Please Send Help

Please someone help. Send help. Send reinforcements. Send in the National Guard. I’m so unbelievably tired. At this point my body just doesn’t even know the difference between day and night. I can’t remember what the inside of my eyelids look like anymore.

For some reason everyone thinks it’s just new parents who don’t get any sleep. It’s just understood that a newborn causes exhaustion and endless nights. Of course having a newborn involves screaming, midnight feedings, and every-two-minute baby breathing checks. It’s not that bad though. Honestly. It’s par for the course. So, know you’re not going to get a ton of sleep, people around you know you aren’t going to get a ton of sleep and everyone lends a hand and pitches in. People bring you food and drinks. They offer to hold the baby so you can nap or shower, or nap in the shower.

Then years go bye and a second kid comes along. No one cares. No one even bats an eye about your lack of sleep anymore. No one brings you a lasagna, or asks you if you want to go rest for an hour or seven.

At first, people understand that bringing new life also brings exhaustion. It happens, we’ve all felt it. Even Jackson as a baby, who slept extremely well, at least would be up only a few times to eat. The thing is, everyone thinks it gets better… it doesn’t. It doesn’t at all. It gets worse.

I’m positive I’ve read somewhere that it’s a scientific fact that parents never feel like fully-functional human beings ever again. Either that, or the meaning of what a “fully-functional” person actual means just slowly morphs as the years go bye, because I CAN NOT remember what it feels like to NOT be tired. My eyes have finally adjusted to their new norm. You know the one that “feels like you’re driving late at night and you convince yourself that you can just close them for just a second,” just to rest them, and then when you reopen them, you’re seven miles down the road with no recollection of how you got there.

Babys, toddlers… it doesn’t matter. They never sleep through the night. At first you just hope they lay down without screaming like a banshee for hours… then it moves to worrying if they are breathing (OMG he hasn’t moved in 13 seconds. Is he still alive?!?? I better get up and check). Later… no more crib… you hope that little bowling ball doesn’t roll out of bed even with that gigantic wrought-iron fence you’ve strapped to their mattress… you’re still convinced it won’t hold them securely. The worries never end.

The best sleep she’s ever had (hanging over the crib, passed out)

Even as they grow… sleep doesn’t just appear… it’s more of a vision of a watering hole in a dry dessert… a mirage. Toddlers want 18 sips of milk, 12 books, 7 kisses, and a few hours of snuggling before they’ll even consider closing their eyes. The appearance of sleep is there. It’s always there. Not because you are well rested, but because you’ve learned to function on an hour or two of sleep at a time. Even as I write this, I’m amazed at how much I can accomplish with the sleep habits of an insomniac. All parents, in one way or another, just grow and adapt. We’re ready for what our day has in store for us. No matter how heavy those bags under our eyes seem.

It’s more than sleep deprivation though. You know relaxing time you enjoy to do things like pee or shower? Yea… peace out to those days too. The other day I tried to put Christmas decorations away… actually not even away… just take them down put them aside, so I didn’t have to listen to the animatronic Santa sing one more damn carol. I got about three decorations down before I gave up because… “Dad what are you doing?” “Dad can I have a snack?” “Dad Oliver is flushing the trains down the toilet…” “Dad Oliver is trying to ride the dog again!” Dad can I have a snack…” Dad can Oliver have a snack?” …and that was all in one breath.

I always have a tiny human being hanging off me. Hanging on my arms, attached to my leg, under my feet, climbing the wall… they are always somewhere they shouldn’t be. There is NO downtime. NO quiet time. No time to just do mindless things you used to do to relax. The army should just start using toddlers for training their recruits. The level of functioning parents operate on with constant demands, screaming, toys wizzing through the air, and the high pitched screams that come from a toddler who can’t find their red crayon is magical.

Steph nor I have gone to the bathroom solo in four years. Somehow my oldest son has learned to pick locks. This little Ocean’s Eleven wannabe has figured out how to interrupt the one private time us parents used to have. You’d think you could have a few moments to scroll through your twitter feed, or check a few emails whist in the bathroom. That is, until the door slowly, quietly slides open and your child sticks their little head through like the “Here’s Johnny” scene from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

Have I mentioned how tired I am? The most rest I get during the day is my hour and a half at the gym lifting weights and running a few miles. Yes, that’s rest now. Don’t get me wrong… parents aren’t sleepwalking through their day. We just learn, we grow and we adapt. We got this. But with the lack of sleep I’m functioning on… if I hear the Bubble Guppies theme song one more time, I might just snap.

……

………

…………. please… just five more minutes!

Oll-E > Wall-E

Both are pretty cute and they even sound the same

I’ve blogged about all the normal baby and toddler firsts… I’ve talked about cleaning nuclear-like diaper messes and first solid foods… I’ve written about bubble wrapping and baby gating the house for their first steps. Now don’t get me wrong those are all hugely significant moments in time, but they all pale in comparison to hearing you child speak their first words. I’ve been in educational for nearly 20 years… I’ve taught children to read, to multiply triple digit numbers and I’ve taught children how to explain their thinking, but teaching a child to speak… that’s just magical.

Parenting is just a series of events that makes you feel equally proud and sad… watching your child become more independent each and everyday makes your heart both swell with pride for the amazing little being you are raising and also makes your heart long for the days when your baby needed you for everything. Like Elton John said, “it’s the Circle of Life” (I’m not sure if that analogy works here, but it sounds good so if you don’t mind, please just roll with it).

Listen, becoming mobile matters, it’s a huge step (pardon the pun) in the growth and development of a child. Learning to talk… to have a reciprocal conversation… is like the when the caveman first discovered fire, or first time you realized you didn’t have to actually flip open a cell phone to use it. It’s a game changer

Oliver has been saying words for a bit now… some much more clearly than others. But to hear him say his own name… I don’t know why… it was really cool. It was special. I know he has asked for juice when he’s wanted it and I’ve heard him yell, “dog” when Buster and Max were being naughty, but this… saying his name… I feel like it transforms him from a parakeet to a real person. I’m not sure why (especially since he was literally repeating his name), but just stay with me here… it’s my blog so I can write whatever I want.

Talking is transformative, getting to a point where you’re child knows his name, can say his own name and can string a word or two together changes an entire parent-child relationship I’m just hoping we are getting to the point where we can get a response from Oliver when ask him, “why are you screaming and what was the purpose of throwing yourself on the ground just now?”

But for now… I’ll take the slow and steady progress, even if he sounds like that robot WALL-E when he talks!

Quality vs Quantity

“What we need,” said Dumbledore slowly, “is more time.”

I used to think playing a sport at the Collegiate  Division 1 level was one of the most time- consuming things in my life. Then I got a job as an elementary school teacher and and realized balancing my career with every day life was just as hard… And then I had a child; while I was an administrator in an elementary school and realized I had it all wrong, because this was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done…

…Fast forward four years, I now take on the role as a principal and added an extra 35 minutes to my drive, talk about time-consuming. After reflecting on my first few weeks… I’ve come to realize every new role you take on in life always becomes the next toughest thing you face. (Honestly though when I say toughest thing to face, I’m not talking about being able to handle the workload, or stress level, or anything of the sort. Those type of things come naturally to me and never have been much of an issue). Honestly, I don’t feel stress and pressure is not something that phases me. 

I will however, admit it’s tough spending time away from my little guy. My new role as a school principal takes up the majority of my day. When I’m awake… I’m think about being a principal, when I’m about to fall asleep… I’m thinking about being a principal, when I do fall asleep… I wake up and write down things that I thought about in terms of being a principal that I dreamt of while I was sleeping.  That has nothing to do with being stressed, or overworked, or anything of the sort. That has to do with being me. I’m detail oriented, dedicated and committed to what I do. I love what I do.  

Yet, now as I get home some nights at 7 o’clock… a quick hug, a kiss and a bedtime book is about all I get with Jackson. I know I’ve written about this before. This is not something new to me, or to any 21st century parent. Time is something that we all want more of… yet we will never get. There is always the quality vs quantity debate. But to be honest I’m not sure what to make of that when it comes to spending time with my son. Is there anyway I can get quantity AND quality time… at the same time… all the time? 

For now I have to accept the fact that I am doing what I love during the times I am not with him, and know that he is spending time with the people that also love him as much as i do when I am at work. Whether it’s mom, or Grammy, Mima or Auntie… I’m happy knowing he’s happy. 

