Posts Tagged ‘ Dave Matthews Band ’

With Great Blessings Come Great Responsibility (And Stress!)

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

In my extremely limited ability to understand the concept of eternity and life after this, sometimes I subconsciously and erroneously tend to think of Heaven as a place where I could just exist in a state of unconsciousness and it not affect anyone else; void of responsibility or pressure to perform.

Sounds like I’m not the only one in that boat, after reading the comments on the Facebook page for Parents.com when they featured my story, “Daddy’s In His Quiet Place Right Now.”

Many fellow parents (understandably) laughed at the concept of a modern day parent having any escape from the overwhelming pace of life that kicks in once you become a parent.

I used to be extremely optimistic, like all the time.

But those were the days before… responsibility happened.

That was before I was truly feeling the pressure of what life (AKA “the real world”) actually demands from a person.

Of course, I also remember feeling lost, alone, and unfulfilled back when I was still single. Not a coincidence.

That’s because with great blessings come great responsibility; and therefore, stress.

A job, a wife, and child are all blessings. However, I’ve learned to begin equating the word “blessing” with “responsibility.”

Now, before I sound like I’m going off the deep end, I want to balance this with the other side of the story.

Earlier last week, I was at of one of my good friends’ house, hanging out with him on his front porch, while his family was out of town. We talked about how nice it was to be able to “unplug” for brief moments at a time like that.

Then we talked about how if life weren’t this chaotic, and if we as dads and husbands weren’t overloaded with responsibilities like we are, we would go crazy.

Without a regular dose of being stressed out, I get stressed out.

It makes me think of a line from one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band songs, “So Much To Say”:

I say my hell is the closet I’m stuck inside.

If in this exhausted (and limited) state of mind, a seemingly reasonable version of Heaven would be a state of unconsciousness, void of responsibility or accountability, then it makes sense that my concept for understanding hell would be a place where I was conscious, alone and bored out of my mind, with no responsibility or accountability.

I’ve heard the saying, “too blessed to be stressed.” Yeah, I’m not sure I agree with that.

Because the way I see it, if I am stressed, then I am blessed.

Otherwise, I would be searching for a life without responsibility, which is what I had before I had you, Mommy, a full-time job, and two part time jobs.

And back then, I felt incomplete.

These days, I can honestly say I never feel incomplete, or alone, or not needed, or unloved. I say stress is a good thing, if it traces back to responsibility and blessings.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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The Cliche About Loving Being An Exhausted Parent

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

2 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Friday night as I scrolled through friends’ Facebook status updates in an effort to find anything controversial and/or weird, or therefore interesting, amidst pictures of Instagrammed feet propped up to convince everyone that person is truly relaxing and enjoying life Kenny Chesney style, I came across this status update by a fellow dad:

“You know you’re old when you spend Friday night with your family looking at floor tiles at Lowe’s… and you love it!”

Dozens of “likes” were won.

Somehow it sort of reminds me of Chris Rock’s line at the end of the movie What To Expect When You’re Expecting:

“We love being dads! When I was young, I used to think I was happy – but now I know I’m happy. Exhausted, but happy.”

It’s basically this idea that the rewards of parenting make up for the lack of sanity, peacefulness, and sleep I traded in.

This may be blasphemy to say in a parenting blog post, but, it’s not worth it…

What I mean is, I don’t think it’s fair or legitimate to say that the “rewards” of parenting “make up” for all the sacrifices involved.

Yes, I absolutely love being your dad, but it’s not something I would do for any amount of money; because no amount of money would be “worth it” to me. My price tag would be so expensive I wouldn’t receive anywhere near my asking price.

Being a dad is something I live for. I am wired to want to make all necessary sacrifices for you. And yes, it’s true: Nothing else I’ve ever experienced has brought me a better sense of meaning in my life.

But can you really put a value on life itself? I say you can’t. And when I think of “life itself,” I think of you.

I think of random little things you surprise me with every day; things that probably wouldn’t be that interesting if I told them to anyone else.

Like how you recently turned the CD sleeve to the newest Dave Matthews Band album into a new children’s storybook, which you read in a falsetto voice:

“Hey! Wake up everybody! Time to eat your oatmeal… The man wakes up in the box. Hey, where’s my bed? The bird wakes up on the lawn? He looks for food? He eats the Cheerios. The milk is yucky.”

To me, that’s brilliant. It’s moments like that you give me which are so subtle and hilarious and awesome… and priceless.

But not rewarding. Because I don’t see being a parent as a rewarding thing; I see it as life itself.

 

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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I’m A Cool Rockin’ Daddy In The USA… For Now

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

19 months.

No matter how cool of a dad I may be in my son’s eyes now, I’m led to believe that will all change about a decade or so from now.

But as for the time being, Jack looks to me as a leader in many aspects on how to be a guy. A cool guy, might I add.

While playing “Animals” with him, if I place a chicken on top of a horse on top of a truck, he will instantly repeat that awesome thing his dad just did.

Jack thinks all the cool kids have a blow-up mattress in their living room, which serves as a necessary wrestling mat. Because his dad set one up for him.

And several years from now, when I teach him to play Chess with me, I’m sure it will become our mutual obsession. Same thing goes for when I help him become the only kid in his class to solve a Rubik’s Cube… in less than 3 minutes.

Unless I’m the exception to the rule, then in theory, at some point I will stop being considered cool with the age 18 to 35 demographics.

As a modern young dad, wearing plaid or cargo shorts is in style. Wearing pleated khaki shorts, on the other hand, is not.

