Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nevermore - or at least not for a while

I just got off the phone with a friend of mine -  a father of four who just walked in the door after taking his kids trick or treating. “It was mobbed out there,” he said. “Kids everywhere.” I asked what his kids’ costumes were, and he went down the list. When he told me that his youngest was Spider-Man, I was instantly transported back to East Eden Road in Hamburg, going door to door, asking for candy, and freezing because I didn’t want to wear a jacket and cover up my Spider-Man costume. The mask’s cheap, stretchy string was biting into my ears, and it felt like breaking the rules - to be out having such a good time on a school night. Halloween always seemed to fall on a school night. The holiday was such a big deal when I was young – the dressing up and the candy. My God, the candy. Now, I'm grown up, and the street Linda and I live on is too rural for trick or treaters. So, Halloween has become something of a non-holiday for us. We’ll watch Charlie Brown or The Shining, but there’s no excitement about October 31st’s arrival. That’s about to change, and I find that exciting. Tonight will be the last Halloween without a little costume and a bag of candy in our house.

19 days until baby.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I Stumble Into My Wife's Good Graces

Last weekend, my wife was getting ready to leave for her baby shower, and she asked me, “How do I look?”

I replied honestly, “You don’t even look like you’re pregnant.”

She said, “That’s the nicest thing you can say to a pregnant woman.”

20 days until baby.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Mull

My mom died when I was three, and the only memories I have are vague and untrustworthy, more likely wishes than memories. I have four older brothers, the youngest is five years older than I am, and I’ve always felt some jealousy over the fact that they knew her, had conversations with her, and can summon at will memories of her that they know to be true. I’ve never really given much thought to what my life would have been if she hadn’t died. She did, it’s all I’ve ever known, and not having really known her, I have no comparisons to make. But a few years ago, hanging out with a friend and talking about the things you talk about late at night, he said to me, “Maybe it’s better your mom died when you were young. It spared you the pain of having to lose her later on.” It sounded wrong to me as soon as I heard it, but as I usually do, I didn’t react. Faced with a deep thought like this, I mull. Like cider. It’s one reason I can never have a profound conversation. I have to turn things over and over and over in my head before I know what I really think. So, after thinking about my friend’s comment for hours, days, and weeks, I decided my first reaction was the right one. Following his train of thought to it’s logical conclusion, he was more or less saying that no matter how wonderful an experience might be, the possibility that it might involve pain makes it something to avoid, and, in my opinion, no one should go through life with a philosophy like that. Even if my mother had lived to be 60, the pain of her passing would now be dull, but my memories of her would not be. So there’s something else I need to teach my kid someday, maybe when they have their first crush. I just need to think of a better way to say it.

21 days until baby.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'll Either Be a Pirate or a Ballerina

Tonight, I realized another benefit of our soon-to-be-born child. Next year, without guilt or shame, I get to put on a costume and go trick-or-treating.

22 days until baby.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Stole This From NPR

Yesterday, I wrote about kids music, and today, I’m moving forward to adolescence. NPR has a blog and an excellent weekly podcast, both called All Songs Considered (links are below). A few weeks ago, they asked their blog readers, “What albums were essential to getting you through your adolescence?” The question was inspired by a listener who aimed to give his thirteen-year-old daughter a special gift – 25 albums that would get her through her teens. The question sparked much discussion, and some of the responses were turned into a podcast. Contributors talked about the painful awkwardness of being a teenager; about how music can be a companion and a consoler at an age when so many of us feel so isolated; how music can be a guide at a time when you’re searching for your identity and you don’t even know it. I like the idea of handing my thirteen year old son or daughter a pile of music on the threshold of their teens and saying, “Here. You don’t know what’s coming, but these might help.” Part of me says it’s a little presumptuous to assume that my taste in music will mean something to anyone besides me, but I still remember my older brother Mike handing me a cassette of Who’s Next by the Who when was I was 13 or 14. I didn’t know what to make of it at first, but I slid it into my little tape recorder, pressed play, and Baba O’Reily became the first song to give me chills. So, it will take me a while to come up with 25 albums to hand my future teenager, but I have some time to think about it. Years, in fact. For now, I have a few off the top of my head, a baker’s dozen of albums - some that helped me lurch through my teens and some that I wish had been around in my teens. Give me your two cents – what other albums should I throw on the pile?

