Road trips were a big part of my childhood. As a military family, that meant lots of visits to grandparents and cousins each summer and Christmas. Most of these trips were taken in the family van (this was pre-minivan, folks). It was a glorious every-shade-of-brown, tricked out with a movable table, back seat that folded into a bed, and wall-to-ceiling velour. And as the oldest kid, I had the best seat — the captain’s chair behind the driver; feet propped up in the tinted windowsill; plugged into my Walkman as I watched the world whiz by.
College road trips consisted of driving the 787 miles from Waco to my parents in Colorado Springs. It was equal parts breathtaking and mind-numbing, but with the right music (and lots of Dr. Pepper), the trip went by in no time.
Nowadays our expeditions are usually to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Yet music is still an essential part of our travels — whether it’s to entertain a fidgeting second grader or keep Papa awake during I-95 traffic.
Lately I’ve been eyeing 50 as the age when I for sure have to start acting like an adult. And as graphic design and parent blogging are mostly a young person’s game, I dread my half-century birthday (which is still a couple years away, thank you) on multiple levels.
My husband, however, has never looked or felt better in this, his 50th year. He’s kicking ass at work, lost a bunch of weight, and has some great friends he gets to watch Caps games with. I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of him… while also grumbling jealously at his non-thinning hair and endless energy. 😠
We celebrated Nick’s 50th birthday recently, with a big shindig at our new digs, complete with catered BBQ, tons of booze, and a wonderful representation of friends and colleagues from across his five decades. And as this was a big milestone, I pulled out all the creative husband stops. First, with a custom coaster I designed, playing off his love of bourbon:
Whoever invented Santa Claus should be ashamed of themselves. As should all of us who have continually used him to leverage good behavior from our kids. And we bestow upon Santa all of these mystical powers and superhuman abilities, setting expectations at nothing less than Magical Candy Nirvana.
Then we, as parents, HAVE TO DO ALL THE WORK!
But instead of drowning your sorrows in hot cocoa, or stress-eating an entire roast beast, sit back and enjoy a holiday poem about a nifty device that’s been helping me make it through this crazy-making most special season.
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‘Twas ten days before Christmas, and all through my head
Every detail was spinning, filling me up with dread;
The stockings weren’t hung and the cupboard was bare,
Tho in a fortnight, fam’ly all would be there.
As a parent, I wear lots of different hats;
Chef, chauffeur, coach, doctor, and of course, diplomat.
Yet at Christmas I don the most stressful chapeau;
It’s red, and requires I say “Ho, Ho, Ho.”
In addition to all my normal dad duties
There’s shopping and cooking, and trimming of trees,
And wrapping and boxing and lighting and stuff;
It’s enough to make any parent cry, “Enough!”
Does my kid still believe in St. Nick? Matters not.
That to-do list is now my list, and entails quite a lot.
So how will I tackle these tasks on my own?
And how will I do them sans bitch, gripe, or moan?
Imagine yourself a kid at summer camp.
Perhaps it calls to mind bunk beds with flimsy mattresses. Potato sack races and three-legged races and racing around at dusk playing hide-and-seek. Scratching mosquito bites, catching fireflies, watching sparks swirl up from a fire into the night sky. A night sky so black and stars so bright, it’s like you’d never seen them before. An escape from school and parents and all the baggage that entails; a chance to be on your own, yet surrounded by others in the same, wonderfully wobbly paddleboat called childhood.
Now imagine one of your parents has cancer. Perhaps they’re in remission, or they’re enduring chemotherapy; or maybe they lost their battle and now you’re a teenager (or preteen, or younger) without a parent.
The skeptic in me grows weary from the barrage of über-personal things shared on social media (which I realize is ironic, coming from a blogger). However, I don’t have a problem with birth announcements, proposals, etc. themselves — my skepticism stems mainly from so many of these e-moments seeming staged or insincere.
This video, however, is truly beautiful, amazing, and full of real emotion. As a deaf man (David Welch) learns from his partner that she’s pregnant, in the span of a few seconds you witness his curiosity, realization, shock, fear, joy, and love. Without any words, we have the privilege of watching a man’s life change forever.
