Tag Archives: dads

Why I Hate Running (Yet Do It Anyway)

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I fucking hate running.

Some people love running and happily devote hordes of time to it. These crazy bastards on endorphin highs can’t wait to get out on roads and trails to chase their personal bests and FEEL THE BURN. Honestly, good for them. I’m happy for them (even though their speed and relentless enthusiasm makes me stabby at times).

But not me. I’m a big guy, always have been. Even when I lose a bunch of weight I’m still big. Having run four half marathons in my life, I’m prepared to stand out like a sore thumb in a crowd of waifish and highly athletic stick figures that invariably populate these races. Basically, in a sea of gazelles I’m a lumbering water buffalo.

The picture at the top of this post was taken near the halfway mark (about 6.2 miles in), and the photographer managed to capture my facial expression at the EXACT moment I realized I still had nearly 7 more miles to go before finishing. I was tired, sore, my foot hurt, and at the risk of telling you way more than you want to know, the inside of my thighs looked like something out of a B horror movie.

So the million dollar question becomes, why run 13.1 miles if I hate running.

There are a few reasons. First of all, I enjoy doing things I’m not expected to do. Look at me. I’m 5’10”, 255 lbs. Even the kid who handed me my bib number assumed I was picking it up for a friend, and stuttered his way to an embarrassed apology when I said I was running. But I also do it specifically because it’s hard and doesn’t come naturally to me. The mind fuck and head games involved in distance running simultaneously intimidates and intrigues me, and there’s something to be said for overcoming self-imposed limitations and proving yourself.

And yeah, I also do it because I hate going to the gym even more than running, and if I didn’t run I’d weigh 400 lbs. My desk job is very sedentary, my eating habits are mostly terrible, and I’m not one to join CrossFit or some other similar group, so running is really the only healthy thing I do.

But mainly, I do it because Will tells all his friends his daddy runs half marathons.

Is that vain? Yeah, probably. But it’s also the truth. He’s 7 so right now he thinks 13.1 miles is roughly the distance to the moon and back. His eyes go wide when I show him the courses I run, and he thinks it’s the most amazing thing ever. I heard him talking to some friends in school when I was volunteering in his class, telling them his dad runs races and goes really far.

And it made me feel good. I was proud that he was proud of his old man. That means everything to me, and it’s enough to propel my fat ass off the couch and onto the course for a distance I don’t really like driving, nevermind running.

I need my kids to know they have a shot at doing and becoming anything. If they don’t believe that as they grow up, they’ll lose confidence, determination, and hope. And I feel personally showing them it’s possible to reach a pie in the sky goal goes a long way toward bolstering their optimism.

But almost the entire back half of my most recent half-marathon was uphill, and let me tell you, I wanted to quit so badly. I almost did a few times. Right around Mile 8, I realized I was passing a friend’s house. And they were home, so they could’ve given me a ride. I even crossed the street fully prepared to run up to their front door, ask for a Gatorade, and ride back to the starting line in the air-conditioned car.

However, they were out on their porch and they saw me. Mary waved excitedly and Jim shouted his encouragement too. And, much to my dismay at the time, I was guilted into continuing. It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise I never would’ve had this moment at the finish line.

MJ caught the moment I crossed the finish line on video with Will. I won’t lie, it’s a little dusty in here when I watch it.

Posted by The Daddy Files on Sunday, June 14, 2015

Even the best dads only get to feel like true superheroes for a few fleeting moments in life, and running gave me my cape — if only for a few minutes. But it was enough to make all the hills over the course of 13.1 grueling miles completely worth it.

As an added bonus, Will wants to start running with me. We’re going to start with a 5k and go from there. So now I have another reason to keep running — making sure he doesn’t beat me in a race for as long as humanly possible.

And to create more moments like this one.

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Son, Please Wait Up From Time to Time

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I don’t want my kids to stop growing up so fast. I just hope they wait up every now and then so I can catch up and enjoy them.

I’ll never forget the week before I left for college. I had just turned 18 and was desperate to leave home and start a new chapter of my life, as most recent high school graduates are. My dad took me out to eat as a goodbye, and to have a heart-to-heart. Man to man. I was slightly annoyed because I had to cancel plans with friends, but I relented. I’m glad I did.

My dad didn’t just work full time when I was growing up, he worked MASSIVE amounts of time. He was busy helping to build a business from scratch, and I’d routinely go entire days without seeing him. In a moment of candor, he told me that was a huge regret and he would always be worried about the time he missed as we grew up. Then, with tears in eyes, he joked that just as I was getting interesting I was leaving, and he made one request.

“I know you’ll be busy, but I just really hope you’ll want to hang out every now and then. Because I really like spending time with you.”

As an 18-year-old I just thought it was sweet but kind of sappy. But nearly 20 years later as a parent of two (soon to be three), I know exactly what he means. And I feel precisely the same way.

Doesn’t it seem like the older our kids get the faster they get away from us? Not only that, they’re constantly aided by evolution and technology to hasten their escape.

Think about it. First they crawl, then they walk, and then they run. Next comes the first tricycle, then the first bike, and finally a car. And I’m not even counting TV, cell phones, and tablets, which doesn’t transport them physically but certainly are an escape of sorts.

Will turned 7 in April. I’ve enjoyed watching him grow, even as that growth firms up his independence and makes me that much more unnecessary. I could keep pace with his crawling, walking, and running. And even when he’s riding his bike, he still can’t completely outrun me.

But now he can leave me in the dust.

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This amazing scooter from Razor arrived at our house last week, and it is just awesome. You should’ve seen his face when he walked into the house and saw it — pure bliss. After all, what 7-year-old (technically it’s for kids 8+ but Will is very tall and responsible) wouldn’t love an electric scooter with twist-grip acceleration that tops out at 10 mph?

After a safety lesson and securing his helmet, we took it to a nearby bike path — and in an instant he was gone.

I was pushing Sam in his stroller and suddenly I felt the familiar pull of ecstasy and trepidation. I love watching the pride he takes in learning something new, but watching him literally zip away from me at high speeds stung a bit.

So I did what most dads would do — I got behind the stroller and began running as hard and fast as I could.

I’m a big guy and that scooter goes 10 mph with ease. I yelled up to Will, who had stopped along the path, that I was coming for him as Sam squealed in (nearly) 2-year-old delight at the wind hitting his face as I built up steam. Faster and faster, until my legs burned and I pulled even with him in a fit of huffing and puffing non-glory.

In the battle of man vs machine, this man proved woefully inadequate. I began to slow as my legs got heavy and the pace became unsustainable. With the little breath I had left, I shouted “Go buddy, go!” and prepared for him to officially leave me in the dust. Because if you do your job right, that’s what kids should do. Onward and upward.

But suddenly — 18 years after my father’s honest talk with me — it was my turn to have tears in my eyes. Not because Will was zipping ahead, but because he was waiting up for me.

The motor grew softer and his speed decreased. He came to a stop, flipped up the kick stand, turned to me and yelled “You comin’, dad?”

I’m coming. As long as he’ll wait up for me from time to time, I’ll be there. And I’ll be grateful.

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I received no monetary compensation for this post, but I did receive the Razor E100 electric scooter. But as always, all opinions are my own. Razor is a great company with terrific products, and you should check out its website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Time is a Flat Skipping Rock

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photo credit: via photopin (license)

“You need to get better at managing your time.”

We have the same exact fight with Will every single night. An hour before bedtime we ask him to think about his plan for the rest of the evening. For instance, he can watch TV or play Minecraft for an hour, but at 8 pm he’ll have to go right to bed. Or he can choose to watch TV/play for half an hour and then we can rest for a bit together upstairs and chat before bed, which he loves to do.

He’s always so sure and steadfast when he makes the initial decision. But then, as bedtime nears, he gets buyer’s remorse and wishes he had chosen the opposite. Then come the tears, the yelling, the tantrums — it’s exhausting. But we stick to our guns and talk about the importance of time management. Time after time.

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I took Will to a local swimming hole with friends over the weekend. The weather is unseasonably gorgeous here for early May, so the kids fished for a bit and then stripped down and went for a dip. They were pirates, adventurers, and archaeologists digging in the water’s edge for time’s forgotten fossils.

Well, the clan of Spidey underwear clad explorers  didn’t discover a new species of dinosaur. However, they found the next best thing: flat rocks.

The sun-splashed afternoon quickly became a rock skipping competition of epic proportions — each kid side-arming stones in an attempt to skim it off the surface of the water and create as many jumps as possible. Who could skip rocks the farthest? Who could get the most skips? Which one of those trumps the other?

Then Will hucked a nice one at a great angle and attained maximum skippage. A nice big, arcing first bounce followed by four or five additional skips before the limits of the universe intervened and halted all progress. He turned and looked at me with a beaming grin and eyes sparkling with self-satisfaction in the noon-day sun.

He suddenly seemed so grown up, almost like a different person. And I wondered where all the time had —

Oh holy hell.

