Posts Tagged ‘ infant ’

There’s a Certain Comfort in Routine

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Nine months.

As a parent, I learn to find calmness by embracing the chaos; mellowness through the madness.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a blog post questioning why statistically one out of every five people on Earth, both locally and worldwide, smoke tobacco; despite an often negative social stigma; despite addiction; despite the smell a smoker becomes accustomed to yet non-smokers find offensive; despite the fact that cigarettes are the leading cause of house fires and fire related deaths; and despite the fact it’s an expensive habit.  I was simply curious and uneducated on what I was missing out on.

One of my former college roommates at Liberty University, James Nasman, explained it in a way that actually made the most sense, through a very short and simple comment: “There’s a certain comfort in routine.”

It took me nearly two weeks to finally let that soak in to where I can understand it and now apply it to my life. I started thinking about my own daily routines that I subconsciously rely on as forms of comforting structure.  Like the way my wife and I say a quick prayer each morning before we leave for work.  And how I ride my mountain bike to the nearest Starbucks during my lunch break to read whatever the newest book is that I will be giving away next here on The Dadabase.

Simply going to work everyday, despite it being work, is a comfortable routine. So is driving back and forth to work everyday.  So is that sub-par cup of coffee at work to start the day.  They are all part of my routine, and in some basic ways, I rely on them.

We are wired in a way that we enjoy positive, unexpected rewards in life.  I think that’s part of the thrill of checking our Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Of course, when it comes to life’s negative surprises in life, we actually need some sort of vice to be able to handle them.  For me, one of my most reliable devices isdepending on the routine itself as a way to have control over it.

Parenting is stressful.  If not, you’re in denial as you are attempting perfection and are nearing a nervous breakdown but just don’t know it yet.

I openly admit and confess my parenting stress.  But I remember just how normal the craziness of parenting has been- for thousands of years and for billions of people throughout the course of time.

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These are the Days We Will Remember Forever

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Eight months.

In April 2007 after dating two months and having already gone to meet my parents, I flew to Sacramento to meet my wife’s family- all of them. That meant not only her parents, but also her two sisters and most of her seven brothers along with all their kids. 

I was the new boyfriend.  There was no guarantee that any of the family members would ever see me again.  I could have simply been a single-serving special friend that ultimately disappeared from most peoples’ memories.  At best, I could have been, “Hey Jill, whatever happen to that guy from Alabama with dark hair?”

Instead of becoming a blurry memory, I proposed the following January and we were married seven months later.

Over the past four years, I have really grown closer to my wife’s family.  But during my most recent visit, there was a new closeness I felt to them all because now that my wife and I have our son, it has never been more official that I am grafted into the family tree; though our family branch is labeled “Shell” instead of “Tuttle.”  Though I obviously am not kin to them by blood, I am part of their family and have helped it grow.

The gathering place for all my wife’s family in Sacramento is her mom’s house.  Today I took a few pictures of some of the signs hanging on the walls there.  I have written before about how people show what they value through the art they create.  In my mother-in-law’s case, the decorations she hangs on the walls help serve as art.

My favorite sign at the house reads “These are the days we will remember forever.”  That motto is so much more clever than it may appear to be.  With me being such a desperately nostalgic guy, constantly yearning for the best of my life’s warmest memories, that sign reminds me that when I go out to California with my wife, and now my son, that I don’t have to wish for a moment in the past.  Instead, I get to enjoy warm fuzzy memories as they occur in real time.

Even though I do my darndest to capture all these stories and conversations with my wife’s side of the family, who I typically only see once a year, it must be my obsession with nostalgia that causes me to be one of the official photographers of the family.  Because even though these are the days we will remember forever, my memory is only so good.  Digital cameras definitely help.

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Surviving My Infant Son’s First Plane Ride

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Eight months.

I think the best way to begin is to share a few things that I would rather do than take an eight month old little boy on a plane from Nashville to Sacramento:

1) Be forced to watch a 24 hour marathon of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, sending out a Tweet every 15 minutes praising the show, though I despise it more than the awful movie Something Borrowed;  which is the worst movie I’ve ever seen- and that’s saying a lot because I’ve seen When in Rome.

2) Shave “racing stripes” into my hair until they grow out and when people ask me why I have resorted to a hairstyle trend that was briefly popular in 1988, I could only respond by saying “Cut… it… out!”, along with doing the accomanying hand motions, made famous by the character Joey Gladstone on Full House.

3) Walk barefoot on broken glass like Bruce Willis did in the first Die Hard movie.

When taking an infant on a plane, you must provide proof that your child is less than two years old.  I know this now because we did not.  (Dave Stanley, if you are reading this, I’m going to need you to email Jack’s birth certificate to me so we can leave Sacramento on Sunday…).  The lady was nice and let us board the plane anyway.  Thank God.

