The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: Family

Lock PickParenthood can be a lot of things. Exciting. Frustrating. Heartwarming. Exhausting. Joyous.

And sometimes, parenthood can be spending your Saturday night picking the lock on your bathroom door because a certain five year old boy was curious about what would happen if he pushed the button inside then closed it behind him on the way out.

So it was to the internet we went to learn just what it takes to work a push-button lock from the other side and how it all operates.

It’s amazing what you can learn about things you have in your daily lives but don’t think too much about until you need to.

After about 20 minutes and a trial run of various tools, from screwdrivers of varying sizes, a nail file, and other household tools that didn’t work or reach what they needed to, it was a paperclip from the desk drawer that proved to be just what was needed to reach far enough into the lock from the small opening and pop the lock on the other side.

So while initially and admittedly frustrated, some patience, along with the power of a paperclip, paid off.

For my next trick, I pick the vault lock of the Gotham National Bank! Mwa-ha-ha!

IMG_8714[1]Late nights. Weary-eyed mornings.

It very well could sound a lot like my twenties, but yet it is something we’re doing all over again, yet completely new.

That’s right. Our third child has arrived and it’s a girl…again! That makes us the proud parents of a five year old boy, a two year old girl and a newborn girl. And of course, the original trio – our three cats.

We’re about two weeks out since she arrived to the world and into our arms, and while there’s definitely a transitional period as we adjust to life with a newborn once more, our son adjusts to another little sister, and our now oldest daughter adjusts to no longer being the baby, all feels right.

Sure, it may be tiring, but it all feels…right, even thinking about the wake ups in the middle of the night to a baby’s cries, or dragging out of bed the next morning. I think, knowing this is just a part of new life and knowing it will change before I know it, I’ve just become a bit more adaptable (or maybe appreciative) of things that I think earlier on as a parent may have led to complaints or worry. Though now most of my middle of the night/early morning worry is focused on making sure the other two don’t wake up when the baby cries!

Otherwise, it now just seems like part of a process when a new life is adjusting to the world. And it’s a process that passes like so much else, and who really wants to rush the sands of the time?

Enjoy all of it, even the tiring stuff. Because before too long, we become too tired to ever experience such joy like this again.

Welcome to the world, my beautiful, wonderful girl!

Boo at DoorIt’s amazing how quickly our little family has grown – from Meg and I, to our first cat, then another, then a third. Then came our little guy, followed last year by our little girl. Very quickly, our little starter home started to feel a little bit smaller.

And so, we admit we have been looking for something to move on to – whether it be today, tomorrow, or next year, it will happen when the time is right. I’m convinced of that. I wasn’t always. But I am now.

Even with those feelings of outgrowing our space, of constantly boxing up our lives to make room for the changes going on amidst us, it’s never easy to think about a change to the sites, sounds, and faces that you see every day.

There have been times where something happens that makes me say or think ‘ugh. We need to move’ but those thoughts are then counter-balanced whenever we get close to the thought of actually purchasing a new home.

This was never more pronounced than recently when we had gone and looked at a house for sale and decided that we wanted to make a move on it and put in an offer.

Like an interrogated suspect under the spotlight  in one of those old crime movies, my head and body began to swell with anxiety and fear.

  • What were we doing?
  • Was this the right move to make?
  • What will the neighbors be like?
  • Will we regret this decision later?
  • What type of peers will our kids have in the neighborhood? Will it be good? Will there be trouble?

And so it goes. And goes. And goes until I was just a ball of neurotic over-analyzation and worry. Given enough time I can talk myself out of anything. Maybe that’s the road I was heading down, I don’t know, but it’s certainly the path my brain takes when decisions aren’t made and are given time to settle, to fester, to raise concerns.

In the end, we didn’t get that particular house and another offer was accepted. I truly believe there’s a reason for that. It wasn’t the one for us. The right one will come along at the right time and we’ll know it and if things don’t work out, it wasn’t the one for us.

