To My Son, Koen

Koen,

I think I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again — sometimes I want to write to just one child. Part of me feels like I’ve written to Reagan for two years before having a chance to write to you, so there is some making up I need to do. In either case, I want to write to you because I want you to know how special you are to me, your mom, Reagan, and our family. (Not to mention, your grandparents and just about anyone else who meets you).

Your mom sometimes calls you a COVID baby — I’m hoping by the time you read this, that won’t make any sense to you. But because you were born in 2020, the sad truth is that your birth year will also be remembered as the year that COVID-19 – aka “coronavirus” — took over the world. This was a time when everyone was forced to stay indoors and away from people. Because of that, you haven’t been acclimated to the world the way a normal baby would the first year of his life.

Chilling out maxing relaxing all cool —

Despite the struggle to find normalcy this past year, you’ve been such a bright spot for me. Sure, the lack of sleep didn’t earn you many brownie points with me or your mom, but you’re starting to get the hang of it and we’re actually starting to get some sleep at night (you + your mom and me). You getting a good night’s sleep I think has made you a happier baby throughout the day, and that is just a good thing for everyone.

Right now as I write this, you’re 7 months old. Its hard to say the things you like and don’t like, because you’re still figuring out this whole world-thing, but I think there are a few things that make you more happy than others.

  • Being carried — especially in this “strap-you-to-my-chest-facing-out” thing I wear. When nothing else works, I strap you up and we just walk around the house.
  • Baths – your mom is usually the one who gives you baths, but the amount of Instagram videos or pics there are of you, naked-butt, being held by your mom getting selfies in the bathroom mirror before your bath is borderline concerning — but it is super-cute and you eat it up so I love it too.
  • Bouncing- whether it’s in your bouncer or being held under your armpits and just hopping on my stomach, you like to jump.
  • Raspberries – aka the thing when you get your belly blown on and it makes the big fart sound.
  • Waking up from naps and seeing your mom or me – you are kind of startled, but as soon as you pick up on what’s happening, you get the biggest smile.
  • Your blanket — Reagan calls his “Mel” because it’s shaped like a giraffe and we named him after the character in Madagascar. Your looks like a lion, so we tried to name him “Alex” or “Al,” but we’ll see if that sticks.

I just want you to know I’m super excited to be your dad. We have moments like tonight where you and Reagan got up at the same time, so I got you out of bed and we went into Reagan’s room where your mom and he were sitting in his bed. I laid you down next to Reagan and we had a family moment and it just made me really happy. This is just a tiny taste of what the next 15-20 years will look like as a family, and I can’t wait for all the moments — both little and big — to happen.

In the meantime, I just want you to be happy. Keep on figuring this sleep thing out, then we can work on crawling, popping some teeth out, and turning you into the happiest, healthiest, perfectest little person there is. Your mom and I are so thankful to have you complete our family, and we both love you so very very much.

-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 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