What do some parenting blog titles reveal about certain insecurities that we may have as parents?
Back in March when I was trying to figure out what I was going to rename this dad blog for Parents.com, obviously the first thing I did was to Google-skim (I made that word up but I assume you’re hip enough to get it) the Internet for inspiration and to check out my competition… I mean, my… fellow dad bloggers. During my 43 minutes of research, I picked up on blog name patterns for both dad bloggers and mommy bloggers.
The dad bloggers who were more vulnerable and self-depreciating with their blog names often focused on the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing, with titles like “Rookie Dad,” “Thingmababy,” “Daddy Knows Less,” and “Daddy’s In Charge?”.
Meanwhile, their mom blogging counterparts often focused on their attempts to organize the chaos of motherhood with “Three Kid Circus,” “And Then She Snapped,” “I Want a Nap,” “The Tightrope Walk,” “The Life of a Juggling Mom,” and “Cinderella is Falling Down.”
If I were to extract the assumed meaning of this particular pattern I discovered, it would be this: Dads want to be helpful and productive, but don’t necessarily know what to do by instinct. And moms more instinctively know what to do, but they just don’t always have enough energy, “sanity”, and/or time in the day to get it done.
So I assume if these characteristics are at least somewhat true for those of us who blog about our daily parenting experiences, they are typically just as true for the parents who don’t blog about it. There’s a reason why these blog titles I’ve mentioned do indeed ring true with readers.
Evidently, dads have the energy, sanity and time to get the job done, but not the know-how. Conversely, moms have the know-how, but again, not the energy, sanity, and/or time in the day to do it. As dad-and-mom teams, we have everything we need to pull this thing off. It’s a matter of working together to win this three legged race. Actually, we don’t even need to win the race; all we have to do is run it.
Or hop it. Or walk it… whatever it takes for the family to move forward, together.
How can you enhance your own parenting skills today? Communication: Ask your spouse for help and be vulnerable enough to tell him or her the ways you feel sub-par as a co-parent. By nature, it’s easy to want to help someone who is being humble enough to ask for your help than someone who is complaining for lack of it.
I guarantee that your spouse abounds in the things you lack as a parent. And have this conversation with them: Acknowledge that one of you often feels like a third wheel who tries to contribute in caring for your child, but often gets discouraged by not having the instincts to know what to do when it comes to parenting. And that the other person often feels overwhelmed by the never-ending list of stuff that needs to get done. Then work out a plan accordingly. Then act on it.
We can allow ourselves to remain frustrated by our deficiencies or we can celebrate and make good use of each other’s goods and services. As for me, I’ll always choose working smart over working hard. And working smart, in this instance, means confessing my weaknesses so that my strengths can be best utilized in both marriage and parenting.
All pictures were taken courtesy of Dave Stanley at Little River Falls in Fort Payne, Alabama.
You are looking at a picture of our “guest towels”. If you are one of the 7 (maybe less?) males to actually be reading this, you will be just as confused as I once was to learn that despite their name, guest towels, these are not actually towels intended for guests to use. Granted, we do have extra towels for when guests do actually stay at our home- but those are in our “guest bathroom” on the other end of the house. As a guy, who is unable to see any logic in having guest towels in the bathroom attached to our bedroom that are actually only there to look nice and for decoration, not actually for guests to use, I found comfort in watching many male stand up comics who made a routine out of the same topic.
I am becoming more and more aware of how little control I actually have over my own life; much less my own house. Because another common topic that married male stand up comics talk about is the fact that they don’t know where anything in their own house belongs: like the mixing bowl, the stapler, and of course, the real guest towels that are actually intended for guests for use. And now it makes so much more sense why it is so common for the man of the house to spend time in his “man cave”, whether it is his garage, his shop, or even the yard. Why? Because while in his solitude, he has a sense of control over something on the land he owns or rents.
Jack's first taste of a pineapple.
I’m at a point in my life where I am constantly reminded of what little I actually do control right now. With tomorrow reaching the 2 month mark of unemployment, the dignity of providing for my family has been surrendered. And without that, I also feel like I can’t control my time (because I feel guilty if I’m not constantly doing something constructive to find a job). Starting on Christmas Day and ending yesterday (Groundhog Day), after my wife and son went to sleep each night, I would spend an hour or so revisiting my video game past. I took take the time to go through all 3 Super Mario Bros. games on regular Nintendo, Super Mario World for Super NES, and New Super Mario Bros. for WII, and beat them without using any Game Genies or Warp Zones (which again may only interest the 7 or less men reading this). And while there is something seemingly pathetic about a jobless, 29 year-old guy cheering out loud because he beat Super Mario Bros. 3 for the first time in his life; for me, it was a major sense of accomplishment.
I controled those old-school, 8-bit Nintendo games. And in some slightly true sense, I had control over my time as well.
I think it’s easy to overlook the importance of control in life. Why is it that if you drive into certain “bad neighborhoods” that the residents stand in the road or take their sweet time crossing the street, knowing that you need to get by? It’s gives them a sense of control. Why are there rapists in the world? Well, the easy answer is “the depravity of man” or “lust” or “an unfulfilled sex drive”. But to me it’s pretty obvious that their hideous crime is also largely fueled by a lack of control in their own lives. For more times than I can remember, it seems any time I watch a story on NBC Dateline about a rapist, he was emotionally, physically, or sexually abused growing up. Some people will do anything for the sense of control in their own life.
So what can I do right now? What can I actually control in my life at this moment? I can help with the basic needs of my son. I can control whether or not he gets fed, held, played with, and nurtured. And perhaps the best part, I can make him do funny, weird stunts to be featured on YouTube. Because hey, what else am I going to do until I get a real job?
As my wife and I have begun registering at Babies “R” Us and Target, a major theme I couldn’t help but notice, particular to boys’ clothing, is the fact that wild, vicious animals are strangely friendly and helpful. Smiling crocodiles. Laughing gorillas. Silly snakes. Chipper tigers.
In real life, there’s no way I would let Jack near any of those animals unless it’s at the zoo. (Nor would I want anywhere near those animals unless I was at the zoo). Crocodiles, gorillas, snakes, and tigers all represent wild and dangerous elements of life. But to a baby boy, these creatures resemble how he himself is adventurous and “in to everything”. Of course, in a world where the baby boy is loved by all and has no concept of enemies, these dangerous beings become neutered, tamed, and enchanted to the point that they all want to be his friend.
The irony- as his parents, my wife and I will be Jack’s supreme protectors and guardians. We will become the smiling crocodiles, the laughing gorillas, the silly snakes, and the chipper tigers: the paradoxical mix of strength and safety with love and happiness. Even more ironic- Baby Jack won’t understand all this stuff about friendly yet wild animals and how his parents represent them to him. All these “cute outfits” are for the adults to enjoy. But we like to pretend Jack is aware of the fact that his shirt has a picture of a goofy blue beast on it with the caption reading “Mommy’s Little Monster”. My, what imaginations we adults have!
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: