Fatherhood is...

High-res (Stay-at-Home) Fatherhood is Stage 3: Hubris
There’s this intriguing rumor that when women lay eyes on a man with children, they go weak in the knees. Apparently visions of doting dads stimulate the ovaries. The brutal irony, of course, is that the man is already off the market and unwilling unable to seal the deal with this resplendent bounty of T&A. So he stands idly by, ogling the women drawn to his stroller, and wonders why it wasn’t this easy in college.
Bullshit.
Turns out, when you’re 26 years old and sluggishly heaving two babies through the mall, the only women who seem to notice are the ones old enough to be your mother. They don’t want you; they want grandbabies. Anybody’s grandbabies. You’re merely a means to an end.
You’d try and avoid them of course, but you just ate a foot-long Seafood Sensation from Subway and washed it down with a large Diet Coke. You’re bloated, hot, tired, and—unsurprisingly—a wee bit nauseous. It’s only now that you begin to second guess your plan to go shopping for new pants…with two four-month-olds…by yourself.
* * * *
I had my eye on a pair of Docker’s Alpha Khakis for about three weeks. They’re a pretty slim fit, which means they can’t be found in my rural hometown where any pair of pants that doesn’t billow in the wind is considered highfalutin or (let’s be honest) “totally gay.” So, since I passed my first day of stay-at-home parenting with enough flying colors to turn a rainbow green with envy, I decided to take the show on the road—45 minutes into the big city.
I knew the pants would be there. All I had to do was pack the babies, drive them into town, put them in strollers, wheel them through stores, pick out some sizes, try them on, buy them, get back in the car, and go home with new pants and two babies who would now appreciate the aesthetic of well fitting khakis. Oh, hindsight, your crystal clarity is such a bitch.
I decided to try Kohl’s first, which was just this side of the city. It would be less crowded and could save me a longer trip. Or—as it turned out—it would be an opportunity to push two strollers around the store’s perimeter a dozen times or better. The babies were having none of my shopping day and the only way to maintain the peace was to keep moving. Onlookers’ expressions ranged from sympathetic to annoyed; which is to say at first they were sympathetic, but after dodging the doublewide strollers for the fifth time, they were annoyed. We must have completed a mile long circuit before I finally grabbed some pants and ducked to a fitting room. I hadn’t found the Alpha Khakis, but I did stumble across some jeans. Why not try on something—anything—since I had been there half an hour already? I slipped into some Levi’s 511’s just in time for Charlotte to completely lose her shit. 
I scooped her up just as Greyson lent his voice to the disgruntled chorus now resonating through the fitting rooms and into the men’s department. We must have been in that tiny modular room, watching ourselves in the mirror, for ten minutes—just bouncing. I tried to explain to them the importance of trying on clothes before purchasing, that they were getting a very early and privileged lesson in fashion acquisition. But we all knew I was peddling crap. The babies, by this point, were hungry and ready to leave. I peeled the skinny jeans off my legs and put my own pants back on, which now felt baggy and loose by comparison. I may have lost the battle, but I hadn’t lost the war. It was off to the mall.
A man with common sense would have known to retreat. The challenges were too great, but I was too persistent a shopper and too stubborn a father to turn back now. I’m not one to let babies dictate my decisions, even if they are driven by selfish, consumerist desires. A line had been drawn in the sand. Those who could shop for pants with two babies would cross it. Those who could not, would not. And I was mid-stride.
* * * *
I decided to forgo the strollers when we got to the mall. They worked well when we were moving, but you can’t shop and keep two strollers rolling in perpetuity. Try putting on a pair of pants while wheeling two strollers back and forth in a fitting room. Or better yet, don’t. I’ll save you the trouble: it’s impossible. So instead, I put Charlotte in a Moby and left Greyson in his carrier.
That came to 14 pounds of baby strapped to my chest and another 20 or so dangling from my arm. If strollers weren’t a sustainable shopping strategy, I should have realized what a catastrophe this was going to be. I’m a thin guy (hence looking for slim fit khakis); my muscles fatigue quickly because, well, I don’t really have any. How I thought I’d be able to carry all this through the mall—with a diaper bag in tow—is beyond me. But nevertheless, I went in strapped, loaded, and encumbered by more crap than I should have considered hauling in the first place—babies included.
We ate first. Between the two babies, Greyson was making a bigger fuss. And since I typically award the first feeding to the most grating noisemaker, Charlotte had to wait her turn. We then headed to the food court. I stood by a table making faces at Greyson between bites of a foot-long Seafood Sensation, while Charlotte remained strapped to my chest. Together we bounced and swayed in a gentle dance of pacification as I tried not to drop any crumbs on her head. Lots of neck straining and 12 inches of fake crab and mayonnaise later, we recommenced our expedition.
I intended to hit just four stores—the big ones. Macy’s, J.C. Penny, Sears, and Dillard’s. As with most mall layouts, the big department stores are separated by vast oceans of smaller shops. Everything from the whirring gizmos of Brookstone to the fetid scent of Abercrombie and Fitch stand between shoppers and the key players. I’d have have to walk the whole mall if I wanted to see them all. But even the greatest journeys begin with a single step, so I made my first in Macy’s direction.
It was a no-go. They had Dockers, but the Alpha Khakis weren’t coming until later in the spring. So we headed to J.C. Penny. Perhaps “headed” isn’t the right word. We slogged to J.C. Penny. About every 15 seconds I would switch Greyson to my other arm while trying to maintain an easy rock. He was tired, but couldn’t quite nod off. His carrier clipped my thigh with every other step I took.
But we did make it to J.C. Penny. We made it just long enough for me to step in and feel the oppressing heat of a busted air conditioner. I was already beginning to glisten and knew this was no place for a man with a tummy full of mayonnaise, two armfuls of babies, and the intention of trying on pants. We left as quickly as we arrived and went on toward Sears.
By now the futility of my endeavor was coming into focus. Greyson was whining, my arms were aching, and Charlotte had fallen asleep with a steady stream of drool cascading from her parted lips. As soon as I crossed the threshold into Sears, my son was finished. He let out a fatigued cry that let me know he had reached his limit. And the truth was, I had reached mine as well.
I sat his carrier on the floor, looked him in his teary eyes and came clean. “This was too much,” I said. “It’s time to go. I’m sorry.”
I rose up, grabbed the carrier by the handle and started the long march back to the car. I caught a few glimpses of the people walking passed and realized what a sight we must have been. I wasn’t the hero dad I had fancied myself, I was just a worn out guy who bit off a little more than he could chew. Maybe this was why the older women were drawn to us. Maybe their maternal instincts kicked in before I knew I needed them.
* * * *
That evening, I relayed to my wife what a terrible shopping trip I’d had. That after five hours of “shopping,” I had tried on one pair of jeans and never even caught a glimpse the pants I intended to find. But I hadn’t wasted the day. Really, this wasn’t so much about pants as it was finding my limits. I wanted to know if I could take two babies out on my own. The endeavor was equal parts determination and nerve, or—if you put the two together—stubbornness. I had succeeded in so much as daring to try in the first place, and not being afraid to fail.
I would have liked to buy some pants that day; I never intended to walk away without them. But as my grandmother would tell me, I was a bit “too big for my britches” if I thought I could do it with two babies in hand. I guess finally get that expression. 

