So last night President Obama gave his State of the Union Address. There were times were it made me think and times where it made me laugh… to be quite honest I did a lot more laughing then thinking.
But it did get me thinking a little about the state of my union… you know the one this blog is based on… So without further ado… Mr. Speaker… The Author of Chronicles of a New Dad!
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:
We are eight-plus months into this new thing called parent hood. Eight months that dawned with poop touching our shoes; that unfolded with a new generation fighting exhaustion; that saw a vicious recession spread across our bank account and the world. It has been, and still is, a hard time to be new parents.
But tonight, we turn the page.
Tonight, after a breakthrough year for our little family, our son is growing and developing at the fastest pace since he was born. Our sleep rate is now higher than it was before the dairy allergy crisis. More of his hours are spent happy than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign formula as we’ve been in almost months.
Tonight, for the first time since 4/27, our combat mission in the bathtub is over. Six months ago, nearly 180,000 diapers were lost in the line of dootie. Today, fewer than 15,000 remain in service. And we salute the courage and sacrifice of every man and woman who has changed a diaper to keep Jax clean and fresh. We are humbled and grateful for your service.
We, for all that we’ve endured; for all the grit and hard work required to wake up in the morning; for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this:
The shadow of the newborn staeg has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.
At this moment – with a growing baby, shrinking bank accounts, bustling between doctor appointments and baby music classes – we have risen from exhaustion to write a future better than any other baby on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be today, and for decades to come.
Will we accept an advice from parents who do what they do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to just trying things out in hopes that we get it right?
Will we approach the next few years fearful and reactive, dragged into costly situations that strain our relationship and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our son?
Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into the good parent and the bad parent and turned against one another – or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled our marriage forward?
In two weeks, I will send our pediatrician an email filled with questions that are practical, not partisan. And in the months ahead, I’ll crisscross the internet looking for answers to those questions that he tells me not to worry about..
So tonight, I want to focus less on a checklist of proposals, and focus more on the values at stake in the choices before us.
It begins with our son.
Eight years ago, Peter and Stephanie of Connecticut were newlyweds. She was a finance associate. He worked in Education. Their first child, Jackson, was years away.
We were young and in love in America, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
“If only we had known,” Stephanie would think back, “what was about to happen to our vacation and traveling when our little bundle of joy was born.”
As the crisis of not being able to travel when ever we wanted worsened, Peter’s ideas began to dry up, so he took the family to what ever place he could drive too, even if it wasn’t as tropical as Aruba, Hawaii or Burmuda. They would learn to make the best of things. And would tell Jackson that Black Rock Beach was a beautiful and relaxing destination. They sacrificed for each other. And slowly, it paid off. Jackson would soon be old enough to travel. Trips to Cape Cod and sunny Florida would be in their future. The sacrifice they made for their son was selfless.
“It is amazing,” Stephanie would say, “what you can bounce back from when you have to…we are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.”
We are a strong, tight-knit family who has made it through some very, very hard times.
America, Peter and Stephanie’s story is MY story, it is our story. They represent the millions who have worked hard, and scrimped, and sacrificed, and retooled. Jackson is the reason I wake up everymorning. He is the person I was thinking of nine years ago, when I stood on the steps of the Wildwood Convention Center and asked Stephanie to marry me. And it’s her effort and resilience (and the fact that she scares me to death) that has made it possible for our marriage to emerge stronger.
We believed we could reverse the tide of pee that kept squirting us every time we changed a diaper. And we did, we learned to cover up that fire hose quickly while we attempt to get him changed.
We believed we could reduce the number of diapers that he plowed through to protect our planet. And today, Jax goes through half as many diapers as he used too. And thanks to lower gas prices and less diapers, we’re hoping this year to save an additional $750.
We believed we could prepare our son for a more competitive world. And today, Jax can mumble, almost crawl and pick things up on his own. He can also sit through almost an entire book without trying to eat it.
We believed that we could do this all on our own, shield family members from the nights of no sleep and from ruin. Today, we have a new outlook on asking for help, and with both our watchdogs to protect us from strangers who might try to wake the baby up during nap time we are able to get almost an hour or two at a time of sleep.
At every step, we were told our goals were misguided or too ambitious; that we would push him too hard and overstimulate him. Yes, we want him to be able to do Algebra and read nonfiction texts with fluency and understanding. Instead, we’ve realized that we can be happy with small milestones, like a first tooth or the first time he farts in the bathtub and makes bubbles.
So the verdict is clear. Our parenting works. Our approach to raising our son works. And these things will contunie to work if we remember to keep praying a little that we might know what to do. We can’t slow down Jackson growing up or put our son at risk by not asking for a little help once and a while. We can’t put the sanity of our family at risk by taking away time to worry about nonsensical things like who’s going to change the diaper filled with what looks like pea soup, or is going to sing the next made up lullaby. And if a thought of doing one of these things comes to my head that tries to do any of these things, it will earn my veto.
Today, thanks to an amazing son, the road to normalsy is getting easier. My energy levels are starting to rise again. We know that more alone time is in the future for us. But here’s the thing – those of us here tonight, we need to set our sights higher than just making sure we raise a handsome little guy. We need to do more than just do no harm. Tonight, together, let’s do more to restore the link between hard work and growing up successful for our son… Jackson.
My fellow Americans, we too are a strong, tight-knit family. We, too, have made it through some hard times. Eight months into parenting, we have picked ourselves up, dusted ourselves off, and begun again the work of remaking figuring out what the hell we are doing as parents. We’ve laid a new foundation. A brighter future is his to write. Let’s begin this new chapter – together – and let’s start the work right now.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this country we love.