We walked back to the car, Meg, myself, and the kids, and sure, the standard feeling would be defeat after a situation like that, but it wasn’t.

As we got into the car, offer rejected, we decided to head to Barnes and Noble where our little guy can play with the train table, dance on the stage (he’s never met a stage he doesn’t like to dance on) and just felt…okay.

So this offer, this plan, this house didn’t work out. We still have a house to go back to. Maybe it’s not perfect. Maybe it’s not as much room as we’d like at times. Maybe there are sometimes some weird stuff going on that I question and worry about. But we have a home, which is something to be incredibly grateful for in a world where so many people don’t. Without even consulting each other, it was like we all took the same mental step back after the rejection and breathed a sigh of gratitude. We had a home.

And most of all, we have each other.

We truly and honestly, felt fully, inside and out that age old saying – home is where the heart is.

As long as we have each other, it doesn’t matter where we are. We’ll be home.

I’m not a very religious person.  I’ve often had many questions, doubts, more questions about life and religions. Even as a kid in Catholic School from the age of 8, I questioned a lot. As I got older, I found myself drifting when it comes to faith, beliefs, etc, occasionally embracing more Eastern philosophies than any full organized religion. But I will admit that in times of sadness, in times of plight, of loss, I find myself wishing I could just blindly accept SOMETHING without questions in order to feel better, to feel there is more.

I say that openly because there are times in life when I really wish it were so.

One of those times was about two weeks ago.

I recall the sounds of motorcycles and traffic going outside the window. For some reason everything else seemed to be silenced out by those sounds before the veterinarian came in to greet my mother and I and check on “Dawg.”

With his very unique name, Dawg belonged to my grandparents. My grandfather hadn’t wanted a dog after losing one German Shepherd previously, but my grandmother, despite his protests, decided to get one anyway. When she passed away some years ago, my grandfather, who was not in the best of shape himself, was left to care for Dawg. It was not the kind of life a large dog like that should lead, sitting most of the day next to an old man, cooped up in the house. Just before my grandfather took a turn and passed, my mom and dad took Dawg and another dog (on top of their own dog of many years) to care for.

10369182_907980485884638_5337855910244783618_nAt times, it was as though he was born anew, suddenly a big, goofy puppy again, excited, playful, and loyal to my parents like I had never seen before. He gained years of life he likely would not have had the way his life was with my grandfather.

But even those years of life could go so far.

For some time, Dawg had been fighting numerous ailments, including what was believed to be cancer. A tumor he had would only get bigger in time and in this past month, the poor guy dealt with more cases of diarrhea and vomit by what seemed like the gallons that I can’t imagine anything but soreness when he was done. Not to mention my poor parents who were constantly cleaning it up and feeling awful because they knew it wasn’t his fault.

Multiple medications and treatments were tried, sadly to no avail, and things reached a point where he had stopped eating and going to the bathroom completely, losing an incredible amount of noticeable weight.

My mom had a feeling about these things, as she’s often had. That certainly does not make it any easier, but she had a feeling this trip to the vet would not be easy. When I looked into Dawg’s eyes  that morning, I could tell he knew the same thing. He didn’t even want to go outside, the thing he loved more than anything in the world.

When I dropped the monkey off in the morning, I wished so hard that there was something I could do to help, to make things easier, to ease her pain and especially Dawg’s.

Our little guy’s first words were “woof! woof!” exclaimed every time he came into my parents’ house and saw Dawgie there. Our car rides were built with anticipation as he’d excitedly cry “woof! woof!” from the back seat, excited to see his buddy. When we arrived, a wet sloppy kiss from Dawg usually sent our little guy into giggling hysterics.

With all of this in mind, it felt like the weight of the world was on our shoulders as my mom and I sat with Dawg in the vet’s office. My father, admittedly, could not emotionally handle going, still reeling from the experience of our family cat that had to be put down almost twenty years ago after 16 years in our lives. I can’t blame him. I can’t blame either of them, and as we sat, my mom hugging Dawg tight, telling him how wonderful he was, I could see how tormented she was by what was unfolding.