(Stay-at-Home) Fatherhood is Stage 3: Hubris

There’s this intriguing rumor that when women lay eyes on a man with children, they go weak in the knees. Apparently visions of doting dads stimulate the ovaries. The brutal irony, of course, is that the man is already off the market and unwilling unable to seal the deal with this resplendent bounty of T&A. So he stands idly by, ogling the women drawn to his stroller, and wonders why it wasn’t this easy in college.

Bullshit.

Turns out, when you’re 26 years old and sluggishly heaving two babies through the mall, the only women who seem to notice are the ones old enough to be your mother. They don’t want you; they want grandbabies. Anybody’s grandbabies. You’re merely a means to an end.

You’d try and avoid them of course, but you just ate a foot-long Seafood Sensation from Subway and washed it down with a large Diet Coke. You’re bloated, hot, tired, and—unsurprisingly—a wee bit nauseous. It’s only now that you begin to second guess your plan to go shopping for new pants…with two four-month-olds…by yourself.

* * * *

I had my eye on a pair of Docker’s Alpha Khakis for about three weeks. They’re a pretty slim fit, which means they can’t be found in my rural hometown where any pair of pants that doesn’t billow in the wind is considered highfalutin or (let’s be honest) “totally gay.” So, since I passed my first day of stay-at-home parenting with enough flying colors to turn a rainbow green with envy, I decided to take the show on the road—45 minutes into the big city.

