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Sunday, September 15th, 2013
2 years, 9 months.
I should start off this letter to you with what I have as my current status on Facebook:
“In the past 5 years, I have completely and successfully given up pork, shellfish, processed sugars, then meat altogether, then dairy, eggs, and honey; more recently, all alcohol and carbonated drinks (which I only had in moderation anyway)… and all of that, was NOTHING… compared to my newest current challenge: Caffeine (and therefore, coffee). I have officially survived Day #1. I heard the first 5 are the worst. This is misery; suffering both physically and psychologically. Caffeine is a highly addictive, easily accessible, completely legal and unregulated drug that has got me in a powerful state of withdrawal right now. I shall overcome…”.
Yeah, that about covers it.
Our family drove home from buying groceries at Whole Foods today and all I could do was collapse on the floor once I walked in the door. You started to run over to me as if to tackle me. I had to say, “I’m sorry, Son. I can’t wrestle with you tonight. Daddy isn’t feeling well.”
You kept asking me why I wasn’t feeling well. How do I explain to a nearly 3 year-old that, without realizing it, Daddy has been addicted to coffee (in the form of one to two cups a day at work, then at least one Starbucks over the weekend)?
I was familiar with this sort of urban legend that Starbucks’ coffee has more caffeine than “normal coffee” you would make at work or at home. Mommy and I spent some time this week researching that claim. The best evidence was this recent article on The Huffington Post, called “How Much Caffeine Is Actually In Your Coffee, From Dunkin’ to Starbucks?”
The story included this pictogram which pretty much clears it up for me.
Part of the difficulty that comes with removing certain food and drink staples from my life, being that I could now be labelled as a caffeine-free, alcohol-free, soda-free, kosher vegan, is the nostalgia I have to let go of. And that definitely is the case here with caffeine.
After all, the friendship between Mommy and me, that eventually led to us dating, was first nourished in a weekly Sunday night meet at Starbucks; which didn’t simply include coffee, but more importantly, caffeine.
I’m not banning Starbucks as a company or a brand. I admire their cleverness. They have found a way to capitalize on one of the most addictive and unregulated drugs in the world and get people to pay at least 4 dollars a pop for it. I respect that, as a Libertarian capitalist.
But as for me, I plan for that half a cup of coffee I drank at work Friday morning to be my last ounce of caffeine for the rest of my life.
I just hate the thought of being at the mercy of a food, drink, and/or drug. Instead, I’d rather discipline my body and bring it into subjection (Biblical reference); especially knowing that the process of detoxing from caffeine makes me feel like a drug addict.
That is how I feel, by the way. I am a drug addict going through a baptism-by-fire withdrawal period. It is brutal.
I can feel my nervous system under attack right now. I’m a little freaked out by it, to be honest.
While I am so happy to have you and Mommy here with me now, I have to admit it feels like the Smoke Monster from Lost is trying to win this battle with me this weekend. That is how I am portraying my withdrawals from caffeine addiction.
I wish I could be fully present with you this weekend in mind, body, and spirit, but I know I’m not me right now.
From what I learned thanks to the girl in the tea aisle at Whole Foods today, who is now caffeine-free, having been through this herself, it takes a solid 10 days to recover from a caffeine addiction, but the first 5 are the worst.
I can do this. Cold turkey, to be exact.
Top photo: Coffee Addict Concept, via Shutterstock.
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
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Saturday, June 15th, 2013
2 years, 6 months.
This week after uploading the most recent content from my digital camera to my flash drive, then editing those files, then deleting all those pictures and videos on the camera immediately afterwards, I experienced a dose of panic and anxiety I haven’t known since maybe 7th grade.
I could not find the video of you riding your fire truck you made of pillows!
Mommy and I were so proud of your performance, yet it was nowhere to be found.
How would I tell Mommy what I did? Should I just not bring it up until she asked about it?
I always feared this happening; deleting one of your pictures or videos before actually saving it.
After searching for 20 minutes in a state of constricted breathing and a gnarly adrenaline rush, I realized that the thumbnail for the video was not the one I was looking for.
In other words, I had not deleted your prized fire fighter performance. And of course, now it’s safely saved and featured on YouTube.
I don’t know, maybe that video clip isn’t really all that funny or cute to the whole world, but to Mommy and me, it’s priceless.
To think had I actually deleted that file, the very best thing I could have done was try to get you to re-create what you did in the video that day, but I could never actually access the original again.
Subconsciously, my mind started to process the thought of actually losing you; not simply just that video of you.
My subconscious, I’m convinced, is much more aware of deep emotional hurt and sadness than the conscious part of my brain. The door of that room inside my head was unlocked and I began to catch a glimpse of hell.
I began feeling this heaviness and emptiness that I couldn’t even begin to understand.
In that moment, I felt so alone and lost and exiled.
It felt like I lost you.
I never want to feel that way again.
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Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
2 years, 5 months.
Yesterday’s “Should Daddy Get A Gun For The House?” originally had a different ending, in which I made it clear whether or not I decided to get a gun.
However, at the very last minute right before I published the letter, Mommy and I decided that broadcasting to the social media world whether or not we have a gun in the house is not a wise decision.
I think that to announce either way is to raise a red flag.
So in the likeness of the vague closure in the final episode of Lost, I ended the letter by simply saying, “My research is complete and my decision is now made.”
The way I see it, whether or not I own a gun is not really the issue; for me, anyway. The real issue for me was sorting out whether or not I am really capable, willing, and ready at all times to take the life of another human being who threatens the safety of my family.
That was what was important to me; taking the time to truly process that all the way through.