U2 - The Joshua Tree
Van Morrison - Moondance
Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited
The Avett Brothers - Emotionalism
Neutral Milk Hotel - In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Pearl Jam - Ten
R.E.M. - Document
Def Leppard – Hysteria
Wilco - Summerteeth
Led Zeppelin IV
The Lowest of the Low - Shakespeare My Butt
Violent Femmes – Violent Femmes
10,000 Maniacs – In My Tribe

NPR All Songs Podcast:
NPR All Songs Blog:

23 days until baby.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thumbkin Must Die

Recently, someone gave me a stack of CD’s for the baby. They told me, “These will make car rides bearable.” The CD’s were full of children’s music, and as I flipped through them, I stared at their covers festooned with bright colors and smiling cartoon characters. These CD’s appeared to be anything but bearable. When I finally got around to listening to them, I tried to do it with an open mind. Everything about it – the music, the singing – was jammed-packed with forced merriment. Linda was nearby. “Nope. That’s awful,” she said. Where is Thumbkin?, I believe it was. I had to admit I agreed with her, and I felt guilty about that. Right now, I can’t picture myself listening to this stuff, even as a panacea for car ride troubles. This music is like nails on a chalkboard, but shouldn’t I listen to it if my kid likes it? Music is a big deal to me – even to drive down the street, I plug in my iPod and select a certain song. I even have a line in my monthly budget for music. Will the presence of a child change that? Will I start watching kids’ shows and movies and listening to kids’ music because that’s what my kid likes? It reminds me of when the last Indiana Jones movie came out - the new one - and I told my brother how dreadful and disappointing I found it. He had just taken his seven-year-old son to see it, and he told me, “I loved it.” When I asked him why, he said he didn’t love it because it was a great movie. He loved it because his son did. That makes sense to me. I don’t have to like it, but it makes sense. Should I start learning the words to Where is Thumbkin?

24 days until baby.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Still Life with Breast Pump

The hospital suitcase is packed and stands near the bed. The crib is assembled and ready. The mobile hangs motionless and silent. The breast pump is poised to begin…pumping. The stuffed animals stare at us, waiting. We have our copy of Goodnight Moon. We have checked nearly everything off of our baby “to do” list. And last night, Linda said, “I’m ready to get on with this thing already!” I think I agree.

25 days until baby.

Thank you, everyone for the fantastic comments. You give me a lot to ponder. Keep them coming!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

To TV or not to TV?

"And this here's the TV. Two hours a day, either educational or football, so you don't ruin your appreciation of the finer things." H.I., Raising Arizona

I’d like to think that I’m going to be a parent that doesn’t let their child watch TV, but even as I sit here and type the words, there is doubt in my mind. Linda and I don’t watch a lot of TV, although those two words – “a lot” – are so subjective. It’s like when people find out we don’t eat meat and they say, “Oh, I don’t eat a lot of meat, either.” What does it really mean? I could say we don’t watch as much TV as we used to, but again, that could mean we’re down to six hours a day. To clarify, I’ll say we live in the sticks, so we get all of three television stations, so we watch no commercial TV. We pop in DVDs several nights a week, and I find myself feeling less and less guilty about that as I get older. Still, every once in a while, I’ll say to Linda, “Why don’t we just get rid of the TV? There will be so much more time for reading, for actually speaking to one another about something other than what’s on the screen in front of us.” I have visions of finishing the novels I’ve started writing or doing something really creative like making a table. Of course, on those evenings when we don’t turn on the TV, we usually fall asleep by 9 o’clock. Maybe our bodies would need time to acclimate to TV-less nights.

