Tag Archives: Will

When Should You Announce You’re Pregnant?

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First of all, WE’RE PREGNANT!

Telling loved ones and friends the big news is one of the happiest things I can think of, because everyone is just so ecstatic. Pure, unmitigated joy complete with screaming, hugs, smiles, and tears. And I was very grateful to have received that in spades this week when we announced the impending arrival of our third child. Everyone was overwhelmingly positive and thrilled, and I appreciate that.

And yet…

A few emails and comments began trickling in to the tune of “Ummmm, September? You guys can’t be very far along,” and “Wow, you’re announcing early. Are you sure you want to do that?”

Look, MJ and I get it. This is the eighth time she has been pregnant. Yup, eight times. That means twice it’s worked out favorably, but five times thus far it hasn’t. We’re no stranger to this particular rodeo and we know the ropes. You can either announce shortly after you pee on the stick and hope for the best, or you can go the more conservative route and wait until the 12-week mark — which is when the chances of miscarriage drop dramatically.

We’ve done both over the years. There were times we announced a pregnancy early on and then had to painstakingly break the bad news to everyone all over again. That sucks because invariably someone doesn’t get the news and proceeds to come up to you in a month or two and ask how the pregnancy is going. It’s brutal. So because of that, we’ve also opted to wait to announce until the second trimester. That has its own drawbacks though, because I’m a very public person and that just means less time for people to celebrate and share in your joy.

And of course, even when we did wait until after 12 weeks, we still had something go wrong and still had to feel like we were disappointing everyone by telling them bad news. So, that begs the question, when should you announce?

The correct answer is whenever the hell you feel like it!

There is no right or wrong time to announce your pregnancy, and you should do it how and when you feel is right. We’re just about 8 weeks along and we decided to share the news because we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound and it was a very strong 157 bpm. Our doctor said everything looks terrific and there are no concerns at the moment. So instead of waiting until 12 weeks just because we’ve had bad luck in the past, we decided to just focus on being happy.

For me, good news is always good news. Even if something happens down the road and we lose this pregnancy, it was still good news when we announced. It was still a happy event that brought us and others joy. Nothing can take away the feeling I had when all of our anxiety and fear was alleviated by the flickering of a tiny beating heart, so I choose to celebrate that instead of keeping it needlessly bottled up out of fear. Because good news should always be celebrated and shared in my opinion.

I don’t judge anyone else who waits and takes a different course. I’ve been there, done it, and understand it. But for us at this point in time, we’re celebrating. We’ve had so many dark times and losses that we never miss an opportunity to celebrate a win.

So we’re 8 weeks along. We’re due September 11 (yeah yeah, I know). We will not be finding out if this will be our third boy or our first girl. And if you’re wondering how Will is reacting to the news, well — we videotaped the moment we told him and let’s just say it didn’t go as expected.

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Parental Hypocrisy

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We’re pretty hard on our oldest son.

My wife and I push Will hard and expect a lot from him. Why? Because he’s very intelligent and more than capable of above average work. We’re not (completely) unbearable task masters or Tiger Parents, but we definitely crack the whip from time to time and set the bar high. Because you can’t assume you’ll get great results without expecting greatness at the outset.

So as you might imagine, we take Will’s performance in school very seriously.

Will, who is in first grade and turns seven in April, generally performs very well on his homework and weekly tests because he’s a bright kid. Unfortunately, he’s come to know he’s smart and that is his undoing.

In September at the start of classes, he realized homework consisted of reading at a level slightly below what he’s used to, and doing math he had already learned. And yet he struggled initially. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do the work, but because he thought he was above it all. As a result, he began making careless mistakes because he liked to rush through assignments and be the first one done. His letters were formed haphazardly, and his math suffered because he’d see “9 – 3= ?” and add instead of subtract.

We put a stop to that real quick.

We hammered home the need to take his time. With the help of his teacher, we worked tirelessly on reading and following directions. Forming his letters was the most difficult part, as he sees no reason not to make a lowercase “r” the same size as a capital “R.” Little things, but important things.

It took a few weeks, but it worked. Or at least we thought it had worked until yesterday.

When I got home from work I went through his homework like I always do, but his spelling words marked up with copious amounts of red ink stopped me in my tracks. Everything was spelled correctly, but his letters were all out of whack again. Having just let him have Minecraft on the iPad last week as well as Minecraft tutorial books, I came to the rapid conclusion he was rushing through his schoolwork to get to his new, all-consuming hobby.

