On Confidence

My idea of confidence is constantly evolving. The more you’re willing to fall, and the more you’re willing to learn, the more confident you’ll be.

Boys,

Websters dictionary (dot) com defines…. just kidding. Truth is, I may have written to you, Reagan, about this before. I might not have. Either way, I think its important to recognize that even as a 35 year old man, I don’t always have everything figured out.

Its funny because I know that everyone reading this in the time I’m writing it (Feb. 22, 2021 @ 7:10 pm), would look at that and say, “yeah, duh. We’re all just making it up as we go.” But I have to imagine you boys stumbling across this when you’re eight, 10, 15 at the latest (or else I really let this blog go…). But I would like to think that at those ages, I would appear as though I have things pretty figured out. I know my parents were constantly in flux at that age, each in their own way, but I still believed they had their shit together.

…big mood

I do believe every year I get things a little more together. But I can also admit that when I evaluate my own ideas and thoughts, they aren’t always the same as they have been even a short time ago. And that’s OK! No one expects anyone else to have it all figured out. I guess this is just all a long-winded way of saying that my idea of confidence — confidence in my role as a husband, dad, even confidence in myself in who I am as a person — it’s all changed so much in the past year or two.

I used to think that confidence meant projecting I had all the answers. I used to think that to be a confident husband, I had to be firm in every decision I made with your mom — that I had to have the answer as soon as she asked the question and would have to be able to lay it out in a way that was quick to the point, but also profound and with deep meaning.

Working though the toughest problems.

I used to think that I would have to prepare 10,000 stories for any given situation you boys might find yourself in someday… so that I could sit you down as soon as you did something wrong and illustrate the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, love and hate… all in a way that would keep with you for the rest of your lives. I wanted to be able to tell you stories that you would use on your own boys when you were teaching them how to be men.

I used to think that confidence was something I had to project, when the truth is I was afraid to ask for what I wanted in life.

But confidence is something else entirely. Confidence is being comfortable with knowing that you don’t know a lot of times. Confidence is being able to confidently say to your wife that I know where we want to go in our marriage, and that I need her help in figuring out how best to get there. Confidence is watching you boys make mistakes, then sit you down and tell you that I don’t know the right thing to do, but that I’m planted solidly in your corner and I will do whatever I can to help you find the best path forward.

When I look back at who I’ve been the past 35 years, I don’t think of myself as having been a confident person. There were always situations I was more sure of myself than others, but I think I would look at more situations than most with an “afraid to fail” attitude, when I wish I would have looked at failures as an opportunity to learn.

Your mom has made me a more confident person, but I think that you have to find confidence on your own terms, too. Growth is something that is both exciting and terrifying, but critical when it comes to finding confidence. I’m sure you both will struggle at some point in your lives with confidence, and that is OK — it’s normal even! But you have the best mom and a pretty good (if I do say so) dad to help you along the way and make sure that you both will grow into confident men.

Love you both so much!

Dad

On Sleep

Boys,

Now the thing about being a parent is that you’re unable to choose which child is your favorite. With that being said, if favorite child status were based on sleep — which it isn’t — then Reagan would be far and away the favorite.

Now I’ll say this: Reagan, you weren’t the poster boy for sleep when you were a newborn either, but your mom and I have been trying to go back in our minds and remember when it clicked and you became the great sleeper that you are today. It’s very possible that it could be later than where Koen is at now, and our brains just refuse to go back to that place.

I’ll also say this: I’m writing this to you boys the day after Koen decided at 3:45am that he was going to pull an all nighter on your mom and I, so there may be some level of bias in these words. Now three hour sessions like last night aren’t the norm, but they are more common than the “wake up once, take a quick bottle, and clock out” kind of nights that we’ve seen from you.

You’re cute, but not cute enough to keep me from sleeping.

Sleep is a funny thing. When you’re young like you boys are, you sleep all the time. I guess a lot of brain development happens when you sleep, which could explain why you’re a genius, Reagan. I can count on one hand the amount of times you haven’t slept through the night in the past two years.