Similarly, being a fan of Dave Matthews Band and Jason Mraz means I have good taste in music.

But at some point, will my love for their music be a sign that I’m out of touch with what is cool?

Granted, I’ll never be a skinny jeans kind of guy. So if that’s what’s cool, I’ve already missed that boat. (Fortunately!)

But for now, I’m a 31 year-old dad who assumes the culture of a 25 year-old guy; minus the iPhone.

Jack thinks I’m the coolest guy in the world, even if by default.

After all, his dad wears a Spiderman mask while chasing him around the house. And pulls him around the neighborhood in a Radio Flyer wagon.

If that’s not cool, I don’t know what is.

(As I if it needed saying, that’s not my cool classic car in the picture above. But at least mine isn’t the minivan next to it, either.)

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Baby on Board: Jack’s Taxi Service

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Eight months.

For nearly a month now, Jack has been going to day care as my wife and I have returned to our jobs here in Nashville.  I work only a block away from where he is all day, so I’m the one to chauffeur him an hour round trip five days a week.

Those “Baby on Board” suction cup signs on cars always crack me up.  I’m only pretty sure that a careless driver isn’t going to have the gumption to read one of those signs, then stop and think, “Oh! That car has a baby inside. Man, I need to slow down and focus.”  Or maybe there’s some secret society of people playing bumper cars with their cars out on the highway and they only break for vehicles with the “Baby on Board” signs.

Needless to say, there is no little plastic yellow sign stuck on a window of my Honda Element, but I do indeed drive a vehicle containing precious cargo.  With my baby on board, I feel like his bodyguard.  The Pope has the Popemobile; Jack has his Toaster on Wheels, his Big Green Lunch Box, his Wind-Up Toy Car- your choice.

I know there are cities with crazier drivers in America, but for those 60 minutes a day I drive him around in Nashville, I have to assume that every other person is a maniac who is drinking their fifth 5-Hour Energy drink and Tweeting on their phone while I drive alongside them.  I have to assume that at any given moment, a startled deer will jump out in front of the car.  I have to assume that Wile E. Coyote poured a bucket of Acme grease on the road in front of me in attempt to catch the Roadrunner.

In the meantime, Jack is asleep half the time as I jam out to any given Weezer album.  As for the time he’s awake, I assume he’s like me: in deep thoughts about A) the unfortunate impossibilities of time travel, B) whether or not God likes the music of Dave Matthews Band; if so, what is His favorite song, and C) who would win in a fight- A.C. Slater from Saved By the Bell or Uncle Jesse from Full House?

For now, Jack’s vocabulary doesn’t extend past “dada,” “mehm-mehm-mehm-mehm,” and “ba-ba-ba-ba.”.  But eventually, he and I will be able to have some normal conversations during the morning and afternoon car rides.  I can ask him what he learned in pre-school that day.

Until then, we’re both just sort of in our shared solitude, looking in opposite directions.  Every so often though, I turn around real quick to make sure he hasn’t somehow escaped his car seat and wandered off.  Then I see those happy little feet and know that my baby is still on board.

Look how cool Honda Elements are! The back seats can fold up and into the side of the car or all the way back (as seen in the picture of this one).

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Won’t Ever Be Lonely

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Week 6.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am a proud Country music fan- though I’m ultimately a Dave Matthews Band/Guster/John Mayer/Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty kind of guy.

In the past few weeks, in the midst of leaving our lives behind in Nashville and entering uncertainty and a current status of “in between jobs” in Alabama, not having much to do but constantly search for jobs and take care of our baby, the lyrics to a Country song by Andy Griggs from 1999 keep coming to my mind: “I promise you now, you won’t ever be lonely.”

Though the song is obviously written from the perspective of a man in love with a woman, looking forward to spending the rest of his life with her, the lyrics now speak to me in a different way:

“You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms and I’ll never let go.  Baby, here’s where it starts and I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely. Here’s a shoulder you can cry on and a love you can rely on.  For as long as I live 

there will always be a place you belong.”

But while the words to this song obviously make perfect sense in the perspective of me speaking to my child, they actually are more relevant to me in this mindset: I won’t ever be lonely.  Not just him.  But I won’t ever be lonely.

I am better able to understand now why there are so many pregnant teenagers and why MTV’s 16 and Pregnant is such a popular show- because so many kids today are lonely.

(I am under the crazy notion that a good number of pregnant teens and extremely young parents are not getting pregnant simply because of the careless lack of birth control, but instead because they subconsciously want to be have a baby in a attempt to be loved by someone.)

So many daughters have never been told by their fathers that they are beautiful. So many sons have never heard their father tell them “I’m proud of you”.   Having a baby definitely changes the lonely factor in many ways.  Even if the 19 year-old father who works for minimum wage at the oil change place bales on her soon after the baby is born- at least that young mother will always have someone depending on her.

Granted, I haven’t been lonely in a long time.  But I can easily remember it.  It can be painful; literally.  Last week I watched a National Geographic documentary on solitary confinement where I learned that loneliness is processed in the same part of the brain as pain.  I can easily remember being 20 years old, feeling lost, out of place, an unmatched. I wondered for the next five years if I would be like the actor who played Mr. Belvedere, who never married or had children his whole life. But at age 25, my wife and I met each other and those heavy and desperate thoughts of loneliness haven’t entered my mind in over four years.

Now at age 29, I am the opposite of lonely.  I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful and hilarious baby son that I will always matter to.  And I have a feeling that the older our son Jack gets, the more attention and energy of mine that he will require.  At least until he reaches 7th grade and gets too cool for me.

 


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