On Being A Dad

Son,

Having you makes me reflect a lot on my own childhood. I find myself picturing going back in time as my adult self, and spending a day with my younger self. What would I say? Would my younger self like my adult self? Would I give  advice or just try to live in the moment and enjoy a day? Then I come back and I see you…

I get to live this “dream” of spending time with myself everyday that I get to be in your life. Anything I think I would want to do or say to my younger self, I get to do or say to you. Right now it’s all living in the moment, enjoying every step, mistep, “fall-and-go-boom,” tear, unexpected sound, laugh, cuddle, “Rogue, stop!,” “good boy, Rogue!,” dada, mama, and shriek whenever your mom and I are trying to talk when one of us is (or isn’t, God forbid) holding you.

I get to remember every first with you, and hope that you want to know more about your younger self when you get older. I can’t wait to see what things you’ll want to do together when you get older.

I think a lot about who you’re going to be when you’re older, sometimes more than I should. I think it’s selfish of me to want to see you grow up so we can do things together because I don’t want to miss who you are now. You’re so funny. Like, so so funny. You are fearless. Ever since you could move, you would crawl to the edge of the bed and try to “death-dive” off head first. I think you took your first steps in a bathtub (not exactly the easiest place to take a tumble).

But you’re also shy — when you meet new people, you tuck your head into your mom’s neck and grab the back of her arm. When someone gives you affection, you smile and look down.

You’re so many things and that is all the more reason I don’t want to look ahead, not even a day. Sure it’s fun to think of all the things you will be, but it’s also fun to admire all the things you are now. That is a big thing that motivates me to write this blog to you. I want to stay present and let you see who you are, and who I am when you look back.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have you. You have been getting so big so fast. Last night, your teeth were bothering you and you woke up after having been asleep for 30 or 45 minutes. I was out at a work dinner, so I didn’t get to put you down, and when you couldn’t fall back asleep, I went up to put you back down.

When I picked you up, you put your head on my shoulder and mostly stopped crying, aside from a few little lingering sniffs that were hanging around. I think it was the absolute sweetest thing ever and I didn’t want to put you back down.

Being a dad is more than these little moments, but these are the things that I will remember forever — holding you tucked under my neck and head on my shoulder, half asleep and half calming down from heavy tears… It is these little moments that remind me that as much as I want to know who you will be in a few years, it doesn’t get any better than holding you and being your dad in the present.

I love you so much, son.

Dad

On Kelly’s Hair Salon

What happens when a mom’s love meets a momfail, and one little boy’s locks are on the line!

Son,

Your mom loves you very much. And your dad has been known to be a little stingy when it comes to spending money. Your dad also has decided a long time ago that he is willing to spend money on a good haircut. Your mom also understands the value of a good haircut. That is why it doesn’t make any sense that we send you to “Kelly’s Hair Salon” every time you need to get your haircut.

So there’s that. But the other side of the coin is that your hair grows like weeds, and it doesn’t make sense to take you to a place to get your hair trimmed every two weeks. We did do that once, and you did really well, but the idea of taking you 20 mins away every two weeks will a.) have my hair girl not like me very much since she didn’t charge you for your first cut and b.) it’s too hard to fit into your schedule as quickly as your hair grows.

So what am I getting at? The other night, we took you to Kelly’s Hair Salon for your regular cut.

Kelly’s Hair Salon

  • Owner, stylist, and only employee: your mom
  • Motto: it’s good enough, right?
  • Location: upstairs bathroom
  • Perks: snacks and Youtube videos of Mickey Mouse and/or BIG TRUCKS!

It’s a place like Cheers where everybody knows your name (and also knows your height, weight, favorite foods, etc. etc.). Normally you get what the motto suggests, but this past cut was something else entirely.

Here is you before the cut:

86565f22-bf32-4873-bfae-f2eed047d02f

Now you look like this:

lloyd_christmas_-_Google_Search.jpg

You see, your mom may have… just a teensy-weensy bit, more on one side than the other, kinddaaaa, Lloyd Christmas’d you. When we took you to get your haircut at the non-Kelly’s Hair Salon, your mom saw the hair girl doing some vertical scissor work, and she’s been on a quest to use the same style on you.