As you grow into your childhood, sleep becomes something you almost resent. You don’t want to go to bed, try to stay up as late as you can, and generally have enough energy in the mornings to carry you through the day without ever really feeling tired. Then you become a teenager, and you start to appreciate morning sleep like you didn’t when you were a kid. I remember Sundays when I was a teenager and didn’t have baseball practice, I would try to sleep in until noon if my mom would let me. Then college comes and noon is an early day on a weekend.

But as you get older still, and the teen years and college are in the rearview, sleep starts to become something you, dare I say, look forward to. It doesn’t happen right away. You’ll find yourself in your mid-20’s, and midnight hits a little differently than it did a few years ago. You might have Orange Theory in mind for the (not-too-early) morning and decide to bypass that last drink in lieu of getting to bed at a “reasonable” hour.

Now you’re in your late-20’s or early 30’s, and bedtime is kind of the “event” of the evening. Like, you’ll go out to dinner and get a drink with friends at 7 so that you can be home, flossed up and in bed by 9pm on a Friday — big win! If you get a workout in on the weekend, better believe you’re going to at least get an hour on the couch while football is on TV (or Bravo for your mom).

Then come kids and that thing you’ve grown to love, that sweet sweet sleep…. just goes away. Baby naps are inconsistent at best, and parents never really get restful sleep at night in between feedings because the tiniest little movement or sound that comes out of your mouth gets a full sit-up and monitor check from both parents.

Parents make jokes about “going on vacation” to a hotel where they just go to bed early and sleep in. There’s a reason that these jokes hit home with anyone who has lived with a baby for more than a few days.

Listen, I love you both and I’m just venting because your mom and I are in the thick of it right now. I’m sure that, Koen, sooner or later, you’ll figure this sleep thing out and then your mom and I can count on at least a few good hours each night, which would be super fun. But until then, just keep being healthy, hitting us with those 3am smiles that make staying up with you a little bit easier, and we’ll all figure this thing out together.

Love,

Dad

On Reagan’s Special Day

Reagan, today was your special day. Your mom had the idea to go out — just you, me, and her, and make an afternoon all about you.

I’ve said it before, but I don’t think every post I write has to be able something bigger than it has to be — sometimes it’s worthwhile to just highlight a good day we had and let that be that. Additionally, I can already feel a twinge of guilt writing a post that will be about a day that was special for Reagan, but I think that I need to be OK writing to one or the other of you boys. I know there will be posts ahead that will be directed to Koen, but this one is for Reagan.

Reagan, today was your special day. Your mom had the idea to go out — just you, me, and her, and make an afternoon all about you. We built it up last night by making sure you were ready for your big day today, and teased a few of the things we were going to do. One thing I love about you is that your steel-trap memory made it so that the first thing you said to me when I got you up this morning was “today is my special day!/?”

[“!/?” means it was a partial statement, and partial question. Almost as though you were telling me it was your special day and looking for validation — or were you asking me if it was your special day in a way that would tip me over the edge just in case I was wavering?]

So for your special day, me, you, and your mom went down to Bridge Park for check out some ‘struction ‘quipment and make a day of it down there. First, we saw said ‘struction, then crossed the bridge and wandered down to the toy store. Your mom said you could pick ANYTHING in the whole store — two days before Christmas — I know, right? Anyway, you check some things out, and settle on a diecast toy VW bus (see it in the main picture of us on this post). Not exactly “big time move,” but you were happy.

Then we crossed the bridge again, got some lunch a Rebol, and capped the day off by hitting up the chocolate store. With your mom and I being pros in the chocolate game, we hit up the counter and got some good stuff — chocolate covered oreos, chocolate grahams, etc. Once again, we gave you a free shot at anything in the place, and you took a little chocolate santa. And I should say, Santa came only after we had to talk you out of some bottom-shelf chocolate coins that were probably the least exciting thing in the entire store — you’re welcome.

We had a little in the store, but you really dug into Santa once we got home.

Now I’m writing to you a few weeks past your special day. As time has passed, I think about how much I enjoyed spending time with you and mom and hope that we don’t have to wait until 12/23 again to do that!

Now this goes for both you and Koen — but while you’re brothers, you both deserve to be made to feel special because you both are just that — special. Taking days to celebrate one of you, or even both of you, are days that should be done often. Plus, your mom and I had a ton of fun taking you around and doing something different with you guys.

This is your unique, er… “special” new picture smile!

Anyway, this won’t be a long one (partially because it’s taken me 3 weeks to finish this!), but just know that you are special Reagan. Koen, don’t be mad, you’ll get a post too and I’ll remind you that you’re special. But its OK that sometimes, I acknowledge how truly one-of-a-kind you are and how blessed your mom and I are to call you our son.

Love,

Dad

On Changes

I don’t know if “changes” is the appropriate title for this post. But when I kind think about where I want to go with this post, the thing that comes to mind first is how much life has changed for our family in the last few months. Going from one boy to two has been a huge change and a huge challenge for your mom and I — we used to be able to hand you, Reagan, off to the other and go for a run, get some work done, etc. Now, as soon as one of you goes down for a nap, it feels like it’s a mad dash for one of us to take care of something while the other holds his breath that the sleeper doesn’t wake up.

That probably makes it seem more dramatic than it really is. The truth is that life with two kids is much tougher than I think either your mom or I were expecting. She and I will always put you both first above all else, but we also want to take care of ourselves by working out, spending some time together as a couple (and not after the chaos that is “nighttime routine”), and even getting some time to ourselves to reflect and find our focus for what all we want to accomplish as a family.

I remember working with someone who had his second child and would tell me how many changes happened when they went from one child to two. I’ll admit that I probably nodded along when he told me about it, but in the back of my mind, I thought that your mom and I would have a better handle on things and we could thrive where others might not be able to do so. I think if you asked either of us in an honest moment, there is probably more surviving and less thriving in the past few months.

Sidebar: as I write these blogs, (and I think I’ve mentioned this before), but it all comes out as a stream of consciousness. Rarely do I go back through and do any major edits outside of grammar and making sure it doesn’t read to clunkily. Sometimes, I realize that the direction a post is going isn’t how I intended it to go, but I think it offers you a real insight into what life is like for us at this time, and I hope that you might take something from that should you read it later in life.

As I continue to reflect on changes — mind you, I’m doing so as you’re both sleeping, so it probably is a different perspective than it would have been an hour ago — the thing that keeps me going are the little things. Earlier today, Koen was lying on his mat-pillow-thing and the rest of us were huddled around him cheering him on as he was trying (not max effort, but there was some attempt there) to roll from his belly to his back. We eventually helped him out and cheered like he did it all himself. Then, Reagan took his hand and mom was holding the other, and then I took Reagan and mom’s hand and we kind of made a little family circle. It wasn’t a huge moment worth making a statue for, but it’s one of those million little things that make up for the craziness that fills most of our days.

Changes are hard and no one really knows how best to handle those changes until after the change already happened. Most days, I feel like I’d be a better parent-mentor than actual parent because I can tell someone, “here is what I didn’t know and wish I did. If I had the chance to go back, here is how I would have handled it.”

On that note: parents — spend the money and buy Taking Cara Babies (not a sponsor). Watch the videos. Do the things. Know it is going to be hard but worth it. Did it the first time and swore by it, then took the “throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks” approach to naps and nighttime with #2 — love you Koen!

Changes are hard but they’re also necessary. I want to reference some movie your mom had one the other day where there is a line about how diamonds are made from carbon absorbing all the heat and pressure from the earth — not that I’m using that analogy because I’d probably be the zillionth person to do so, but if I did, I’d tie a bow on it by saying that to get our family to where we will eventually be, we need to get through all the heat and the pressure of these big changes so that the two of you can shine. Again, wouldn’t ever ACTUALLY do that, but if I did, well, I’m sure it would be a good way to wrap up a blog.

