On Fear

Why I won’t let fear hold either of us back.

Advertisements

On Fear

When you are young, fear is a very real thing. Right now, you are afraid of your mother or I stepping away from you because you lose your sense of space. Your arms lock out and your eyes show genuine fear. As you grow, your fears will change into things your mind imagines, like scary things in the dark or movies about monsters.

Older still, you’ll begin to fear things like lost friendships, lack of popularity, or embarrassment in front of classmates. Then grades, girlfriends, money… If you are like your mother, you’ll be afraid of leaving your hair straightener plugged in or a candle lit, which will ultimately lead to the house burning down along with half the neighborhood.

The point is, there will be fear present in your life, in one form or another, for your entire life. It’s OK to be afraid, but the key is to not let that fear stop you from doing whatever needs to be done.

Let’s say you get a little older and have a fear of the dark — the unknown can be scary sometimes. When it’s time to go to bed, you might be afraid of things your mind might make you think is there. But you can’t let that stop you from getting a good night’s rest. That is what needs to be done, and you have to believe that you are braver/stronger/capable of defeating any monster that is dumb enough to hide in the dark in your room. Plus, you should remember that I also have special powers that can detect monsters anywhere within 100 miles from home, and if one came into your room, I would beat him up and send him back to Monsters, Inc.

Fear has a funny way of keeping people from doing things they want to do when they’re older. Grown ups get comfortable doing things that they don’t really like to do because it’s easy or they know how to do it. Just because we know how to do something, doesn’t mean we like doing it. We do something for so long, we are afraid to do something else sometimes because we have a fear that we will fail at it.

Grown ups have a great imagination when it comes to failing at things. We are afraid to exercise because we think we’ll hurt ourselves. We are afraid to leave our job because we fear that doing the thing we love to do won’t work out. We have a constant fear of not being good enough, so we continue to do the things we hate because there is comfort in complacency (that is a word that means doing boring things over and over and over again).

Here is the point of all of this. If I ask you to not be afraid of the dark, I should also ask myself to no be afraid of doing the things that scare me. Sometimes, starting something new can feel like standing at the bottom of a mountain that you need to climb. You might think that it will take forever, or that it would be easier to turn around and start your climb tomorrow/next week/ next year, but the truth is, the more you climb, the small the mountain begins to look. And before you know it, you’re at the top.

Here is my deal with you, son. If you promise to be brave whenever you are afraid, then I promise to do the same, and we both will achieve everything we set our minds to.

On Two Months

On Two Months

Reags, I promise I won’t post something about you every month. Today you are two months old, and as cliché as it is to say “how much you’ve grown” in that short amount of time, it doesn’t make it any less true. After the first month, you were still this tiny, delicate thing that just kind of ate, pooped, and slept. Now, you are a bigger, stronger, slightly less tiny thing that still mostly eats, poops, and sleeps.

Speaking of sleep, last night you slept the longest you over have! I think it was probably 7 hours in between feedings. Your mom and I didn’t know what to do. We woke up after six hours or so, and weren’t sure if we were supposed to wake you up to feed you, or let you sleep. We decided to let you sleep, and 30 minutes later, we woke up and had the same conversation. Finally, after seven hours, you woke up enough to feed, then fell right back asleep. Your mom just texted me as I’m writing this and told me you’re still sleeping! C-H-A-M-P!

Things you like

Baths – no matter how upset or frustrated you are, once you get in the bath, you are a happy, naked dude

Bouncing on your ball/chair – actually, you love being held while your mom or I bounce you on your ball. You also love your bounce chair. When all else fails, bounce!

Letters from your GM – about every week or two, your GM writes you a letter that you are saving for a scrapbook. You might not know you love it yet, but you will

Kicking feet – whether you are in your chair or on your back in your play gym, you love kicking your feet

Dancing to Dad’s music – nothing against John Legend, Justin Timberlake, or Beyoncé (God forbid), but when you and I put on Bob Dylan or The Wood Brothers and dance around, you seem to enjoy yourself

Things we need to work on

Relationship with Rogue – I think you two like each other, but we need to work on calming him down when you get upset. Don’t worry, your mom and I have a plan

Nighttime routine – once you go to sleep, you’re out. But your mom and I would love it if it didn’t take two hours for you to get there

Other than that, you’re pretty perfect for two months, little man. You keep growing and staying healthy, and your mom and I will keep doing everything we can to keep you happy, healthy, and smothered in love.