After working a long day… Coming home to that hug and kiss goodnight means just a little bit more these days.  Just don’t be surprised if I read an extra book or two with him before bedtime… I’ll take quantity AND quality tonight please.

https://newdadchronicles.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/lost-time-is-never-found-again-benjamin-franklin/

When is 60 > 1380

Let’s start with 1440

Jackson has been doing amazing in the sleep department, mom might disagree, but in all reality he is in bed by 7:00 and is up for good by 6:00 (with an occasional wake up somewhere overnight for a midnight snack).
-660

Work work work work work… I’ve heard if you love your job you’ll never have to work a day in your life. Wrong, it’s all work and I Love my job. It’s rewarding, helps make a difference in today’s society and so for the future. and it’s fun… But let’s face it it’s work.
-600

Getting home from work is nice until you realize that there are seventeen things that you said you’d do yesterday and didn’t have time for…
Unload and reload the dishwasher
-15
Fold and put away the laundry
-25
Take Buster and Max for a walk
-20

Add in that nobody’s eaten yet including the dogs.
-60

Now I’m more of a language arts guy but if my math is correct… If an hour has 60 minutes and a day has 24 hours, there are 60 times 24 minutes in a day:
24 x 60 = 1440 minutes

Upon adding up the minutes spent on EVERYTHING ELSE (1380) there’s only an hour left in my day to spend with my son. A little boy who I want to be around for 1440 minutes a day, I see for maybe 60. How can this be what I signed up for? How can this be what he signed up for?

Sticking to routines and setting aside certain activities specific to daddy time has really helped. Knowing that 60 minutes might be a small amount of time is less concerning when you spend those 60 minutes well. It’s the old “quality over quantity” theory.

There’s no way to get more time, we don’t get to add on… as each second is in all reality a countdown. But it’s what you do with the time you have that gives makes you who you are. That is where you build your legacy… And right now my legacy is the greatest thing to ever happen to me… My Son.

So when is 60 > 1380? When the 60 is spent with the ones you love the most.

Tubby Time is always something I make time for!

“Lost Time is Never Found Again” -Benjamin Franklin

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On my way home, I have to stop and pick up the dogs.  I still have at least 40 minutes of driving ahead of me… so even though I (guiltily) left work at 4:30 p.m., I know I am going to miss dinner with the wife and Jax. After getting home just in time to finish the last few words of another Dr. Seuss book, Ill finally make my way into my bedroom to try to put on some sweatpants.  I’ll probably fall asleep at the dinner table and soon, groggily rouse to check my work email, through together tomorrows lunches, if someone remembered to stop at the grocery store, empty and reload the dishes into the dishwasher and feed the dogs.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Maybe the fact that I’m lucky to get a half an hour with my wife and son on work days. 

Funny is really my specialty, or at least in my own mind funny is my specialty.  Yet, every now and again, I can really come back to reality and focus on the more serious issues that my wife and I are confronted with as new parents.  Beyond the normal questions we ask ourselves every day, “Why is his poop orange?”  “How long did he even nap for?”  “Are the dogs eating another dirty diaper?!!!”… We are constantly faced with the question of how we balance family time with our jobs.

I love what I do, I love the district I work for, I love helping students realize their full potential and support them in their journey to becoming lifelong learners.  I have no complaints about being an elementary school administrator… yet, there are times I feel like I am missing out on so much of my son’s life and that makes me wonder how do you balance your work with being a father?

The thing is… I don’t know… I’m not sure how I am supposed to do this.  I’m pretty sure I know what not to do… I’m pretty sure that I have made my share of mistakes over the past six and half months.  As part of this “blog thing” I try to read as much as I can by other dad’s out there.  I’ve read a few that list all these unrealistic ideas and I’ve read some blogs that talk more about the abstract.  The idea that quality is better than quantity when it comes to spending time with your family, is one that is generally common sense.  So if it… why is it so hard?

 Here are some of the things I struggle with the most:

Not just “being there”… When I am home, I often get calls from work or have to answer emails from staff and parents.  There’s always something to do.  There is always a problem to fix.  Isn’t this the bane of every working parent’s life?  For Stephanie and I to make sure that our attention is on the present, not what we have to work on tomorrow, we have been leaving our cell phones in another room.  It is hard to just unplug, but sometimes it is exactly what he need.

