The misadventures of a first time father

Monthly Archives: July 2014

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation It’s an issue I’ve had for a while.

The anxiety rooted in worry, in lack of control over things that we can not control but try to. It consumes my mind, my being and can often times keep my brain so focused on what I’m worried about and the million different outcomes of various situations, that I’ve just really stopped living my life, or at least enjoying it.

I worry about a lot. If i leave the window open, will the cats push out the screen and get out and be lost to us forever? If the little guy sees relatives throwing things at each other and trying to hit each other, will he then take it as a sign that it’s okay to throw things at people? Are all the doors locked, and checked and double-checked? If we decide to do X instead of Y, will we regret it and find that Y was the better decision after all?!

These may sound trivial, but they’re the kind of things that consume my mind and cause me to constantly second guess almost everything I do, and as an extension, what we, as a family do.

It drains the fun and the enjoyment out of moments that should be cherished and embraced while they’re possible.

It wasn’t always this way. There may have been worry in me throughout the years, but it in many ways it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. When we got the cats, I started constantly worrying about their safety when we weren’t around. When we had our son, the worry just increased ten-fold.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationIt’s easy to tell someone “stop worrying” but it’s not as easy as just going “oh, okay” and then enjoying every moment of life. It’s different. It’s challenging, and it makes life challenging for those around me.

The day I’m typing this, I saw someone share an image on Facebook that said “When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can solve the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future.”

It’s definitely true, I just haven’t figured out why I have such a hard time, deep down, embracing it.

I’ve read a lot online about what people recommend to reduce your worries and start enjoying life. It can range from reducing the ‘things/materials’ in your life, have designated space for things like the bedroom is for sleeping, while the office is for working, that sort of thing. Other tips include setting a budget, organizing your time, clear your head and turning off technology.

That last one is a big one. It’s become so easy to get attached to our devices in moments of boredom. Instead of just taking in what’s around us, I can’t think how many times I pull out the phone and ‘just check’ to see if there’s an email or update I need to see. And let’s face it – I don’t need to see it. That’s a justification for the bad habit.

I think my biggest worry, aside from sending myself to an early grave, is passing along these traits to our son. Kids learn from the examples of their parents, what they do moreso than what they are told. So if I model behavior that is constantly worrisome, filled with anxiety, then he is going to have a much higher chance of being that way himself. And that’s no way to live.

© Copyright 2013 CorbisCorporationSo, I’m working on it. I used to take advantage of free Yoga classes in the area that seemed to help keep me pretty level for most of the week, but that ended a few months ago. I could always look into paying for some classes somewhere, but I think no matter what I do, it’s an issue that has to be dealt with from the inside.I need to be able to someday sit down and not worry about a dozen or so other things that need to get done, or could go wrong, or might happen one day. I need to be able to leave the house without constant fear that ‘something’s gonna happen while we’re gone.’

It’s a long road and no, I don’t have an answer. So, if you stumbled upon this in some search engine in the hopes of finding a solution, I’m sorry I don’t have a clear-cut one for you. I’m figuring it out just like you.

There was a time in my life, childhood, teens, college years, early adulthood, where there may have been issues or drama, but life wasn’t constantly consumed with all of this worry for everything that might or might not happen. Frankly, I want that back. I want that sense of freedom again that came without fear and worry conquering my mind. And I want that freedom to enjoy the few moments in life we get to extend to my wife and son as well, without me tainting it.

It won’t be overnight. It may not always be easy, but dammit, I’m going to work my hardest at it.


French onion soup with apple and walnut saladSince getting the results of my bloodwork that tell me I had high cholesterol, high triglycerides and High LDL, I have been working very hard to be disciplined about eating better. Much of that has been cutting out fried foods, processed foods, and as my doctor put it, “cutting down on all starches and sugars.”

I will admit it hasn’t been easy, but I have a feeling that the more I stick to it, the more it will start to just become habit. Instead of a sandwich, I’ll have a wrap or salad for lunch. Instead of some chips on the side, I have a stack of almonds.

For dinner, Meg’s been really good about switching over from rice to quinoa, more vegetables, and adding things like more fish to our meals. She’s really been coming up with some great, and delicious ideas that are still within the restrictions/limits.

Every now and then I like some ice cream, but instead, I’m trying frozen yogurt from Stonyfield. Great taste and much less cholesterol.

Going out to eat has been a bit more difficult, though. A day or so after I got my results, we were all invited to have dinner with my parents – who took us to a place that specializes in BBQ and Fried Foods. It’s a great place, but man was it difficult to look at that menu and try to find something that wouldn’t totally throw me off of the wagon. I settled on chicken, not fried, and cooked with rosemary and thyme instead of barbecue sauce or breading. For the sides, I skipped the french fries (despite loving fries) and went with a sweet potato, with no brown sugar and no butter. Just threw on a little pepper. And it was good. You get two sides, so I also made sure to get a salad and passed on the dinner roll, figuring it was probably just empty carbs and starch that wouldn’t help.

