Never in my life have I ever watched a full episode of the classic TV sitcom, Cheers. Until about 20 minutes ago.
I just finished the first episode on Netflix. It was simple and warm and charming. I loved time-traveling back to 1982; interestingly, I myself was a year and a half when the show first premiered.
But despite just now actually watching Cheers, I have been a huge fan of the theme song for my entire life.
The way I see it, this “average Joe anthem” written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo is only 2nd to “In My Life” by The Beatles, as far as The Best Song Ever Written.
The intertwining music and lyrics are perfectly melancholy yet hopeful; yearning yet found. What human being can’t relate to this?
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away? Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same.
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.”
Life is hard. Financial insecurities? I got ‘em. Uncertainty on how my life is supposed to play out? Yep.
Especially today in particular.
But I am blessed enough to come home to a beautiful wife and a magnificent son who take me just as I am. Actually, they take me for more than I am.
As we all sat on the kitchen floor tonight for some unrehearsed family time, Jack unfolded his scrappy coloring book and pulled out his pathetically worn-out crayons.
He likes to assign crayons to Jill and I as he colors the destined-to-be-a-scribbled-mess pages.
“Dada?” He held up the yellow crayon like a good friend offering a premium beer.
For times like these when my life feels like a clusterfog, I especially want to go where everybody knows my name, where they’re always glad I came, and where I can see troubles are all the same.
Where, as a family, we know whatever happens, we’re in this thing together.
Anywhere we go with our son, my wife and I also take our four year old digital camera. Between the two of us, we always have to be prepared to take a shot of Jack doing something for the first time. Or we have to provide proof of just how cool he looks in that moment.
As I was recently making creepy lizard faces at my son to make him laugh, I shared with my wife the realization that Jack won’t actually remember any of this.He won’t remember me pushing him around in a diaper box. Or my wife pretending to be a chicken. It hit me that all our crazy antics we do to entertain our son end up amusing the two of us just as much as they do him- but only we will actually remember it the next day.
My sister’s memory began when she was one and a half years old (in 1985) and mine began in 1983 (on my 2nd birthday.) Based on what I learned in Childhood Psychology in college, my sister and I are the exception to the rule to have a memory that began “recording” that early. But even when Jack’s long-term memory does kick in, there will only be random memories that stay with him for life.
But I guess that’s the way our entire lives are: We only remember certain memories, frozen in the nostalgic part on our brains, sometimes disguising themselves as dreams from childhood.
If you are the only person to remember an event happening years after it occurs, you hold the exclusive rights to it occurring. In theory, it only happened because you remember it. If you ever forget it, then it’s technically the same as it if it never happened, especially if no one else was there to notice the event happening: Especially ifthere were no photographs or videos taken of the event.
As one of the main photographers and the official journalist (daddy blogger) of Jack’s early years, I am preserving these otherwise forgotten details. These stories won’t just be simply contained in the memories of my wife and I, but they will be waiting for Jack to learn about when he gets older.
In the title I proclaimed that my wife and I are our son’s own paparazzi and TMZ show. But that concept is a universal one; it doesn’t just apply to us because I publicly journal my son’s life in a blog on Parents.com.
In an age where Facebook photo albums have replaced actual photo albums like our parents had to put together for us, chances are if you are tech savvy enough to be reading a parenting blog, you can relate to the allusions to being your own paparazzi and TMZ show for your kids and family.
P.S. This is my 100th post here on The Dadabase! You can start from the beginning or catch up on anything you missed in between: Just click on the archives on the right side of the screen. They go all the way back to when we first found out we were having a baby.
Recently in my post entitled, “The Positive Re-branding of Fatherhood,” I noted that dads are making a comeback and becoming more involved in their kids’ lives. Call it a trend, call it a movement; I call it a necessary revolution: Men are changing the future of society now by priding themselves in not settling for mediocre fatherhood, but instead, awesome fatherhood. And maybe even one day the term “Superdad” will actually be as familiar as “Supermom.”
In fact, I was pleasantly unsurprised to read today in another blog here on Parents.com about a recent poll showing that, compared to 50 years ago, fathers are indeed more involved in the lives of their children. Granted, these days there are less households where the dad actually lives in the same household as his kids. But for the dads who do dwell with their kids, these dads are definitely more active compared to 50 years ago.
So it’s not all in my head! Dads really are making a comeback. What a cool time to be a dad. This is what The Dadabase is all about.
Today, I want to brag on President Barack Obama. Last week he introduced a new initiative called “Strong Fathers, Strong Families,” which is a program that provides ways for fathers to spend quality time with their children, via free or discounted pricing on fun activities, such as bowling, sports games, and zoos.
In his recent essay, “Being the Father I Never Had,” he openly recognized the fact that despite the heroism of single moms who have raised a large portion of recent generations, the presence of an active father is valuable to the well-being and future of today’s children:
“And even though my sister and I were lucky enough to be raised by a wonderful mother and caring grandparents, I always felt [my father’s] absence and wondered what it would have been like if he had been a greater presence in my life. I still do. It is perhaps for this reason that fatherhood is so important to me, and why I’ve tried so hard to be there for my own children.” –President Barack Obama
For a guy like me whose active campaign and passionate mission is to positively re-brand fatherhood through this blog on Parents.com, I can’t help but feel strong admiration for our President in his public support for the “Strong Fathers, Strong Families.” I tip my hat to Mr. Obama for using his voice for an idea so necessary and positive for the good of our country.
I believe that it has become easy and normal to downplay the importance of fathers in the lives of their children. Because we as a society have learned to, in order to survive and move forward. But I don’t want our American society to simply survive; I want it to thrive. And even just the name of President Obama’s initiative itself spells it out pretty clearly: A strong father will lead and grow a strong family.
President Obama is not only taking action in sharing my same passion for parenting; but also just like I am doing, he is using his public platform to openly support active fatherhood. I get it, not every child has the option of being raised by a good man. Many children have selfish, abusive, and/or absent biological fathers; some who have left by choice while others were good men but have unfortunately passed away.
Still, children need a positive adult male role model to fill that void, whether it’s an uncle, family friend, step-dad, a pastor, or neighbor. It’s not okay that kids are growing up without good dads. Nor is it okay to deny the need or importance of a positive adult male role model in a child’s life.
In the age of Facebook and Twitter, I never have to tell my son to “like” me or “follow me.”
Since learning to crawl, Jack uses every opportunity to make use of his newly acquired skill. He’s like an SUV in human baby form. If my wife or I are sitting down on the floor with him as he is playing, he will make an effort to go out of his way to purposely crawl over our legs- if nothing else, to prove to himself he can handle it.
He obviously is always up for a new challenge. Tossing the TV remote controller a few feet away from him is no longer an inspiring incentive. Crossing the room is no longer that big of a deal to him anymore. Instead, Jack’s newest self-induced challenge is to crawl from one side of the house to the other. But not for an electronic device or the newest, coolest toy he could imagine.
Instead, I am his motivation.
When I come home from work every day, after greeting him and my wife, I typically go two rooms away to brush my teeth (I’m sort of obsessed with personal hygiene) and change into some more comfortable clothes and a hat. By the time I’m done, I look up, and there he is:
So proud of himself that he journeyed the baby equivalent of the length of a basketball court to get to me. And of course, I’m always so proud of him. The best part is the big toothless smile on his face every time. It’s always a highlight each time he does it.
Sometimes when he follows me across the house, he doesn’t stop crawling until he runs into my ankles. And then he just stays there with his forehead leaning against my leg and his cold, clammy hands on my toes. Other times, he will squeeze through between my ankles, offering up an obligatory grunt as if it’s a tight fit for him.
Honestly, when he follows me around the house, Jack reminds me of a little puppy or a kitten; who can’t talk, but who can show his affection and admiration by his gravitation towards me. And yeah, that makes me feel pretty dang cool.
So while it’s always cool to realize I’ve gained a few more Twitter followers or a handful of “likes” for that day’s Dadabase post, nothing can compare to a little blond haired baby boy who thinks I’m the Shazbot.
He “likes” me the most and is one persistent “follower.” And I just never want to let the little fella down.
As you may have noticed at the very top of the post, it no longer says “Six months.” That’s because today, Jack is officially 7 months old!
As much as I fantasize about being a full time writer, the truth is, I work from 8 AM to 4:30 PM every weekday at “my real job” in a sales office. Writing for Parents.com isn’t all I do for a living, in other words; it’s my part time job. So it’s only natural for intuitive readers to wonder the question, “How do you have time to write six new posts each week for The Dadabase without neglecting your wife and son?”
It’s easy: I sleep less than most people (usually not more than six hours a night). And I only write when my wife and son are asleep. From roughly 10 PM to 11:30 PM, then again from 6:00 AM to 7:10 AM everyday, I am always writing.
That means that when I am at home with Jack and Jill, I literally am at home with Jack and Jill. My policy is that I don’t turn my laptop on while they are awake. That way, I’m not distracted by the blogosphere where I am an active citizen. As for me and my house, that’s the only way it could work.
I disconnect (from electronic social media distractions) to reconnect with my family while they are awake.
So when I received a challenge from author and media consultant Phil Cooke, asking dads everywhere to disconnect from technology – phones, Facebook, Twitter, email, TV – and spend quality time with their kids for 24 hours this Father’s Day, I knew I could handle it.
My wife and I worship the concept of quality time and giving each other our undivided attention, to the best of our abilities. We are constantly aware of our need as a married couple with a child to make the most of the little bit of time we have together each day, balancing both family time and time alone as a couple.
So when we do watch TV together, the rule is that it has to be something we both want to watch, like American Idol or The Office. Or a TV series through Netflix, like Mad Men; which is our current show. And for the times our son is asleep and we both have a lot of stuff to get caught up on in the Internet world, we do what we have to do but label that time as “personal time.” We fully recognize that time as necessary for us as individuals, but we know full well it is not quality time together; even if we’re sitting next to each other.
This challenge is inspired by Phil Cooke’s new book Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing (April 2011, Thomas Nelson), which lays out 25 “jolts” to help us set the “reset” button on our priorities and boundaries. I am interested to see how his book fills in all the blanks and connects the dots regarding the importance of “unplugging” in the name of quality time with family.
So here’s the deal for my male readers. (Do I actually have any? As long as I’ve been a daddy blogger, I’ve just always assumed at least 97% of my readers are female.) For the first three men who agree to take the challenge with me to unplug for 24 hours on Father’s Day, I will arrange for a free copy of the book mailed to your house. Just let me know your name and mailing address by leaving a comment on this post. And as long as you are one of the first three to agree to take the challenge, you get a free book.
I will leave my phone and computer alone on Father’s Day! Will you?
*Thanks and congrats to the first 3 dads who jumped on board and will now be receiving the free book: Mike Mitchell, Marc Theriault, and Mario Sollecchio!