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New Guidelines for Carseats: Rear-Facing Until 2 Years Old

21 Mar

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are adding a year of riding facing backwards for kids: recommending that parents continue to use rear-facing carseats until children are two years old–that’s a year longer than previously recommended, and certain to render our massive library of parenting books suddenly out of date.
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Letting Go Of Order, Cleanliness, and ‘Nice Things’

3 Mar

I realized how much I’d changed in the nine months since my daughter’s birth just the other day. Down on the carpet in the living room, on a carpet covered with toys, I noticed a nick in the leg of the coffee table. A weak, far away feeling struggled to the surface: dammit! the coffee table! And then it faded. Looking at my smiling daughter and the catastrophic mess that has become our home, I quickly accepted a simple fact of parenthood. I will never, ever have order, cleanliness or nice things. Ever.

And I’m cool with that.
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Breaking Up the Team

14 Nov

Father and daughter in the home office, November 7, 2010

For the first six months of my daughter’s life, I’ve been a stay-at-home Dad: working from my home office, alternating phone calls and computer work with diaper changes, warmed-up bottles and plenty of fun and games. It’s been perhaps the best time of my life. And in an instant, I have to go back to work.

A new opportunity came along that professionally made perfect sense, and it came upon us fast: I heard about the opportunity on Monday, and signed up on Friday, with a commitment to start work on Monday. Tomorrow. And that means for the first time in my daughter’s life, I won’t be sharing an office with her tomorrow. No more trying to balance a bottle in my left hand and a phone in my right. I hate the fact that I ever thought that was a bad experience. I wish I had known on the first day that it would only last a few months. I would’ve savored it so much more.
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With Baby, Birthdays are Back!

9 Nov

As I’ve gotten older, birthdays have really gotten stale. In recent years, it’s nice to get a few phone calls, a card or two, and a dinner with my wife. And that’s about what I’d say the event merits. Not that big a deal. Maybe I’ll feel differently on some of the looming “big” birthdays down the road, but for now, midway through another decade, I’d say I’m not expecting streamers and surprise parties anymore.

And then my daughter came along. Damn if my birthday hasn’t been hand washed, detailed and given a full tank of gas. I woke up this morning actually jazzed about having a day with fun stuff in it. My daughter, smiling in her crib, was the first present of the day. And then I found–for the first time in my life–a “Happy Birthday Daddy” card waiting for me at the coffee maker. And wow, if I didn’t start to get a tad emotional about the whole birthday thing.

Perhaps it’s the way having a baby makes everything more meaningful, and puts one’s own life into a place in time. She’s the future, and I see in her eyes that every moment I get to be with her is special, and not to be wasted. And so marking time with a celebration, well that suddenly makes an awful lot of sense.

Hell yeah it’s my birthday. And yes, baby daughter, we are going to have some fun today. And in response to my daughter’s tweet first thing this morning, yes, babies do get presents on daddy’s birthday.

Baby’s Rules: No Sitting

7 Nov

As I’ve learned recently, babies have a lot of power. They may not fully understand their ability to run the show, but for now at least, they’ve got it. Take, for example, my ability as a grown man to, say, sit on the couch. Often, this simple pleasure is flatly overruled by my daughter, who’s five months old.

How does this happen? For whatever reason–and this happens a lot–my daughter decides if I want to sit, I will have to endure screaming and squirming. I rock her, I try feeding her, playing with her, and nothing works. She gets louder. So I stand up. And she’s fine.

Now, it’s surprising how sharply limited your productivity can be while standing. Laptop? Well, the lap’s gone, obviously, so without some kind of pedestal (which I’ve thought about) the computer’s now out of bounds. TV? Yeah, I guess. But not really eating, enjoying coffee, getting any work done, or reading. And you can just forget a competitive game of Montezuma on the iPad. Not gonna happen.

Often, I pace around, tell her stories, rub her back, and wait for her to doze off. And then, with her asleep, I attempt to return to the couch. I slide into a seated position with all my grownup’s attention focused on keeping my spine in the exact same position as it is while I’m standing. I can’t for the life of me figure out how she knows I’ve stopped standing. But she does. Every damn time. And she starts crying again.

Oh, it turns out there is one thing you can do while standing. Call the wife to ask for help.

Baby’s First Election Day

2 Nov

They don’t make “Baby’s First Election Day” onesies, but they should. As fun as all the “cute” holidays may be, today’s a day that’s truly important. And as a parent, I woke up feeling that, while she may never remember going with her Mom and Dad to the polls the year she was born, she was there. My Mom and Dad exercised their right to vote and all I got was this onesie.

I remember from my own childhood bumper stickers and campaign posters and a general sense that my parents cared about things like who got elected to represent them. They never forced a campaign sign in my hand or made me sit on the side of the road waving at passing cars, but they made it clear to me that politics was important in the most basic way: they voted.

So it meant to a lot to me this morning to have my daughter with us as we voted in the first election of her lifetime. I hope she’ll come to see her parents voting as something that’s basic, and simple, and important. Something that families do. And I hope when the time comes, she’s eager to vote herself, and to know who it is she’s voting for, and why.

Later in my life, I volunteered on campaigns, attended party conventions, and even did a few trips to New Hampshire to volunteer for a presidential campaign.

Now while my parents instilled in me a passion for politics, that doesn’t mean we can always talk about it. Often such talks go very, very badly. But that’s beside the point. And I fully expect that–even if it’s just to tweak the old man–my daughter will likely inform me of her willingness to volunteer for a candidate whom I can’t stand.

She’s my kid. I’d expect nothing less. That’s what I would do.

Run, Daddy, Run!

1 Nov

Cute Kids Supporting their Properly Trained and Not Exhausted Dad at the White Rock Marathon

I’ve been a long-distance runner since I was a kid, and I’ve been running marathons since I graduated from college, which goes back a bit (long enough that a picture of me crossing the finish line at my first New York City Marathon now looks hopelessly dated in terms of hairstyle, clothes, political message on my t-shirt, and even the sponsors on the “Finish Line” banner). Where does the time go?

At any rate, I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve been running a race and seen a cute kid along the sidelines with an ubercute sign that says something like “Run, Daddy, Run” or “Go Daddy!” I’ve always thought, one day, I’ll have a son or daughter watching Dad run a marathon.  And for a while there, I thought that day was going to be yesterday. Continue reading