I will give her this. Before your last cut, you were looking pretty, pretty amish. Your mom would trim around your ears, but we like your long hair so we didn’t touch that, and the long hair up top caught up to the shorter hairs around your ears, thus giving you the amish bowl (sounds like a college football game in december between some D-3 schools in Pennsylvania). Make no mistake, the amish bowl is not something you want to be known for.

But then again, neither is the Lloyd Christmas. The good thing you have going for you is that you’re so cute you can pull it off. And as I’ve told her, the shape is good. It’s just the details that did this last cut in.

So where do we go from here? Your guess is as good as mine. Your hair will grow back, but will you or I trust Kelly’s Hair Salon to not make the same mistake again? Do we give your mom a second chance or cut her hair privileges (see what I did there?)?

Time will tell….

img_0564
We might have to rock this look for the next few weeks until your hair grows back!

Love,

Your Dad

On Habits and Systems

Son,

::Fireside Chat::

2935740_011218-kgo-shutterstock-fire-place-img

There is a lot I want to teach you in life, but one of the most important things I can tell you about achieving your goals is to set habits and systems in place early and often. Here’s why:

[sips whiskey]

If you have a dream, which we adults call “goals,” then the only way to achieve that dream/goal is to set systems and habits in place to reach that dream/goal. If your dream is to be an astronaut, then the only way to do that is to learn as much as you can as often as you can about space, astronauts, NASA, etc. You can’t want something bad enough without putting in an equal amount of action to make it real.

[pats you on the back]

You’re too young to worry about this now, but this is something your mom and I are trying to do to ensure that you have every opportunity to realize whatever dreams you have as you grow up. We are making new habits and systems for ourselves in what goals we’re trying to accomplish for ourselves, as well as habits and systems as parents to ensure you have the best childhood.

And the best childhood doesn’t mean you’re happy and laughing 24/7. Here’s an example:

When you were young (you’re 1, so saying when you were young sounds funny), your mom bought video that taught us how to create sleep habits for you. This system allowed us to teach you how to sleep, and now you are a rock star sleeper, at least at night, which allows you to wake up every day with energy and that big smile on your face.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
― James Clear, Atomic Habits

I love the above quote because it is so true. Goals are not reached because of one massive action that you take, day after day, because that is not sustainable. You’ll burn yourself out and eventually relapse. Find a system that allows you to be happy, and set that trajectory upward.

[sips whiskey; jingles ice in glass; finishes whiskey]

Like I said, this is all for down the line. Your mom and I will worry about setting systems in place as parents for you now, and you’ll hopefully take our example and set them up for yourself once you’re ready. All you have to do now is continue to be you, maybe be you without throwing your food on the floor so Rogue can share your dinner with you, but otherwise be you.

The last thing I’ll say about habits and systems is that they encourage you to take your time, which is something I want to make sure you do in life. The key is to take your time while always taking action. Don’t procrastinate, but understand that small actions early and often will lead to big changes later in life. Effort is compounding.

[stands up and ushers you toward the door]

Now get some rest son.

I love you.

-Dad

 

On your first year

Son,

There are just a few days before you turn one, and I want to give you an idea of what this last year has been like for your mom and I. Before you were born, I think we were both very nervous about the costs of bringing a child into this world, the lack of sleep we’d grown accustomed to, and many other things that I have to believe most parents feel before they have a child.

The most important thing I can tell you is that I am most happy that you are you. What I mean by that is that your little personality, from the way you laugh and point out school buses as they drive by to the way you put your head down and crawl with intention, is so perfect and fits who your mom and I are to a T.

You’re a happy baby for 23 1/2 hours a day, and I am so thankful for that. I am more thankful that you’re healthy, because a lot of people we know aren’t as lucky as we are. I know this might not be the case forever, but I will count my blessings now because to this point, you’ve been pretty perfect.

