May 18, 2013

One more way that I’ve become my mother

As a child, I used to sit outside of my mother’s closed bathroom door as she did whatever bathroomly stuff that mothers did and read to her from my latest issue of Sports Illustrated. I’d recite stats from the previous night’s baseball game and tell her about the latest musician that I liked.

And I thought my mother was interested in all that I had to tell her.

But now, decades later, as my son sits on the couch shouting to me things like, “Daddy! This girl in Minecraft has her own cat!” or “Daddy, listen to this Demi Lovato song!” that I have come to the shocking realization that my mother had absolutely zero interest in what I was telling her.

In retrospect, I can’t imagine why she’d want to know the current batting average of Jack Clark or hearing me read the entire article of the Curious Case of Sidd Finch, but she somehow would add enough “mmmm-hmmm’s” to make me feel like she cared.

And as I sit here decades later, I find myself saying “mmmmm-hmmmm” a lot and I think back to my mother and say, “Well played, Mom. Well played.”

April 25, 2013

Third Time’s a Charm


You are 22 months old and I want you to know that in spite of all that has happened in my life during that time, I thank God that you are here to bless my life.

In the past several months, you have transformed from a baby to a full-fledged toddler. You are communicating at an amazing rate and while your diction leaves a little to be desired, I have learned to speak fluent Girly – which makes hanging out with you a lot of fun.

One thing that I have come to love about you is your sense of humor. You know how to ham it up with a silly face and laugh at whatever the world has presented. You have even learned to use good old gas-passing as humor, which I discovered the other night when I lay you in your crib and you suddenly shouted, “Toot-Toot, Daddy!” and you let out a rather loud noise from your nether-regions, giggling mischievously as you looked into my eyes with pure joy lighting up the darkness of the room. Of course, I laughed too. Because fart jokes are always funny.

And that mischievousness also is evident in other ways. You know when you shouldn’t be doing something and when you are caught, let’s say, sneaking a granola bar from the pantry, you don’t wallow in pity or look at me with puppy-dog eyes begging for forgiveness. No, you take off running with your little hand clutching the contraband like a vice.

As you can see, you can be quite a handful. You are opinionated, loud, full of energy, hard-headed and filled with a spark that lights up the room. And I love every damn minute of it.


April 6, 2013

It’s a man’s world but don’t just live in it

To my girls…

Someday, you won’t be little girls with ribbons in your hair and stains from Crayola markers adorning your hands. Someday, you will be all grown up and finding your place in this big, yet small, world. This is what I hope for you…

Despite much change, it’s still a man’s world when it comes to getting ahead in life. They shape how much you get paid, what you should wear and how you should look. Don’t buy into that. The most successful women aren’t the ones who accept the status quo – they are the ones that look the patriarchy in the eye without blinking and blaze their own path. I hope that you find the strength to be true to yourself – not to what any man (or woman, for that matter) thinks you should be.

I hope that you grow up not needing the embrace of a man to make you feel whole. I want you to know you are whole now. No man can give you what you already have inside.

But when it comes to settling down (if that’s where your heart leads) I hope you find a man (or woman, for that matter) that each and every day feels damn lucky to be with you. And I hope you feel the same way. I hope you find that person that understands that two can be stronger than one.

I hope you never look at yourself in the mirror and think anything other than, “I’m beautiful.” You are imperfectly perfect and being comfortable with who you are and not what anyone else – men or media alike – says you should be will lift you up when the world tries to drag you down. Be yourself. Love yourself. Nothing else matters.

And while we’re on the subject, I hope you don’t live your life based on what you think others will think of you. Don’t waste energy on what other people think. Chances are, they are too worried about what others think of them to spend too much time thinking about you. Live your life! Be free from the chains of expectations that will yoke you to the ground like turkeys and prohibit you from flying with the eagles where you belong.

And finally, I hope you lift other women up rather than tear them down. There’s room at the top for everyone and for every woman who is where they want to be, there are many more who could use a helping hand. Refrain from tearing others down to make yourself look better. Instead, give a helping hand and realize that your successes don’t come at the expense of others, they come when you are true to yourself and to women everywhere.

Oh, and call your father. He loves you.

February 27, 2013

Daddy’s Fables

The twins asked for a bedtime story tonight. Not a book but a story. As I tucked them into bed, my mind raced to form a story. Something funny? Something with Princesses and slimy creatures? Or perhaps something with a little bit of wisdom attached to it. This is what I told them…

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Gustav. Gustav was just like any other kid. He played with cars and did well at at school. He loved sweets too. But what he loved most was Raspberry Sorbet.

One hot day he was dying for some raspberry sorbet. But he didn’t have any money. “How can I buy some raspberry sorbet if I don’t have money?” he thought. He thought about his conundrum as he walked along the busy road to the sorbet shop. Then, it hit him. “I KNOW!!” he exclaimed. “I’ll dance and sing along this busy road and ask for donations! Maybe I’ll earn enough for some raspberry sorbet.”

But then he began to worry. “What if people laugh at me?” he thought. “What if people think my dancing and singing is terrible and they make fun of me?” Thinking of how others would think of him was making him nervous and scared. But then he thought of how much he loved raspberry sorbet. And how much he loved to sing and dance. And suddenly HE DIDN’T CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THOUGHT! He began to dance and wiggle and shimmy and shake and he DANCED! He started to sing too! His voice overcoming the sounds of the cars at the busy intersection and, before he knew it, people started showering him with money. Coins and bills were dumped at his feet as he boogied up and down the sidewalk and before long he had made a tremendous amount of money.

It was so much money that he struggled to collect it all up. But when he did, he staggered along to the Sorbet Shop and asked the owner if he had enough to buy some Raspberry Sorbet. After counting it all up, the owner exclaimed, “Son, not only do you have enough to buy some raspberry sorbet, you have enough money to buy the whole shop!”

And with that, Gustav bought his very own Sorbet Shop and he ate Raspberry Sorbet whenever he felt like it. All because he didn’t care what others would think of him and he did what he loved.

The end.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. – Dr. Seuss

February 19, 2013

Breaking the rules

You were frustrated. Your vocabulary, while expanding rapidly, was inadequate to express your feelings – so you lashed out at me and hit me in the face. You knew you were wrong. I could see it in your eyes as I told you “No! We don’t hit.

And then I added something I haven’t had to add before… “You are getting a timeout!”

I picked you up and placed you in the nearest corner. I wondered how you would react. Would you stay there? Would you understand what was happening? I needn’t have wondered, however, because even at 20 months, you seem to understand everything. You sat there for the duration of the timeout – which was only about a minute but seemed so much longer.

When I told you that timeout was done, I picked you up onto your feet and it was clear that you wanted to make amends. Your mother was sitting nearby and you sought comfort in her arms and then you turned to me and toddled into my arms and gave me a hug and then a kiss. You were sorry.

And so it begins. For me, I am sometimes torn between what needs disciplining (although in this case, hitting was clearly deserving of punishment) and what needs to be encouraged. For instance, you run away from me often, laughing mischievously as you escape my clutches.  You throw food onto the ground when you don’t want to eat it and you sometimes turn a deaf ear when you don’t want to hear what I’m saying.

And while I am contemplating what to do, I am often reminded of the saying, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”  I am keenly aware that how I shape your reaction to authority will have an impact on who you become. Yes, I want you to be polite and courteous, but I also want you to feel comfortable challenging authority and following your heart rather than following someone else’s plan for you (and every other child). You are unique. You are special. You can be anything you want to be, little girl. I want you to be sure of that.

So let’s hope this timeout only prevents you from hitting people in the face.

First timeout

January 30, 2013

Pride with a little bit of prejudice


I have been able to spend a lot of one-on-one time with you the last few weeks. Between your daycare provider going on vacation, you being sick, me leaving my job, there’s been a lot of opportunity for us to bond even more. This is making me feel so incredibly good because I never did take a paternity leave with you like I did with your brother and sister. Circumstances made it difficult and I regret not taking that time. But now I have the time and it’s been an incredible experience to not only get to know you but have the opportunity to feel like I’m contributing to your development.

I have been playing with you a lot these past few weeks and it is amazing to me how quickly you absorb information. It hasn’t been all that long since we’ve begun reading nightly bedtime stories but you can now help me finish the rhymes on your favorite book, “I know a Rhino.” At first I thought it was coincidence that you were making sounds that were similar to the words but now I know that it’s deliberate. You know the rhyme and you say it with me, which is pretty damn cool.

You also know the names to the facial features as we get dressed after a bath, you lie on the changing table and point to my hair and say “hair” in your cute 19-month voice. You point to my eyes, nose, ears and teeth and repeat these as well. And then, as I blow raspberries on your freshly-washed belly, you laugh and point and say, “Belly!”

And finally, you love to sing. If you have heard a tune a few times, you will sing along to it, reciting lyrics only you know but it’s clearly in the tune of the song you’re either listening to or just heard. Today, we had a good time singing “The more we get together” as I readied you for your nap. After we had stopped singing together and I gathered you to put you in your crib, you continued your own little solo. Your smile as you sang lit up the room.

You are growing up so fast and learning words at a dizzying pace. You have an outgoing personality and a smile and laugh that is intoxicating. You give kisses and raspberries and hugs. You wave and say “bye-bye” emphatically and, if the person is really special, even blow kisses.

I love the little girl that you have become, sweet one. And I’m equally glad that I’m here to see it.


January 17, 2013


I resigned from my job today. I signed a piece of paper through tear-blurred eyes that said I no longer wanted to be the Executive Director at my Y.

It was a tough moment in a series of tough moments these past six months. So many thoughts swirled through my head while my hand scribbled the words, “Effective today…” I thought of my kids and my ex-wife and how they depended on me to be there for them. I thought of all the joy my job has brought me and how much I loved what I do. I thought of how much I loved building that Y and giving the community something special. But it is time to move on.

And as I say the things I need to say to myself to keep going, things like, “when one door closes, another opens” or “the best is yet to come,” I feel better but it just barely masks the feeling that I don’t know if I’ve ever felt in my lifetime… failure.

The kids cried tonight when I told them I was leaving the Y. They cried for the camp counselors they love and what the Y has meant to them over the years. I cried too. I told them that it’s okay to be sad but that things will be okay.

And they will be. Fortunately, I have some time to figure things out. The uncertainty that lies ahead is certainly scary and daunting but I look forward to new challenges and a new opportunity to be the leader I want to be. Sometimes, a fresh start is what’s needed.

And I will hold my head high and be the role model my kids need me to be. They need to see that in challenging times, good things happen. I am determined to show them that this is true.

But it does seem I’ll have to enroll them in camp in the spring. Good thing the Y gives financial assistance.

January 2, 2013

Miss Independent

You only look back when I call your name.

And even then, as I call out to you to stay close, you look back at me and laugh… and then run faster in the other direction, your little 18-month-legs churning furiously beneath you.

It has become a game to you. Run away from Daddy. And while I chase you down, whether it be on a sidewalk, a field at the park or in our own house, you laugh deliriously at the thought of running away from Daddy.

I always scoop you up and plant kisses on your soft, chubby cheeks and admonish you for running away from me. But deep down, I like it. I like that you have a sense of independence that gives you the confidence to wander freely on your own. You explore and relish the opportunity to break out on your own and I can’t help but hope that this trait continues into your adulthood.

Your brother and sister were never like this. I have many memories of one or both clinging tightly to my legs in new situations or even recurring situations like daycare or camp while crying and begging me not to leave them. But not you.

No, you seem to embrace your independence. You seem to embrace the chance to strike out on your own. And I hope you know that while I will always be here to cheer you on as you explore your freedom that I’ll always be ready to pull you back to safety and give you kisses and playfully admonish you for running away.

But secretly loving it.


December 19, 2012


I am settling GirlyGirl into her car seat after we have seen Swee’Pea and TheMonk off at the bus stop. It is cold and my fingers struggle with the buckle and GirlyGirl begins to become restless until she notices herself in the mirror that is positioned in front of her that allows me to see her from the driver’s seat.

She points at her reflection and says, simply, “Pretty.”

I smile at her as we make eye contact in the mirror. “Yes.” I reply. “You are very, pretty.”

Of course, she’s heard this from me before. I feel it is my duty as a father to my daughters to impart a feeling of self-worth. Yes, this should be focused on intrinsic characteristics like kindness and self-esteem but I feel it’s equally important for my daughters to feel pretty. Too many women in our society grow up thinking they are ugly. I have personally witnessed women struggle through eating disorders or body image problems because they don’t feel they are pretty or don’t measure up to what society dictates beauty to be.

I may be naive to think that I can counter all the media and outside influences my daughters will face as they grow up into women but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to do my best to make sure my daughters feel beautiful – both inside and out.



September 30, 2012

Life Changes

Every now and again my ring finger feels naked. I absentmindedly reach for my wedding band with my thumb, as I’ve done probably thousands of times before, and realize that it’s no longer there. That symbol of eternity, as the priest described it over 12 years ago, now sits in my overnight bag, tucked unceremoniously under the bathroom sink.

What led to this life change is complicated and, yet, simple. While I’m not inclined to air my laundry in such a public forum, I am at peace with the decision. For too long I gave and, in my mind, received little. Or, at least, not enough. I’m not sure if blame is to be cast – it just is. And while I am mindful that the person I will no longer be married to will always, and hopefully, be in my life as we continue to parent our beautiful children, I am also mindful that my life can be mine again.

Again, this is not to place blame. Blame implies anger and resentment and that’s something that I don’t have. Not anymore. Sometimes I feel a melancholy sadness that mostly percolates to the surface when a childhood milestone is missed as the family we once knew – but I am also filled with hope for the future and a sense of peace that the decision is the right one.

And as I look at the faces of my children, I hope they will one day understand that this decision was made, in part, because I want something better for them. I want them to learn what a healthy, strong relationship looks like and I feared they wouldn’t learn that with the status quo. Perhaps they can see what two loving parents can do for their children – even if it’s done in two separate households.

As for me, my life feels at ease for the first time in a long time. The irony is that there are many reasons to feel differently but I feel, for the first time in a long time, a sense of optimism that I thought had died long ago. I know who I want to be. I know what I want for myself. I know that I can take the lessons I learned from my marriage and apply it to my next relationship. I am a work in progress but the final chapter hasn’t been written. In fact, this middle chapter might be the defining time of my life – as a father, lover, friend.

Here’s to the next journey. One where the symbol of eternity won’t be a ring of precious metal but a resolve to give and receive and love and be loved.

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