I knew the pants would be there. All I had to do was pack the babies, drive them into town, put them in strollers, wheel them through stores, pick out some sizes, try them on, buy them, get back in the car, and go home with new pants and two babies who would now appreciate the aesthetic of well fitting khakis. Oh, hindsight, your crystal clarity is such a bitch.

I decided to try Kohl’s first, which was just this side of the city. It would be less crowded and could save me a longer trip. Or—as it turned out—it would be an opportunity to push two strollers around the store’s perimeter a dozen times or better. The babies were having none of my shopping day and the only way to maintain the peace was to keep moving. Onlookers’ expressions ranged from sympathetic to annoyed; which is to say at first they were sympathetic, but after dodging the doublewide strollers for the fifth time, they were annoyed. We must have completed a mile long circuit before I finally grabbed some pants and ducked to a fitting room. I hadn’t found the Alpha Khakis, but I did stumble across some jeans. Why not try on something—anything—since I had been there half an hour already? I slipped into some Levi’s 511’s just in time for Charlotte to completely lose her shit. 

I scooped her up just as Greyson lent his voice to the disgruntled chorus now resonating through the fitting rooms and into the men’s department. We must have been in that tiny modular room, watching ourselves in the mirror, for ten minutes—just bouncing. I tried to explain to them the importance of trying on clothes before purchasing, that they were getting a very early and privileged lesson in fashion acquisition. But we all knew I was peddling crap. The babies, by this point, were hungry and ready to leave. I peeled the skinny jeans off my legs and put my own pants back on, which now felt baggy and loose by comparison. I may have lost the battle, but I hadn’t lost the war. It was off to the mall.

A man with common sense would have known to retreat. The challenges were too great, but I was too persistent a shopper and too stubborn a father to turn back now. I’m not one to let babies dictate my decisions, even if they are driven by selfish, consumerist desires. A line had been drawn in the sand. Those who could shop for pants with two babies would cross it. Those who could not, would not. And I was mid-stride.

* * * *

I decided to forgo the strollers when we got to the mall. They worked well when we were moving, but you can’t shop and keep two strollers rolling in perpetuity. Try putting on a pair of pants while wheeling two strollers back and forth in a fitting room. Or better yet, don’t. I’ll save you the trouble: it’s impossible. So instead, I put Charlotte in a Moby and left Greyson in his carrier.

That came to 14 pounds of baby strapped to my chest and another 20 or so dangling from my arm. If strollers weren’t a sustainable shopping strategy, I should have realized what a catastrophe this was going to be. I’m a thin guy (hence looking for slim fit khakis); my muscles fatigue quickly because, well, I don’t really have any. How I thought I’d be able to carry all this through the mall—with a diaper bag in tow—is beyond me. But nevertheless, I went in strapped, loaded, and encumbered by more crap than I should have considered hauling in the first place—babies included.

We ate first. Between the two babies, Greyson was making a bigger fuss. And since I typically award the first feeding to the most grating noisemaker, Charlotte had to wait her turn. We then headed to the food court. I stood by a table making faces at Greyson between bites of a foot-long Seafood Sensation, while Charlotte remained strapped to my chest. Together we bounced and swayed in a gentle dance of pacification as I tried not to drop any crumbs on her head. Lots of neck straining and 12 inches of fake crab and mayonnaise later, we recommenced our expedition.

I intended to hit just four stores—the big ones. Macy’s, J.C. Penny, Sears, and Dillard’s. As with most mall layouts, the big department stores are separated by vast oceans of smaller shops. Everything from the whirring gizmos of Brookstone to the fetid scent of Abercrombie and Fitch stand between shoppers and the key players. I’d have have to walk the whole mall if I wanted to see them all. But even the greatest journeys begin with a single step, so I made my first in Macy’s direction.

It was a no-go. They had Dockers, but the Alpha Khakis weren’t coming until later in the spring. So we headed to J.C. Penny. Perhaps “headed” isn’t the right word. We slogged to J.C. Penny. About every 15 seconds I would switch Greyson to my other arm while trying to maintain an easy rock. He was tired, but couldn’t quite nod off. His carrier clipped my thigh with every other step I took.

But we did make it to J.C. Penny. We made it just long enough for me to step in and feel the oppressing heat of a busted air conditioner. I was already beginning to glisten and knew this was no place for a man with a tummy full of mayonnaise, two armfuls of babies, and the intention of trying on pants. We left as quickly as we arrived and went on toward Sears.

