Today I am following up on that topic with what I believe is a necessary and relevant sequel, by asking the question: Honestly, do dads secretly miss their “B.C. days?”
In other words, do dads long for the days before their child (or children) came along?
I can only speak for myself here, but here’s how I feel about it:
Yes, I miss the days of being much less accountable and responsible as a human being in general; having more free time and having the privilege of being able to take life less seriously.
But interestingly, like I said a couple of days ago, I was missing something in my life back then.
I would say that most men (the ones I know, at least) are wired to want to be responsible enough to have a loving and caring relationship with their wife, and therefore, also to have a loving and caring relationship with their children as well.
For me personally, I equate being a faithful husband and father with the ultimate epitome of masculinity.
Do I miss the best parts about my life before I became a dad? Sure.
But I think that focusing on the best parts of how things used to be can be a foolish and dangerous thing. Instead, I know it’s important to focus on the best parts of my life now.
The thought of keeping you at bay in the dog toy section of Harris Teeter while Mommy buys groceries either seems funny and random or completely typical for a modern American dad.
To me, it’s an honor. I get to mold a young 2 year-old boy in the ways of the world. I get to teach what is “normal.”
Yes, it’s weird to let you shake a white dog toy named “Flea,” as you think he’s somehow related to Elmo.
(“It’s Elmo?!” You confusingly tried to convince yourself, despite the fact he had 6 legs.)
But if it weren’t for me in your life, who would be creating these bizarre story lines for you? That’s my job and I’m proud of it!
Tonight, after I read you Where The Wild Things Are for the 9th night in a row, I told you that I love you; as I do every night after I sing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as your lullaby. (That’s per your request, by the way.)
This was the first time you ever said “I love you” back.
I would choose the best parts of my life with you any day over the best parts of my life before you.
Having a son means that there is always a part of me floating out there in the universe. Whether he’s simply just asleep down the hall or away at day care while I’m at work, part of my brain is constantly thinking about him.
He is in everything I see. He’s in every random thought I have; from Gummy Bears to a Pomeranian with a buzz cut.
A few days ago on Facebook I saw a picture of two Pomeranians posted by one of my former students in Bangkok at Global English School. So inevitably, the following conversation followed:
Nick Shell What kind of dog is the one on the right? It’s look unreal!
October 20 at 12:32am · Like
A-ngoon its look unreal because its smile right ?? they both are pomeranian but the right one have a shorter hair ka nick
October 20 at 2:46pm · Like
Nick Shell The right one reminds me of my son I am probably going to use this picture on my website about him.
October 20 at 7:09pm · Like
October 21 at 11:38am · Like
It turns out that this Pomeranian happens to be famous; his name is Boo and his Facebook page has well over 2 million “likes!”
I can’t look at Boo and not see my son Jack; the way Boo is smiling, the shape of Boo’s face- that is my son as a Pomeranian!
Granted, a Dadabase post like this one will never show up in the Top 5 Most Popular Posts section on the right side of the screen. It’s so out there, I know. But I just couldn’t keep this enchanting and bizarre photo from the world; simply because I love to talk about my son- even in the form of a yappy little dog.
Maybe it’s just me that somehow sees the abstract resemblance. But I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there who thought their child looked like something just as weird. When you look at the world through my eyes, you see Jack-Man in the strangest of places.
I can think of three universally recognizable examples of unconditional love: God and man, parent and child, and dog and owner. But what about whom you marry? Is that unconditional love?
Isn’t that sort of the whole concept of marrying someone? To choose to unconditionally love a person you wouldn’t otherwise love to the point of “no matter what?” To me, that’s the most romantic thing a person can do. Even stripped of emotion and sentimentality, marriage is/should be mutual unconditional love at its finest.
And maybe that’s one of the reasons that marriage isn’t as easy as a lot of people may assume going into it. Instead, marriage is an ongoing process of mutual maturity. Marriage causes people to see how hard it can be to live with even themselves, from the perspective of someone who happens to love them unconditionally.
To love someone unconditionally means there is nothing that that person can do to cause them to fall out of ultimate favor with you. Sure, some days it’s easier than others, but that falls under the whole “for better or for worse” part of the wedding vows.
Actually, for a human being (outside of the parent/child relationship) to love another unconditionally is one of the biggest paradoxes I can think of. But it helps to put things in perspective by turning the tables: I, myself, want to be unconditionally loved.
I want to know there is a person who doesn’t judge me when I’m not in the room, but at the same time is brave enough to tell me directly and privately how I can improve as a person, in both big and small ways. I want to know there is a person who understands me, or at least puts up with me, when I’m being weird or simply not myself.
So maybe choosing to love another person is challenging, but for me, the bigger challenge was finding someone who would love me unconditionally. Thank God, that’s exactly who I found.
Knowing that my son will inevitably pick up on the vibes I put out there as I react to him, I make a conscious effort to be calm-assertive, as a dad. Here’s my own definition of calm-assertiveness: being cool, calm, and collected as well as being direct, assertive, and respectable.
I very much enjoy watching Cesar Millan’s TV show Dog Whisperer, as he teaches the importance of being a “calm-assertive” leader. It’s not only interesting to learn about how dogs were meant to be raised and trained, but also how a lot of what Cesar Millan teaches actually translates to human relationships. He himself has noted the comparison, being known for saying: “Humans are the only animals who will follow unstable pack leaders.”
The Dog Whisperer makes a great point about us humans needing stable, respectable leaders. When we (as well as our children) do not have a confident, consistent, authoritative example to live by, we can become confused, angry, anxious, rebellious, spiteful, and/or apathetic. I know for a fact that I am wired to want to follow the best human examples out there. So I am always looking around the room to locate the “pack leader.”
Sometimes that means that I need to be that leader, when there is not a legitimate or active one present. I was also programmed to want to be in control, because often, my ability to control is necessary and needed for the structure of those around me; especially at work and at home.
I can’t allow my son to begin to believe that he is the pack leader; that he is the boss. Sure, I know we parents may joke about our kids “ruling the roust” sometimes, but in all seriousness, there needs to be no doubt in my son’s mind who really makes and carries out the rules. It’s my job to make it clear that there are definite boundaries that must be respected.
When it comes to establishing those boundaries, part of my responsibility as a dad is to figure out the limits while considering my wife’s maternal input. Undeniably, I must make the conscious effort to establish order and expectations for my son to live by.
Granted, my expectations are necessarily and realistically set as low as they need to be. But I refuse to be a dad without direction.
Thank you, Cesar Millan, for introducing me to the concept of the term “calm-assertive,” even though I’m not actually a dog person.
Shortly after we moved to Alabama from Nashville, my friend Jon Kennedy and his wife, Amelia, came to visit us in our snowed-in cottage home. I remember Jon suggesting that I write about how a man’s car evolves once a baby enters the picture. After all, some men really do have to trade in their sports cars for minivans. If not, there are certainly some types of conversions that must take place to make a man’s vehicle “baby friendly” and “baby practical.” That is, unless you’re me, and you drive a 2004 Honda Element- the best car ever invented!
(Except for maybe the Delorean…).
In my Honda Element, there is virtually no cloth or carpet; all surfacing material is rubber, plastic, or vinyl- even the seats. So there is no crying to be done over spilled formula or leaky bottles. The ceiling in my car is especially high, giving Jack the sense that he is not closed in- which is especially important on hour-long trips. Facing the rear of the vehicle, he has so much visibility not only above him but around him through all the windows.
One of the most unique features about Elements is that the two rear seats fold up into the side of the vehicle when not in use, instead of just simply folding down. This creates plenty of cargo space- say, for a Pack-and-Play crib or even a corn hold set.
Another great thing about the seats is that they fully recline. This makes for a convenient diaper-changing station when Jack has a wet or dirty diaper after having just arrived at our destination.
And behind the rear seats, there is still plenty of storage space. I can easily fit his Jeep walker back there without any grief.
That’s right; my Honda Element is spacious, versatile, and easy to maintain. Those things are important to me as a dad. Because ultimately that means I drive a very practical and ideal vehicle for hauling around a little bambino.
It’s no coincidence that in 2007, the Honda Element won the “Dog Car of the Year” from Dogcar.com. It only makes sense that if it’s good enough for a baby, it’s good enough for a dog.
Sadly, 2011 is the final year of production for Honda. So I guess that means eventually I’ll be driving a classic vehicle. Because I just can’t imagine driving anything other than Jedi- that’s what I named my Element back in 2006 when I bought it.
That is, unless, this particular Dadabase becomes so popular that Honda decides to bring back the Element because the demand for them becomes so high that it would ultimately bring forth the…