Time management is a crock of shit. It only took one look at the skipping rocks kissing the water’s surface combined with my suddenly seven-year-old son to realize time can’t be managed. Not really, anyway. Nothing as inexorable as time can truly be managed. Or contained. Or even slowed down. A few guys tried it once in the 1980s, but their DeLorean antics produced some unpredictable results.

We are shot out of a cannon into life’s pond and the clock immediately starts ticking. We skip along the surface and our respective ripples trace our journey. They are the major milestones of our lives — first date, graduation, buying a house, marriage, kids — because those things are the most visible. They are the moments stamped most markedly in time for all to see.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re the most important.

Time can’t be stopped or slowed down. But it can and should be savored often, and survived when necessary.

And although the splashdowns are the obvious focal points, most of life is the in-between. The bulk of our journey consists of the flight — rocketing through the air not knowing exactly where or when we’re going to land — and hoping we bounce up and keep going for just a little while longer. Just skipping ahead one more time until physics kick in and we inevitably sink to the bottom.

We’re all in flight and set in motion, and you can manage your time or enjoy it. For me, it’s time for the latter.

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Dads Clean Up Nicely These Days

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OK, let’s get this out of the way first and foremost. Yes, the guy who went on record saying he prefers parents with slightly messy houses is writing a post about cleaning houses. And while I can already hear the “HYPOCRITE!” chants, that really isn’t the case. Despite being comfortable with a little mess and disorganization, there comes a tipping point at which the mess threatens to climb The Wall like a mass of Wildlings and enslave us all.

Or, in other words, cleaning up occasionally is necessary, as is making sure it’s never just one parent’s job to do so. That’s where Swiffer and its #SwifferDad campaign comes in.

Did you know, according to the Swiffer Cleaning Index, dads today are pitching in around the house more than twice as much as their own fathers did? And of the men surveyed, approximately half say they do the lion’s share of housework. Gone are the strict gender roles and the Mr. Mom mentality automatically assumed when men donned an apron or cleaned the floors. Modern masculinity is about being present and involved in all of the moments, not just the one where you slap a paycheck down on the table and send your wife grocery shopping.

To be perfectly frank with you all, MJ and I have a fairly traditional arrangement at home. I work full-time and have a half dozen or so freelancing gigs on the side, which amounts to nearly two full-time jobs. With my wife staying at home full-time, the vast majority of cooking and cleaning falls to her.

But that doesn’t mean working fathers like myself use that as an excuse.

I negotiated a flexible schedule at work so I could take my youngest to an Early Intervention play group once a week. I volunteer in my oldest son’s first-grade classroom every Friday. And at nights and on the weekend, I try to do a little cooking and cleaning. My wife works extraordinarily hard and now, 19 weeks pregnant, gets even more tired than usual. So if I can do the dishes, a load of laundry, or clean the floor, it makes her feel appreciated.

While I never cleaning interfere with the limited amount of time I have at home to be with the kids, it is important to get it done. So I get up early and do some chores while everyone is in bed before we start our day, which really frees us up to have worry-free fun.

Or, if my youngest decides he doesn’t want to sleep, I include him in the process. Because there really is no substitute for modeling involved fatherhood and giving him firsthand experience in the process.

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The Swiffer Wet Jet is easy for me to use, and my 20-month-old can’t stop pressing the spray button and then mopping. Which is great for me, since I flat out HATED our old mop and bucket. That was a whole damn process, whereas the Wet Jet consists of putting a Power Pad on, cleaning, and then simply removing the pad afterward and throwing it away. Easy, clean, done.

My kids know I work at work, and then I work at home. They know their mom and I are a team, and they have their own chores because now they’re part of the team as well. That’s imperative as gender roles shift, more moms return to the workforce, and dads make their home lives a priority.

*I was compensated by Swiffer for this post, but all opinions are my own.

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A Letter to My Unborn Baby

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Dear 3rd Child,

I wasn’t always sure I wanted you.

Oh, sorry about that. Where are my manners? Hi, I’m your dad. Nice to meet you. I’m the owner of that loud voice you’re probably already sick of. If you can even hear. Honestly, I’m not even sure you have ears yet because I hate those baby development calendars that tell me how big you are by comparing you to different fruits and vegetables. You know, this week you’re a peapod and next week you’ll be the size of an avocado. Maybe it’s because some of the vegetables they use are really strange, and because I don’t eat enough of them I don’t know what they look like and then all perspective is lost. I start to feel like if I can’t use vegetables to figure out your size then maybe you don’t exist. Maybe none of us really exist. And suddenly I’m in a full blown existential crisis all because I’m unfamiliar with rutabagas.