I’ve done lunch with a few friends since then at a local bar and grille and that has also tested me in terms of this new diet. Usually, I’d get anything from a bacon cheeseburger to a buffalo chicken sandwich. Just a few of my favorite things. Instead, each trip has been Soup and Salad. I once slipped up and got the Caesar Salad and French Onion soup, only to have Meg remind me later that the Caesar dressing is loaded with things I’m not supposed to have, and the cheese and bread in the soup is also not too cholesterol-friendly.

So, on my latest venture, I did the soup and salad with just an Italian dressing and got the french onion soup without the bread or cheese. Thankfully, it was still tasty.

I know. I know. I’m sitting here writing paragraph upon paragraph about what I ordered at restaurants. I think part of it is to help me track my progress as this is new ground for me. As I’ve stated before, I once had tried to eat healthier when I learned I had high cholesterol but quickly fell off the wagon after a few ‘cheats’ here and there. This time, there’s me, Meg, and our little guy involved, so I have to make sure I’m around for a long time.

And that means finally taking this seriously.


© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationI swear I used to be much smarter than I am today.

When I was a little kid in elementary school, I had a hand-me-down set of encyclopedias. I couldn’t tell you what brand, but I remember they had orange covers, littered with four or five photos contained in squares on each cover, giving you a hint of what’s inside. I don’t quite recall if they came from my parents or my grandparents, but they were either something a relative was getting rid of, or a good garage or book sale find. I know they were probably a decade old at the time, but I didn’t care. In a pre-internet age, this was a total fountain of knowledge and I can’t tell you how much time I spent just leafing through and reading that set of encyclopedias, just because I wanted to know.

Yes, I spent tons of my elementary school age just sitting in our house and reading encyclopedias (when I wasn’t running around outside pretending to be Inspector Gadget, Batman or a Ninja Turtle). You’d think that would’ve had some kind of effect, right? What the heck happened?

By the time I reached junior high, I fell into a trap I’m sure many do at that age. Coming out of elementary school with a history of As and A+s must have thrilled my parents and myself in my younger years, but at that oh-so awkward stage of new environments, new people, and new life changes, I felt…uncomfortable with having good grades. So, I started purposely answering questions wrong on my tests. A little here and there, just to bring the grades down so I wouldn’t seem like so much of an outcast. Average seemed pretty good looking compared to being a target for ridicule, or worse, the bus bullies that already were a thorn in my side.

At some point, though, that method started to just take over. Suddenly, I didn’t study as much, I didn’t put forth as much effort. Just getting by was all right, and before I knew it, my grades started dropping down to B or C level and I became just that – a very average student.

It’s something I regret oh so much to this day because I wonder just what type of person I would have been and where my life may have gone had I not taken that cliched detour off of academic row.

When I see my son, just about to turn two, ravenous for more books to read together, to want to know about things, pulling letter magnets off the fridge and telling me what letters they are, I encourage every moment of it, hoping deep inside that he will not follow in the footsteps of his father who, despite my own parents’ encouragement, decided I’d rather be accepted than intelligent. When you see so much potential, the last thing you want is to see it squashed. I can’t imagine how devastated my parents must have been when I started coming home with grades so lackluster compared to my earlier years.

I felt slight redemption in college. Looking back, I remember numerous discussions on philosophical levels that today I can’t even imagine getting into. I think of the bombardment of creative ideas and new ways of thinking that still seem impressive to me when I come across old notes or work.

But it’s often followed by the feeling of dread as I wonder just what happened to that intelligent person. Sometimes I feel so focused on my daily to-do lists of what needs to be accomplished, that my mind rarely has the moments of breakthrough it once did. Currently working at a university, I often find myself with this fear that I’ll be ‘found out’ as just a dummy faking his way through, unable to hold my own amid the academic minds I’m surrounded by.

I don’t know what quite happened, but what I know is that these days I look back and feel as though I was so much smarter at ages 7-12 and 20-26 than any other time in my life so far. And I sit here, at age 34, feeling as though it’s a lost era of myself. I hear things that I don’t quite comprehend, concepts that seem beyond me, and I can’t figure out if back then, I just had more confidence in what I knew (or thought I knew), or if I really am getting dumber and less creative with age.

Have I allowed myself to become content among a world where knowledge is a Google search away? Has the time I used to spend looking things up and reading about things, or having those intelligent conversations now spent online with a multitude of social media sites? Has the world around me just gotten smarter while I’ve stayed stagnant? Theories, all of them, but hopefully you get the point that I think about this a lot. There’s been lots of reports and criticism that the smarter the computers, phones, and other technology becomes, the dumber we as humans turn. But if that’s the case, am I not alone in my feeling? What does it mean as my life continues, what does it mean for my son?

Also, that whole Louis Armstrong lyric – “…they’ll learn much more, than I’ll ever know.” It seems so much more somber now than ever before.

Post Scriptafter writing this, I saw someone online share the following link, which made me feel not only better, but like a genius. So, please, if you ever feel like I did about becoming dumber the older I get, check out these “Dumb People Across The Internet”



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