Author Archive

Confessions of a Guilty, Guilty Dad

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

As the great Jerry Stiller once said (while portraying the unforgettably bombastic Frank Costanza on Seinfeld), “I feel the need to unburden myself.” I’ve been carrying around some heavy secrets. Some of them kind of shocking. But I’m willing to bet that, if you’re a parent, you’ll relate to more of these than you’d like to admit.

So, in no particular order, since it’s Lent and I’m Catholic and we’re encouraged to make confession during this time of year…

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…

I pretend to be asleep in the middle of the night when my kids wake up crying. I think my wife is onto me, as she’s started to do the same. She learned from the best. I admire that.

When I deem it necessary, I let my younger son exact revenge on my older son. Trust me, he absolutely deserves it. And it teaches the older one a valuable lesson: Being a jerk = pain

When my son asks me a question I don’t know the answer to, I pretend I can’t hear him and walk away. An example is, “Daddy, why do you have nipples?” Why do I have nipples, Father?

I listen to the Frozen soundtrack when neither of my kids are in the car. I’ve also started pricing tinted windows.

I know all the words to at least six Fresh Beat Band songs….including Twists’ raps. Again, tinted windows.

I’ve been legitimately confused by instructions on my 4-year-old’s homework assignments.

I laughed at my kid after he walked directly into a wall and started crying. I mean, it was pretty hilarious.

I still don’t remember either of my sons’ shoe sizes. When I do, it changes two weeks later, anyway. I’ve stopped trying.

I genuinely enjoy Sesame Street more than 90% of primetime cable programming. Then again, “Sextuplets Take New York” isn’t exactly stiff competition.

I’ve smelled my son’s dirty diaper and then hid in the next room to avoid changing it.

I lied by more than two years to get my son into a theme park for free. I insisted he remain seated in the stroller sucking a pacifier to sell the lie to the cashier. I even said, “Act young.”

I’ve blamed my kids for being late to work, when it was actually my own fault. I mean, most of the time it’s their fault, so it’s not entirely a lie. Right?

When I’m putting my kids to bed, I stay in the room at least half an hour after they’re asleep, playing Words with Friends to avoid being responsible and putting laundry away.

I legitimately cannot defeat my 4-year-old in the Memory Game. He’s beaten me like 18 straight times, with me actually trying to win. It’s pretty embarrassing. I’m either getting old or I’m just a moron.

I peed on the toilet seat and blamed it on my 2-year-old’s failure to potty train himself.

I’ve accidentally answered a toy phone when a real one was ringing.

I skipped 13 pages in a 16-page book while reading a bedtime story just to see if I could get away with it. I could.

While playing basketball with my kids, I occasionally reject the living hell out of them ala Dikembe Mutombo. It’s my way of convincing myself I have so much as a shred of athletic ability left.

Nothing makes me laugh more genuinely than when my younger son mispronounces words. Most recently, he’s been talking about this “really big clock” he has in his room. Only he’s having noticeable trouble pronouncing the “L.”

I think that covers me until the next time. And if you see me in church next Sunday, this conversation never happened.

Amen.

 

Feel free to add your own confessions by adding a comment below, or by tweeting me with the hashtag #confessions so we can all be guilty together!

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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Don’t Try This at Home (with Your Kids)

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

Don’t kid yourself (pardon the pun). Every single one of us has tried like an arrogant fool to accomplish these tasks while simultaneously overseeing one or more of our children. What makes us think we’re capable of it? Pure, unadulterated ego.

Parental multitasking is a dangerous, yet tempting endeavor. But I’m here to tell you it’s not worth it. And I can tell you this because every single one of these acts has gone disastrously wrong for me, all because I was silly enough to think I could accomplish every day, normal goals with my children present.

Here are just a few I would avoid…

 

  • Cooking dinner

Your kids are playing innocently in the living room. Your eyes wander to the adjacent kitchen where ingredients (and potential failure) await. You’re the only adult in the house until 6:00 p.m., so it’s on you to produce a meal. Do you heat up leftovers? Do you order takeout? No. You’ve got this. Totally manageable. Then, as you’re mincing the garlic and peeling potatoes, your children decide that Buzz Lightyear and Woody ain’t got nothin’ on garlic. They want to make an arts and crafts project out of tonight’s dinner. This sounds adorable to people who haven’t actually experienced it.