When it comes to our child, though, I’m conflicted. I watched a fair amount of TV as a child, probably too much, but I look back on some of those TV shows with fond, fond memories, especially Saturday morning cartoons. Who am I to deny those same experiences to my kid? I guess it comes down to my fear that I’ll allow the TV to turn into a babysitter. It must be very easy to let happen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve brought this up with other people and they tell me, “Just wait until you have a crying kid in YOUR house. When the screaming hits a certain pitch, the TV starts looking like a very competent sitter.” I’d like to think that I’d be firm and find a non-boobtube solution. What will probably happen is that we’ll come up with some moderate solution; an hour a night or maybe just on the weekends, with exceptions now and then. Moderation in all things, even moderation.

26 days until baby.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Our Baby Shower High

Linda and I are sitting in our living room, completely overwhelmed and stunned. Bags and boxes of baby blankets, clothes, books, and toys leave only a small path to get from one side of the room to the other. Today was Linda’s baby shower, and today was one of those days that you rarely get in life; a day that leaves you feeling lucky, loved, and so appreciative to have the family and friends that are part of your life.

27 days until baby.

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Peeking

Linda and I had dinner with a friend tonight (we were going to stay home and make dinner for him, but Linda pointed out that this was one of our few remaining chances to eat out). Our friend has a college-age daughter, and as I listened to him talk about her, I couldn’t help but envy him a bit. His child is practically grown up. He’s done all the winding up, and now his job is to set her on the ground and let her go (I know a parent’s job is never done, but it must change/evolve around the time that those eighteen birthday candles are blown out). Even though I’m looking forward – more than words can say – to every experience with our new baby, there’s a lot of worry mixed in there, too. It can be a big, bad world with lots of sad stories, and I can’t help but wonder if one of them is slated to be mine. I’d give anything to get a glimpse forward to where our friend is at, to know our child grows up strong, smart, loved, and loving.

But I know that would be wrong – that there’s something to be said for stepping off the cliff and trusting that things will turn out like you hope. So, I’ll try to be optimistic, and trust that my wife will get me and my kid where we need to be in eighteen years or so. I’ll work through things here. I’ll read. I’ll try to be patient with myself and the two people that live with me. I’ll pick up what I can from other people, too. Our friend shared with us one of his inspirations – when his daughter was born, he took a picture of her every day for her first year. This weekend, I’ll pick up a photo album.

28 days until baby (Wow - TWENTY EIGHT DAYS!). Baby shower is tomorrow.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Old School Labor

Next weekend, I’m leading a nature hike for Buffalo Audubon. The walk’s focus is on the Iroquois and their seasonal lore/customs. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve led a hike of this sort, so I’ve been reviewing my old notes and books. Not surprisingly, the sections on birth and children are enthralling me in a way they never did before. Back then, four hundred years ago, a woman who was ready to give birth went off into the woods, usually with an older, experienced woman from her clan, but often by herself. I can’t imagine the mindset that was required; to feel the contractions or to have your water break and just look around and say, “Well, I guess it’s time to go. No, no - you stay here. I’ll be back in a bit!” Labor was also a way for a woman to prove her strength and her courage. Cry or yell during labor and you’d be scolded for setting a bad example. It seems impossible. I’m scared of labor, and I won’t even be the one feeling it. Staying quiet doesn’t seem like a viable option. I jokingly mentioned this to Linda – the idea of not making a peep to show how tough you are. Unamused, she said, “I’ll see what I can do.”

29 days until baby. Please comment and follow.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In the great green room...

It came in the mail today. It came from Linda’s aunt and uncle. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Now, we’re ready to have a baby in our house.

30 days until baby.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Here and (31 days from) Now

Today, someone at work commented on how they couldn’t believe that Christmas was just over two months away, and I thought to myself, “Christmas? What’s Christmas?” I can’t even think about it. Right now (and for the weeks and months of recent memory) my only focus is getting to and through the due date. Sure, Linda and I made plans for after the baby arrives – we have the breast pump, the washable diapers, the crib in our living room – but the plans all feel theoretical – like getting old – you know it’s coming, but you have too much to do first and a small part of you believes it won’t ever happen. It’s hard to picture with any clarity the new day-to-day that will be ours when Christmas time is here. Wow. I just realized something. We need to get another stocking.

31 days until baby. Please comment and follow.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Its Got Moves

It's official. We've entered the stage of pregnancy where the baby's movements are so visible and strong that they scare me a little.

32 days until baby.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Let’s play hooky today...

“Let’s play hooky today,” my step mom said. She was across the kitchen, and I was finishing up my breakfast. I had no idea what hooky was - I was only five or six years old - but it sounded better than school. So, with my mouth full of Cookie Crisp, I mumbled, “Okay.”

It turned out hooky meant skipping school and going to the zoo for the day. Now, I’m not one of those people that can recall whole volumes of experiences from their youth. I remember very little of my elementary school days, but that day at the zoo with my step mom is one that stands out as an all-time favorite. And what makes it so memorable is that the whole time we were looking at monkeys and elephants and eating crappy, delicious hot dogs, I knew I should’ve been at school. I knew my friends were doing reading, math, and writing, and I was having the coolest, clandestine day ever.

I imagine some people would find the idea irresponsible, and they might go on to explain that such an act was setting a bad example for me, but I can say without hesitation that that’s bullshit. I consider myself a responsible guy. Not perfect by any definition, but looking back, there’s more I can be proud of than not. That day didn’t teach me that it was okay to skip school on a regular basis or that my education wasn’t important. It taught me that once in a while, it’s okay to put your responsibilities on hold and do something fun with someone you love. Just once, every now and then, it’s okay to call in sick when you’re not. If my step mom hadn’t decided to play hooky with me that day, it would now be a blank spot on my memory, just another day lost to time. Instead, it’s a warm recollection that I will happily carry with me to my grave. I definitely plan on building a “hooky” memory for my kid. Not often. Just once in awhile.

33 days until baby. Please comment and follow!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Again, I Resort to a Quote

I'd like to say that for the twenty four hours of every day since I found out that Linda is pregnant, I have looked forward to the arrival of the baby - to becoming a father - to us becoming a family instead of a couple. For the most part, I have. I don't count the times I feel scared. Those moments are like boarding an airplane; a little part of me screams that I'm out of my mind and that it's all going to crash and burn, but the rest of me is excited, feeling like a little kid, myself. No, if I'm completely honest, there are those weak moments when I feel selfish, and I wonder if, after the baby comes, I'll have those moments, hours, and days that were just mine - the camping trips, the hikes, the summer afternoons on the deck. I stumbled on a quote yesterday that I'll keep in my mental pocket, taking it out whenever my self-centered side needs a slap to send it back into its corner:

We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.

Joseph Campbell
34 days until baby.

Friday, October 15, 2010

But it hurts...

"Ow," my wife winces each morning upon waking, gingerly rubbing just below her sternum. It's a dull and deep pain, and she asked the doctor about it the other day. He told her not to worry - that it's just her bones and the rest of her body making the necessary adjustments. On the phone with her friend last night, she said, "I don't care what he says. It feels like my ribs are being pried apart by monkeys." It's funny how the pain associated with pregnancy is unlike any other. When I heard her say the bit about monkeys, I immediately thought, "That needs to go in the blog. I want to remember that." Not just because it made me smile (or because it was about monkeys) but because it's a marker, a touchstone that I can look back on and say, "When THAT happened, we were five weeks along, close to the end, and so very excited." In the long arc of our lives, is there any other pain that leads to something so beautiful in the end?

35 days until baby.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Miss Manners Says It's Rude To Arrive Early

Linda went to the doctor today and, from here on out, she needs to go weekly. (She was very excited when they told her she could look forward to a pelvic exam at every appointment!) We’re roughly five weeks away from the due date, so besides the weekly OB visits, we’re also at the stage of the pregnancy where everyone tells you about themselves, their friend, or the relative who had a baby come early. Two nights ago, Linda came home telling me about a woman at work who happily informed Linda, “Get ready, ‘cause my baby came five weeks ahead of schedule.” Linda packed her hospital bag that night. I know we shouldn’t worry. Statistically, we’re past the danger zone, and if our baby was to be premature, they would be in good company (Winston Churchill and Isaac Newton were both premature). Still, I’m hoping for the full term.

36 days until baby.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Drop Down Sides Are Evil - Part 2

The best part about putting together the crib last night? After I got it all assembled, I wanted to see how it looked in the bedroom. I unlocked the wheels and pushed it toward the bedroom door. The closer I got, the more I realized the truth - it was too wide to fit through the door. Good planning on my part, huh? Before the crib was in our possession, Linda and I had been going back and forth - she was convinced that the crib would be too big for the bedroom, I thought it would fit beautifully at the end of the bed. I have to admit she's right. The crib is now in it's permanent resting place - in our living room.

37 days until baby.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Drop Down Sides Are Evil

I put the crib together tonight. It's a hand me down – a beautiful one – from my aunt, and it came with a big Ziploc bag filled with sundry screws and an allen wrench (never a good sign). I managed to put it together without any major problems and only a minimal amount of paint scraped off. I was looking it over with a satisfied smile when I noticed an envelope on the floor. I thought about ignoring it – about filing it away with the manual. What envelope? But I figured the safety of my future child might be at stake, so I opened it. A few minutes and a long groan later, I was taking the crib apart. This crib, you see, has drop down sides, and drop down sides – it has been decided – are reckless and evil; possessing a crib with drop down sides is akin to letting your baby play on the rim of an active volcano. Inside the envelope were metal brackets that would transform the crib into a “safe” one with stationary sides. Of course, this meant I had to completely remove one side of the crib (that I had just put together), remove the old hardware, install the new, and then try to put it all back together again. And now, our crib is safe. Crisis averted. It sure looks pretty.

38 days until baby.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Doctors and Elephants

We are in the finding-a-pediatrician stage of our pregnancy. We’ve asked friends, family, and Linda’s OB for recommendations, and we have started to set up initial visits. We had one today, and while we were getting ready, Linda said, “I feel like we’re going to a job interview.” I felt the same way, but I told her that we needed to approach it from the opposite perspective. We’re the ones doing the interviewing. They’re the ones that need to impress us. And that would be completely true if there was an endless supply of fantastic pediatricians, but there’s not. So, we have our priorities. We want to be sure that: 1. the pediatrician has some experience with vegan children and won’t automatically blame every cough and sniffle on the fact that we don’t feed them meat and 2. we want to be sure they will work with us to build a vaccine schedule that makes us comfortable. I’ve had moms tell me that doctors will sometimes administer four vaccines in one day, for “convenience.” I know I’m supposed to trust everything the doctor says, but four vaccines in a little body seems like a lot. I wouldn’t want them to give me four vaccines in one day. Maybe that makes me one of “those” parents, but so be it.

So, the visit was strange, but I’m sure it’s because I haven’t been to a pediatrician in decades. All those toys in the waiting room and the giant pictures of babies on the wall. It was disconcerting. A nurse pointed out the “sick” side and the “well” side of the building – your child’s health dictates where you go – and then she took us down the hall to a waiting room. A doctor came in a few moments later and went through the basics – hours, the staff, etc., and then asked if we had any questions. We fired our list at her and she did a good job answering them. Thorough and honest. The vaccine schedule is something they’re willing to adjust, and she went over the ones they recommend. She admitted that she didn’t know much about a vegan diet, but that the practice would be happy to work with us. She mentioned that most people get their protein from meat, but she was sure we could get protein from other sources. This was not the reassuring comment she meant it to be. Protein intake is a non-issue for vegetarians/vegans who eat a varied diet, but thanks to the meat/dairy industry, it’s a common misconception that without meat, protein is hard to come by. Non-meat eaters are constantly asked, “But where do you get your protein?” My favorite answer is to tell people to think of the largest land mammal in the world: the elephant. Imagine how much protein they need to maintain that mass. They do it without meat. It’s an oversimplification, I know, but so is the idea that meat is all you need for protein. Maybe I was asking for too much, but I was hoping the pediatrician would be beyond the protein question. Overall though, we got a good vibe from her and from the practice. She didn’t shake our hands when she left, which struck me as disappointing, but Linda says I expect too much. So, for now, the practice is on our “good” list.

39 days until baby.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Why Do We Need to Know?

A woman accosted my wife last night as she walked out of the bathroom in the grocery store. The woman wanted to know when the baby was due. She appeared to be a very kind woman; she offered her congratulations and her hope that the baby would be a healthy one, but as we drove home, my wife voiced her amazement at other people’s interest in other people’s due dates. What does it matter to this woman when our baby is due? When you stop and think about it, it’s a completely arbitrary bit of information for her. I don’t mean that in an offended, it’s-none-of-her-business sort of way. I’m happy to share the information, I’m just curious about most people’s innate desire to know when a baby will be born. I’m guilty of it, too. Is it some remnant of our evolutionary past, when we were less civilized and more instinctual, driven by the basic needs of survival, not just as individuals but also as a species? The birth of a baby means our species will go on - that we were successful enough to reproduce - and it’s comforting to know that humanity will go on. After all, who wants to be part of a doomed species? Either that, or we just like making conversation and a baby’s an easy thing to talk about.

40 days until baby.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

We feel disappointed and try to love them anyway

My wife asked me last night, “What do we do if our kid turns into a person who doesn’t believe in the things we believe in?” I told her, “We feel disappointed and try to love them anyway.” For her sake (and probably for mine, too) I tried to make it sound simple, but I really can’t imagine how I’ll really feel if my adolescent son orders the veal when we’re out to eat. (My wife read that last bit over my shoulder and said, “We’re not paying for it.”)

There’s really no telling what they’re going to be like as a child. I know we have a lot of pull as parents, but then there are those kids that are fanatically into trains, or planets, or birds, and no one has any idea where it came from. Non-musical parents turn out violin prodigies. I have visions of the doctor looking up from between my wife’s legs and saying, “Congratulations! It’s a meat-eating conservative, and he’s holding his NRA membership card!” Honestly, I lie awake at night wondering what I’ll do if I have a typical sports-loving boy. I have no interest in pro sports. I couldn’t tell you who was playing what on a given Sunday, and I can’t fathom spending several hours watching a game in which I’m not related to a single player. We’ve been told if it’s your kid out on the field, you will automatically have a deep and abiding interest in the game, but I’m still skeptical.

At some point, they have to find their own identity, and sometimes that means they have to rebel against what they know – meaning us. I guess, in the long run, all I can hope is that my kid will be someone that appreciates that there’s a world beyond themselves, that they’re not the center of it, and they have a responsibility to try and make it a better place. That, I can live with.

42 days until baby.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Soon this place will smell of diapers...

Linda and I went looking at houses two days ago. We’re not seriously looking yet, but we thought that we should get the ball rolling instead of just talking about it. So, we had our realtor set up some walkthroughs. Who doesn’t love getting to walk through other people’s houses?

Walking around our possible new home, I kept trying to picture chasing a baby up those stairs or down that hall. How would it sound to hear, “Dad, the phone’s for you!” coming from the next room? I know I should’ve been looking for water damage, cracks in the foundation, and whether or not the doorframes were even, but all I could think was, “Could this house be a home for our baby?”

43 days until baby.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Man, you gotta protect her and that baby...

My wife and I went out West this summer. We were in Portland, walking past a restaurant with tables on the sidewalk, and a man at one of the tables suddenly reached out his hand in my direction. "Man, you gotta protect her and that baby. You walk on the streetside." He dragged out the word “protect” so emphatically: pro-teckt. Maybe he was drunk. Maybe I should’ve been offended; the other people at his table seemed mortified, but I wasn’t. I stepped around my wife to walk between her and the street, and gave him a wave.

We walked on and continued with whatever conversation we’d been having, but I kept thinking about the exchange. Should my manhood have been insulted? Why had I never heard of or thought about the fact that I should walk between the street and my pregnant wife? Maybe because I know that if a car careened off the street and onto the sidewalk, no one would be standing over me and a crumpled car saying, “Thank God his body stopped the car!” Who am I, the Hulk? Still, it’s a nice thought, and I felt a little guilty for not having thought of it on my own. So, later that night, as we walked back to the car, past the same restaurant, I looked for my new friend. He looked up as we walked by, and I caught his eye, motioning to my body’s position between my wife and the street. “How am I doing?” I asked. He raised his glass and gave me a nod.

44 days until baby.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Hand the Mike to Nate

For today's post, I wanted to share a message I received from my best friend, Nate. He's been a dad - a great one - for almost ten years. He's been telling me to stop reading the baby books (I know, I know), and he sent me this message the other day explaining why...
You're worrying about some things way more than you need to...I think you and Linda will love your baby so incredibly that things will come so obviously and naturally to you two. Your son or daughter will be blessed to have the two of you as parents...sincerely. The first time you give your baby a bath, how you feel when he falls asleep on your shoulder, the first time he's really sick and pukes all over will already be motivated to do all the things that will create an amazing bond between you and him…and he will look to you and need you as much as Linda…

I think the easiest, yet most profound thing we can do as dads is express how much we love our kid…and if you look at dads of the past, I think they looked at bringing home income (providing food and shelter) was their way of expressing “I love you”. But man, to give your kid at least a hug a day, and sincerely say “I love you”…so much more real, tangible value to a child. So that’s my advice, my reflection…until he turns 18…a hug a day, and “I love you”…but I know you would do it anyway.
Thanks Nate!

45 days until baby.

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Back Pages

Before our pregnancy, I planned on going back to graduate school to earn my PhD. Those plans are on the back burner for now, but I wonder if they’ll ever be pulled back to the front of the stove. I know how plans can collect dust, growing old and outdated, sometimes even rancid, without us noticing. I don’t want that to happen, but there’s that part of me that says, “Hey, this is the time to focus on the baby. This is not the time for professional upheaval.” So I let it go, and tell myself that in a year or two, I’ll come back to it. Maybe.

And that makes me think of how I catch myself telling people how I’m glad Linda and I didn’t get pregnant until now; how we weren’t ready to have kids when we got together in our early twenties. I have to wonder how accurate that statement is. Remember being 23? Who doesn’t? We feel like “real” adults at the beginning of everything – we just know it’s inevitable that great things will come to us. I don’t remember analyzing things so much back then. Now, I can analyze myself into inaction, and that worries me. My kid’s going to ask me what’s for breakfast and, an hour later, we’ll still be discussing the benefits of oatmeal vs. a green smoothie. I’m exaggerating, of course, but it keeps bringing me back to a great refrain from a Bob Dylan song:

“Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

I imagine that the truth of that line will only increase as I get older.

46 days until baby.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Parenting = Indoctrination

Yesterday, Linda and I found ourselves discussing our plans to raise our baby vegan. We were looking at various websites, and I came across a quote from someone asking a vegan parent, “How can you justify indoctrinating your child in such a way?” The question brought to mind a time last year when President Obama addressed the nation’s schoolchildren. Some parents/community members were up in arms, asking basically the same question. It was the same in our schools district, and our superintendent at the time, in bringing the situation up to the teachers, simply asked, “Isn’t that what we do to children every day?”

47 days until baby.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

It's Going to Get Loud

The due date is just about seven weeks away. My wife is growing uncomfortable, and she’s having a hard time imagining how she’ll make it until the baby’s debut. We’ve been told that the ferocity of the kicks and jabs will wane along with the available space in her uterus. If that’s true, I’ll miss them. I’ll miss a lot about this stage of parenting. It’s all about anticipation, and anticipation is a wonderful thing. Anticipation is easy. There’s no disappointment, only expectation and high hopes. It’s like starting a book that everyone says you’re going to love. You already love it and you haven’t read a word. Right now, our baby is safe, charming, and maintenance-free. Right now, everything is under our control. Eat this. Take those vitamins. Go to the doctor now. Good job – you’re taking good care of your baby. I know once the baby arrives, it will be a wonderful, wonderful kind of chaos that I will love, but for now, I’m reminding myself to enjoy this time of expectation, this lull because in just about seven weeks, it’s going to get loud.  

48 days until baby.

Friday, October 1, 2010

To Dream the Impossible Dream

I've stayed home sick for the past two days, and I keep thinking - how can anyone feel like this AND take care of a baby? Hopefully, my body's getting it all out of my sytem now, and I won't be sick for another eighteen years.

49 days until baby.