By now the futility of my endeavor was coming into focus. Greyson was whining, my arms were aching, and Charlotte had fallen asleep with a steady stream of drool cascading from her parted lips. As soon as I crossed the threshold into Sears, my son was finished. He let out a fatigued cry that let me know he had reached his limit. And the truth was, I had reached mine as well.

I sat his carrier on the floor, looked him in his teary eyes and came clean. “This was too much,” I said. “It’s time to go. I’m sorry.”

I rose up, grabbed the carrier by the handle and started the long march back to the car. I caught a few glimpses of the people walking passed and realized what a sight we must have been. I wasn’t the hero dad I had fancied myself, I was just a worn out guy who bit off a little more than he could chew. Maybe this was why the older women were drawn to us. Maybe their maternal instincts kicked in before I knew I needed them.

* * * *

That evening, I relayed to my wife what a terrible shopping trip I’d had. That after five hours of “shopping,” I had tried on one pair of jeans and never even caught a glimpse the pants I intended to find. But I hadn’t wasted the day. Really, this wasn’t so much about pants as it was finding my limits. I wanted to know if I could take two babies out on my own. The endeavor was equal parts determination and nerve, or—if you put the two together—stubbornness. I had succeeded in so much as daring to try in the first place, and not being afraid to fail.

I would have liked to buy some pants that day; I never intended to walk away without them. But as my grandmother would tell me, I was a bit “too big for my britches” if I thought I could do it with two babies in hand. I guess finally get that expression. 

High-res (Stay-at-Home) Fatherhood is Stage 2: Enthusiasm.
Here’s a fun fact: the ancient definition for ‘enthusiasm’ describes inspiration or possession by a god. An enthusiast, then, is in communion with a higher power—a force greater than himself.
Ladies and gentlemen, the force was strong with me that first Monday of stay-at-home fatherhood.
By the time Ashley came home from work, I had done three loads of laundry, written a blog post, gone to Wal-Mart, had dinner on the stove and a glass of wine on the table. I was parenting with the force of a thousand Danny Tanners.
When push comes to shove, dads get excited. I think it’s the challenge. We have this innate do or die mentality that drives us to succeed on the court, behind a desk, or in the nursery. Does it get harried at times? Yeah, when you’re watching two babies for ten hours you have to anticipate the inevitable. There were tears, poop, and spit-up…and then the babies had problems of their own. But we dealt with them. And we is the operative word here.
For the first time “we” meant just Greyson, Charlotte, and Daddy. Instead of pitting myself against two temperamental infants, we banded together. Team Dad. Babies aren’t challenging; it’s all the shit you have to do for them that makes fatherhood onerous. And once I realized that, being a stay-at-home dad became a cooperative endeavor. Wet diapers: we changed ‘em. Hungry tummies: we fed ‘em. ABC’s: we sung ‘em (slightly out of key).  
No doubt about it, I was a really good dad that day. And the proof was in the kiss my wife gave me when she walked through the door. “I wish you were the nanny all the time,” she said.
Me too.

(Stay-at-Home) Fatherhood is Stage 2: Enthusiasm.

Here’s a fun fact: the ancient definition for ‘enthusiasm’ describes inspiration or possession by a god. An enthusiast, then, is in communion with a higher power—a force greater than himself.

Ladies and gentlemen, the force was strong with me that first Monday of stay-at-home fatherhood.

By the time Ashley came home from work, I had done three loads of laundry, written a blog post, gone to Wal-Mart, had dinner on the stove and a glass of wine on the table. I was parenting with the force of a thousand Danny Tanners.

When push comes to shove, dads get excited. I think it’s the challenge. We have this innate do or die mentality that drives us to succeed on the court, behind a desk, or in the nursery. Does it get harried at times? Yeah, when you’re watching two babies for ten hours you have to anticipate the inevitable. There were tears, poop, and spit-up…and then the babies had problems of their own. But we dealt with them. And we is the operative word here.

For the first time “we” meant just Greyson, Charlotte, and Daddy. Instead of pitting myself against two temperamental infants, we banded together. Team Dad. Babies aren’t challenging; it’s all the shit you have to do for them that makes fatherhood onerous. And once I realized that, being a stay-at-home dad became a cooperative endeavor. Wet diapers: we changed ‘em. Hungry tummies: we fed ‘em. ABC’s: we sung ‘em (slightly out of key).  

No doubt about it, I was a really good dad that day. And the proof was in the kiss my wife gave me when she walked through the door. “I wish you were the nanny all the time,” she said.

Me too.

High-res (Stay-at-Home) Fatherhood is Stage 1: Hesitation.
When faced with the proposition of stay-at-home fatherhood, hesitation will manifest itself in one of two fashions. Either A.) the dad will feel ill-equipped to shepherd his youngin’s through a whole day sans mom, or B.) the dad would rather be doing something else entirely. I selfishly identify with the latter.
I love my babies. I love my babies so much I know what their drool tastes like. (Not bad.) But I knew from the outset that being with them all day meant at least ten hours of unadulterated focus, and my mind is notoriously commitment-phobic. To put it in perspective, I’ve been tooling around on this post for seven minutes now and two of those were spent changing up a playlist on Spotify and another seeing if there were any new posts on The Daily What. Ooh…something about a whale. Hang on.
Okay, I’m back.
So, when our nanny informed us she’d be out of town for three weeks, my wife and I had to make alternative arrangements. Ashley was out. Having used all of her vacation and sick days for maternity leave, she couldn’t afford to miss any more work. That left me and her mother—who lives two hours away in an empty nest—as the next best thing. I took time off to cover the middle week and Ashley’s mom kindly agreed to drive in the weeks before and after.
If my wife could do it, if our nanny could do it, if my mother-in-law could do it…it wasn’t a question of whether or not I could. There was no question at all; I was going to do it. I was going to stay at home with two four-month-old babies for one week because it was my duty and my delight as a father to do so.
I was going to test my mettle as a stay-at-home dad…and I was going to get lots of work done during their naps.
I was pretty sure that almost everything would hopefully be awesome for the most part.

(Stay-at-Home) Fatherhood is Stage 1: Hesitation.

When faced with the proposition of stay-at-home fatherhood, hesitation will manifest itself in one of two fashions. Either A.) the dad will feel ill-equipped to shepherd his youngin’s through a whole day sans mom, or B.) the dad would rather be doing something else entirely. I selfishly identify with the latter.

I love my babies. I love my babies so much I know what their drool tastes like. (Not bad.) But I knew from the outset that being with them all day meant at least ten hours of unadulterated focus, and my mind is notoriously commitment-phobic. To put it in perspective, I’ve been tooling around on this post for seven minutes now and two of those were spent changing up a playlist on Spotify and another seeing if there were any new posts on The Daily What. Ooh…something about a whale. Hang on.

Okay, I’m back.

So, when our nanny informed us she’d be out of town for three weeks, my wife and I had to make alternative arrangements. Ashley was out. Having used all of her vacation and sick days for maternity leave, she couldn’t afford to miss any more work. That left me and her mother—who lives two hours away in an empty nest—as the next best thing. I took time off to cover the middle week and Ashley’s mom kindly agreed to drive in the weeks before and after.

If my wife could do it, if our nanny could do it, if my mother-in-law could do it…it wasn’t a question of whether or not I could. There was no question at all; I was going to do it. I was going to stay at home with two four-month-old babies for one week because it was my duty and my delight as a father to do so.

I was going to test my mettle as a stay-at-home dad…and I was going to get lots of work done during their naps.

I was pretty sure that almost everything would hopefully be awesome for the most part.

High-res Fatherhood is prioritizing at the expense of your daddy blog.
My wife is a middle school teacher—the unenviable occupation of adolescent wrangling. Depending on which student you ask, he or she will tell you that Ashley is the bee’s knees or a pain in the ass. (Good teachers know both are compliments.) But sometimes, a student will tell you that my wife “has swag.” And he’ll do it at my expense.
Last week, posts on Fatherhood Is ground to a sudden halt. Why? I took a week-long position as a stay-at-home dad while our nanny was out of town. To date, I’ve held only a handful of jobs, but being the solitary caregiver for two four-month-olds was officially the hardest of them all. Seriously, stay-at-home parents who do this on the regular deserve a goddamn medal, or better yet…a cape—cut from the finest cotton polyester blend and adorned with rhinestones. You all would wear that, right?
In any event, the joke in Ashley’s classroom was that she had swag because, when push came to shove, she went to work like a baller and left me at home with the babies. As you can see from the accompanying illustration, I apparently sucked at it. But I shouldn’t get too worked up. If I took everything in this picture literally, I’d be Mr. Fantastic and Ashley would be a stoner hippy with a goatee and six fingers.
But more to the point, I was essentially pulling two shifts every day. 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.—stay-at-home dad. 9:00 p.m. to 1 a.m.—multimedia designer. It was fun work made grueling by the dual responsibilities and sleep deprivation. I survived, but my blog died. So to resuscitate it, I’d like to announce a five-part series reflecting on my experience as a stay-at-home dad. It’s called “The 5 Stages of Stay-at-Home Fatherhood.”
The first stage is “Hesitation.” More tomorrow…