Shown here: a fictional scenario

  • Joining a conference call

This falls into the category of “mistakes you only make once.” I had the balls to attempt this a few months ago. I had forgotten about a planned conference call, was working from home, and my wife (who had been watching my two sons) had stepped out. That left me with two options: to graciously bow out of the call and offer to follow up with the meeting leader later in the day, or to be an idiot. Needless to say, I chose idiot. Within 30 seconds of “Joe DeProspero [child screaming]….is now joining,” I found myself sheepishly apologizing for being the guy I always resented in the past, both kids doing their best to destroy any chance of me accomplishing this lofty goal. As it turns out, kids give zero f***s about debriefs.

  • Telling a story

Here’s a fun game. Walk up to a 4-year-old and see how many words you can get out before you’re interrupted. The first person to finish two straight sentences wins! If nothing else, kids ensure that anything you share with others is kept brief, succinct. It’s kind of like being trapped inside Twitter, with no chance of a Retweet.

  • Ironing your clothes

It sounds like a no-brainer, I know. Plugging in any appliance with your children around sounds dangerous, especially one that can cause third-degree burns. But most of us have done it anyway. “It’s totally fine and safe. I’m holding the iron and they can’t reach it!” you’ll claim. Then, your toddler daughter spills a glass of cranberry juice on the carpet. You instinctively run to sop up the mess. Your older child wanders over and starts ironing his butt. Need I say more?

Yup. Totally safe.

  • Taking a road trip

I truly feel that the litmus test for determining if you’re patient enough to be a parent is taking a car ride of longer than two hours with multiple children who didn’t sleep well the night before. It’s hard enough to get kids to remain stationary for more than five minutes at the dinner table. But strapping them into a seat for several hours with no escape is like shooting a water gun at a beehive. Translation: It’s just asking to get stung. In the face. And you totally deserve it.

  • Being logical

Your son spills milk. Like, a full glass of milk. All over the dinner table. It rapidly maneuvers around salad plates and silverware to completely soak every last square inch of available tablecloth. Grimacing, you scamper to sop it up as best you can with as many napkins as you can gather. Instead of expressing remorse, your son complains that he no longer has milk to drink. Silly naïve you tries to reason with him, explaining how illogical he’s being considering he was the clumsy fool who’d caused the very problem he’s crying about. You actually try talking to him like he’s an adult who can be reasoned with. Unfortunately, the fact that you’re not a Pixar character renders your little moral lesson entirely meaningless.

We have a problem. My glass, it’s empty.

I’m sure there are more, but this is a start. Feel free to contribute to the list by adding a comment below, or by tweeting me using the hashtag #foolishacts. Always dig hearing from you!

Check out the debut edition of my video blog, Parental Guidance.

* Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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An Open Letter to New York Met Daniel Murphy

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

To give the necessary back-story for those who need it, New York Mets infielder Daniel Murphy was recently criticized by former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and radio host Mike Francesa for spending (what they considered) an excessive amount of time with his wife after the birth of their child.

Dear Mr. Murphy,

First of all, I’m about as far from your “world” as is possible. Frankly, I’m no athlete. I’m practically never traveling, I work a 9-5, and the closest I get to sports is running a fantasy football league. But at our core, we’re likely not very different. We’re both men in the early stages of starting a family, and we’re both often torn between the demands of our career and those of our home. And unfortunately, no matter how strong our resolve is, there will be some jerk who thinks he/she knows better.

Your decision to be by your wife’s side for the birth of your son and (gasp) the day after should have served as a powerful reminder to those in your community about the paramount importance of the family. But some tried to tear you down. The comments made by both Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesa were as short-sighted as they were childish. Sadly, in a male-dominated line of work, there is an undercurrent of “Suck it up and just play ball!” As you’re aware, life isn’t that simple when you’re a family man.

I had a situation arise in my own job recently where I had a decision to make: Stay in the office and disappoint my children or go home and potentially disappoint my co-workers. I chose to disappoint my co-workers, and here’s why. For one, my involvement at work that particular day would not have cured cancer. While causing a minor inconvenience for my boss, the work got done and the people who needed to be happy were happy. And also, I asked myself two questions. At the end of my life, would I regret the decision to be present for my son’s Halloween parade? Or would I regret the decision to miss it? This was as “no-brainer” as it gets. That was all the confirmation I needed that I was doing the right thing. The fact that your decision to potentially disappoint your co-workers had public ramifications makes your decision that much bolder.

When I read the headline about those who criticized you, I couldn’t help but empathize. You took two days of paternity leave. Surely, there will be and are people who say, “You chose the life of a professional athlete. Part of the lifestyle is sacrificing time with your family.” But my opinion? You’re already spending enough time away from your baby. Being there for the milestones (when possible) is key. When your son is 21 and looks back at his baby pictures with you in them, I can guarantee you the satisfaction he derives from that will be worth far more than any petty, uninformed opinion of a sports analyst. “Hiring a nurse,” as Mr. Francesa so callously suggested, assumes you have no heart. I’d say it’s abundantly clear that you do.

