LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

FODDER OF THE WEEK: DIE HARD DAD- WHAT MAKES ME THAT "GUY?"- THE MAKING OF FODDER 4 FATHERS


``Go in the basement. We`re out of diapers...``
  
One might ask, "what makes a grown man wake up one morning and decide to devote his life to talking about little girls?" Well, there are several answers to that question, but only one that isn't really scary. For me, it was the birth of my daughter. I can't really explain it: one moment I was just a guy in his late thirties about to become a father for the first time; the next I was Super Dad. It shocked the hell out of everyone- especially me. I'd never held a baby before. I'd never even seen one up close. It was just something I feared- holding a baby, changing a diaper, being responsible for the well-being of another human life- but, oddly, that all changed the morning my daughter was born.

THE SOUNDTRACK OF DAD: A LOOK AT FIRST-TIME FATHERHOOD THROUGH SONG- SIDE ONE - CONCEPTION TO BIRTH

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I'm not a crier. Never have been. Probably never will be. It's just not in my nature. Sure, I tear up little at the end of Rocky II but that's about as far as it goes. What can I say, I was raised in a household of boys? The youngest, I was shown at an early age that any emotional vulnerability on my part would be exploited relentlessly and used against me repeatedly at a later date. So it's just not something I do; not because I think men shouldn't cry- all the power to those who can- but it's just not in my repertoire of emotions. So you can probably understand the flack I get every time my wife goes through piles of old baby clothes and I don't join her in some nostalgic waterworks. It's just not in me. She folds some stained bibs and the tears start to flow. I fold an old ripped onsie and I wonder why the hell we're not throwing it out?

FODDER UP! PART XVII: TAKING CARE OF DAD, PART THREE- HANDLING THE STRESS OF FATHERHOOD - THE WORK/HOME LIFE DILEMMA

One would think having a woman (other than your wife) tell you that you have rock hard pecs is a good thing- unless that woman is a chiropractor and she's telling you that your pectoral muscles actually feel like bone, and that's what's been contributing to all the pain you've been feeling in your neck and back. Call it trauma from a couple of car accidents that were out of your control, and a whole lot of stress that is well within it, and you can see that may be the pace you've been keeping is starting to take its toll. That's one man's story (well. mine), but what's yours? All involved dads have one. It seems we're working so hard to find the right balance between our work and family lives that we don't stop to take a minute to see what the pace of our daily routine is taking on our bodies, our outlook, our very souls. And,when you can't always be in two places at once, no matter how much of a "super" guy you are, the stress begins to become unmanageable, until your body just absorbs it and slowly turns you to, well, stone (or bone in my case).

Well, you may want to be the rock for your family my friend, but no man is an island, and it never hurts to seek out some help to find a few simple ways to simplify your life so that you don't have to feel tired, and run down, and stressed out all the time simply because you want to be both a superstar at the office and the best dad there ever was. It's time to Fodder Up! my friend. Today's topic: Managing the Work/Home Life Dilemma- A Tutorial for New Dads...

FODDER OF THE WEEK: MORNING ROUTINES- MOMS BEWARE- DON'T MESS WITH DADDY'S DOMAIN


When it comes to getting my daughter off to daycare in the morning, I pretty much have it down to a science. Everything is planned out perfectly- to the second (mostly). My daughter wakes up at 7 o'clock. I wake up at 7:30. I give her her bottle and a book to read, and I get ready (shower, shave, etc.). I come back in to her room (from right across the hall) change out the book for her, take the monitor with me and take out the dogs. I come back, change her diaper, change her clothes, and put on her shoes. She follows me in to the kitchen where I give the dogs some biscuits and grab myself something quick to eat. We walk to the front door, I turn on the alarm, I throw her over my shoulder, we wave to the mirror, and we leave. I buckle her in to car seat, sing her a few songs, drive her the 20 blocks to daycare, hand her over and I'm free and clear. No muss, no fuss, no crying.