04-04-18

 

On Being a Son

On Being a Son

There is a song by Lee Brice called, “Boy.” I remember your mom told me to listen to it when she was very pregnant with you and she told me it made her cry. Naturally, since everything from Crest commercials to reality TV shows made her cry at that point of the pregnancy, I told her I’d listen to it and didn’t think too much more about it. But then I saw the video of the song and it made me tear up a bit too.

I think a lot of people make a big to-do about what it means to be a father, but there are things you need to do to be a good son, as well. I am lucky enough to be the son of two different dads, which is something I am proud of but something that I never want for you. Being a son doesn’t stop when you turn 18, or when you have a child of your own.

I understand you might not read this until you are older. And I hope that anything I might say to you now I will have the ability to teach you so that by the time you read this, these things are already ingrained into you.

Be honest

One of the most important things you can do as a son is to be honest with people, especially to your family. You are going to do things you aren’t proud of when you’re young and as you grow older, but a good man owns his mistakes and lives with the consequences. No matter what you do in life, no matter how bad, your mom and I will love you through it and help you however we can.

Try Hard

Your mother and I are going to spend a lot of energy trying to teach you how to use your brain and your abilities to make you into the best version of yourself, just like my mom and dads did for me. “Try hard” doesn’t mean you have to always get straight A’s or be the best one on your team, but it means that when you put your effort into something, put all your effort into it.

Be Polite

Kindness is the best reflection on your mother and I that we could ask from you. If you love and value your parents, be polite to everyone and show that you are a good reflection of us.

Find what you love and do it

The most important thing you can do to be a good son is to do the things that make you happy. Your mother and I will live through your joy and want nothing but the best things for you. Do not settle, and use every opportunity you can to find what you love, and surround yourself with people and things that will allow you to keep that love and make a life around it.

You don’t have to set the world on fire to be a good son. You’ve already showed me that you like dancing with me to good music (not that John Legend isn’t good music, but when you calm down to Tangled Up in Blue, it makes my heart happy). Your mom and I will do our part by setting a good example, and your grandparents will make sure you are showered in love. Your job is to just be the little man you are destined to be, follow your arrow, and be the best son you can be — I know you will!

03-14-18

On a Month

On a Month

Today, it’s been one month since I met you. Thanks to many sleepless nights (more sleepless for your mom even), many of our first days together are a blur. You have changed so much, and your mom and I are already seeing little personality quirks from you that make us smile.

I don’t want this blog to only be about lessons I want to pass down to you… I barely have my own life figured out (debatably so), so the idea that I would have endless amounts of wisdom to share with you is laughable. Rather, I want this to be a place where you can come back to some day and understand a little more about who you were when you were young, and the successes and struggles your mother and I had with you as you grew up.

Today you are a month. Your highlight reel includes a lot of crying (fussy cries, not tearful ones), a lot of eating, and a lot of pooping. Last night, you were nursing at about 3 a.m. and we were already two diaper changes deep since you work up. You have this way of falling asleep while you nurse, and all of a sudden you let out this big grunt, while also letting out this big…well, you know.

I was starting to doze off because my official job between 10:00 p.m.-5:30 a.m. is to get the diaper changing station ready, change you when your mom needs a break, and to throw away the diaper. Figuring that since you already had two dirty diapers, my job was pretty much set for the moment, and that you and your mom would handle the business at hand before going back to sleep. Well, your little grunt-poo-combo not only work you up, but it startled me out of sleep and your mom and I just laughed.

You have two faces that I really like. You also have a few double-chin looks that aren’t safe for camera, but my two favorite faces are:

  1. Surprised-Whistle Face: where your eye brows go up and you scrunch your mouth into the tiniest little Cheerio. I’m not sure what you’re doing or trying to say, but it’s almost like you just do it to get me to laugh.
  2. Someone-is-About-to-Attack Face: Usually you give this one to a ceiling light or an open door, but it’s almost this look of fear like you’re ready for a monster to barge in through the door at any moment. Your eyes go wide, mouth stays shut, and I don’t think a muscle in your face would move if the biggest surprise happened in a split-second.

My other favorite face is the one where your eyes are closed and you are letting your mom and me sleep or get some work done.

