I Thought I Was a Guaranteed Natural But Parenting Is Hard

Parenthood is something that we grow into, and if we ever feel as if we’re making it up as we go along…? Well, we are.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a dad.

To create a unique human being who is part of you, who will look to you to guide them through life, who will always own the largest part of your heart – nothing else in life has ever seemed to be as important, as blessed, as purposeful as that.

I was not somebody with a clear plan of where I wanted to get to in life and I would never have described myself as stereotypically ambitious. I’ve looked to grow and make progress through following my passions, applying myself, seeking opportunities, and pursuing them as they arise. I am ever grateful for where this attitude has led me.

But I’ve always been clear about wanting to have children; all other goals have been shaped around this certainty. And I was certain that I’d be a good dad.

It’s impossible to adequately describe the experience of witnessing your child being born, although I do like Conor Oberst’s observation in “You Are Your Mother’s Child,” that:

“I remember the day you appeared on this earth
With eyes like the ocean, got blood on my shirt
From my camera angle it looked like it hurt
But your mama had a big old smile”

As I waited in the delivery room my daughter was showing very early signs of taking after her daddy – she was two weeks late and labor, too, was proving to be a waiting game. That’s my girl.

As I waited – and waited, and waited – I thought ahead to the moment I would first rest my eyes on my little girl and it was all I could do to hold back tears. But when the moment came, my emotions… well, they disappeared.

It was so overwhelming. The beginning of the life that I had so wished for, the moment that was to be the greatest, the proudest achievement of my life, left me momentarily numb. Instead of profound, all-consuming love, the initial sense that I had upon seeing this little person, this life that I had helped to create, was that she was a little stranger.

I guess I anticipated some kind of instant recognition, an instant bond with this beautiful being whom I had imagined meeting so many times. Instead I realized that here was a new and unique life. Here was somebody so very precious, and it would take the coming days and weeks, months and years to get to know her.

It wasn’t what I expected but it remains a very special memory, an early realization that parenthood is like nothing else, that it changes everything.

In those early days I was in for another surprising and destabilizing realization.

For years I held the notion that I would be a good dad. It would be the thing that would allow me to be the best that I could be, to give the most that I am able to give, and I would leave a lasting mark on this earth through the lives of my wonderful children.

Yep, I’d be a natural.

*** SPOILER AL… on second thought, I don’t think a spoiler alert is necessary here.

One of my most cherished memories is of holding my daughter, my first child, on her first night at home. This was everything I had ever wanted, everything I had imagined it would be. It was perfect. Well, almost.

As she slept peacefully in my arms, I grew increasingly tired and I put her into her moses basket so that I could get some sleep. She cried. I picked her up and held her. She stopped crying. I put her back down. She cried.

Okay, Daddy isn’t getting any sleep tonight, then. I stayed awake and held her all night as she slept peacefully. What can I say, I’m a natural.

After two weeks of little but feeding, sleeping, and being the most beautiful little thing that I had ever set eyes upon, the crying started.

And for months and months, the crying didn’t stop.

I say crying, but really that doesn’t do it justice. It is truly incredible how so much noise can come from someone so small. A cry so piercing it reaches into the ears, spearing its way through the ear drums en route to the head where it rattles around the skull like an errant pinball.

And suddenly this natural daddy wasn’t quite such a natural. Having a baby was hard work. The fanciful idea that I could even have been be a stay-at-home dad…?  Think again pal.

Parenthood is something that we grow into, and if we ever feel as if we’re making it up as we go along, well, we are. Those difficult early months are soon but a hazy memory, and as time flies and years go by, you’re left wondering just where your baby went. At the same time, they’re always your baby.

We see our parents in a different light when we become parents ourselves; suddenly the arguments, the disagreements, the frustrations that they just don’t understand you – they’re tempered somewhat by the realization that they once felt everything that you’re now feeling, about you. And being treated like a 10-year-old by my dad doesn’t feel quite so bad. Most of the time.