Congratulations on not only becoming a father, but for proving you’re a man. Considering Mets history, you should be commended for only choosing to miss two games.

Respectfully,

Joe DeProspero

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m aware that Boomer Esiason issued an apology to Murphy after he was essentially given no choice but to make one after public ridicule. That’s all fine and good. Doesn’t change the fact that his and Francesa’s original comments reflect an unsettling position toward a new father who was clearly making the decision that any decent human being (and husband) should make.

Cheap plug for Parents.com Executive Editor Michael Kress, who wrote a poignant article on this very topic, moments before taking his own paternity leave. Check it out here.

*Mets photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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The Seven Daily “Feels” of Parenting

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

People often ask me why I’m so moody. They sometimes automatically attribute it to cancer being my zodiac sign. “All you cancers are so crabby,” they’ll say. But I wish these assumptive people could spend one full day with me, from sunrise to sunset and beyond. I think it would be abundantly clear that my mood swings have far less to do with the path of the sun and far more to do with the path of the son. Let’s break it down.

The way I see it, every single day is an emotional rollercoaster for us parents. And I’m not talking broadly. I’m not saying some days you’re happy about it and some days you’re miserable. I’m saying that we’re all of these things. Every. Single. Day.

It all starts in the morning, of course. Your eyes peel open, and instantly you get your first “feel” of the day: gratefulness. Grateful you’re still alive and grateful you have a child (or more than one child) to care for. You’re almost certainly some kind of tired, but you are alive and not committed to an asylum. Considering the hell parenting can put you through, this is a marked achievement.

But it doesn’t last very long, does it, the gratefulness? In less than five minutes, your children are both awake. Despite your best efforts, they’re grown completely intolerable. One is refusing to eat, while the other is trying to eat an entire sleeve of chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. Suddenly, the second feel overcomes you: anger. Before you know it, you’re shouting at them. All you can think of is the look on the face of the school principal as you usher the kids in 15 minutes late, or your boss as you try to tip-toe past her cube at 9:30. It’s hard to believe less than 10 minutes earlier, you were internally beaming about how angelic they were.

As you reluctantly scamper to the front door of your child’s school, a chill comes over you as you can’t help but be reminded of the atrocities that have happened in our nation’s schools over the past few years. Your stomach turns as you leave your precious children in their respective classrooms. You’ve given up control. And you’re feeling fear. For me, this has been the most difficult of the feels to overcome. I likely speak for most parents when I say that, accepting that I can’t always protect my child has potentially been my biggest parental obstacle.

I will obviously never fully understand the sorrow of walking away from my child for the first time after a maternity leave. But I will say that I feel sadness when leaving my children. Every day. Any parent would understand, but when you’re not with them, you feel like you’re missing a part of yourself. It’s like you’ve cut off a body part and left it home while you’ve gone to work. I often sit at my desk, wondering what my boys are doing at exactly that moment. And it’s right around that time when their school emails out a series of photos of them reading a new book, or learning about a musical instrument. I send my kids to Apple Montessori. Yes, it costs more than I’d like and yes, they absolutely love it there. By default, so do I. And it’s in that moment when I start feeling an enormous sense of pride. I see my kids being social far earlier than I ever was a child. I see them expressing a willingness to learn, again, far earlier than I ever did as a child. It almost makes me forget that I was sad to leave them there that same day….or the cost of their tuition bill.

So, you’re feeling awesome again about this whole parenting thing, when you arrive home from work, arms stretched out wide for a hug. Yet, you’re met with indifference. Your child is currently fixated on the plastic covering of a DVD case, and nothing else matters. He callously mutters a dismissive remark, asking you to leave them alone. You’re back to sad again, with an anger kicker. And during dinner, the feels come in full force. You’re proud they’re eating broccoli, you’re angry when they jump out of their chairs and spill their drinks, and you’re certainly grateful that the day is almost over and you’ve made it through the “feels gauntlet.”

Later that night, after the teeth have been brushed and the stories have been read, you’ll tuck them into their cribs or beds. Maybe you’ll even climb in next to them, assuming they’re in at least a toddler bed. Then, that hug that eluded you earlier catches you completely off guard. Your child’s face shoved into your neck and their hand resting peacefully on your chest, something new comes over you: serenity. In that moment, no stress nor worry can steal your high, as you are officially convinced you’re doing a stellar job at being a parent. And you probably are.