Fatherhood is prioritizing at the expense of your daddy blog.

My wife is a middle school teacher—the unenviable occupation of adolescent wrangling. Depending on which student you ask, he or she will tell you that Ashley is the bee’s knees or a pain in the ass. (Good teachers know both are compliments.) But sometimes, a student will tell you that my wife “has swag.” And he’ll do it at my expense.

Last week, posts on Fatherhood Is ground to a sudden halt. Why? I took a week-long position as a stay-at-home dad while our nanny was out of town. To date, I’ve held only a handful of jobs, but being the solitary caregiver for two four-month-olds was officially the hardest of them all. Seriously, stay-at-home parents who do this on the regular deserve a goddamn medal, or better yet…a cape—cut from the finest cotton polyester blend and adorned with rhinestones. You all would wear that, right?

In any event, the joke in Ashley’s classroom was that she had swag because, when push came to shove, she went to work like a baller and left me at home with the babies. As you can see from the accompanying illustration, I apparently sucked at it. But I shouldn’t get too worked up. If I took everything in this picture literally, I’d be Mr. Fantastic and Ashley would be a stoner hippy with a goatee and six fingers.

But more to the point, I was essentially pulling two shifts every day. 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.—stay-at-home dad. 9:00 p.m. to 1 a.m.—multimedia designer. It was fun work made grueling by the dual responsibilities and sleep deprivation. I survived, but my blog died. So to resuscitate it, I’d like to announce a five-part series reflecting on my experience as a stay-at-home dad. It’s called “The 5 Stages of Stay-at-Home Fatherhood.”

The first stage is “Hesitation.” More tomorrow…

Fatherhood is ignoring your critics.

When performers want to elevate themselves above their critics, they need only go on the record with one sentence: “I don’t read the reviews.” It’s a lie, but it’s a coping mechanism to deal with the fact they aren’t universally treasured.

One Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, I gave my son his first giggles. He gave me five stars, two thumbs up, and generated a good deal of buzz about me around the house. I was sure his twin sister would be equally enamored by my performance. She was not.

Here’s a list of people who have made Charlotte giggle: her mother, her grandmother, her aunt. Notably absent is her convivial father who’s been known to turn many a giggle box upside down with his irreverent and unfiltered, self-deprecating humor. 

I’ve got a couple of theories on this. Either A.) my daughter is an ardent sexist who finds men mostly intolerable, or B.) she has no taste. Now look, I’m not saying these three women aren’t entertaining in their own right…but c’mon…I’m her dad. I invented the “insert feet in mouth, get giggles" routine.

It’s as if Armond White and my daughter share the same contrariant soul—bitterly hating on all things wondrous and universally admired while venerating mediocrity. (Armond White is the infamous New York Press film critic who robbed Toy Story 3 of its 100% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes while giving thumbs up to films like Mr. 3000, Resident Evil: Afterlife, and Battle: Los Angeles.) It’d be fine, but I recently discovered that my four-month-old daughter is a published entertainment critic herself. Here’s an excerpt from her latest column:

It’s clear from the overstated smile Daddy flashes in our presence that he wants us to find him amusing. But it’s this same toothy grin that makes us find him mildly irritating. Perhaps if he spent more time making “NOMNOMNOM” sounds on our tummies instead of begging us for giggles like an out-of-work comedian, we’d find his routine a bit more droll. As it is now, he lacks the je ne sais quo we’ve grown to appreciate from more adept grownups like Mommy, Maw-Maw, and Aunt Kayla.

Whatever. I don’t read the reviews.

Fatherhood is having your croissant and eating it too.