I think you think your grandmothers are your pillow, because all three of them have held you and you just pass right out. Your grandma Butler has a special trick where she can rub your temple and you just zonk out for hours. Your grandma Whitt has some kind of special powers where she can talk as loud as she wants, and somehow you don’t fuss or wake up. Your grandma Rauch I’m sure is already perfecting her spell on how to get you to stay asleep, but when she met you a week or two ago, you already just cozied up and fell right asleep in her arms. Your mom and I will tip-toe around for 30 minutes after we get you to sleep, because if we open the door wrong, you are up and not happy about it.

Another thing that is funny about you is that you love falling asleep to the sound of the vacuum cleaner. We put you to sleep last night by vacuuming the bedroom at 10:00 p.m. We also found an app that plays vacuum sounds, and I learned that there are a ton of Spotify channels that just repeat the sound of a loud vacuum.

Volume up. Baby sleep.

There is so much to love about you already, and your mom and I are so excited to see what steps you make in the coming months.

3-4-18

On your Grandmother

On your Grandmother

There will be a lot of people who will be a part of your life. Your mother and I will probably be the most important, at least until you meet a girl, fall in love, and make a little blog like this one of your own. But your GM Whitt will be one of the most important people in your life, because she has been one of the most important people in my life.

You are lucky enough to have many grandmas and grandpas, and all of them will love you like crazy from now until forever. And I will talk about all of them at some point so you know where you came from and understand all the people who love you and who will shape your life.

But this is about your GM Whitt, and it’s no coincidence that this is being posted on her birthday. She is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. She is one of six children, and had to take on a lot of responsibilities helping to raise her brothers and sisters when she was just a kid herself. She has always wanted the best for herself and for her family, and you are so lucky that she will want the best for you, and she will show you how to get the best out of yourself.

You won’t meet anyone as committed as your GM Whitt. When I was younger, she sat through double-header baseball games, sometimes with your uncle Tyler and/or Aunt Paige when they were babies just so she could watch me play. She was able to move your uncle Jordan and I to Florida and get us acclimated to a new state and new school and new friends, all while going to school for he PA degree. She was bettering our lives by taking on so much, and she did it while still making sure we were having fun and having a childhood.

Your GM Whitt is super funny, too. I think she learned how to be funny from me, aka her favorite child. I think that means that since I am her favorite child, and you are my favorite child, the transitive property says you are the favorite grandchild (sorry McKinley and Cora!). She has a great sense of humor and, no pun intended, has more wit than anyone else. She can be sarcastic and caring at the same time, and she knows how to make everybody feel included, loved, and welcome wherever she goes.

Everyone’s age changes on their birthday, but your GM Whitt changes age differently than most. Last year she was 37, and this year she’s 43. It’s kind of a “wake up and see how old you feel” kind of thing for her most years, but she always looks years younger than whatever age she thinks she is every year.

I hesitate to say this, but your GM Whitt will give you anything you want. If you tell her you want to see the Pacific Ocean, she will book the two of you a trip in a week to fly out and book a hotel right on the water so you would wake up and it would be the first thing you saw. She writes letters to you and your cousins every week and mails them to you because she wants you to feel loved at all times. I hope that the two of you develop a special relationship and you let her take you on all kinds of exciting adventures like she did with me when I was young. She’s even taking you to England this fall for your first big adventure!

So be sure to tell your GM Whitt that you love her as often as you have the chance. Draw her a picture and pick her flowers and tell her that she’s pretty whenever you can. Find something that is special to the two of you. Make as many memories as you can with her, because those will be the best memories. Snuggle on her and sing to her and make her feel as special as she is whenever you can, because she will do all those things for you, plus so much more.

02-27-18

 

On Life

Hey Little Man…

Life is a funny thing in so many ways. You have barely started yours, and yet you’ve changed mine and your mother’s in so many ways. You should have seen your home before we found out you were coming. I can only imagine how much more you’ll change our lives now that you’re here.

Life flies by when you’re looking back at it, and it stands still when you look ahead. When you’re older, ask you mom about how quickly the last week of her pregnancy felt with you. The important thing is that you enjoy it, laugh through it, try as many things as you can, and find the things that make you happy.

Fall in love with the things you like. Be the best at them. Know more than the next kid about it and measure yourself only against yourself. What might exhaust you early on will pay off exponentially down the road.