Sorry not sorry,

Dad

On Two

Sons,

This is the first time I’m writing to two of you. Because, well, there are now two of you. To be honest, the have been two of you for two months, now. The fact that I haven’t written you both since then is something I regret, but I hope to continue these posts so you both can look back at this time in our lives…

To two… 🥂

Koen, you were born September 28, 2020. In fact, we’ll probably look back at this year and think of what a crazy year to have been born in, but the fact that you came healthy and happy will make your mom and I look back and appreciate 2020. Now that you’re nearly two months old, there isn’t much to say about you in terms of your personality (sorry, you don’t have a whole lot to say yet — but you have been smiling and making cuter noises lately, so you have that going for you…).

There are so many things that are different now that there are two of you. With one, your mom and I would be able to schedule handoffs so that one of us could work, work out, run an errand, or get done whatever we needed to get done, pretty easily.

As I move forward with this blog, I hope to write sometimes to each of you, and other times to both of you. The truth is, and I guess this is a lot like parenting, I am just going to figure it out as I go along and we’ll just see what happens.

The best thing I can say about where we’re at now is that we — our family — feels full. You both have so much room to grow and I’m sure things will continue to change and excite, but there is a feeling of completeness when the four of us (plus Rogue… I know, Rogue — you count too) are all home together.

So, here’s to looking ahead while staying present. To memories made and to memories to come. I love you both beyond words, to the moon and the stars and everything in between.

-Dad

On picking up where we left off

Son,

The last time I wrote to you was November 2019. To say a lot has happened since then would be the understatement of a lifetime — and some people say things like “understandment of a lifetime” and it’s more of an exaggeration — similar to the way people say “best night’s sleep EVER.” No. The best night’s sleep EVER probably requires a gallon and a half of melatonin and happens in a sleep chamber somewhere around the north pole where there is zero light.

To say a lot has happened to you, us, the world…. since November 2019 is the understatement of YOUR lifetime. Lets check the stats…

  1. You have a new brother
  2. You have a new house
  3. Lady Gaga won best song AND best collaboration on MTV Video Music Awards
  4. This thing called “COVID-19” happened and the world completely turned on it’s head
  5. Your mom and I bought and sold our first investment property
  6. Your mom got her real estate license and is in the process of selling her first house 5 weeks post-malone…. er, post-baby

…I know. Post Malone was all over the radio and still took the L. Wild year. But this blog is about you, not Post Malone.

In a lot of ways, the more things changed for us, the more they stayed the same. You’re still the same amazing little human you were last year. And when we ask you, you’re happy to remind us how smart/handsome/tall/cute/best eyes (you see all the things)/fast/strong you are.

You still see “Deb-Deb” three times a week. Your mom and I joke that you “go to school” when she comes over, because you guys are always reading, spelling, learning, or going to the pine tree park or walnut park.

You’ve also made friends with so many people around the neighborhood. To say you’re not shy when talking to people is an understatement as well. You love our neighbor “Todd,” who is the dad to two kids about the same age as you. You also like Ethan and Owen, Todd’s kids, but go out of your way to talk to Todd whenever he’s outside. You love talking about anything and everything with Miss Lynn, our next door neighbor. You and I have been outside a lot since we moved, and we always chat up Miss Lynn to let her know what’s going on in your world.

To be honest, there is really too much to try and sum up everything else that has happened in this past year, but just know that you’ve been absolutely amazing through all the chaos that has gone down this year, and through six week of being a big brother, you’ve been nothing short of amazing.

Looking forward to getting back to writing you more and to all the fun we’ll be having for years to come.

Love you, buddy.

Dad

On Life is too Short

Son,

One of the things I do with my work is talk to people who are in pain. I talk to people who deal with physical pain, and people who deal with psychological pain. I talk to people who cannot get out of bed in the mornings who are addicted to pills that prevent them from doing anything with their day other than sit in a chair and have someone else take care of all their needs. But the people who are in the most pain suffer because they lost a child.

I can’t imagine losing you, and I am getting choked up writing this because it forces me to think about that. Before your mom and I had you, I never knew what anxiety felt like, but thinking of living in a world without you in it makes it hard to breathe.

I talked to a woman today who lost her 23yo son a month ago in a car accident. I listened to her tell me about him, and listened to her tell me about what life is like now that he is gone. It was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had at work. I told her about you, and how much more real conversations like that are when I have you as a reference. She cried and I cried, but I think in some small way I helped her a little bit by making her comfortable and listening to the things she had to say.