And my wife and I were PISSED!

MJ and I put on our game faces and called him into the kitchen using his full name, which every kid knows is parent-speak for “kiss your ass goodbye.” We were unified. We were justified. And dammit we were going to make academics a priority in a BIG WAY!

“William,” I began, with a disappointed look on my face. “There is no excuse for this. What the heck happened here?”

Will threw on his “deer in headlights” look and flashed his innocent Bambi eyes our way as he took the paper. His eyebrows scrunched in confusion as he scanned the page, but then shot upright as if hit with a sudden realization. He started to talk but I cut him off because I was already rolling, and had no interest in that moment of listening to him.

And then the riot act commenced as I rained down the thunder.

“Will, this is unacceptable. Completely unacceptable! You worked so hard in the beginning of the year on your letters, and now we’re seeing this? What’s changed?? I’ll tell you what’s changed, you had Christmas vacation and then you got Minecraft. Well you can kiss that goodbye. We’re cutting down on TV, because you’re watching too much. But most of all, we’re saying goodbye to Minecraft. For at least a week. Because it’s clear you’re paying far more attention to that than you are to your schoolwork. Will, you’re better than this. We spent all this time talking about proofreading and checking things before you turn them in, but now you’re clearly rushing again. You’re not paying nearly enough attention and it has to stop. I’m sorry you’re going to hate us, but this is the way it’s going to be until you can prove to us that you’re responsible enough to do your school work the right way. Only then can you earn Minecraft back. Now, what do you have to say for yourself?”

I was SHOCKED to see he was calm and quiet. Usually if we threaten to take Minecraft away, he acts like we’ve just tasered him. But not this time. Instead, he was perfectly unaffected and — wait, is that — son of a bitch, I think he might have a faint, smug smirk. If my rage meter was already high, this sent it through the roof. But before I could rain vengeance down upon thee, he finally spoke.

“Mom, Dad…that’s not my paper. See? It has someone else’s name on it.”

Sure enough, he was right. I felt the blood drain from my body as the panicked expression on my wife’s face grew. To her credit, she apologized right away and said how sorry she was. As the self-satisfied grin spread across his face, I knew I’d also have to apologize. After all, I had just accused him of not proofreading and checking his work, while failing to make sure the test was even his. He had me dead to rights — and he knew it.

“Dad,” he chirped, with an aura of smugness. “Do you have anything you’d like to say to me?”

There was no way out, so I offered my apology and told him I needed to be more careful too. And I could tell from the look on his face it was sweeter than Christmas and his birthday combined.

And then, in an all-too-familiar tone known to those fluent in smartassery, he delivered his knockout blow.

“That’s OK Dad, we all make mistakes and I’m sure you’ll do better next time. I’ll be in the other room…playing Minecraft!”

Touche. Well played, son.

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The Things I Wish For My Sons

boys_hopeI don’t know about you guys, but current events both globally and nationally have me feeling pretty pessimistic. And frustrated. And sad. And pissed off.

ISIS beheading American journalists. Terrorists shooting up magazine offices for religious reasons. Police officers choking people to death for selling loose cigarettes. And the rest of us trying to metaphorically choke one another out in the aftermath, via friendship-ending arguments on social media.

I just see so much fear, hate, and division lately that for the first time, I’m beginning to think we’re beyond help. You’ve heard of “too big to fail?” Well I’m becoming reasonably convinced this country is too entrenched and polarized to change. The default mentality is “pick a side,” and any mention of viewpoints that don’t perfectly and totally align with whatever side you’re on is met with more scorn. The middle ground disappeared as we sprinted to extremes, not realizing or caring that both sides are now too far away to hear all the shouting.

But mostly, I’m sad for my kids. All kids. My youth was filled with stories from my dad about politicians like Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan — two men who didn’t particularly like each other but hated stalemate and party politics even more. Men who shaped the country from different sides of the fence, but knew progress was always more important than politics. But now, I don’t have examples like that to show my kids. Our leaders today are just fine with government shutdowns in lieu of compromise, because anything less than a hardline is soft. Because somewhere along the line, bipartisan became a four-letter word.

And unfortunately, society in general has decided to mirror that misguided train of thought. So to combat it, there are some things I wish for my kids. Things I need my kids to know and do. Things, I hope, all kids will take to heart when we hand them this mess we’ve created, and ask them to fix it.

***

I hope you value education. Not just your own, but education for everyone. It all starts there. No matter what anyone says, an education is not elitist nor should you ever distance yourself from it. Embrace it.