As my children grow I try to treasure every moment of getting to know them, to appreciate their uniqueness and to be thankful for the smiles and laughter that they bring to my life every day. And, in one of the few benefits of being a single parent, I’m more conscious of this than ever before.

There’s no such thing as a perfect anything, let alone a perfect parent. But through everything I do my best to make sure that they know that I will always love them and that I will always be there for them.

And if that’s not perfect? Well, maybe it’s as close as I could wish to get.

I’m Not Sure My Kids Really Get It – I Used to Be Cool

I’m not sure my kids really get it – I used to be cool.

There was a time before I owned a Prius, rubbed sunblock on the top of my head, and slept with only one woman. How could they know? They see my wife and me as wholesome and have a vested interest in believing this is how it’s always been.

I have a duty to present this reality despite the gnawing dishonesty of it. My buddy Danny once told his kid, right in front of me, that he had only gotten high twice in his life. Danny got high twice A DAY in the ’80s but now has to disown all of that for a singular purpose: robbing his children of the excuse to say, “But daddy, YOU did it!”

I also partook frequently in the ’80s. I lived to test boundaries, often going past them to press up close to reality and stare it down. I was insufferably bored and felt an anxious loneliness when not out with my friends breaking rules and getting intoxicated.

I regarded kids who got good grades and respected authority with curiosity. It’s not that I didn’t like them, I just didn’t understand them. Didn’t they know they were wasting their time? How did they restrain from their primal impulses? How were they able to stand the boredom? Could they seriously be wearing boating shoes? The irony is that these are the children I am now trying to raise.

You know when I stopped being cool?  When you two assholes were born!”

And yet they treat me like I’m not now, nor ever have been, cool. Sometimes after dinner my kids like to play a game called, “Let’s all shit on Dad.” They get a charge out of calling me a nerd.  “Dad, you don’t get it!” “Dad, you’re so out of it!” “Dad you don’t know how to download an app.”

One night I snapped. “You don’t know me motherfucker! You don’t know who I was! You have no idea how I used to be!”

Eyes go wide as the family paradigm shifts faster than the GOP with Trump leading the race. “I used to be very cool. Way cooler than you will ever be. You know when I stopped being cool?  When you two assholes were born!”

My wife opens her mouth but then freezes and says nothing.

“Here’s a news flash for you. You will never be as cool as I was. You know why?”

They know it is a question that is directed towards them but ultimately has no answer because Dad is in 5th gear and they are not even strapped in yet.

“Because you’re not being raised by an abusive alcoholic parent. And that can change.”

Having never seen me drink or hit them they now recalibrate what their future might look like.  “When I was a kid I got into fistfights every day after school. You wear a helmet to ride a bicycle! When I was young only the really good athletes got trophies. Now they’re handing them out to the white kids too!”

My son casts his eyes down as he thinks about the wide trophy case in his room housing dozens of statues, many earned before the age of nine.

I know I’ve gone too far but I feel relief that the lie I’ve held in for so long is being rectified and I believe that my kids might actually feel closer to me knowing there is (or at least was) a different side.

I want to tell them more but reason starts to apply the brakes. I want to tell them all the crazy things I’ve done, but I can’t. I have to protect some image of my old self. I want to tell them that, in fact, I had a three-way in college – with two guys (this girl was supposed to show up but she was running late so we figured we’d just get started by ourselves. She never showed up. Good guys though. Can really keep a secret.)

The worst part is that my children think my wife is really cool. That part kills me. I decide to set the record straight.

“You think mommy is cool? Do you? Well, guess who’s banging her? This guy right here. She doesn’t look so cool when she’s on all fours hyperventilating.”

My daughter gently cracks her knuckles as my son pokes at the un-forkable bits of his now soggy salad. My wife’s face has the intensity of a bull rider waiting for the chute to open. I lean back and take in the moment. It is a turning point we will all grow from. There will be no more teasing.

I shift in my seat as I feel a vaguely familiar release from my nether regions. I smile as I realize it’s my old friends – my balls.