I don’t know David or what his life has been like, but I imagine anyone who has to try a little harder at life appreciates the “normalcy” of something like fatherhood a bit more.
I’m still amazed sometimes that I’m a father, but not because of the atypical ways I had to go about it. I spent my whole life wanting to be a dad, even picturing myself as such — yet because I also knew from a very young age that I was “different,” I never really believed I could wear the mantle of fatherhood. Eventually I came to accept myself, society evolved a bit, and I met and fell in love with a man who also wanted to be a father. And the impossible became possible.
So thank you, David, stranger from the Internet, for reminding me that the impossible is possible, that real men bare their souls, and that being a father is a beautiful, wonderful, emotional thing.
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If you’re not seeing the ASL translation, adjust the settings in YouTube to see the captions.
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I had the honor of participating in Listen To Your Mother – a curated show of readings about moms and motherhood. I was the only male in our cast, and I shared a bit of my journey regarding Jon’s birthmother.
I’ve not written much about this topic, for the sake of my son’s privacy as well as that of his birthmom. However, the events encapsulated in my 6-minute reading took several years in real time, and included a slew of emotions ranging from fear and resentment, to disappointment and anger.
Many adoptive parents struggle silently with guilt and confusion over how they think they should feel about their child’s biological parents, versus how they actually feel. I’m sharing this for those parents — so they won’t feel alone like I did so much of the time. So they’ll know there are no right or wrong ways to think and feel about these complicated relationships.
I may write about this more in time — particularly as it relates to being a gay dad. But for now, thank you for watching (or reading). And if you have one to share, I’d love to listen to your story, too.
A new video from Similac does a near-flawless job of illustrating — and then defusing — the so-called “Mommy Wars.” Yet by excluding half of all parents from the name of their campaign, they undo much of the goodwill built up during the ad.
Take a look, and be sure and watch all the way to the end.
Founded in human nature and fueled by the Internet, the Mommy Wars have been raging in full force for quite a few years. Mothers, physicians, psychologists, educators and all manner of experts and amateurs weigh in on all manner of parenting-related topics: circumcision, vaccinations, diet, working or homemaking, spanking or time-outs, “cry it out” or co-sleeping, attachment parenting, Tiger Moms, helicopter parents, etc., ad nauseam, ad infinitum. Often perched atop the list: breastfeeding vs. formula.
Similac, a primary purveyor of formula, tackles this titular issue (and several others from the list above) in their new spot, set within an initially humorous gang war between multiple parent posses. In addition to the bottle- vs. breast-feeders, you see baby carriers & stroller-pushers, stay-at-home-moms & corporate office moms, disposable & cloth diaperers – all posturing on the playground. A bunch of dads can even be found rocking baby carriers and (natch) manning the grill.
I grew up the son and grandson of Baptist ministers — men not historically well-versed in the art of scented body sprays. While I learned many valuable lessons from my father, his knowledge of man fragrances was not something he passed down to me. I recall in 9th grade wondering why my dad’s new aftershave smelled so familiar. Upon investigating his medicine cabinet, I discovered he was slathering himself with Charlie every morning. The smell was familiar because my most recent (and much more experienced) girlfriend had worn it. I was horrified. Disgusted. Confused. Now I understood why every time my dad walked by I had flashbacks of being cornered in the church kitchen during Vacation Bible School. The combined memories of her ample bosom and the cloying amounts of perfume she wore still causes me to gasp for air.
Thus, I was left to learn how to “Scent Responsibly” on my own, experimenting with all manner of colognes and deodorants, with varying degrees of success. But my son will never have to endure what I went through. Nor will any other young man, ever. Thanks to Old Spice and their line of Re-Fresh Body Sprays.