But having conversations like that with people are real reminders that we only have so much time to make the most out of our life. It’s the most cliche thing in the world to say, but to have a real story told to you and to see the pain in the face of someone who didn’t have as much time to spend with someone they love… she told me that she was preparing her son his whole life for what life was going to be once she died, and that she never thought the day would come when she’d have to deal with that kind of thing.

We all have obligations. We all have things we don’t want to do. We all would rather eat pizza every day rather than eat something healthier that doesn’t give us satisfaction (at least, every now and then). The idea to make the most out of everyday is important, but so too is making choices that give us the best chance to have decades of days we can spend with the ones we love. If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, I would spend every minute with you and your mom (and Rogue).

Life is short, and the best way we can get everything we can out of it is by appreciating the life we have, the moments we share together, and the memories that will last long after we’re gone.

I love you so much, son.

Dad

On Becoming a Boy

Son,

You change every day. At the same time, you do so many of the same funny things every day. For example, you wake up and have the same conversation every morning…

Us: Goodmorning!

You: Two Mels! Boats. Mima, Papa. Hi Rogue! Mama. Two Mels!

Us: Can I have you?

You: No! Nap. Hi Rogue! Two Mels!

It’s really an inventory check on your crib items and a recap of the same dream you have every night (the same dream that you pre-plan every night when we ask you what you’re going to dream about — yellow boat with all your favorite people).

Lately, you’ve been making a lot of subtle changes that let me know you’re becoming a little boy. You take direction. Sometimes, you ignore direction, but you understand what we’re asking you to do. You negotiate. Sometimes you need your matchbox cars when you eat, and if I ask you to eat three bites to get your car, you might tell me “two bites.” Or, when we’re wrapping up watching a show (usually Peppa), you’ll tell us “one Peppa,” (which means you just need one more episode to get your fix).

IMG_8656

The other night, we got dressed up to go to a party. We usually rock the messy hair look around the house, but that night we put some of my product in your hair. You stood there and was patient while I put the pomade in your hair and brushed it. It was like you knew we were getting dressed up, and understood that you needed to be still while I got you ready.

You’re also just more confident in your movements. You still fall from time to time, and still blame stationary objects for getting in your way while you tornado through the house (no-no floor! Don’t you jump up out of nowhere and trip Reagan!). But, I don’t worry about you running from one room to the other. I don’t worry about you climbing on or off couches, or stepping off the step onto the porch.

The other thing, and maybe the most visual way, that you are becoming a little boy is that you’re just getting longer. You have little definition in your legs and your body is just stretching out. When you lay in your crib and spread out, you look huge. You still don’t weight a ton and you’re probably still on the shorter side of kids who are almost two, but to me you just look huge.

IMG_7818

I’m very excited to see you changing so much. You used to be so much fun just to look at, but now you are making decisions, having conversations, communicating your thoughts, making jokes, and everything else that makes you so much fun to interact with.

The other thing that has been fun is seeing you and Rogue interact. You now help pour his food in the morning and give him his pills. You also call him up with us when we go up the stairs and kind of double-tap your butt to get him moving. You tell him to, “lay down,” “sit,” and always give him a much bigger hello in the morning than your mom or me.

OK, son. All for now.