The commute… I spend more of my day in my car then I do with my family.  THIS IS A PROBLEM.  DO I really need to spend 2+ hours driving to and from work?  Is it necessary to live out of my car?  No, and for the past six months I just could not figure what to do.  I try to live by the philosophy of, “Worry about the things that are in your control to change.”  I had to make a change, I could not miss out on days of my son’s life because I was sitting in traffic on 84.  Sometimes the biggest changes in life happen for another reason than you originally planned… but often times those changes are for the best.  I knew I needed to make a change at work, and circumstances presented themselves and I did.  I made a move and in the process shaved almost 45 minutes off my commute.  I cannot- CAN NOT- express how much of a difference 45 minutes each way makes when you have a six month old!

The guilty feeling that persists after having to sneak into Jackson’s room at 6:00AM kiss his head and tip toes out is real.  It’s one of those “guilts” that sits on your chest like an elephant from those CPD commercials.  The guilt can and will eat away at you, and no amount of “make up time” with the family can do anything about it.  “Lost time is never found again.”  You know, Benjamin Franklin had a point.  In all reality though… I try to remember that something I cannot change, and that I have to make do with what I have.  I have to work, I have to travel… but I can make the best of the time I do have with my little man.

But for now, this father can shrug off the insane work load that comes with being a working dad, because as I write this I am right where I most want to be at home with my family.

“Do the things you say you will do… do or do not, there is no try.”

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Life at 100 MPH

As everyone would expect, a new dad would rarely get much rest and would constantly be on his toes.  As everyone who knows me would expect, this would be right up my alley.  ADHD is an understatement, and there’s no doubt I rarely sit still.  However, this new family thing is a whole new level of not sitting still.

What once would be called a relaxing weekend has turned into an every lasting marathon of events that should not take longer than five minutes.  Yes I know this “play on words” seems a bit extreme… marathons are already long… why do they have to be called everlasting?  Come here on a Friday night, and I’ll show you an everlasting marathon.

Saturday’s main event consisted of watching a movie with the little guy while mom was out at the fair.  Seems easy enough:

Before bundle of joyMake yourself some lunch grab a vitamin water (I’m a dad now… vitamins are important), take out DVD, turn on TV and surround sound, hit play, put butt in recliner and enjoy.

After bundle of joy: Take out cold cuts for lunch, hear a loud rumble from the other side of the room, realize you have to change gigantic messy diaper, realize there are no diapers at the changing table, run upstairs (realize you left baby on changing table alone half way up the stairs, run back downstairs, pick up naked baby, run back upstairs to get diapers), get peed on walking back downstairs, curse at yourself for not wrapping up that little fire hose, change baby, clothe baby, run back upstairs, change and wash yourself, head back down stairs, forget what you were doing before the mud butt struck.  When you see both your dogs polishing off the cold cuts you left out, curse at yourself again and warm up leftovers.  Eat standing up while dangling keys in front of baby to keep him from crying.  Forget vitamin water; quickly take a vitamin with a glass of water.  Pack up toys and Mr. McGibblets for optimum movie watching in the basement (for those of you who are not familiar with Mr. McGibletts see my earlier blog entries from the end of July).  Once you are completely packed up and downstairs, curse at yourself again for forgetting to bring the baby downstairs.  Realize it’s been almost 40 minutes and you no longer have any desire to watch a movie.  It’s a mystery how anyone with a baby watches anything on TV at all.

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I did get out of the house for a little bit Saturday night, which was nice.  Although a night out with the guys now includes showing each other pictures of our kids and swapping stories about how insane it is to think we all have kids now.

Sunday was epic.  “Let’s go to the pumpkin patch and take some family photos before the Packers game.”  (Famous last words!).  First of all how does layering clothes for an infant work.  Remember that old math problems: Jax has 3 different shirts, and 4 different pairs of pants and 6 set of socks.  How many different combinations of outfits can he make from what he has? That perfectly sums up my morning.  If you buy everything the same size: onsie, khakis, sweat shirt and lined jacket… how the hell are they all supposed to fit.  I literally must have had to try 17,000 combinations of layers in order to get this little guy bundled up.  After struggling to get him all set barely squeezing him into his car seat, I realized he hadn’t been changed in a while… at least now I know the perfect combination of clothes. I remember thinking, “I just have to work backwards to get them off.  I’ll make sure to leave a trail of bread crumbs so I can figure out how to get them back on.”

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Clearly I could go on explaining how life’s simple events took hours to complete, but I’m sure everyone gets the point.  The funny thing is, I don’t mind.  I don’t mind one little bit.  Every second I spend with this little guy is amazing.  Either way, my ADHD is sure enjoying the ride.

 

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