Pride Mingled With Grief as a Father’s Son Leaves for College

I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard. But this is the way it should be. This is what I have worked for since my son was born.

I knew it would be hard. But I didn’t know it would be this hard.

This is the phrase I uttered to numerous people over the past year. A year ago. That is when the reality of my only son leaving for college sunk in. He was beginning his senior year of high school. This was going to be a big year. So many things will happen.

We will undergo the college application and selection process. He will spend a final year with his friends. He will wrap up his soccer career. He will go to the prom. And he will graduate. We will have summer together. We will have vacation together. Then he is gone. He is off to college to begin a new and marvelous chapter in his life. But we will also say goodbye.

The year flew by quickly–just like his previous 17 years. How could it be going by so quickly? Before long, soccer season was over, the holidays came and went and spring was here. The college choice was in and it was five states away. The months before he leaves turn into weeks, which turn into days. And while the entire year has been an emotional process, and as much as I feel I have processed the event accordingly, I feel vastly unprepared emotionally to undertake the actual departure.

He has to report to school a week early as he is trying out for the soccer team. We decide that I will come out the next week to help him move in and get settled in his dorm. So this means he is embarking on this adventure alone. What do you say to your child as he leaves?

In the months and weeks leading up to his leaving, I tried to communicate paternal guidance and bestow “wisdom” upon him. And again the night before, I attempted to communicate my feelings, although it sounded more like a summary briefing hitting the bullet points. So as it turns out, I had surprising little to say.

As we embraced goodbye at the airport, I teared up as hard as I was trying not to and was unable to say anything. No words of wisdom. No great insight. Nothing.

All I could do was embrace him. My son, being stronger than I, filled in the gap and simply said, “I’ll see you next week.” That was his way of saying this is not the end. And everything else was either already said or understood.

As I stood watching him go through airport security—watching my young man enter the gates of adulthood, I couldn’t help but feel so proud of him. So proud of the magnificent person he had become. So impressed by the stoic nature by which he is handling this event. So proud at how well adjusted he is. So proud of, simply, his essence.

It feels like I am the child and he is the adult. I am in chaos on the inside and he is the strong one. I am the quivering 5 year old heading to kindergarten and he is the supportive, reassuring parent.

He gets through security and gathers his belongings. We wave one last time as he unceremoniously fades into the crowd. I try to leave, but I can’t. I try to get a glimpse of him again, but he is gone. I want time to stop, but it doesn’t. I want time to rewind, but it won’t. The crowd keeps moving. I don’t. He is gone.

I remain perfectly still—a numb statue in a bustling square. As numb as I am right now, I would not trade places with any person on the face of the earth. Because no one else is my son’s father. I am the only person ever to have lived who was given that marvelous gift. What a marvelous gift indeed.

I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t know it would be this hard. But this is the way it should be. This is what I have worked for so hard since I first saw the crown of his head the day he was born. I remember it like it was yesterday. My life forever changed that day for I was blessed with a higher purpose.

Now I know why I am the quivering child and he is the stoic adult.

But it is so hard to watch that purpose walk away.

It feels like not only did I just watch my 18 year old son walk away, but I watched my baby boy walk away. I watched the happy, cuddly toddler walk away. I watched the silly 8 year old walk away. I watched the broody teenager walk away. And I am saying goodbye to all of those sons. I am saying goodbye to his childhood.

Now I know why I am the quivering child and he is the stoic adult. Although this is an ending for him, it is also a magnificent beginning. For me, it just feels like an ending. I will see him next week. I will see him on breaks. I will see him during summers. I will see him after college. But this day is indeed an ending. For each beginning has an ending.

As I come down the street to our home, the first thing I notice is his beat up car in the driveway. My mind immediately sends out good feelings as it has been conditioned to when I see his car. But that conditioning is no longer valid. I feel my mind quickly retraining itself. The new condition will be sadness—at least for now.