Dad

On 10 Things That Scare Me

Son,

In an effort to get to know your dad better…

  1. Injury or illness to you or your mother
  2. Losing my memory
    • I’ve said for a long time that I think I will live well into my 90s and maybe even older. I say it jokingly most of the time, but I really believe that. And the truth is, I want to live that long, so long as my memory stays in tact. Not knowing who you are or your mother is or anyone else I love would crush me and I hope that never happens.
  3. Not having an honest relationship with you
  4. Spelunking
    • Rando. It’s not that I have a fear of small spaces, but the thought of crawling through a cave that is getting smaller and smaller to the point I can no longer move just creeps me out.
  5. Not being able to give you the kind of life you want
  6. Losing my ability to be active
    • Aside from being a dad and husband, the thing that I most identify with is being an athlete. This sounds silly as I type it out, but being a “runner” or being able to race, play sports, exercise — these things are very important to me. Not being able to be active is something that absolutely scares me.
  7. Someone taking advantage of you — mentally, physically, or emotionally
    • A lot of how I feel isn’t meant for this medium, because a lot of how I feel is as much anger as it is fear. But the thought of someone else taking advantage of you in any way I think is any parent’s fear, and I am no exception.
  8. Snakes
    • It’s not like I have nightmares of snakes, but I’m not going to get in line to hold one, touch one, etc. There are Facebook pictures people post about seeing these big snakes on trail runs, and I’d be trail running the other way if I cross anything like that.
  9. Being alone for a long period of time
    • Since I started writing this (and it’s been a few days now since I’ve started) I think a lot about what it would be like to have been my dad when he and my mom split. He moved his life to Florida briefly to follow Jordan and I, and I think about how lonely he must have been in a new place with no friends when he wasn’t seeing us. I like being along for small amounts of time, but long-term loneliness is something that scares me.
  10. Life moving too fast

 

On you, lately

Son,

OK so since the last time we talked (if you’re going to give me guff for not writing to you recently, then I’m going to pretend like we don’t talk at all aside from these posts) a lot has happened. First of all, you’re a genius. And with all due respect to all the other kids in the world whose parents say the same thing — all due respect — they’re all totally wrong and you set the bar for genius toddler (GT for short).

You’re now, what, like 19 months old? That sound right? Yea, got all your colors down with the exception of pink/purple. You kind of default to pink for either of those colors, but there is probably something left brain going on where you are just over analyzing due to your superior GT. Body parts (boop boop — your mom will get that) you have down, and you’re happy to show off your chest, belly, nose, ears, hair, etc.

Where is Momma’s hair? Yea, you can nail that one too. I feel bad for anyone who is making an SAT test in the next 16-17 years, know what I mean?

GT aside, you are a wee-bit short for 19 months. Your mom showed me a picture of you and your friend Ethan, who is a few months older than you, and he basically looks like Lebron James next to you, son. So while you’re fast, fast, fast, we need you to do a bit of grow, grow, grow in the next few months, k?

So what else is new with you?

Oh, you can basically say all the words now. Your mom and I, and Deb-Deb to an extent, pretty much work on the same 20-30 words with you. Well, the other day we were getting groceries delivered to our car (we bougie), the guy was wrapping up and you just blurt out, out of nowhere, “THANK YOU!.” Your mom and I whipped around and gave each other a “where did that come from?!?” Basically, GT.

Areas for improvement

Not that your mom or I grade you as a whole…

Sidebar – we do grade you on individual meals, errands out, trips to G-ma’s house, etc.

…but if we were to grade you, you’d have less than an “A” in the following areas:

  • pinching your mom
  • demanding snacks, then fake-feeding Rogue
  • that second nap on weekends when your mom and I would really love a nap in the afternoon
  • finishing most meals — though you are getting better here
  • being a tornado
  • wanting to mow the porch, which leads to ringing the doorbell 100x or teetering on the verge of death (aka – falling off the step)
  • letting us pick your boogers

On that last one, you’ve been rocking some serious boogs these past few weeks, and you sound like a sick baby. So when we can literally see a massive loogie-stone dangling out of your nose, you defend yourself like a little boxer when we try to get it. It doesn’t help that those things are stuck in there like cement is holding on to them, but if you would just give us one good go at it, we’d all be a little better off.

Things you love

In no particular order, here are some of your favorite things at the moment: your mom/dad/dog, GIGI!, video chatting with Mima/Papa/your cousins, anything that ends in -ch/-sh (porch, watch, brush, trash, wash), Zeus!, pool, Peppa, big trucks (pickups, but mostly garbage trucks), school buses, pictures of yourself, stinky mel, hats, walks and being outside, Deb-Deb (and watching for her car), taking someone’s phone, remotes, roaring like a dinosaur, dinosaur books, dancing while being held, animal sounds, and 1,000,000 other things that I can’t think of right now.

Pretty much, you’re a pretty happy GT, and you continue to make your mom and I so happy every day — so don’t mess it up.

-Dad