On “Leaving in 30”

Boys,

Your mom and I keep in pretty good communication – we more or less know where each other is at all times. Not only do we know each other’s schedule (so long as it’s on the CALENDAR!!), but we talk throughout the workday and keep each other posted on when we get places and when we leave places.

However, we each have this fun way of projecting this “best case scenario” type of a situation when we’re almost done with work, almost done with Bad Mom’s Club night(s), almost ready to finish doing the thing that the other knew we were doing and where we were doing it… and we say, “leaving in 30.”

This phrase is kind of the kiss of death for actually leaving in 30 minutes — it’s never happened. I’m notorious for doing it at work. I’ll be there, wrapping up my work after having seen the last of my patients for the day. I’m stacking my charts and all signs point to being done before long and I just have to do that one last thing that shouldn’t take too long, and I’ll be out the door and on my way to the car in 30 minutes.

And then it happens. There was one person in the back that needs talked to before I go. Or I have to stop next door for one quick thing that gets me pulled into a conversation with so-and-so and there I go into the time suck.

“I’m just about to leave.”

Now here are the rules – once the other one realizes that you weren’t able to leave at the predetermined 30 minutes from when you told them you’d be “leaving in 30,” you MUST send a text message that says, “still there?” Before you send this text, you have to check the “Find My” app to confirm that they are, in fact, still at the place they said they were leaving (now at this point, more than 30 minutes ago).

So when you’re called out, you have to deflect. Say anything. “I was going to, but…” “See, what happened was…” “I was literally out the door, when a giant alligator grabbed me by the foot and drug me back into the bar.” It doesn’t matter if it’s legit or not, you just have to state any reason that the 30 minute self-imposed time limit lapsed. Of course, it doesn’t matter to the other person, and any reason, valid or otherwise, is met with some kind of “mmmhmmm” or “GIF” of an eye roll from Luke from Gilmore Girls — that one usually hits pretty solidly.

Sometimes posts have a lot of meaning and I hope that you take away something impactful that you can use to be a better man or boy or person someday. Other times, posts are just meant to entertain and make you laugh and put a smile on your face. This is the first one – one of the really important ones. So, when you grow up and get married, just tell your partner when you’re leaving and it’ll all be fine. They really won’t care.

Love you, boys.

Dad

On T.B.M.o.K or (your) Mom’s Night Out(s)

Boys,

Your mom is a part of a secret society and the very fact that I’ve said as much puts me in danger. As I write these words — July 2, 2021 — your mom and four or five other moms are standing on the driveway, wine in hands.

Since we moved to our house about this time last year, your mom has been assembling a network of other neighborhood moms to be a part of this secret society. Their HQ is the main bar at Kinsale. They’re fueled by white wine and High Noon. They call themselves… The Bad Moms of Kinsale.

Like I said, I’ve already said too much. Of course, I’ll have to keep from posting any pictures on this post so not to further put myself in harms way. This secret society of ‘Bad Moms’ meet up no less than 1x per month “officially,” but I’ve cracked their iCal and they’re getting together more and more on nights just like tonight.

T.B.M.o.K. are not a violent bunch, physically. In fact, they probably wouldn’t even be the most intimidating bunch at Kids Club, but what they lack in physical prowess, they make up for in volume.

Volume as in, like, turn it up to 11 not volume in the sense that there are a lot of them. I mean, there are a lot of them, but once properly lubricated, they’ll let anyone know who they are and… who they are.

WE’RE THE BAD MOMMMMMSSSS!!!!

all the moms, probably

Here’s the thing. If you stoke the fire from time to time and stay on T.B.M.o.K.’s good side, then you’ll be OK. Give them just enough encouragement to keep it within reason, but not too much rope to let them run completely wild. Could you imagine? We’d never see your mom again until we’d get word that she somehow overthrew the management at Kinsale and was pirating the clubhouse like Jack Sparrow on a rum charter.

Have you heard the story of the grasshopper and the ants? Long story short, the grasshopper controlled the ants because he was bigger/faster/stronger/#chaingamestronger than every ant in the colony, so he ran the show. But as soon as the ants figured out that by working together, they could drive the grasshopper out.

Here’s what I need from you, boys; consider this the first seed. Did you know that the word uprising comes from the latin word upris, which means to take action.

That’s not true at all. I made that up. But it would fit really well with where I’m going here, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, be the ant, boys. We can take back this house and take back this neighborhood and make it a respectable place to live. T.B.M.o.K. will have their time in the sun, but we, too, will rise and have our time to shine one day.

It all starts here…

-Dad

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 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 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 Starting With The End In Mind

On Starting With The End In Mind

Son,

There is a line in an Avett Brothers song that goes, “When nothing is owed or deserved or expected, and your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected. If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it.”

Hopefully you will appreciate the Avett Brothers when you’re older because, if not, your mom, dad, Aunt G, and team Mayberry will all be very sad at you. But even if you don’t like the band, there is a lot of truth in that line, particularly the first and the last parts. To illustrate my thought, I want to focus on the last line, “Decide what to be and go be it.”

Decide what to be and go be it

When you start something with the end in mind, you are working toward a goal and you’re free of circumstance. No matter what each day brings, you can navigate the challenges by deciding what action you take will get you toward your goal. Decide what to be doesn’t have to mean what your career will be, but decide what kind of person you want to be, and live each day in a way that makes that a reality.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… you’re right.” — Henry Ford 

Perspective is a powerful thing.  I think when you’re young, and even a lot of people who are older, you can’t grasp the gravity of what these expressions mean. You might hear it, and say, “yea, I get it.” It’s the same thing as when I would tell you to start with the end in mind. If you take it to heart and adjust your perspective so that you make that expression a rule you operate by, you will find that you achieve those things you set out to achieve — you reach the end instead of stall along the way.

As you grow up, I promise to teach you to take on challenges with the end in mind, whether it be in sports, school, relationships, or anything else you ever need help with. I will show you how to visualize the things you want, and let the goal be your compass that guides each decision you make along the journey.

Decide what to be a go be it, son. And if you have confidence in what you want to be, there won’t be any person, situation, or circumstance that will keep you from that goal.

 

On Music, Rhythm, and your Mom’s Singing

On Music, Rhythm, and your Mom’s Singing

A yin-yang is a symbol that is shaped like a circle that is split into two parts — one side black and the other white. Within each side of the circle, there is a smaller circle of the opposite color, and it’s meant to represent the idea that there is good and bad (lightness vs. darkness) inside each of us. The idea is that nobody is 100% one thing — there is always a little bit of something else in every aspect of our lives.

Often times, a yin-yang can represent a relationship between two people. A perfect example of this can be understood with your mother and I, and our relationship toward music. You already know that I play guitar and sing.

I was never meant to give Justin Timberlake a run for his money in the talent department, but I do OK for it just being something fun that I enjoy. Your mom has rhythm. She can dance, shake her booty, and find a beat to just about any song and come up with some pretty entertaining/interesting/interesting moves.

The yin-yang of it all is that your dad can’t dance, and your mom…

bless

…can’t sing (sorry babe).

Now I can bop around with you when we’re listening to music, and your mom can surprise me sometimes by hitting some notes when she’s feeling it (aka – wine), but for the most part, we are just two opposites that kind of make a musical whole (it’s why we’re a good match).

My hope for you is that you get the best of both worlds, and are a musical triple-threat — sing/dance/play. Even if you choose not to do any of those things, I hope that you’ll find a love for music through your mom and my efforts to sing, play, and dance with you as often as we do.

Bonus points if you follow my tastes in music. Your mom and I also have a little yin-yang when it comes to musical tastes. Her side is full of Timberlake, Beyoncé, things she used to dance at the club to in her red hat, and girl-anthem songs spanning the last 30 years (Janet-Clarkson). My side is a HOF-worthy playlist of modern classics, all-time great artists, and the unsung heroes that make up the fabric of quality music. You mom appreciates a few of the things that I play, and I will grant her that Timberlake has some ability.

 

 

On Fear

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

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.