As I enter the quiet house, it has never felt more solemn. His empty Dr. Pepper can from the night before sits loudly on the coffee table. His half eaten bag of beef jerky brings comfort yet a heaviness to me. I want to clean it up to erase the heaviness. I want to leave it to keep the comfort. I leave it.

I get enough courage to enter his bedroom. I again see every age of him. I remember each soccer tournament as I look at his medals and trophies. I remember each vacation as I look at his various souvenirs. I remember the smiles, the laughter, the expressions, the closeness. Oh, the closeness. I have never felt so close to him, yet I have never felt farther away.

I knew this was going to be hard. But I didn’t know it was going to be this hard. I look at his unmade bed, close my eyes, and see him peacefully sleeping. My eyes open and he is gone. He is gone. But he is happy. And that is all that really matters. I can handle all of this. I can find my beginning. I can handle anything—as long as he is happy. Be happy, my son.

Be happy in your beginning.

Musician, farmer, and father Chris Dorman: listening first, then taking the leap

Photo credit for above photo for  musician parade: John Snyder, Farmington Hills, MI

Chris Dorman is a musician, farmer and educator based Shelburne, Vermont. He helped found Bread and Butter Farm with his wife and friends, and founded Music for Sprouts, which recently wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign for a new children’s album “Always There.”

Parent.co is streaming a living-room style concert with Chris Dorman and Friends live (and free) this Father’s Day June 21 at 6:00PM. Learn more >

Chris Dorman

Parent Co: What are some of your earliest musical memories?

Chris: We had a piano in our house at an early age, and I remember piano lessons when I was a little kid, age 4. The piano ended up not being something that I studied a lot, but it was something that was always in our house, and I did a lot of stuff, exploration with it. To my mind that was the building block of my songwriting, because it was an experimental time.

And honestly, it was a really comforting presence for me as well, every day, before we went to bed. As I got older and my mom would work late, it would be something I would do before I went to bed. My sister told me after we were adults that she used to fall asleep listening to it, that it was comforting for her as well.

Did either of your parents play piano?

That was the idea. My mom actually didn’t start learning until she went back to school. She got really good, really quickly too. She still plays. She sang in a band, a cover band, for a while. My dad always sang too. He gets booked to sing at churches, even though he doesn’t go to church. He was just telling me last night, actually, that if anyone ever takes issue with that, he just says that his goal is to embrace the music and connect with it, and that’s what he does.

Can you tell me about your Music for Sprouts program?

Yeah, it’s a music and movement program, and also just sort of a music appreciation class for families. We focus a lot on connecting the children to the music, and thinking about the ways they absorb information, but also, sharing activities that parents can really get into, and they can take home, and play in the car over, and over, and over again, It really becomes a way to celebrate each other, and connect to each other, and create musical moments together.

Do you meet a lot of parents who are intimidated at first, or too reserved to express themselves musically, or to feel like they could even get involved with their children on that level.

I do get a sense, especially in the first few classes, that there are varying levels of comfort with singing, and participating in a group setting. I always say, to the kiddos and parents alike, though more often I’ll focus it towards the kiddos, thinking the parents will be even more comfortable if I do so. I’ll just say, “Listening is often a very, very active way to give to each other, and to express yourself. So sing along in any way you feel comfortable, even if it is sitting and taking it all in.”

Some kiddos and grownups will do that for a whole year, or forever, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. What I love about it is the music moves through you as long as you’re open to it, and even if you’re not really, there’s not a whole lot that can stop the music from going right through.

Why do you think that is?

Well, I think we’re permeable. Just the physics of sound, the actual sound is moving through and vibrating through our body. We’re water, so there’s the physics of it, but then when a song is coming from a genuine place, coming from the heart, it’s hard not to connect to that too. That’s what I think I love about listening being an active thing. Even if you need it to be private, it can be, and you can still really get something out of it. It can be just for you.