This is our morning routine, Monday through Friday for the last 16 months. From 4 months of age onward I have been the one and only face my daughter has seen from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. every single day- without incident I might add. But today was another day...

Today was the day where we got to see how the other half lives, so to speak. Today was the day where mommy (my wonderful wife)- off work for the day as we would be attending her Grandmother's funeral later in the afternoon- asked  to drive my daughter to daycare, just to see what it was like.  So who am I to complain, right? Sleep in for me...

Wrong.

You see, when you have a schedule and you're used to doing certain things a certain way, and your child is used to doing things a certain way as well (the way she has become used to), things run smoothly. But when someone else tries to help you out, inadvertently altering the schedule to suit their particular style, no matter who that person is (Moms included), things get, well, a bit hairy.

You see Mommy (my wife) has her own way of doing things in the morning. After all, Daddy is a man; Mommy is a woman. She has more to do to get ready, but the same amount of time to do it in. So Mommy's morning is a bit more frantic, and less relaxed than Daddy's. And whereas Daddy (me) moves very slowly in the morning, Mommy (my wife) moves very, very quickly, attempting to get every thing done that she needs to. She's up and out of bed racing around to find her glasses and her car keys and her make-up bag. Daddy doesn't have these issues. She waits until the morning to figure out what she wants to wear. Daddy is wash and wear (a lot faster). She's worrying about cutting the new bag of homogenized milk perfectly so it will flow easier in to the baby's bottle. Daddy, much to her chagrin, rips it with his teeth and doesn't care if it sprays everywhere. And Mommy's more precise, making sure she pours exactly 8 ounces in the baby's bottle, whereas Daddy just likes to be in and around that amount.

Unfortunately, Mommy's way, perfectly normal for many moms, is not Daddy's way. And as my daughter is used to Daddy's slow, relaxed way in the morning, Mommy's new way made her, well, cranky. Whereas Daddy (the guy who slowly realized the sleep in he thought he was going to get was not happening) had not heard his daughter cry this early in the day (barring illness) in 16 months, Mommy got nothing but tears. Why? Because Mommy's way, although only slightly different from Daddy's, threw off our daughter's schedule. And as we all learn the hard way, a baby's schedule is a delicate thing. And the cranky screams ensued. Call it Mommyitis. Call it an aversion to change. Call it a learning experience... but Mommy did not have a good experience trying to take our daughter off to daycare.

So what did we learn? Well, for one, Mommy will not be asking to take our daughter to daycare anytime soon - she prefers picking her up instead (less stressful for her as the baby is used to "her" way at that time of day). And two, it's just better not to mess with Daddy's domestic domain (the things Daddy and daughter have become accustomed to doing together). True, Daddy has also learned the hard way not to mess with Mommy's domain, as any time he has tried to wake his daughter up from her mid-afternoon nap to give her a bottle it has not gone well, so he can empathize. The point is, to a child, parents are not interchangeable on a moment's notice. You have to ease them in to a new way of doing things, or all hell breaks loose. Does Daddy do it better in the morning? No. Just differently. But it's enough of a difference for our daughter to notice, and that's enough of a reason to keep the status quo.

On a bright note, our daughter got off to daycare on time... for the first time... ever. It seems Mommy's got better ears (to listen for the alarm, and her daughter's cries) than Daddy. 


ALL THE COOL DADS ARE DOING IT: FODDER 4 FATHERS- TOP 10 QUALITIES ALL GREAT DADS POSSESS

Link 4 Photo
From a father's perspective, parenthood isn't just a job, it's an adventure. Some are up to the task while others need to unload some excess baggage in order to be able to make it up that hill. Some believe being a dad requires inner strength that you didn't even know you had, testing your mettle every day to prove to yourself, your wife and your child that you are worthy of the title. Other's believe it is a cake walk; something that is as easy as breathing. But regardless of your views, there are certain qualities all dads must possess in order to survive a lifetime of servitude to someone who won't always appreciate your efforts (and, no, I'm not talking about your wife). As such, these are the top 10 qualities (we believe) all new fathers should possess in order to do justice to the title of "Dad" (in no particular order):



EMPATHY:

Atticus Finch
"To Kill A Mocking Bird"
1962
There's a reason why it takes nine months to grow a baby. Sure, gestation is as good a reason as any, but a better one is to give every potential father the opportunity to learn what it's really like to deal with a helpless human being who needs you to do everything for them. We call them pregnant women, and if you can learn to empathize with a woman who begs for you to go to the store to buy something she's been craving all day only to have her throw it up on you when she takes her first bite, then you can deal with a baby. It's a cruel way to teach this lesson (both to men and women), but you can't argue with the results. Any man who can survive 9 months of catering to the needs of an embittered, engorged (see: breast milk storage) spouse is a hero in my book, and well on his way to becoming a great dad.

SELFLESSNESS:

If you're one of those guys that fathered a child in hopes that one day you would have your own cheap labor force (housecleaning, food preparation, and snow shovelling), you're living in the 1950s, and missing the point. There's a thing called Unconditional Love; most moms have it (maybe not Joan Crawford), and all fathers must learn it in order to be a great dad. A key part of Unconditional Love is selflessness- putting others before yourself. The best dads do this by working up to three jobs to provide for their families or swallowing their pride and thumbing their nose at societal conventions to be a stay-at-home dad. But even in its simplest form (putting away everything else to spend time with your child), selflessness is one of the most important requirements of fatherhood, and one of the best qualities of a great dad.

INITIATIVE:

True, many women frown on the fact that many men like to take things in to their own "hands"(as if this somehow means they don't need them) but for a father to be successful he must do exactly that. Dads can't rely on their wives to teach them about parenting, they have to do a little research on their own. And they also have to seek out good role models to model themselves after. Moms have enough to worry about without having to raise a child and a father at the same time. Dads have to want to be involved in the raising of their child and willing to learn what being an Involved Dad means in order to fulfill their "destiny." And it is the dads that are willing to educate themselves (by reading parenting books, going to doctor's appointments for the kids, and researching important topics and talking to other dads on-line) who make the rest of us look good. After all, knowledge is power, and the more you know as a father the more you can contribute to the raising of a happy, healthy child--- your own.

CONFIDENCE:

Some men wear bicycle shorts in public, others wear Baby Bjorn's. Both were once stigmatized as uncool, but show me a guy who can't sport a Baby Bjorn with confidence these days (sorry bicycle shorts, still not buying it). Confident dads are everywhere. These men don't care what society thinks about them; all they care about is being great, involved dads to their kids. They don't care what goes through your head when you see a dad easily feeding his child in a restaurant, or walking a contented child through a mall, or changing a diaper on a park bench in no time at all- they're just doing what comes naturally to them. In their minds, your issues with acceptable gender roles for moms and dads are YOUR issues, and it's not going to stop them from living their lives. Now, this confidence may be rattled a bit once their kids hit the terrible twos, but a great dad always knows he's up for the challenge even if those with prying eyes (and mouths) aren't willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

PATIENCE:

Waiting nine months to meet your baby for the first time is a great lesson in patience, but it doesn't test it the way it will be tested once your child is really up and, well, running. But there's another test a soon-to-be dad can pass to prove he can survive the trials and tribulations of fatherhood. I call it marriage. Let's face it, if you can survive your wedding registry, with your wife grabbing sh@# off the shelves and begging you to get it all for her as you waste the better part of the day in a department store for things you don't care about, you can survive fatherhood. If you can survive the wedding process itself, with all the family in-fighting and the differences of opinion over floral and seating arrangements (without walking out well before the wedding day) you can survive fatherhood. If you can survive being married for more than a year (did you hear that Kim Kardashian) without wanting to flee in the middle of the night, you can survive fatherhood. If you can survive all of this (and so much more) without making your escape, you're all about patience, my friend. Need I say more?

UNDERSTANDING:

If your girlfriend throws out the baseball glove your grandmother gave you when you were thirteen (days before she died) and you can learn to forgive and forget (not me, I dumped her a$$), you have one of the best qualities of being a great dad. Sure, it's not easy to watch your toddler flush your cell phone down the toilet, but realizing that your child's fragile ego is more important than any possession is a giant leap toward becoming a fantastic father. And, you can hold adults to any standard you want (see baseball glove story above), but if you can't be understanding when your child makes a mistake- finding a way to use this error in judgment as a learning experience- you're missing the idea behind being a great dad. After all, "punishment" is the lazy man's way of teaching his child a lesson. Great dads understand that it is always better to reinforce good behaviour than to draw attention to bad. But, God knows that's easier said than done.

A SENSE OF HUMOR:

Nobody wants Oscar the Grouch for a dad (although Barney would be pretty annoying too), so a great sense of humor goes a long way to creating a harmonious home life for you, your significant other, and your child. After all, if you can't laugh at yourself, or the numerous precarious situations you will find yourself in as a dad, you won't survive the first day. Smile and the whole world smiles with you; freak out when every little thing goes wrong and your world will be a miserable place for everyone involved. Great dads learn to find humor in everything- spit up, dirty diaper bombs being thrown at them, and even a little bit of chiding from their wives. Just the other day my daughter locked me out of the bedroom (while she was still in it). Was I upset? Not at all- I know how to unlock a door with a credit card. Being a great dad is an attitude - adjust yours accordingly.

ENTHUSIASM/AFFECTION:

I may not be the best example of this as I rarely get excited about anything, and I have a thing against public displays of affection (mostly when other people do it), but that never stops me from being a loving father to my little girl. Sure, I didn't jump up and down when my wife told me we were expecting (it was more like "Come again?"), and I didn't shed a single tear the day my daughter was born (I'm not a crier), but I am enthusiastic each and every time she learns something new and I never, ever miss an opportunity to show my affection whether it be a hug, or a nose rub or a kiss on her forehead. All men are not created equal, but that doesn't stop the best of dads from showing their enthusiasm for their kids each and every day in their own unique ways. I mean, you try showing enthusiasm when your daughter dances to Justin Beiber's "Baby" for the hundredth time... that day. I deserve a metal!

THE ABILITY TO TEACH:

I'm not saying you need your doctorate in education in order to be a dad, but the ability to pass on what you know about the world in an interesting way never hurts. Somehow I don't think "because I said so" cuts it with most kids, and if you don't have an answer for each and every "why?" a terrible two-year-old can come up with, he or she is going to eat you alive. And, no, we don't expect you to be able to do your kid's fourth grade algebra homework, but the good dads at least try (or look up the answers on the Internet). So while knowing why the sky is blue or what to say when your child asks you "where a baby comes from?" may not be your forte, they're going to learn about their world from someone. So unless you want it to be from an unreliable source (i.e. those who don't know how birds pollinate), the ability to teach, about the simple things in life (manners, ethics, how to fill out an off-track betting card), is an important characteristic all dads should possess... and the ability to make a working volcano never hurts either.

PERSERVERANCE:

Scene from "The Pursuit of
Happyness" (2006)
At the end of the day, fatherhood is simply a function of time, money and determination. No one makes it easy on you- not society, and certainly not your kids. Getting your child from point B (birth) to point A (adulthood) is a daily struggle that only the strong WILL survive. And it doesn't help that no one thinks you have it in you to see it through, but if you have the will, and all the other qualities we have mentioned above, there is nothing a father can't do to ensure that his child makes it safely to the promised land (a good job, a happy life, marriage, and kids of his/her own). We believe in you. Now go and make it happen... all great dads do.


Join our cause:
And together let's show the world what all great dads can do!


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FODDER OF THE WEEK: A LESSON TO MOMS ON HOW TO BEST GET NEW DADS BETTER INVOLVED IN PARENTING

Some Dads Will Surprise You!

I'm a simple man. I'm pretty much a wash and wear, rough and tumble, get the job done kind of guy. I don't like my hand held, and I certainly do not appreciate being talked down to. I just want to be pointed in the right direction with some basic information and a phone number I can call if anything goes wrong. I know that makes me sound like a baby sitter, but I'm not. A baby sitter listens when a mother gives her a long list of useless instructions that no one in their right mind would ever take the time to read. A father, a self-reliant one any way, just smiles, closes the door and throws that stupid ass list in the fireplace. After all, fatherhood isn't about following the lead of your wife, it's about following the lead of your baby. But that doesn't mean your wife won't keep trying to get you to fall in line... much to her own detriment.

FODDER UP! PART XVI: TAKING CARE OF DAD, PART TWO- HANDLING THE STRESS OF FATHERHOOD - A CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE FOR THE BETTER


Looking back, maybe using the quote "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life son" (Animal House, 1978) under my high school graduation photo (especially since I looked like Norm Peterson from Cheers at the time) wasn't the best idea. I was young. I WAS stupid. I wasn't looking to the future - well, at least not far enough ahead to realize what that sentence really meant. I just thought it was a funny line that would define the next 3+ years of my life... and it did. But that was then, and THIS is now. I'm not saying it wasn't fun while it lasted - my formative years of eating poorly, drinking with the best of them, and not worrying too much about how other's perceived me- but that's a young man's game. It's not an acceptable lifestyle for a grown man. And it's certainly not an acceptable lifestyle for a father (so I'm told).

FODDER OF THE WEEK: WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' BADGES... JUST SOME RESPECT - NEW DADS DOING WHAT COMES NATURALLY


It’s not easy being the “dumb blonde” of the parenting world. To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, New Dads get NO respect- not from society, not from our wives, and certainly not from our own mothers.  To the world at large, we’re just arm candy to the real “brains” of the operation:  the moms. We’re just a bunch of bumbling buffoons who need to be monitored so we don’t hurt ourselves, or, more importantly, our offspring.  Whereas moms are just expected to be able to take a new born baby and care for it like it was mandated by nature, dads are expected to watch and learn from the masters. Well, that may have worked in 1983 when “Mr. Mom” did more damage than good by depicting stay-at-home dads as  domestic dimwits, but in 2011 that sh!t don’t fly. New Dads are perfectly capable of caring for their kids, and like it or not we don’t need your approval to do what is as natural to us as breathing.

I’m not saying moms don’t work hard. I’m not saying they don’t do an inordinate amount of work to ensure that their homes are running smoothly. But there’s a big difference between working hard and working smart; and treating your husbands like morons just isn’t smart. I mean if a guy can figure out the spread in order to place a bet on Super bowl Sunday, don’t you think he can figure out how to pour 8 ounces of milk in to a baby bottle? It’s not rocket science, so why does it seem like we can’t do anything without our wives watching our every move? Sure, it’s one thing if you want to show us a “different” (notice I didn’t say better) way of doing something, but every time you push us out of the way to do it as YOU see fit, you’re only hurting yourselves- we’re not the ones who will be raising our children alone while the other one is watching hockey in the living room.

And, what’s up with that whole passive aggressive patting us on the back when we do something that pleases you? I don’t need someone standing over me watching my every move as I change the baby’s diaper going “Good job, honey! Thumbs up… Gold star on that one.” Were we both not shown how to change a diaper by the same nurse at the hospital? What am I a boy scout being tested for some merit badge? I’m a father! This is my job too. I don’t need a standing ovation from strangers on the street screaming “You’re doing so good” for taking my kid for a stroll. I don’t need patrons in a restaurant stopping by to shake my hand saying “your wife would be proud of you” just because I can sit and feed my kid. I don’t need an approving nod from my-mother-in-law letting me know “how impressed” she is with my parenting skills. I’M A FATHER, not a fool. And I’m a damn good one too!

So while society holds on to its outdated views of manliness, and the role a father SHOULD play, I’m going to keep reminding you that there isn’t a single thing a mother can do that a father can’t (barring giving birth, carrying a child for nine months, and mastering the art of eye liner). A father caring for his child isn’t an anomaly; it’s a father caring for his child, and he doesn’t need your approval to do it.

They say a job well done is its own reward, and raising a child is a job and a half, but New Dads are up to the task, and all we want is your respect… and the odd cookie.

I guess what I'm saying is, all we need is some room to breathe so we can do what comes naturally… and learn from our own mistakes. Is that so wrong?
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NEW DADS AND DAUGHTERS: WHINING AND DINING WITH THE TERRIBLE TWO-YEAR-OLD

"YOU GONNA STAND THERE, OR ARE
YOU GONNA CLEAN IT UP?"
Maybe I shouldn't be saying this out loud, but raising a daughter in the throws of the Terrible Twos is like dating the bitch from hell...

DYING TO GET OUT MORE: WHY NEW DADS FIND IT HARD TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS

Dad and his best friend, literally.
I am happy to say the reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. Of course, these rumors were started by my friends, the ones who don't have kids and still get to lead the life I used to lead; those friends who still have a discretionary income; those friends that can go out on a Saturday night and justify spending a hundred dollars at a bar on watered down drinks and a 20 door charge. That life is well behind me at this point as 1) I don't have the energy to go out drinking til the wee hours of the morning anymore, 2) I don't have the money to spend on watered down drinks, and 3) I don't have the inclination to go to bar to watch other people engage in small talk with strangers for three hours just so they can leave with the same people they came with at the end of the night.

I'm not judging, it was fun while it lasted, I'm just at a different stage in my life. I'd like to say it's a better stage, but I'm not so far removed from those days that I can't recognize they were some of the best days of my life- I had money to blow, a relatively up to date wardrobe, the inclination to shave everyday, and next to no responsibility. So why would I prefer the life I have now, other than being married to my beautiful wife whom I adore (and would kill me if I went out til 3 a.m. with my friends)? One word: fatherhood. But, it comes at a price...

FODDER OF THE WEEK: INVOLVED DADS DON'T GROW ON TREES (BUT THEY DON'T THRIVE ON CRITICISM EITHER) - WHY MOM'S SHOULD LEARN TO PUT UP OR SHUT UP


For anyone who has followed my work (the work of being an involved dad that is) you know I don't take kindly to moms taking liberties and slamming their husbands for poor parenting (a.k.a. not doing their fair share when it comes to household chores and taking care of the kids). It's just counter-productive. I spend my days trying to build up new dads, helping them rise to the occasion, but it's an impossible task when their wives just keep bitching and keeping them down. Now I'm not saying there aren't some useless dads out there- there are more than I would like to admit- but criticizing the good ones (like me) is just asinine because all it does is strengthen their resolve to piss you off.

RANT ALERT: IN 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.... (Press Play on Video)

FODDER UP! PART XV: TAKING CARE OF DAD, PART ONE- HANDLING THE STRESS OF FATHERHOOD - MALE POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION


If you think about it, the stress associated with first time fatherhood alone should make most men crumble. There's money stress, relationship stress, distress from a lack of sleep and a lack of knowledge and the pressure that we as dads put on ourselves to somehow keep it all together. It's a careful balancing act between keeping your sanity and keeping up with the Jones' as we go about the business of providing for our family, not in the 1950's "breadwinner" sense of the word but in a "how do I manage my time to keep up with all the needs of my job, my family, and myself" kind of way. It's tough, and it's only made tougher by the current economic climate and the uncertainty of the future. It's not so easy. Many new dads are both struggling to come to terms with their new found responsibilities as a father and the day to day insecurity that the world they know might crumble tomorrow. But as the old saying goes, "you don't have anything if you don't have your health," and you can't be the very best father that you can be if you're not taking care of yourself first. You need to get your head right in order to get back to the business of being the best dad you can possibly be.


It's Time to Fodder Up! Today's installment: The Mental Health of New Dads - Part One - Postpartum Depression.