I have a stack of parenting literature—each book with a pristine spine—gathering dust on my bookshelf. So don’t think the irony is lost on me when I say: “Holy crap! I’m officially a blogger for WhatToExpect.com, the companion site to the most commonly read pregnancy guide in the world. GR*TEST DAY EVA!1”

For my first foray into the professional blogosphere, I’ve decided to write about my living room being annexed by the nursery. It’s a moving narrative about a man, his loveseat, and the two tiny despots who threatened to tear them apart. Click the link above to read the account then share the living hell out of it. 

Fatherhood is QWERTY.

The typewriter was invented in the mid-19th century, but hobbled by a design flaw that caused the machine to jam when two adjacent keys were struck back-to-back. The fix was to separate commonly paired letters so that speedy typists wouldn’t trigger a lockup. T and H were strategically repositioned as were I and N, and E and R. It’s why we have the QWERTY keyboard today despite its obsolescent layout. What was once a workaround is now the preference.

I know this is a strange way to say it, but I’m a QWERTY dad.

My father broke his neck in a diving accident when I was eight years old, and from that moment on, all the hugs we could have hoped to share were lost. He couldn’t move from the shoulders down and could only feel from the chest up.

Life was a constant exercise in patience. He spent a lot of time in a hospital bed, propped up by pillows, just waiting. He was waiting to fall asleep, waiting for his nurses, waiting for pressure sores to heal. Just waiting. There wasn’t much room, but as a kid, I would climb in that narrow bed next to him, lay my head on his chest, and wait too.

I can’t imagine how badly he wanted to wrap his arms around me. I can’t imagine because every time I see my boy, it’s the first thing I want to do. But my father didn’t forfeit his affections. With all the effort he could muster, my dad would delicately brush his face against my hair, doing the work his fingers were meant to do.

I never really gave it a lot of thought until a few days ago when it occurred to me that I’ve been doing the same thing with Greyson and Charlotte. Whenever I have one of them on my lap, I’ll brush my cheek, my lips, or my chin through their hair, occasionally dropping a kiss at their forehead. It’s as close to putting them in my heart as I can manage.

I’m sure I’m not the only dad who does this. But I like the narrative. I like the idea that my father could only feel me when he touched me with his face, but now—as a father myself—all I want to do is put my face against my babies and breathe. What was once a workaround is now the preference.

Fatherhood is never letting the stories you tell on your babies get tainted by half-truths.

When Ashley gets home from work, she usually spends a few minutes with Joan, our nanny, to swap stories on the twins. It’s pretty mundane stuff that comes across less like anecdotes and more like game stats: FED% (number of ounces consumed divided by the number offered); MIC (minutes in crib); TF (technical foul—the number of times a baby pooped or peed on the supervising adult). 

That being said, sometimes the stories are comic gold. A couple days ago, Ashley shared the following nugget with Joan:

"It was so funny last night. I was wiping Greyson’s bottom and he giggled. And I said, ‘Whaaaaat?!’ So I wiped again and he giggled again. It was really cute."

It’s not a funny story; it’s only kind of cute. There are episodes of Full House that would seem raunchy by comparison, yet Joan was in stitches. Perhaps she was laughing politely and just oversold her amusement. At least that’s what I would’ve assumed if I didn’t know the truth. 

She wasn’t laughing at Ashley’s story so much as she was her watered down retelling of it. You see, Joan had already gotten the actual account that morning…from me:

"So, I’m in the kitchen fixing some bottles last night, and I hear Ashley call out from the nursery—totally deadpan, ‘Well, I found your son’s new ticklish spot.’

"And I say, ‘Oh yeah? What’s that?’

“‘His taint.’”

Mommy's got the magic. Mommy's little lady. Mommy's little man.

Fatherhood is coming home for the ‘Mommy and Baby Show.’

Ashley leaves for work at 7:00 and comes home at 5:00—a long day of mutual yearning that evaporates the instant she walks through the door. After that, it’s the Mommy and Baby Show. Admission is free as long as I leave work on time to get a seat. And why wouldn’t I? It’s a daily tour de force performance of laughter, love, and the occasional toot.

Fatherhood is singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” so many times your brain hurts more than your voice.

I have a very limited musical repertoire, and it didn’t take long (READ: one time only) before I realized Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch" was not age appropriate…even for nonverbal infants. So I turned to the classics. I’ve not driven "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" into the ground yet, but I’m only fifteen weeks in.  If (or more likely, when) the twins start requesting it, I’m gonna let Scott Bradlee go to work.