Originally launched in January with the viral video “Mom Song,” Old Spice introduces new scents and products via the fatherly response, “Dad Song.” Check out this new masterpiece below…
As you can see, “Dad Song” illustrates in song (weird, weird song) the contrast between the long-held notions that moms want their boys to never leave home, while dads can’t wait for them to grow up and get out. I was the oldest of 4 boys, yet I found the portrayals in the ad did not mirror my experience. While both my parents were understandably forlorn when their eldest (and best) flew the coop, the couldn’t wait for the other three to pack it up and move on with their lives. I guess I’m just special that way.
In any event, your dear old Designer Daddy and his new best friends at Old Spice have got a mountain of manly merch to stuff the stocking of every man in your life. Poor phrasing aside, every man needs to smell good and this is some seriously bounteous booty.
Jon and I met up with Grandma and Grandpa last week for what turned out to be the perfect first concert for my almost five-year old.
I knew a little about The Laurie Berkner Band already, as they had a couple of videos in rotation on Nick, Jr back when Jon was a wee bit wee-er. But I’d resisted delving into the world of kindie music too deeply, and consequently didn’t know much beyond those songs. So when Grandma alerted me to Laurie’s show and asked if we wanted to go, I figured I might as well check it out. I hit up THE dad blogger to know for kindie music hook-ups (Jeff Bogle of Out With The Kids), and he indeed hooked us up. VIP passes, meet the band, floor seats, the works. Juice boxes on me, Jeff!
We set out on the road (it was about an hour drive) and popped in the band’s Best Of CD, and Jon seemed to get into it right away. Lots of fun, folk and country-tinged, kid-friendly tunes about putting animals on your head and eating rutabaga and fish brushing their teeth. It really helped make the horrendous traffic a bit more bearable, and we got there just in time for a quick chat with Laurie and her band backstage!
Laurie, Susie, Brady and Bobby were very gracious. Jon warmed up to them pretty quickly and in no time was talking Animal with Bobby the drummer. We chatted for about 10 minutes, during which I talked to Laurie about one of their videos we’d seen a lot on Nick Jr., and how much it meant to our family. “My Family” is a sweet, simple tune about how families are made up of all kinds of people, and “when you’re in my heart, you’re in my family.” The video alternates footage of the band with clips of families of all colors, ages and numbers. And tucked in with all the others is a two dad family, kids hoisted on their shoulders, dancing and holding hands. I remember being touched and encouraged every time I saw it, enjoying seeing our family represented and hopeful for our son’s future in his ever-evolving world. And it was such a pleasure to tell Laurie so in person.
*LGBT community, I’m talking to you, too.
I’ve been remiss in my duties as a same-sex marriage magnetic merry-maker. I decided at some point (probably during the whole Utah kerfuffle, or perhaps Indiana flip-flopping) that I wasn’t going to fully celebrate a state legalizing same-sex marriage (with a magnet and blog post) UNTIL IT HAD FULLY LEGALIZED SAME-SEX MARRIAGE. The majority of recent court cases on marriage equality haven’t resulted in immediate (or lasting) positive results. I’m the kind of person that likes to wait to celebrate until the contract has been signed, the keys are in my hand, or the baby is in my arms. I’ve been burned a couple of times from premature revelry, so I’m particularly cautiously optimistic when it comes to this subject.
And it’s admittedly been confusing to keep track. Here’s the tally,** as of this writing:
- 18 states and DC have legalized same-sex marriage
- 2 states are in progress, with marriages set to start (or restart) later this month
- 9 states are in flux or on pause. In most instances, a court ruling was made declaring a same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional… resulting in marriages being performed… and then a stay being put on the ruling while the opposition got out their red tape to cause some clusterf*ckery.
There are scads of people (my husband included) with more legal knowledge than me, that could use more official terms and offer more detailed explanations. But this is how I explain it to keep my brain from imploding from all the minutia and two-steps-forward-three-steps-backwardness of it all.
One important thing to be gleaned from the current state of same-sex marriage in the United States is that momentum is clearly in our favor. Every single case that has gone before a state court in 2014 has ruled for legalizing marriage equality. Our team’s win column is filled to overflowing.
But I have a bone to pick with “our team” — the LGBT community and our ever-increasing number of hetero allies: Please stop raining on the same-sex marriage parade.