I’ve never seen my son pee so much, in a reasonable amount of time since his diaper was last changed, that I look down and see a puddle at my feet while standing in line to buy a snack before boarding the plane.  And I didn’t even care that I didn’t have time to wash my moistened hand before boarding the plane.

A guy who looked just like “Comic Book Guy” from The Simpsons brought his Shih Tzu dog on the plane, hogging up the front row of seats; when my wife and I tried to sit in the remaining two seats next to him, he responded sarcastically with, “Uh, sure, I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea for both a dog and a baby to sit in the same row.”  It wasn’t worth it; we ended up settling for having to sit in the middle of the plane; my wife was in front of me and I was in the row behind.

The flight involved Jack sleeping as long as either my wife or I held him while standing up in the aisle.  My arms are still sore from that.

Of course, Jack won’t remember any of this along with how much he didn’t enjoy the flight.  But at least he can read about it in a few years. 

Ah man, there for a minute I actually forgot… We still have do this whole thing again when we fly back to Nashville.  Shazbot!

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Not Being Disappointed by Lowered Expectations

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Eight months.

It’s no secret that part of my “gimmick” as a parent blogger is to simply maintain a positive outlook and tone.  In fact, my optimistic attitude angered and frustrated dozens of people with g>one blog in particular, which caused a brief uproar on Parents.com’s Facebook wall. But while I choose to be Mr. Positive, I also choose to be real; I don’t sugarcoat anything.

One of the major ways I am able to remain positive, as a dad who is potentially always in a situation where I could easily be frustrated simply because of the fact that I am dealing with an infant who has a reputation of being illogical, is to keep my expectations low.  Because with reasonably low expectations, it’s much more difficult to become disappointed. 

I personally am more likely to experience an ongoing sense of well-being when my expectations are consistently met; even if those met expectations don’t include a decently positive outcome.  I guess it just feels good to be right about something; especially regarding the uncontrollable and often unpredictable future.

Therefore, our recent flight from Nashville to Sacramento with our son went better than I expected; for the fact that A) our luggage didn’t get lost; B) we didn’t miss our connecting flight in Denver; C) Jack didn’t vomit all over me during the middle of the flight; and D) I wasn’t aware of how hungry I was from not eating dinner before the flight because I was too preoccuppied with my reasonably low expectations about Jack not doing well on the plane ride.

One of the things that being a dad has taught me is that I am the kind of person who has to be (or at least feel) in control of the things in life that I think I am supposed to be able to control.  And when I can’t control certain situations as a parent and am aware of how not in control I am, I get really stressed out and anxious. 

So perhaps the worst parts of flying to Sacramento were actually just in my head.  Still though, in reality, it wasn’t a smooth and seamless transition.  Instead of continuing the entertaining details and stories of the trip in this post, I will instead tell all about it in the following post. 

Therefore, I now coridially invite you to read the sequel:

Surviving My Infant Son’s First Plane Ride.

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The Doom and Gloom of “You Just Wait”

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Eight months.

A year ago, when my wife was pregnant with our son, co-workers would ask me about what was going through my head about becoming a dad.  I would always respond by telling them I was aware of how my life was going to change, but that ultimately, I was excited about it all.

And what typically was their response?

“Well, you just wait until he’s crying in the middle of the night and you’re not getting any sleep… You just wait until he turns two years old and he’s pitching a fit… You just wait until he’s a teenager and he acts like he hates you…”

Needless to say, I’ve heard this unsolicited “well, you just wait until he gets older” gloom and doom more than I care to.  Well, here I am, a year later, and I’m still the same positive guy living with my realistic expectations; which certain people view as a fantasy.

The phrase “well, you just wait” is just another version of “I told you,” translating into “I can’t say ‘I told you so’ yet because enough time hasn’t gone by, so you’ll just have to wait so that you can see that I am right and you are naïve.”

I would bet that in the history of the world there has never been a time when a person has truly appreciated hearing “I told you so” or any form of it.  So “well, you just wait” doesn’t translate any differently to me.

Admittedly, it can be tricky trying to figure out what to do when it comes to parenting because it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by not only so many techniques out there, but also so many people confidently telling you that what worked for them and their child is the best (and only) way to do it.

Often, a lot of the parenting advice I hear just gets lost in the noise.  Granted, this blog is technically designed to give fellow parents advice, as I often do.  So am I just adding to the noise pollution, as I regularly share my noticeably conservative and undeniably positive outlook on fatherhood?

Maybe.  But whether or not you ever adopt my views on any particular aspect of parenting, and whether or not you find any of them to be effective, my intention is to speak with authority while not coming across as a know-it-all.  Will I be able to successfully pull off that delicate balance?

Well, you just wait…

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