Parents get self-conscious about how their kiddos are in class, whether they’re supposed to be doing this or that, and again I say even if you think your kiddo is not taking it in, they are. Maybe the way they need to express themselves that week is to just run around, or be in a corner by themselves. Some kids jump right in and want to play everything, and some kiddos sit quietly in their parents lap with wide eyes.Even in the most quiet kiddos, you start to see how they recognize the beginnings and ends of songs, and when they hear something familiar, and then I get to see even little smiles the parents don’t get to see, reactions … It’s all good. That’s what’s really great about it, especially at this age, or any age. It’s all good. There are no expectations.

What are some of the many ways that music finds its way into your house?

Right now it’s pretty exciting. Well, I’ll back it up. Having kids, to begin with, I was totally afraid that music would leave. Before I had Henry I was playing 200 shows a year in the midwest circuit with folk music, Indie folk music, and (when we had our first child) I was the best candidate for stay-at-home parent. We really wanted that for our kids. I didn’t know how I was going to keep it up. The first couple of years were really a tough balance and a lot of worry that I wasn’t going to be able to keep going.

Did you think that you wouldn’t be able to keep your music career going?

Exactly. I knew I could never be the musician I wanted to be if I wasn’t the dad that I wanted to be first. There was moments when I wasn’t, and it was all mixed up, but anyways, when we moved here to Vermont, Henry was 2, and again we had a lot going on. It wasn’t until our daughter, Samantha was born, I decided for the first time since I started playing music when I was a teenager that I was going to take one year off from shows. So Henry’s 4, Sam is a newborn, and I take a year off, and it was in that space that I developed the idea of Music for Sprouts, though it was Corie who named it. She came up with the name.

I figured this would be a way to help us keep our head above water, and an also a way to play music regularly. So I launched it in fall of 2012, and realized at that point, after a few weeks, I was totally in love with the work. Instead of it being a parallel journey to what I was already doing, or enabling what I was already doing, in three years it’s become my full-time gig.

What I was really wanting to get to, to answer your question, is that when Henry was a newborn it almost felt like I was at odds with him, like parenting and music were separate. Now my own kiddos are the ones who fill our house with music, even more than I do. Henry is on the piano any second he gets a chance. Samantha is like this whimsical fairy who sings, and if she’s given the space, she’ll sing at the top of her lungs, and now she requests “daddy music.” It’s a dream come true, and she knows all the words to all the songs, and now our house is filled to the brim with music, so it’s more than I could have dreamt of.

Did you ever worry that making music, and particularly music for kids, would take away some of your energy or desire to do it just as a dad with your own kids?

I think I worried about that more when I wasn’t making music for kids. My kids have really been my muse through this. I test all my songs out on them, and I ask their honest opinions about things, so they’re super involved. I really feel like we’re making more music together because of it.

Yeah, it sounds like a rare opportunity, and a rare combination. There aren’t a lot of parents who get to build their career with the help of their children. That’s a really cool, unique-sounding opportunity that you’ve created for yourself.

I don’t know if I anticipated it, but it’s beautiful, and I’m interested to see how it evolves as they get older as well.

What thoughts would you offer for parents who still long to create, but can’t make their living doing the creative things they want to do?

One thing I go back to is making sure that you feel wonderful about how you are doing as a parent, as a mom or dad. I say that with a grain of salt, because it goes day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute-to-minute. There’s going to be days when you feel totally, “Man, I’m the worst ever.”

But another question would be what is it creatively …? What is it about creating things that fulfills you, because there can be a hundred different ways to accomplish that goal. That was the big thing for me, the hardest thing, was to let go of this idea that there was only one way to accomplish my dreams. When you let it go, and you allow yourself to be open, you could end up being led in a new direction.

How does music help people, kids and adults, to experience the openness that you’re talking about.

I think listening is key, and so music definitely inspires us to do that. I think that’s the first step. If you stay still for a while, and you keep your ears open, then maybe you’ll find your place in it.

We do a jam session every week where a bunch of instruments get dumped out onto the floor, and I take my ukulele, and there’s no set song. I have a bunch of songs in my head, and I try to play as lightly as I can and feel out the room. It’s interesting, because after a couple of minutes, it’s almost like there’s this air of anonymity.

It’s like we create this little comfort zone where we’re all focused on the kids, and what they’re doing, and then parents get the sense that nobody’s looking, and I’m in this, and then the jam really begins… Yeah, I think it’s listening first, and then just taking the leap.

50 observations from a month of paternity leave

Brennan Carney is a teacher and Head Varsity Football Coach at Burlington High School. He and his wife Keri (also a teacher and coach) had their first son, Cooper on 12/29/2012. During his paternity leave, Brennan recorded his thoughts and observations  for 27 days. Keri and Brennan are expecting their second child any day now…

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50 observations from a month of paternity leave

1.  Baby Wipes are the most important and irreplaceable addition to our house, other than our son Cooper.  Let me list the ways:

  • Wipe asses ( baby, adult, & dog)
  • Cleaning spills on carpet
  • Wet hand naps
  • Cleaning up table after eating
  • Wash face
  • Clean eye glasses
  • And my personal favorite… Tissues

2. Paternity Leave is not a vacation.

3. Day time TV blows. 

4. The second we brought our son home our dog was immediately NEGLECTED. 

5. Kari dislikes my idea that pajamas are ok to be worn by Coop all the time. (NOTE:   I feel it is my right to challenge her on this issue.)

6.  I lost that argument and he is now wearing an “outfit.”

7. Cooper feels it is necessary to scream every time he has a poop in his diaper.  This is a good thing.  Since I don’t have to unzip or unbutton him every time to check. 

8. Recap:  If he were always in pajamas then I would always be unzipping because I’m smart enough only put him in the zipper pajamas. My plan is so much better than Kari’s. (Note: The pajamas only rule is being reinstated tomorrow.)

9. 3 am is wake up is early, I don’t care what you are doing. 

10. Leaving the house to run a quick errand will never be the same. 

11. I still think the outfit concept is ridiculous.

12. Day time TV still sucks. 

13.  Coop slept for 8 hours. Need I say more.

14. I finally have some solid DVR options to combat day time TV. 

15. Did I mention I got to sleep for 8 hours. 

16. ESPN is repetitive, being a man I don’t know if I am allowed to voice negative comments about their programming but damn it gets boring. 

17.  I now speak another language. It’s called Baby and it comes in the form of yells, screeches, and tongue clicks. It fascinating because it makes no sense to me but Coop responds quickly and accurately to every “word” I speak.  Weird.

18. I time myself every time I change a diaper. MY PR is 24 seconds (poop free- this adds difficulty and sensitivity) from unzip to re-zip.  (Note:  as I stated days ago I refuse to use button pajamas which means faster changes.)

19. Defined outfits based on location in his dresser drawers. Kari has a very intricate way of defining his outfits and the sizes that he currently he fits into by where she places them in his dresser. She actually attempted to teach this method to me the other night. I even listened…Today she had an outfit laid out for me.  

20. I had a revelation this morning.  All my male high school students should spend one week with me, Instant birth control. 

21. I do so much laundry that I wear the same thing everyday 

A. Because its comfortable 

B. because it is also clean

22. This actually applies to Cooper as well.   I have to stock his clothes drawers like a super market self.  Unworn stuff to the front and wash stuff to the back or the old stuff never gets worn. 

23.   If you read through CNN.com on a daily basis it makes you feel like the world will end tomorrow via an asteroid, Paul Ryan might fight Obama in an epic MMA throw down, and sink holes are now as common as floods.

24. When taking Coop out of the house I can make 2 guarantees about his traveling bag.  

     A.  Mom will have everything he needs plus extra. 

     B. I will forget something every time.  For example I have forgotten his bottle, burp cloths, extra outfit, etc. 

24. The great debate:  Poopy diapers bath or no bath?

A.  Kari and my sister believe all mothers would give a child bath upon discovering a poopy blowout diaper.  And I believe this statement to be true for “moms.”

B.  I believe all men would use the baby wipes, change his outfit and diaper, and call it a day.  Fact. 

25.  Still love pajamas.  But when I pick outfits (that aren’t laid out for me)  I pick the one piece.  No pants, equals easier change.  

26. Going out with the Coop.  It’s not just an outing it’s an Adventure. Let us breakdown our preparations. 

A. Must coordinate feeding with departure. 

B. Must make sure his traveling bag ( Kari calls this a diaper bag, definitely Not my style) is completely stocked. As I stated yesterday I tend to forget essential items.  (Note:  I have debated transferring his travel bag items, which is a satchel or man purse, into a backpack to make it look more manly)

C.  Pick out an “outfit.”  At this point, many of you already know exactly what I will be choosing for our adventure out to the Great Grand parents house. ONE PIECE. Boom. 

D.  Feed the little man and then prepare him for the exit.  Between burps, a clean outfit, and his bib this can get dicey. 

G. Now back to Coop. 

H.  We are now ready but again I forgotten something…

I. The dog will be left behind.  Neglect.

27.  To be honest I remember thinking to myself just a couple of weeks ago, when is he going to nap. Now I wonder when will he wake up. Sappy but true, that was for the moms.

28.  March madness is usually spent at school checking my computer every possible second to get the scoring update. This year I will be watching every single second of every single game on my massive TV. Boom.  

29.  Some guy made fun of my Man purse/travel bag/satchel yesterday.  It was humiliating not just for being  made fun of but I even defended its purpose.  I’m ashamed. 

30.  I have been peed on twice today.  

31. This next observation includes me. Whenever a person speaks of their newborn they consistently tell of how large, advanced and how they are in the highest percentiles.  Reality check, my wife is short and Coop is in the 91 in percentile for height, I have a feeling in 10 years his peers will consider him short. Just sayin. 

32.  Went to see my dad today, his morning routine might be more complex than mine and Coops. 

33.  Our first trip to the doctors without mom.  There were a few interesting exchanges.

A. The doctor asked where Kari was I replied at work. The doctor’s face was priceless, like “here we go.” 

B. after giving detailed explanations for why were there, the doctor kept looking at me like, “how does he know and remember all of this.”  I think she even looked into my ear to see if Kari was communicating with me.

C.  I finally explained to her I was on Paternity leave and her body language didn’t suggest relief but more like, laughter.  

D.  Once we were all done she started talking to me about her (positive) prognosis and proceeded to hold him, like I wasn’t capable. 

E. The doctor did of this subconsciously but I made sure when I had to change his diaper and clothing before we left I did with the speed and efficiency the likes she had never seen before.  Fact. 

34. Your stroller will be Judged. Unavoidable.

35. Yes I will judge your stroller.


1. Paternity Leave is not a vacation. Fact. 

2. Zippers are better than buttons. Fact. 

3. Outfits are always better when they come in one piece. 

4. Make sure you don’t wear a satchel get yourself a backpack. 

5. Real friends bring you coffee. Thanks Becky and Coach K. Campbell?

6. Baby wipes have an infinite number of uses. Fact. 

7.  27 days of investigation has led me to believe my neighbor doesn’t work. 

8.  I now know the ins and outs Cooper’s dresser.  This took almost 26 days to figure out. 

9.  I did not realize how easy it was to stop working.  And be completely ok with it. 

10.  Thank you to Hutch for introducing me to my OWN online xfinity account to watch movies, this is what got me through daytime TV. Because, daytime tv sucks. Fact. 

11.  Coop’s first March Madness bracket was a slight disappointment. He has time….to learn English, write, play basketball, and learn that the NCAA Tourney is amazing.  

12. Your stroller will be Judged. Unavoidable. 

13.  The Yankees might not completely suck. 

14.  EVERY parent will provide you their child’s growth percentiles. Who cares. 

15.  A baby swing is a need for all young parents.