On Facial Hair

Boys,

Who am I to speak to trends decades from now, when other males your age may or may not find that growing facial hair is something worthy of pursuit? What I can speak to is that in today’s world, men of just about any age can coif a scruffy moustache or tightly kempt beard and look flier than a feather in zero gravity.

Before I continue, I should apologize. There are many things I will pass on to you both — rugged good looks, unparalleled athleticism, witty word-talk n’ stuff, and I’ll show you both how much one man can love his boys. But what I need to apologize for is that which I cannot give you — facial hair.

You see, I started getting facial hair the same time as most other boys my age growing up — 22 or 23 years old. However, my facial hair has always been thin and, frankly, embarrassing. After a few days without shaving, your mom would whisper sweetly to me that I look like someone who, if I were to do the things that she suggested I look like, would carry a minimum sentence of 25+ years.

This is actually a picture of me on my 21st birthday.

The point is, I can’t grow it and my guess is that you boys probably won’t either. OR — life will play a cruel joke on your dad and give you both glorious facial hair. And you’ll both probably wear it over when you come to visit your mom and I, braided down the chin like Aquaman or something — like I said, I don’t know what kind of facial-fashion 2040 has in store. And the nuts of it is that your uncle Jordan, Papa Rauch and all his brothers, even everyone on your Grandma’s side of the family…can all grow facial hair. Why can’t I?!?

You know, I made this blog as a way to kind of talk to you both as I am now to who you’ll be some day when you’re old enough to pick up on some of my humor and tone. I hope that as you age, you’ll appreciate these posts in different ways and I hope they are something you can come back to and find a piece of who I am, who you both were, and what our lives were like outside of the pictures and videos of us from this time.

But it’s also therapy for me to vent and acknowledge my shortcomings in a way that makes other people smile and allows me to laugh at myself.

So whatever you take from this, just enjoy the ride and I hope that you can find moments of brevity when you can step back and appreciate life’s silly moments. And if I can end on a poker analogy, a 2-7 off cracks aces 12% of the time, so make the most of whatever squirrely chin hair you end up with (or do the smart thing and just keep a clean shave).

Love you, boys.

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 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 Mother’s Day

Son,

This will be your second Mother’s Day. For your first, we were down in Florida visiting Mima and Papa, and you were just a 3 month old baby — it was actually your very first vacation! Your dad didn’t do a very good job at making your mom feel special, and I am determined to make up for it this year.

There are so many reasons that Mother’s Day is one of the most important holidays and why you and I need to go out of our way, this year and, really, all the years, to make your mom feel loved. I’ve come to know that being a mom can be a thankless job a lot of times. Nobody tells her that she does a great job on days when it’s just the two of you and she isn’t able to get any work done. Most days, nobody says “thank you” for making sure our refrigerator is full, that there isn’t dog hair taking over the house.

Now that I am thinking about it, here are just a few of the many things you and I are thankful for your mom (and should make a point to tell her that we love her more often):

  1. We’re thankful that she cares about you so much, that she stays up at night figuring out the best ways to make sure your butt rashes stay in check, your belly doesn’t hurt, and you are in the best health you can be (she even set an alarm @ 1:30am the other night to check to make sure your rash wasn’t getting any worse)
    • side note: that is parent speak for something else, but no need to subject anyone outside of the inner-circle for why your rash might get worse at 1:30am… just saying, your momma loves you a LOT
  2. We’re thankful that she plans ahead and makes sure that you experience new things, like zoo trips, COSI trips, swimming lessons before vacation, and ways for you to experience more than what the world of Peppa Pig might allow
  3. We’re thankful that she wants the best things for our family, and works so hard to make sure we give ourselves every opportunity to have the life we have and the life we see for ourselves in our future
  4. We’re thankful that she has us looking our best (and in clothes that fit) — God knows if it were up to me, you might still be rocking a tank top made for 6 mo. olds, belly-showing and looking like a baby Zeke Elliott.
  5. We’re thankful that she puts up with us, because between your drunk-baby tornado of terror and my inability to remember what we’re doing, where we’re going, or even how to get there, we are probably a little harder on her than we should be
  6. We’re thankful because your mom has no less than five jobs, with each one requiring her to juggling so many things, and she still finds time to be the best mom and wife
  7. We’re thankful because she supports the things I want to do, and will absolutely support anything you decide you want to do as you grow up
  8. We’re thankful because she makes a point to Facetime your Mima and Papa, Uncle Jeff, Aunt Katie, and all your cousins. Just because they live far away doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get to see them, talk to them, and make sure they know how great you are
  9. We’re thankful because she balances us out so completely. Lets face it — you and I can be a little messy/all over the place/scatter-brained/not always making sense/don’t tell her we love her as much as we should, and she still finds a way to keep us looking good
  10. We’re thankful because she is the best in every way

Truth be told, I don’t know which one of us put your mom through more to this point. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Despite the fact that she has 1000 balls up in the air at any time, still finds time to look as good as she does, and makes sure that our worlds keep on turning day after day, she still finds time to love us, make us her top priority, and give everything she has so we can be in a better place tomorrow than we were yesterday.

So even though you can’t say it yet, I will just say it for you, son…

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY, KELLY/MAMA/B! WE LOVE YOU SO VERY VERY VERY VERY MUCH!

 

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 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.

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!

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