Like planning out a fire drill, in my head I have now mapped out an official “intruder drill.” Now I know the quickest and most efficient strategy for obtaining the [deadly weapons] on both floors of our house; in addition to immediately grabbing the cell phone to call 911.
It sounds so morbid, to say that I’m now ready to take the life of another human being, if necessary. And to be ready to do that at any given minute of the day.
But like Sayid on Lost, you want to have somebody on your island who is willing to be your bodyguard; someone who is always ready to fight and kill for you.
You want someone who is dangerous enough to keep you safe.
That person is me.
Photo: A toy hand gun, Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
A year and a half.
Whenever I say or type the phrase “thank you,” I instantly assume I actually just said “f— you.”
To me, the words sound so similar.
It’s not that I’m a vulgar person. In fact, my constant suspicion of my subconscious has much more to do my preoccupation of not being vulgar.
My habit of questioning my automatic actions bleeds into my parenting abilities.
Each time after having just strapped my son into his car seat and starting the ignition, I run the following questions through my head before looking over my shoulder at him:
“Did I actually strap him in all the way? Is he crawling around right now on the floor of my car? Is he outside, behind the car? Will I back over him?”
I just don’t want to commit some huge crime on account of running on autopilot. It’s not that I question my abilities as a dad.
Instead, I question my most unguarded moments in the midst of my daily dad duties. One little slip-up can instantly morph into an avalanche; in regards to protecting the life of my child.
I don’t fear being a bad dad. I fear being a good dad who in one careless moment throws it all away.
What if I somehow accidently cause my son to lose an eye or allow him to choke to death on a piece of bread? What if he suffocates during the night, trapped under his blanket and I’m not there to stop it?
It’s not that I’m overcome by the fear of “what if’s?” but instead, like a good Boy Scout, I always want to be prepared to keep these things from happening.
I want to prevent these catastrophes like Desmond repeatedly saved the life of Charlie on Lost in season 3.
Taking this “2nd guessing concept” a step further in parenting, there are so many controversial topics when it comes to deciding what is right in raising a child.
Are you wrong or right for letting your child “cry it out?” Should you regret letting your child receive immunizations? Why are some parents against letting their toddlers drink juice?
After having made a decision for your child, do you second-guess it or are you proud to have done what is right for you as a parent?
There will always be something to question yourself on as a mom or dad. But it’s my goal to make the best-researched and most-educated decisions and then follow them through.
If I’m wrong for letting my son cry it out, we’ll find out eventually. As for now, I’m confident in how wrong or right I am in my decision.
I just don’t have the mental capacity to honestly worry about that, in particular. I’m too busy trying to make sure I only just said “thank you” and not its evil counterpart.
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danger, dark, gloomy, LOST, morbid, parenting, second guessing, violent | Categories:
Deep Thoughts, Health, Must Read, Nostalgia, People, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase
Monday, May 14th, 2012
Earlier last week I heard Jaci Valasquez say on her morning radio show on The Fish that what she wished for most on Mother’s Day was to take it easy while she and her husband watched their kids play.
I figured that sounded like a pretty good idea. So sure enough, I made sure we had the laziest Mother’s Day ever at our house.
There’s something anyway about waking up wearing a Smurfs t-shirt that says “Spaced Out” on it that leads to not taking to a shower, which somehow leads to us not leaving for church on time.
We were so slothful we not only were too late for the 9:30 and 11:00 services, but we barely made it on time for the 11:11 service.
It’s evidently designed for anyone who is just late enough that they need to watch the 11:00 service on an 11 minute delay on a giant movie screen in the big slacker room down the hall while coffee is being served.
That would be us: the slackers.
Not normally, though. Usually we’re okay to confirm to the strict and necessary weekend schedule it takes to socialize, buy groceries and run errands, go to church, and still clean the house, all with a toddler in tow, while living in a big enough town like Nashville.
But not this Mother’s Day. We chose to be as deliberately unmotivated as we could: Starbucks Frappucinos for brunch (where we pushed Jack around in one of their R2D2-looking kid stroller seats) and then had leftover pasta back at the house for a 3:00 lunch.
Jack took a 2 hour grace nap which led to us catching up on some Netlix. (We’re too cheap to ever pay for cable or satellite.)
“Hey, they have the show I Shouldn’t Be Alive now on the instant streaming…”.
Forty-three minutes later:
“That episode reminded me a lot of Lost. Umm… you want to watch Lost now?”
It was pushing Jack’s dinner time and we still had the house to clean.
In the likeness of one of those fast-forward montages in an Eighties sitcom where the characters clean up the mess real quick thanks to speed-dubbing, while zany music plays, Jill managed to get our place feng shui enough to feel comfortable while I entertained/annoyed Jack. (Pictured right.)
I took all the pillows from our couch and made a giant mountain that kept enclosing Jack as soon as he climbed to the top of it. Next I let him continually walk across our unnecessarily long couch until he got beyond giddy and delirious.
Then he discovered some forgotten (and dreadfully stale) fruit snacks in a travel-size container in the closet. I liked them better than he did.
At some point, Jack and I gave Jill her Mother’s Day care package which consisted of a card from Jack, a box of black licorice that were shaped like little hearts, and a gift certificate for a pedicure.
For us, it was a very lazy Sunday and what I have written is all I remember of it. But I already know Jill will look back on it as a good Mother’s Day; one worth repeating.
The moral of this story is to be lazy and then good things will happen.
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I Shouldn't Be Alive, LOST, Mother's Day, Netflix, parenting, Smurfs, toddler | Categories:
Home Life, Nostalgia, People, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase