort reservation confirmation. Tucked behind that was a golf reservation for Saturday, and behind that a reservation for Sunday. All for two.  MM and Doc were in cahoots! The following morning she sent us on our way with my favorite spirit and a smile. Happy (early) Father’s day indeed!

I keep asking her why she did this for me? Why is she so damn good to me? I would have been happy with a tie. A nice lunch. A pan of her moist delicious banana bread would have been sufficient. Her response has remained the same, “because you deserve it.” This is my wife. She’s smart, kind, she’s completely selfless.  The only one she seems more devoted to than me is our son. And she can bake a mean banana bread! My chick is bad! We may not have the most money, or toughest dogs, and certainly nothing resembling a cool active social life, but we have each other. I have her. I can’t imagine a life better than this one.

This past weekend I didn’t change Donny’s diapers. Not once, for three whole days. I didn’t mix up a bottle, I didn’t clean up a mess, and the only clothes I changed were my own. I did play golf, poorly. I also ate my food while it was hot, drove fast, and drank too much for three whole days. Last weekend I was not living the Dadlife. I was living the fun irresponsible life of my 20s. I imagine there’s some Dad out there reading this and wondering how this Dad could be so lucky. It’s actually really simple; marry the greatest wife in the world.

IMG_3020

THREE THINGS:

  1. Thing I learned today – Size doesn’t matter. Donny’s six tiny teeth feel like a full-grown piranha on my finger.
  2. MM likes to dump her sweaty gym bag out on the couch in the morning and leave it there. We were made for each other.
  3. Sports Minute – Heat in 7 but I don’t feel good about it.

Thank you very much for stopping by. This is the third and completely unplanned edition of Daddy Day By Day. I’ll try to have another one out for Father’s Day but it might be little late. If you have any questions, rants, feelings, anything positive, please feel free to email me at daddydaybyday@gmail.com or simply comment below. Talk to you soon…