I hope you are steadfast in your convictions, but never so much that you’re permanently cemented in place. Changing your mind because of peer pressure or political expediency is bad, but a change of heart after considering new information? That’s important and necessary.

I hope you live life as a helper. There will be times to help yourselves for sure, but never stop doing your part for others.

I hope you recognize what’s right and always shout down the wrong. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, bullying — it isn’t enough not to do it yourselves. Stand up to it when you see it and do your part to snuff it out.

I hope you never take things at face value. Ask questions, even the uncomfortable ones. It’s better to be someone who thinks too much about things than too little.

I hope you find something bigger than yourselves in which to believe. Whether it’s religion (admittedly, I hope not) or the local professional football team (please be Patriots fans), it’s good to engage in something like that at times.

I hope you find your voices, but never forget it’s usually more important to listen.

I hope you are confident in your intelligence, but never afraid to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are. You’ll always be better for it.

I hope you find love, but always strive for reciprocity in relationships. It’s all about a healthy give and take, so don’t ever travel down a one-way street.

I hope you never get so jaded you stop caring. It can be tempting at times when things look grim, but always remember a pinprick of light is crystal clear in the dark. So be the light.

I hope you do more than experience pain and disappointment in life. I hope you find a way to learn from it. Take what you can and use it to make yourself better.

I hope you own up to your mistakes. It’s not fun being wrong and apologizing isn’t pleasant either. But if you’ve screwed up, then make it right. It’s the first step toward earning back the respect and trust you lost.

I hope you’re always genuine. Sure you’ll talk a little differently to your buddies than to your boss, but always be you. People can sniff bullshit and insincerity a mile away, so just be yourselves and you’ll be seen as reliable. Never forget, people respond to honesty.

I hope you can always see the good in people. This is the one I struggle with the most, and you probably will too. The age of the Internet and individual media platforms make it easy for the idiot fringe to be heard and noticed. But don’t let perception trump reality, because people really are inherently good.

And lastly, I hope you always love like madmen. Love is fierce and powerful, so don’t bother trying to temper it. Love like you’re on fire and let the people you love know it. When you exit this life stage left, those closest to you should have absolutely zero doubt about how you felt for them.

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I Will Never “Date” My Kids

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I’m not sure when it got trendy or acceptable to advise people to “date” their kids, but I sure wish it would stop.

Look, I get (and appreciate) the sentiment behind it. Essentially it’s a way of saying spend more one-on-one time with your children. Go out just the two of you, make him feel special, do something he likes, and really talk about things without interruption. All of those things are good, and all of those things are necessary. I try to do that with Will as much as possible with our fishing trips and clandestine ice cream parlor visits, and Sam — well, frankly Sam is happy no matter what. But when he gets a little older, I’ll give him the same one-on-one time as Will.

Let’s put aside the creepy factor that goes into associating the term dating (and all that comes with it) with your children for a second, and focus on the other reasons this isn’t a good idea. Namely, I hated dating. Really, it was horrible. More than that, I was terrible at it. And if I had to suddenly date again, I’d still be horrendous.

If I followed the Internet’s advice to “date” my kids, it’d be a pretty ugly picture. I’d pick Will up and accidentally bring flowers to which he’s allergic. Then I’d nervously stammer and stutter my way through dinner, while wondering if it’s expected that I pay, or tell Will to fork over his allowance in an attempt to be egalitarian and progressive to pick up his share of the tab. Although to be fair, either scenario likely ends with me just getting a hug and kiss on the cheek before calling it a night.

Even the “relationship experts” who tell me to date my wife are way off base. Dating was such a horror show, I never want to go back to that. True story, on my first date with MJ I unknowingly referred to the penis size of one of her relatives (LONG story). I’m not even kidding. That’s how bad I am at dating. And saying the right thing. And having any game whatsoever. The point is, I don’t want to date. I want to be married and spend time with my wife. I don’t need to pretend to date because the reality of marriage is so much better.

The same goes for my kids.

I’m horrible at dating and I hated it, but I’m good at being a dad and I love spending time with them. And that’s all this is. It’s not dating, it’s spending quality time with our kids. It’s being an involved parent. So let’s just call it that without invoking dating and all that comes with it.

And when it comes time for my boys to actually start dating, let’s hope they fare better than their father.

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Why I Never Want to be a Stay-at-Home Dad

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“If things were different and I didn’t have to work full time, I’d love to be a stay-at-home dad.”

