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...

TWO BE, OR NOT TWO BE? THAT IS THE QUESTION: RECALLING THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF "FODDER"HOOD


As my daughter's second birthday approaches, I find myself looking back on the last two years and wondering how I got here- father, blogger, champion of all things dad related. And, I think back on a comment my grade 11 history teacher made when we were discussing the life and times of General George S. Patton, and it seems fitting from where I stand. "War time hero, Peace time fuck-up," he called him. I think that applies. After all, I'm just a guy who didn't really have a particular calling in life until my daughter came on the scene. "Jack of all trades, master of none," you might call me. But, when I put my mind to something, there isn't much I can't do.

Am I a hero? No. I'm just a guy whose wife had a kid and was able to pull his shit together in time to be the father he always wanted to be. Is parenthood war? Far from it if you ask me. It's a joy. It's an adventure like no other, but like anything else, "chance favors the prepared mind." And I was prepared for any and all possibilities thanks in great part to my own upbringing.

In my time I've seen good parenting and bad parenting; horrible parenting and heroic parenting. But the best parenting in my opinion is always calm parenting; common sense parenting; the kind of parenting that says no matter what life (or my children) throws at me, I can handle it. And that's the parenting philosophy I adopted from the moment I knew I was going to be a dad- and I just ran with it.

That's not to say I haven't been lucky. My daughter- the light of my life, the fruit of my loins- has never been a particularly difficult child. She sleeps with the best of them, eats like a champ, and has the kind of disposition that just makes everyone she meets an instant fan. She rarely cries (for real), and she just says some of the funniest, smartest sh@# that you will ever hear out of the mouth of a child. I am blessed, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But, in many ways, so is she.

If I look back on how far I've come as a parent, I also have to look back on how far my partner in crime, my wife, has come. After all, it's not easy for a mom to give up the kind of autonomy she affords me as a father. And you have to give her credit for that. Sure, she thought I'd made a "good" father, but it is only through her willingness to give me the opportunity to shine that I have been able to become what I believe is a darn good dad; one who can hold his own against some of the greats (Cliff  Huxtable, Jason Seaver, that guy from Father Knows Best). It's a true partnership we have when it comes to our daughter, my wife and I, and I think that's something special.

Now, to toot my own horn, from the onset, I may have taken on more than most men. Believing that "knowledge is power," I took it upon myself to do a fair bit of reading before the birth of my little girl-  I watched video online; I read articles on childbirth; I even brought out my old developmental psyche book a few times to brush up on the science of it all. But I always took everything with a grain of salt and a sense of humor, because I don't believe there are any absolutes to parenting.

And just like some believe (rigidly, I might add) that dads are secondary caregivers meant to take a back seat to moms, I believe that all parents, moms and dads, should be able to handle almost all responsibilities equally (with some obvious exceptions) when it comes to caring for their children. So, I may have had to insert the word dad where it said mom a few more times than I might have liked, but it never stopped me. A good parent is a good parent. And a good dad need not be hard to find.

So, after thousands of diaper changes and feedings, hundreds of baths and more battles with Mommyitis than I care to mention, I'm proud to report that I am the father I set out to be, and much, much more. I am the parent my wife, her parents, and my mother can be proud of. I am the dad my daughter deserves. And I am the same fuck up I always was, but one who knows when to turn it on and off when it’s time to get the job done; one who learned to take his weaknesses and turn them in to strengths when it mattered.

"I'm Two?"
Two years, and we’ve barely touched the potential of where this relationship between father and child can go. Two years, and we’ve barely tackled the real hard lessons that life can throw your way. Two years, and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what a father’s love for his daughter can accomplish. But it’s been the best two years of my life, and I thank you for sharing it with me. My little girl is going to be 2, and the honor has been all mine.

- Fodder 4 Fathers

PARENTAL DISCRETION ADVISED: IS POOR TIME-MANAGMENT (YOURS) DAMAGING YOUR KIDS?


Maybe it’s just me, but I believe there is a certain point in your life when you stop blaming your parents for all the stupid things that you do and instead take ownership of them. Nobody’s parents are perfect. We are, after all, fallible human beings raised by other fallible human beings. Your parents aren’t deities, they’re Bob and Brenda, Billy and Bunny, Marvin and Mitzi- just a couple of kids that got married, had kids and tried to figure it out from there. They didn’t have a roadmap. They didn’t have a playbook. They were just people trying to raise smaller people, and they did the best they could. So forgive them, and let’s move on…

IN EULOGY: THE FATHER I NEVER KNEW... AND HOW THAT PERTAINS TO YOU


I don't usually do "serious." I've had enough "serious" in my day to last a lifetime. But there are times when I think being serious is called for. Funerals for example; that's about as serious as life gets. It's the coming together of friends and family to mourn the loss of a loved one, but it's also the opportunity to celebrate the life of someone you loved and admired.

Now, I'm not the sensitive type- I call it like it is. Most of the time, people lie through their teeth at these things- may be due to guilt; maybe out of respect for the dead- but they say nice things just so they don't have to say the truth about the bastards they are laying to rest. Yet, every once in a while, you get to see the real deal, someone worth remembering, and when you do, you start to wonder how you will be remembered when you are gone. Will people say such warm, loving and inspiring things about you? Are you the kind of person that will be deserving of such praise? Who knows? All I know is I'm doing my best, but I didn't have the best role model to get me there.

FODDER OF THE WEEK: "V" IS FOR VICTORY - DEMYSTIFYING VALENTINE'S DAY 4 THE BETTERMENT OF MANKIND

Valentine's Day, the most evil day on the Gregorian calendar,  a day that fills even the strongest of men with fear; a day that makes even the most romantic of men want to run and hide. Sure, I believe in tradition- I believe a man should get drunk on St. Patrick’s Day; I believe you should remember the men and women who fought for their respective countries on Memorial Day; and I believe you should light a Roman candle and aim it at your friend on any and all holiday's that allow you to set off fireworks. But I do not believe you need a day to tell to you to tell your spouse -or your significant other, or the girl you met last week who still hasn't invited you in for a night cap- that you love her. I just think it's wrong. I think it's manufactured like all the candy, and cards, and crap that has an entire industry of money grubbers wringing their hands gleefully every single year as they expect another payday on February the 14th. And I don't buy in to it.

Oh, I believe in love, the kind of love a man has for his wife as he rubs her feet reluctantly when he knows she's had a bad day; the kind of love that would cause a man to run out in the middle of night to buy his wife tampons because she ran out; the kind of love that would make a man sleep on the couch, ruining his back because his wife just can't sleep when he's snoring. Oh, I know love. I know sacrifice for the one you hold above all others. I know what it's like to do things for another human being that you might not even do for yourself, but whatever I do, I do by choice. I don't need a holiday to tell me I need to do shit that goes against my better judgement. I'm married. I do it every day. And all in the name of love.

I could buy in to the bullshit. I could make a reservation a month in advance for a fancy restaurant that barely breaks even 364 days of the year. I could buy expensive champagne, or flowers that shot up in price over night. I could buy bon bons and gifts made of diamonds and gold and pearls (with a small loan) but will that really show how much I love my wife? Don't I show her enough when she's cutting her toenails on the couch and leaving the clippings in the cushions? Don't I show her enough when I offer to give her a back rub and fall asleep before I get to the part where I ask for sex?  Don't I come to bed when asked, and pick my socks off the floor, and turn off the Hockey game when she's upset so I can comfort her about why one of her breasts is just slightly bigger than the other? I do my job. I fulfill my obligations- in sickness and in health. And then a day comes along to tell me I haven't been doing enough? Well, screw that.

I love my wife. Sure, I'm not as romantic as I could be with a two-year-old, three jobs and a mortgage to worry about, but I love her just as much as the day we wed- more so even. I love her for how hard she works for our family. I love her for the beautiful little girl she carried and brought in to this world so I could be her daddy. I love her for putting up with my shit, even when I'm an unbearable stubborn bastard. I love her each and every day, what's the point? Our love has evolved. I've seen her naked, and that's a sight to behold and all, but I've also held her hair back when she's had morning sickness, or had too much to drink. And if that's not love, what is? I mean if someone pukes in your hands because they can't make it to the washroom, is that not love?
And, I think she finally gets it. My wife finally understands my love is much more than a day of heart-shaped boxes, chocolates, flowers, sentimental cards, balloons and one upmanship between her and all her friend's to see whose husband did more on a day when we we're expected to be at the top of our game.
I think she finally sees through all the hoopla, and realizes that the man she has is something special - the husband, the father, the man she tells to brush his teeth every morning before he comes anywhere near her. I think she finally sees that love is all around her in all the little things I do, that collectively add up to more than a night at a fancy restaurant, or a bottle of Grey Goose, or a diamond necklace, or a mariachi band playing Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." I think she sees me with my daughter, and the way that I dote on her and realizes that love is an everyday thing that gets repaid in small increments not giant gestures. And she realizes I treat her the exact same way. And it may not always be romantic, but it's the kind of love that endures, because it's built on affection, not the collection of some perceived debt that is owed to her for being the wonderful wife and mother that she is.
Besides, she still has Mother’s Day, and if I screw that up again she knows my balls will be in the proverbial sling. So this year there will be not ticker tape parade in my house on Valentine’s Day, just a nice card and a few other “small” surprises to say I appreciate you, with love from me to you.

And to think, if I knew having kids would have gotten me this reprieve from the most evil of days known to man, I would have done it years ago. Yet another reason to love my little girl… and the woman who brought her in to my life.

STAY OUT OF THE WATER: THE DANGERS OF DADDY/DAUGHTER SWIM CLASSES

Sometimes I should just learn to keep my mouth shut. Like when my wife told me that she was signing my almost 2-year-old daughter up for gymnastics; maybe I should have just kept my thoughts to myself. Maybe it is okay to pay $350 dollars for 8 weeks of something that your child couldn't possibly master considering she can barely walk without falling down every five steps? Maybe its worthwhile to teach your daughter something that will one day cause her to have the arms of super hero and the chest of an aging Jack Lalanne. Unfortunately, I didn't see it that way. So I opened up my big, fat mouth.