Your favorite word is “dada.” Unfortunately, you call me “dada,” Rogue “dada,” Deb “dada,” and even your mom “dada” more often than she’d like. You also hit her with a “mama” which melts her heart, so maybe amp that up a little in year 2 if you want to keep her wrapped around your finger.

Your favorite thing is your dog, and he’s come around on you I think thanks in large part to your willingness to share your meals and snacks with him. We had one little incident where he tried to yell at you and “alpha” you, but your dad took care of that situation pretty quickly, and aside from a few iffy moments, that is all behind us. Still careful not to let you bang on him when we’re not right there, but for the most part, I think you two are besties (even if he wants to stand in between you and your parents to get some attention 99.9% of the time).

Your favorite food is anything your mom or I are eating, which can be eggs, pancakes, pizza… We’ve moved our dinners to 7:30 most nights because it can be a little tough to eat while you’re climbing up on us and trying to make our plant your plate.

You LOVE baths. Before bed, we will ask you if you want to take a bath, and because you’re so smart, you get excited, yell “bah!” and start crawling toward the stairs.

Side bar: I time you when you crawl up the stairs. I think the second or third time you did it, it was 32 or 34 seconds. Now you get distracted half way up, and can barely break a minute. Hoping this birthday will set you straight and we can get back to our speed work.

The best part about being your dad is that everything I thought I was afraid of, the money and the lack of sleep and everything else, is such a small tax on what has become the biggest joy in my life. I love everything about you and want nothing more than to see you grow up, explore, and find happiness. I want to be your best friend and can’t wait to play baseball and basketball with you, go golfing with your mom and your cousins (who have a head start on that, but your superior athletic genes will allow you to catch up in no time), go running and see you do some kids OCR races (I hope I hope I hope) and so much more.

I can’t wait to teach you things, and to stay up late with you watching movies, and to have secrets (it’s boy stuff, mom). It amazes me how much I want for you because it goes so far beyond what I want for myself, but I know that to show you how to get those things, it means being an example. I guess what I mean by that is you make me want to be better just for being YOUR dad. 

This first year has been the best year of my life, and I can’t wait to celebrate your birthday with you. All your favorite people are coming (ahem, Gma), and I’m excited to turn the page to another year full of adventures, firsts, and lots of love and laughter.

With every ounce of my heart,

Your Dad

On Growing Up

Son,

There is going to be a time when you grow up. It seems like it happens a little bit each day, and I look back a month ago at who you were and it blows my mind how much you’ve changed. I think that growing up is something that is so much more apparent when you’re young, but seeing you grow into a little boy reminds me that we’re all growing up a little bit more each day.

There is going to be a time, maybe 18 or 19 years from now, when you and I sit down and listen to a John Mayer album called Continuum. The whole thing is about John growing up from your 20s into his 30s, but also about how that looks from his dad’s point of view. As we listen to the songs, I am going to remind you that while time feels like it drags on in the moment, there is a much bigger picture with a much bigger story to learn from.

Right now, you’re in the room next to me fighting a nap. You have your whole life in front of you and it’s been the best thing in the world seeing you grow from an infant into this little boy that I love so much. I think your mom wants to hit the pause button and keep you young forever, but I am most excited to learn, teach, and grow together with you.

Because that’s the thing. Until your mom and I got married, I kind of felt like I was growing on my own. I had my own things and sure, my parents guided me in a lot of ways, but I never felt like it was something that we did “together.” Then when your mom and I got together, it felt a little bit like we were on this single path. We stopped eating meat together. We focused on happiness, fitness, and then family. Now that you’re here, I feel like this whole new stage of growth is happening to all of us.

I love seeing you learn things by experiencing them. I love seeing you stand next to a door, look around, and decide whether or not to try stepping away from the door. I love seeing you laugh after you get everyone’s attention by clap-clap-clap — pause — and go about your business. You are going to be something else as you continue to grow, and I can’t wait to be by your side as long as you’ll let me.

Growing up is something that only seems to happen in the past. Plans, dreams, goals all happen ahead of us, but growth is only realized by looking backward. If I could teach you one thing, it would be that growth DOESN’T actually happen in the past, but it is a constant in our lives. You are growing all the time, developing all the time, and evolving into who you are and who you’re meant to be all the time. Growth leads us to where we want to go, and it’s so important to realize that as you make daily decisions in the present.

Now that you’re done fighting your nap and settled in, I’m also reminded that it is OK to slow down. Growth might be happening all the time, but we have to be OK to take a step back, take a good nap, and reset.

I love you with every part of who I am, who I’ve been, and who I’ll be. You are my absolute favorite thing and you always will be. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, and understand that you can still grow up and be the goofy, super-smart, amazing person that you are and will always be.

-Dad

On Long Time No See – Don’t Hold it Against Me

Son,

I’m sorry. Due to some technical difficulties and a busy holiday season, I haven’t written to you. I’m not making excuses. If I wanted to figure it out, I would have. That’s on me. Let’s move on…

You just turned 11 months old the other day, and holy f#*%^ing moly things have changed since I’ve last written you. You’re basically walking, identifying me, your mom, your dog, your Deb, and the school buses in the neighborhood.

But before we get into things, check you out, you stud you!

ryanreags
Us being bros
reags smile
Cheesin’ for a reason
bus hunt
On the hunt for school buses

Anyone, now that we’re past the whole “four months no posts” thing, we can move forward. You are an amazing little man, Reagan James. In the past four months, you’ve visited family in Orlando and Cleveland, had your first Christmas and New Year (spoiler alert, neither you nor your parents made it till midnight), and amped up your personality tenfold. Seriously, if you took a personality test, you’d set the bar. You’re a goof ball, you love your dog, and you’re so smart.

Next big to do for you is your first birthday. Not going to ruin the surprise, but let’s just say it’s going to be one heck of a hot dog day.

hotdog

(it’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse themed)…

Anyway, best that I wrap this up since I haven’t posted in months and the last thing I want to do is sit on this any longer before posting. The last thing I’ll say is that you’re the best little man your mom and I could possibly have in the house, you make my whole day just from the first moment I see you in the morning, and your mom and I love you so so much.

On Seven Months, Scoots, and your Favorite Things

Son,

The other day, you turned seven months old. What this means is

  • a. it’s been a few weeks since I’ve last written you (sorry)
  • 2. you have lots of new skills that I haven’t mentioned to you yet
  • d. Rogue hasn’t eaten you yet, so things are progressing nicely

You can pretty much sit up all by yourself, which is cool, and you’re eating solid foods. You’re in this “I don’t want my bottle in the afternoon” phase, which is not cool, but your mom and I are persistent and we usually get it down one way or another.

Last week, we took some family pictures in the same place we did our pregnancy announcement pictures. You did great, and the whole thing went pretty easily. We don’t have the pics yet, but I’ve seen some of the proofs and they look great.

We also took advantage of our pool for the first time this summer one day before it was set to shut down, despite the fact that it is still 90* outside — you loved it! Your mom and I figured you’d be a water baby based on how much you like taking baths (evidence below).

IMG-0295

Your mom showed me a side-byside-by-side picture of you at one month, four months, and just now seven months all in the same chair. It’s crazy how much you change. You went from this little baby to this little boy with all the personality in the world and the biggest and best cheesy smile. I’m sure you’ll be crawling and walking in no time.

The other thing we love is you cruising around in your little scooter. We’re considering changing your name to “scoots” because you are a pro in this thing. Rogue is not the biggest fan of this thing, as you have a way of bull rushing him and he doesn’t know what to do.

Other things you are into these days are:

  • not finishing your bottle
  • bouncing
  • sitting on the front porch and neighborhood watching
  • walks around the neighborhood while mom wears you
  • water – pool, bath, washing hands
  • Mickey’s Clubhouse and the Hot Diggity Dog Song

I just want to end this by saying that I love being your dad. I think you’re the coolest guy I know and I can’t wait to continue watching you grow each day, and see what the next thing you learn to do is because it’ll be just as exciting for your mom and I as it is for you!