As you cautiously close the bedroom door behind you, a Batman sticker still stuck to your cheek, knee sore from when you rammed it into the sofa leg while wrestling, the final feel of the day hits you. Despite every struggle (some seeming insurmountable), you rest assured that you’re persevering and raising one hell of a kid. Defiantly standing strong against the anger and sadness, you’re left with an undeniable feeling of joy. And that’s ultimately what drives me to be the best version of myself every day – to reach the final “feel” as my head hits the pillow.

Cheers to all you parents out there, whether you related to this piece or not.

Check out the debut of my new video blog titled “Parental Guidance” when you get a chance! In this edition, I take questions submitted to me via iPhone and answer them on video. Come on, everyone, see if my face matches my writing!

Feel free to add a comment below and add your very own “daily feels.”

 Is your parenting style more attachment or positive? Take our quiz and find out.

* “Question Mark” photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿
Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿
Mom Confessions: If I Could Spend a Day Without My Kids I Would¿

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A Warning to Those Who Disrespect Their Parents

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

 

Before I say anything else, I want to make it clear that not all parents are worthy of respect. The father who walks out on his wife and kids, only to show up on their doorstep 11 years later doesn’t instantly become an admirable man. And surely, there are too many mothers and fathers out there who abuse their children, either verbally or physically. But if your parents put a roof over your head, clothed and fed you, sacrificed their time and energy for your benefit, are generally good people and you still find yourself treating them like second-class citizens? Then this blog is for you.

Soon after my mother died in 2012, I developed a hypersensitivity about people not respecting their parents. I wanted to shake them and scream, “You’re luckier than you’ll ever realize!” But the sad fact is, it won’t hit most people until it’s too late. And these are the people bawling uncontrollably in the front row of the funeral parlor. These are the people soaking in all the sympathy because, even though most of those tears are products of guilt, onlookers will perceive them as pure grief and nothing less.  I wish I could say I haven’t seen this myself.

Look, I’m well aware that arguments are going to happen. Dreadful ones, in fact. And an unblemished relationship where both parent and child get along swimmingly into adulthood is practically impossible. But there’s a difference between being occasionally at odds with your mother and refusing to call her for a year because she crossed a line that you didn’t appreciate being crossed. Put another way, it’s one thing to unfriend an old high school buddy on Facebook because the constant pictures of his cat annoy you. It’s yet another to shout at, run from, or worse yet, ignore a parent because they’re in your face too much or aren’t filling the exact role you envisioned. I promise there will come a day when you wish they were in your face again.

I wasn’t always so sensitive to this. But two major changes in my life altered my perception of the parent-child relationship. One, obviously, was losing my mother before I ever expected I would. Those “everyday, nothing special” conversations became what I longed for, and despite having a good relationship with mom, I started beating myself up about how I didn’t do more for her and with her. Another, frankly, was becoming a parent myself. Because now I see the heart and soul that goes into it. I see the multitude of personal sacrifices it takes, and I see the undying, relentless love I have for my own children. If either of them grew up to treat me with indignant disrespect, I would feel like I’d done something terribly wrong in raising them.

Maybe I’m able to say these things because I always had a good relationship with my parents. But were there times when I felt they intruded on my privacy? Yes. Were there times when I felt that they truly didn’t “get me” and disagreed with my life decisions without sound judgment? Absolutely. But I was raised with a firm understanding that your parents demand respect. Period. Thankfully, I listened.

It’s a cliché, but I’m going to say it anyway. If I reach even one person with this blog, it was worth writing. If I convince just one person to give their parents the type of attention and love they deserve, then I’ve been successful. And to be clear, I’m not suggesting reverting back to the 1950s where calling your father “sir” and mother “ma’am” was the norm. But your parents are indispensable pieces of your very being. Give them the honor they deserve, or be the guilty one weeping at their funeral, as you sadly think of how you could’ve done things differently.

I was somewhat reluctant to touch on such a somber subject this week. But I see far too many people complaining about having to call their mother once a week, or rolling their eyes through the transport of their dependent father to his doctor’s appointment. There was a time when you couldn’t so much as breathe without their help. These aren’t strangers on the street, folks. And if anyone is worthy of dignity, don’t you think it’s them?

Thanks for reading, even if this didn’t pertain to you personally. For my more comedic side, check out my brand new Facebook page! Or follow me on Twitter.

As always, feel free to join the conversation by adding a comment below! Would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: “Respect” photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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