The doctor confirmed that he was in pain and that things weren’t working. As preparations were made for what came next, my mom did her best to hold it together, but I can’t blame her for not being able to. This was another child, one who was sick beyond treatment, and I think she said it best when she said “it’s like pulling a family member off life support.” My heart aches just typing this as I think of those moments. She hugged Dawg and I hugged her, telling her she was doing what was best for him every time she said she knew she would “second guess this moment for the rest of my life.”

“I’m making a decision that’s not mine to make,” she said to me, face red, tears down her face. “That decision should be God’s. I’ve prayed every night that if it was time for Dawgie to go that it should be in his sleep. It’s the way everybody should go.”

I agreed, but told her exactly what I was thinking – that perhaps the way things were happening WAS God’s way of telling us what to do.

Then came questions. Standard, I know, but each one being asked of her as she hugged this big, sick dog was like a bullet in her gut, pushing her farther into a teary abyss.

“Would you like group or individual cremation?”

“Would you like a wooden urn or tin urn?”

“Would you like a plaster paw print for remembrance?”

“Would you like an ink paw print?”

Each time a question was asked, I could see it hitting my mom like someone had just sucker-punched her. She knew the technician had to ask these questions, but oh, how it only reinforced that feeling and doubt of what we were doing.

They brought us to a different examination room where a corner lamp had been brought in and dimmed. A nice blanket and pillow was on the ground, and a ceramic water-dripping fountain-thingy was on the counter, for the sound of flowing water. We laid him down and talked to him as the doctor gave him something to sleep. With his head in my mom’s lap, she petted him, talking to him about what a wonderful boy he was and how, while they hadn’t started out great when my grandmother first got him, who knew she and he would become the best of friends.

And soon, that was it. No more panting. No more pain. Only the sound of the pouring water and our sobbing. There was nothing.

“He’s gone,” the doctor told us, offering us the chance to stay.

Neither my mom nor I could emotionally handle much more, and said our goodbye and left, hugging in the parking lot before I drove her home. Wrought with emotion, my mom tearfully wondered what might have happened if they had tried something different, anything different.

But the scenario would have ended the same. He was 12 years old, long past his expected age and he was very, very sick. Between the cancer, the tumor, the frequent inability to move his back legs, he was in tremendous pain.

“You always taught me to not be selfish and to think of others first,” I told her. “If you brought him home, still in pain, trying to drag things on for him more, it would have been for you guys, not for him. You did the unselfish thing. Just like you always taught me.”

When I got her home, she and my father and I let it out before having to get the little monkey into the car for the ride home. The night that followed was a constant back and forth via text to make sure the others were “doing okay.”

It choked me up to even think about the next time our little guy would walk into my parents’ house looking for Dawg or shouting “woof! woof!” and how it would break all our hearts.

So, Meg talked to the little guy as she laid him down to sleep and explained that doggie wasn’t around anymore. That he “had to go.”

His response was to point up and say “Doggie go…sky!”

He then turned from up above, looked past Meg and pointed and said “Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!” the way he did every time he walked in the door to my parents and saw him.

Maybe he knows something we don’t. And maybe that could be a really great thing.

I really hope so.

20130523-101103.jpgYou never know how paths are going to cross.

My wife and I met purely by chance, when a co-worker of mine, when I first started at my current job, convinced me to take part in a community theater production. I made new friends, one of whom, six months later, I would begin dating when we were both single, and then a few years later, would marry and begin a family with.

It seemed like a random meet. I had never heard of the theatre where the show was, knew no one else involved aside from my co-worker, and had it been just a few months earlier at my other job, I would not have even had the freedom to take part, as I often worked nights.

Maybe it was chance, or maybe it was the stars aligning, as we recently discovered a connection between our bloodlines that neither one of us ever knew existed.

Meg’s grandfather has gone into a nursing home and her family has been going through many of his items. Among them, they found a letter, on what looks like the epitome of letterhead from a bygone, Mad Men-ish era.

And that letter was from my great uncle, who was an architect and had worked on many an occasion with Meg’s grandfather who was managing a bank.

It read, in part:

“We can’t end a fine relationship with a quick handshake and a fast farewell. Your wonderful party last week got me reminiscing.

We put a lot of things together during the past ten years – good things. I’m proud of them and I hope you are. My point is – I could not have done my part of it without your patience, understanding and great help. If I had your temperament instead of my impatience, I would have been the retiree last week!

Anyway,my wish for you and (your wife,) is good health for a long time to come, so that you can enjoy the free time you have earned and richly deserve.

Thank you again for your support and help.”

What an incredibly weird, neat feeling to see this note, with my family’s name at the top, and laid out in the handwriting of a relative long since gone. To not only hold a piece of my family’s past, but to have it be connected to Meg’s family’s past was like taking a step back in time ourselves.

Accompanied with the letter were some newspaper clippings and an obituary about my great uncle’s death in the late 80s; of the things he had done with his life, the structures still standing in my hometown that were designed by his pen and ingenuity. Through these, I read about City Hall, my high school, and the hospital where my son was born all having flowed from the drafting table of my great uncle and into a reality.

Who would have thought that decades ago when these two men were shaking hands that generations later, their families would join as one, and have a beautiful little boy that is the blend of both worlds?

What a weird, interconnected universe we live in.

It’s been an emotional 24 hours, and it all begins with a dry erase board.

What? A dry erase board? How much wallop can a piece of plastic sitting on the refrigerator really pack?

Quite a bit, actually.

You see, the dry erase board has been hanging on our fridge from the day we first moved into our home (our first home, I add). As the past three years have ticked by, nothing was erased from it, only added to it. It began with my wife’s adorable drawing of our house right after the purchase, and the phrase “our house” above it, a nod to the song that makes us think of that day we finally closed on our little starter home, often prompting a “remember that” hug. Then came some messages back and forth leading up to our wedding day – an I love you here, an I love you too, there. Messages from visitors. Even some doodles of our three kitties that have expanded our family over the those three quick years (and are the reasons I discovered my paternal side and just how ready I was to be a dad).

This weekend, though, those memories went from the dry erase board that we passed every day, to memories for life in our heads as we erased to make way for a new chapter.

That chapter, of course, is the life with our newborn son. He’s 7 weeks old now, and today marked the first day my wife had to return to work and that dry erase board now serves as the list of reminders for our new morning routine.

I’ve written previously about my fears leading up to this, but today was it.

Due to a number of factors, including the challenges that have come about with breastfeeding, as well as some economic restraints, we’ve taken a member of the family up on an offer to watch him during the day while we’re at work. While this strikes our wallets much easier, it still has not made the emotional punch of separating him from mom any softer.

Yesterday was filled with that anxiety of what’s to come, every routine movement filled with so much more sentiment knowing a pivotal point is about to begin. From his bath to his evening feeding, everything was filled with a tinge of sadness, knowing that tomorrow and the days forward would be different.

This morning, our new routine began, waking several hours earlier, getting ready, and most Earth-rocking, getting him ready. As we fitted him into his carrier for a trip in the car, it was hard not to fight back the tears that followed. He is our baby, our little man, who has spent these past seven weeks with his mommy at every moment.

We would love more than anything for my wife to be able to stay home with the kids, but financially, it is just not possible. We’ve tried every equation to find some way to make it feasible and the numbers just never add up. The front door closed as I carried him down the steps, my wife’s tear-filled face behind it.

It was the hardest thing emotionally I’ve ever had to do. I can’t imagine what it feels like the first time a parent puts their kid on the bus for school.

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