The best thing I have done with my life has been to enjoy as much of it as I could. There have been things that caused me stress, but I always tried to see the bigger picture. It’s my way of turning a negative into a positive. People like the guy who isn’t afraid to be himself, and I hope that you are always comfortable enough with who you are that you can be yourself at all times. Enjoy who you are and what you do, and you will live your best life.

Take an active role in your life. I think if I would have heard this when I was younger, I would have shrugged it off, but the older I get the more I wish I would have learned this sooner. What it means is that you shouldn’t just let life happen. When I was younger, all I wanted to do was play baseball. I was good at it too, but I never worked harder than I needed to. I didn’t try to get better, I just used what talent I had and hoped that it would lead to something. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. 

Life is about connection. Connection within yourself is the most important, but connection with others — friends, family — is also a key part of life. We are entering an age (and I’m sure by the time you read this there will already have been something else) where we are in constant connection with strangers from all over the world through the web. Be careful and for god’s sake be safe, but don’t be afraid to connect with people and show them who you are. Make someone’s day by listening, learning, and teaching them what you’ve learned along your journey.

I cannot wait to get to know you and share the next chapter of my life with you and your mother. I cannot wait to learn from you and teach you things, or to show you the things I love and force you to be a Lions fan with me.

2-19-18

The Story of You

The Story of You

I am sitting in the delivery room with your mother and it’s 12:35 a.m. on February 4, 2018. She is in so much pain and I’m watching her thinking, “I would do anything to make her pain go away.” We still have a long way to go, but all the nervous feelings I had about you coming are gone, and all that’s left is excitement for you, and guilt/pity for your mom.

It’s 12:54 a.m. She’s sleeping now. She got an IV of something that should control her pain a little and let her sleep. I wish I could bottle this night up and show it to you when you’re older and acting out. If I tell you to do something and you don’t do it, we’ll handle that. But if your mom tells you do something, after tonight…. well, I’m on her side.

The nurses are telling us that you are one of the most active babies they’ve seen come through. I really hope that doesn’t mean you are going to be a wild child when we bring you home and keep us up all night. I guess as long as you’re healthy, I will take some abuse when it comes to letting us sleep.

It’s funny, but all I want right now are 1.) for your mom to make it through this and 2.) for you to be healthy and have functioning lungs and a beating heart, ten fingers and toes, and all that jazz. When we first got pregnant, we worried about whether you’d be a cute baby and whether we’d be able to tell if you were or you weren’t. We were afraid we’d be the parents who were blinded by the fact that you were ours, and couldn’t tell that you were an ugly baby (they do exist!). Now, all I care about is that you come out breathing, and that we figure out enough to keep you breathing when we take you home.

Your grandparents and family all want to meet you. The Whitts are all out to dinner right now and sending your mother and I video of them celebrating. The Rauchs are at home and sending their love — your grandma (step-monster as she likes to say to me) sends her love, hugs, kisses, prayers, and just about everything else she has in her to you, and your grandpa is so excited to have a grandson. The Butlers are all spread out — you’ll get to know that about them — but want to meet you more than anyone I know. Your mom and your grandma were talking to each other when she was hooked up to IV’s and I could see the emotion welling up in your mother. They are flying in to town tomorrow to meet you, and don’t be surprised if your grandma never wants to let you go. Your grandpa Jim will have a lot to teach you — he is one of the most honest people I’ve ever met (sometimes to a fault), but he is among the most important people I’ve ever known.

What I love is that everyone has been writing to us all night asking about you, your mom, and how everything is going. You will be loved by more people in your life than you will ever realize, and I hope that you will give it back to them however you can.

Now it’s 9:15 p.m. You are lying on your mother watching the Super Bowl with us. There was so much that happened today that we can get into some day, but you came at 10:48 a.m., very suddenly. You got to meet your Grandma and Grandpa Whitt, Uncle Jordan and Tyler, and Aunt Georgia and Paige. You got to talk to Grandma and Grandpa Butler. You’ll probably call them something different when you grow up, and I will be excited to learn what that is.

You were nice enough to sleep through most of the day, and have absolutely stolen our heart. When we first saw you, your mother and I both cried. Since then, you’ve been nothing short of amazing and are setting the bar pretty high for what is yet to come.

The story of you starts with the story of us — me and your mother, and all the wonderful people in your life who will love you like there are no limits. The story of you changed the story of us, and I’m excited to share the new story of us with you as you grow.

2-4-18