HAPPY 2022! Can you believe we’re still* talking about (and dealing with) this $@#% pandemic?!?
As we transition from a year full of ups and down into one full of unknowns, many folks are experiencing high levels of anxiety (raises hand). And this is by no means limited to adults. Kids and teens are right there with us.
The hardest part for me has been getting my hopes up, making plans, looking forward to the future…only to be sucked back into a new wave of quarantines and testing, and the accompanying stress and fear. For parents, the challenge has been and continues to be — how do I manage my own anxiety while also helping my kids cope with theirs? Sometimes it feels like the blind leading the blind.
Christmas Eve has always been a rather nostalgic time for me. Okay, maybe always is an exaggeration. Or perhaps even a lie. In actuality, most years I’m stressing out over last minute card-addressing or gift-wrapping or stocking-stuffing or house-cleaning or any other number of -ing things.
Yet this December 24th — due to a combination of good medication and intentional choices — I have time to soak up some of that nostalgia. One of the choices I made this year was to not design our family’s holiday card. While that might not seem like a big deal to most folks, it’s a bit of a milestone for me.
The end is in sight! We’ve nearly made it out the other side of the pandemic. Yet I sometimes miss those early months of quarantine where the focus was pure survival. Spirits were low, but so were expectations. Teachers and parents were more lenient as we all navigated unknown, unpredictable waters. Now that things are slowly getting back to normal, the pressure to be a Parent MVP is creeping back in. The urge to compare gets stronger every day, as does my old pal, anxiety.
As is often the case in parenting, my son taught me a lesson about comparison, expectations, and what kind of dad I should strive to be: Most Improved.
Okay, so the award wasn’t for my actual parenting skills, but rather my writing about being a dad during a pandemic. A series of posts I wrote during 2020 has won the Iris Award for Best Sponsored Content!
What’s an Iris Award?
Think the Oscars for parent blogging. Attendees of the Mom 2.0 and Dad 2.0 conferences nominate and vote for their peers in a variety of categories, ranging from writing to photography to podcasts. Each year the awards ceremony is a swanky affair held at the end of the Mom 2.0 Summit. While this year’s virtual version wasn’t nearly as swanky as usual, it was certainly no less an honor to be recognized.
As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, I wanted to celebrate the Latino superheroes I’ve had the privilege of introducing to my son via lunch notes over the years. While this list could be longer, I’m including just the heroes I’ve created notes for. As I doodle more, I’ll add them periodically.
Throughout the year (not just designated months or days) I strive to teach my son to be curious about and appreciative of cultures and ethnicities different from his own. Often in the process, I discover new things myself. While researching for this article, I (finally) learned the significance of the September 15 start date of Hispanic Heritage Month, as well as the interwoven identity of Asian and Hispanic culture in the Filipino community. There were also a few characters that I didn’t realize were Latino until writing this post.
As with other minority representation in American pop culture, the inclusion of Latino/Latina/Latinx superheroes in comics, TV, and film is often a slow progression. Changing the ethnicity of existing caucasian superheroes (or just introducing new non-white characters) is still met with pushback from narrow-minded fans. Yet my hope is that as my son’s generation grows up with this more colorful and diverse universe, it will be reflected in the real world they create.
Here we are, back-to-school, and already almost two months into sixth grade! My son is full-time in person (masked) at his new middle school, making new friends, learning new things, showing signs of growth and maturity. There were moments during the last year and a half when it seemed like we’d never get here.
If you’re like me, you spent a lot of time and energy worrying about this new school year, given the 18 months prior we all had to endure. And while I’m thrilled (so far/knock on wood/fingers crossed) with how things are going, I want to make sure I’m as prepared as I can be for any challenges that come along. Because one thing every parent can be sure of is that there will be challenges.
I recently attended a webinar hosted by Responsibility.org that addressed some of the concerns many parents and caregivers are facing. Here are just a few of the questions (and answers) that spoke to me most.
This was a day of many firsts. First day of sixth grade. First day of middle school. First day in a new school — with an entirely new set of classmates. And it was my son’s first day of full-time, in-person school since the middle of fourth grade. Fingers crossed it stays full-time. #GetVaccinated #ScienceIsReal #FUdelta
June is without a doubt my favorite month. In addition to kicking off summer, June contains my birthday, Father’s Day and Pride. Seriously, can this month get any more fun? Yes! In honor of this most fabulous of months, I’ve stirred up a rainbow of delicious summer cocktails — one for each color of the LGBTQ Pride flag.
To keep the festivities fun and safe, here are a few pointers courtesy of Responsibility.org:
- Measure your drinks and cocktail ingredients. Familiarize yourself with the go-to bar measuring tool, a jigger. You can also use this handy Virtual Bar to help manage your alcohol intake.
- Have water and non-alcoholic drinks available. I’ve included a couple of mocktail recipes in the list below!
- Provide food to guests, and make sure you snack as you imbibe/host.
- Check to make sure your guests have safe rides home.
- Take some time to talk to your kids about alcohol and underage drinking, especially if they’re going to present at your get-together.
Feel free to click and print individual recipes, or share on social media. Scroll down to the end for even more tips on making and enjoying these colorful cocktails!
I recently wrote a guest post on the City Dads blog, sharing some ways to be an ally to LGBTQ parents and families. That list could have been endless, but I know folks (especially other parents) don’t have time to read all day!
However, I couldn’t stop at that first dozen, so here are twelve more ways you can support, protect and advocate for queer families and parents. And while this list focuses on families, many of these actions can benefit anyone in the LGBTQ community.
As a gay dad, it should come as no surprise that I read LGBTQ children’s books to my son. But what about all of you awesome straight parents out there? How many kid’s books with LGBTQ characters or stories have you read to your children?
I asked this question in a Facebook group of 1,200+ parents, and was disappointed that the most common answer was none. Even more surprising was that many hadn’t even considered it. Further, the majority polled didn’t know what LGTBQ children’s books were available… or if they even existed at all.
Luckily, Designer Daddy is here to help!
The list below contains books that are about same-sex parents or LGBTQ people; others address gender expression or identity. Some simply include queer characters as part of the story, without directly focusing on them. All are valuable stories to help normalize LGBTQ people and to teach children (and parents!) empathy and acceptance. It also sends the message that should your child ever identify as LGBTQ, you will be there to celebrate and support them.
There are certainly more exhaustive lists to be found, but this one is unique in that it’s DESIGNER DADDY APPROVED™ — meaning the stories are great, but the pictures are also pretty fabulous. Happy reading!