Like many working dads I know, I’ve said that a lot over the years. After all, these two kids are my life. My heart and soul. My reason for existing and doing what I do. They are, quite literally, the best parts of me. So knowing all that, what kind of dad wouldn’t want to genuinely quit his job and be a stay-at-home dad?

This kind. Right here. Me.

I was on vacation last week, which means I spent a ton of time with my two sons. And I enjoyed that time. Most of that time. Definitely some of it, anyway.

But in between wrestling a screwdriver out of Sam’s hands with my oldest on my back, and trying to figure out how Sam managed to make Chinese the default language on my smartphone, I came to a realization. An epiphany, if you will.

I don’t want to be a stay-at-home dad. Not even a little bit. Not ever.

Now let me make something very clear. I love stay-at-home dads and I support them 100%. I know a TON of guys who made this decision, and they are badasses whom I love. I’m not denigrating them or downplaying what they do. What I’m writing is not meant as an insult to stay-at-home dads, nor will it turn into into yet another piece by a working parent blowing sunshine up the collective asses of at-home parents while spouting that “hardest job in the world” nonsense (your job is not more difficult than coal miners, those Deadliest Catch guys, military personnel, cops, firefighters, and air traffic controllers).

This is about me. It’s about finally overcoming the self-imposed shame and stigma of not wanting to care for my kids full time. Because that’s not an easy thing to admit — to you or to myself.

I feel like a hypocrite because my true feelings go against everything I’ve said since Will was born. For years I’ve been telling people I’d love to try my hand at being a full-time stay-at-home dad. I’d talk about how freeing and wonderful it would be to slip my corporate shackles and shed my primary breadwinner responsibilities in favor of play dates. As a proponent of involved fatherhood, I’ve spoken at length about how — if circumstances were different — I’d happily be home taking care of the kids and bucking societal gender norms.

But I overlooked one pretty important factor: I wouldn’t be very good at it.

Don’t confuse that with me not being able to do the job. I could keep the house reasonably clean, get my oldest to school with a packed lunch, and keep the youngest one alive. I could be a full-time, stay-at-home dad. But being able to do something and being good at something are two very different things.

And watching how phenomenal my wife is as a stay-at-home mom, I simply realized this is an area in which I wouldn’t excel.

For starters, I love to work and I need to work. Working fulfills me, and if I didn’t have that I wouldn’t be very happy. Of course my kids fulfill me too (albeit in a completely different way), but for years I felt guilty about saying I liked to work. That I needed to work. It felt like ignoring my kids or prioritizing myself above them.

I also don’t have the right temperament for the job. I don’t do well with imaginative or creative play, mainly because (and this sounds even more horrible) I’m not a huge fan of babies and little kids. I’m much better starting around age 3. Add to that, even as a kid I always hated arts and crafts. And the chances of me becoming a “Pinterest Parent” are slim to none.

MJ does all those things and she does them well. I marvel at her ability to seamlessly get through the day while weathering Hurricane Sam and even managing to make things educational for him in the process. Where I break down and tear my hair out, she finds a way to redirect him and engage him in something I never would have thought of in a million years.

As Will has gotten older I’ve been able to relate to him a lot more, but when they’re little I’m just frustrated and confused. I’m still occasionally silly and I get down on the floor to play, but I know my strength will be relating to my boys as they get older — a time my wife admits she is dreading.

You stay-at-home parents do an amazing job. A tough job. And, as I’m finally ready to admit, you do a job I just don’t want to do. After nearly seven years and a hefty heaping of guilt, I’m finally OK with that. I’ve talked to a lot of at-home parents who admit they couldn’t handle going to work full time, and that’s OK too.

The trick is finding someone who complements you by being strong where you’re weak, and vice versa. MJ can’t work right now and I’d go crazy at home full time. It works for us. It works for now.

So I have this to say to working parents who love to work: stop beating yourself up for not wanting to be home full time. It’s not a character flaw and it doesn’t mean you don’t love your kids. You can be a good parent and still love to work, as long as you find the right blend of home and career. And there’s certainly something to be said for modeling hard work and professional success to your kids.

Stepping back and taking an honest look at the situation has given me clarity, relieved me of some guilt and doubt, and made me ever more appreciative of the job my wife does at home. If you’re in the same boat I was, I wish the same for you.

And for the single parents laughing to yourselves and calling me a wimp because you’re out there working and parenting full-time every day without any help, you’re right. You folks really are superheroes!

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