Sorry, sometimes I get off topic a bit. As I was saying, I wasn’t really sure I wanted you. I know that’s a horrible first impression I’m making, but it’s the truth.

You see, you’re our third child. The only problem is, I never planned on having more than two. It’s nothing personal, just that I’m a big believer in man-to-man defense. Or, in other words, one parent for each kid. It’s simple in theory, and it comforts me not to be outnumbered. But your arrival means your mom and I have to switch to zone. We’re going to be out-manned, forced to play a prevent defense. Insert additional football metaphors here.

It’s not like your mom tricked me or was deceitful. When we talked about how many kids we wanted she always said “two or three at the most.” I think I just ignored the latter part and assumed we were on the same page. And then we had trouble getting and staying pregnant, so in my mind, three was almost definitely not in the cards.

Last April your mom told me she was pregnant. Unfortunately (or from your purely selfish perspective since you wouldn’t exist, fortunately), it didn’t work out. But from that experience, I learned a few things. Mainly 1) how nervous I am about having a third child, and 2) how much that doesn’t matter because another child would be a wondrous, awesome thing.

We lost that baby before I could really wrap my mind around the whole thing. But here you are in the second trimester, and the reality is staring me full in the face. But, as usual, when one of my kids seems to be the problem, one of my  kids solves the problem and shows me how stupid I am.

Case in point…

I’m freaking out because we have no place to put you. We rent a cozy 3-bedroom duplex and currently, all bedrooms are occupied. To make matters worse, none of them are very big. So the question becomes where do we put you? And the answer is we have to put your two brothers in the same bedroom — the thought of which causes me great consternation.

When Sam was born Will lost his play room because it turned into Sam’s nursery. Now another sibling is on the way and Will is going to lose half his room to a 2-year-old tyrant. As an older brother who shared a room with a younger sibling for nearly a decade, I can commiserate. That experience can be suffocating and the age difference (5 years between them) makes it even tougher. I was dreading having to tell Will and the meltdown that would surely ensue.

But guess what? Will wasn’t angry. In fact, it was quite the opposite. When I told him he’d have to share a room with Sam his eyes lit up and his smile grew wide and bold.

“You mean I get to share a room with my brother??? YESSSSSS!!!!” he said, much to my surprised delight. “I bet Sam will even climb up into my bed and cuddle at night. I can’t wait.”

And suddenly I felt very silly. It reminded me of two years ago when I worried I couldn’t possibly love another human being as much as I loved Will. But I soon found out our hearts automatically expand when a new baby arrives, and in that vein we’ll find a way to make it work regarding everyone fitting under the same roof.

As for Will’s reaction, shame on me for not seeing that coming. Now don’t get me wrong, I know full well his tune will change after a few weeks or a month of his brother all up in his face all of the time. That’s inevitable. But let this be a lesson to you, baby boy or girl, of the kind of family into which you’re entering.

Your oldest brother Will has more kindness, empathy, and emotional intelligence than any 10 adults put together. He is patient, a great teacher, and so full of love he’s in danger of bursting. He’ll be your guide and best friend. Meanwhile your older brother Sam is a tornado. He attacks life with zeal and fears nothing, yet he hugs every other kid on the playground and has smiles for everyone. You’ll be closest in age to him (26 months apart) which means you’re going to battle him your entire life. Yet all the while you’ll want nothing more than to be just like him. He will push you in ways that are frustrating and obnoxious, but ultimately he’ll make you a better person and he’ll force you to work harder and keep improving.

And your mother? Well, she’s a saint. And a gorgeous saint at that. But as beautiful as she is on the outside, she’s even more spectacular on the inside. I don’t have to tell you that though. You literally know what I mean.

You’re not entering a rich family so I can’t promise you a carefree life detached from financial struggles. You won’t have the finest things, occasionally you’ll have to go without, and some days we’ll barely scrape by. But there is one thing I can promise you with complete certainty. You’re being born into a family filled with love. Passionate, unyielding, copious amounts of love and loyalty that we’re never afraid to express. From your parents to your siblings to your grandparents and beyond, love will comfort you and cushion you far better than a life of riches and luxury ever could. So welcome, my little one. You’re the last piece of the puzzle and the world is waiting. Stay safe and grow strong and healthy.

One last thing you should know — it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl. As long as you’re a Patriots fan.

Love,
Dad

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