Archives For fatherhood

Impatient, Millennial Dad

September 13, 2014 — 1 Comment

I’m five months into fatherhood.

The days are long.
The weeks are short.
My sleep hasn’t yet recovered.
And I love every minute.

But, though Claire is constantly hitting milestones that are advanced for her age, I want her to be older now.

I don’t want to have to wait months and years for her to grow teeth (which she has already started), learn language, understand conversation, and effective communication abilities. I want that all now.

I guess you could blame this on me being a Millennial. I grew up wanting immediate satisfaction and resolve for things I put very little effort into.

But I’m also a college graduate, so I understand the importance of putting a lot of effort into something that takes up only eight words on my résumé.

I’m just anxious to tell Claire everything I see in her. I want to tell her about what it was like to see her after she was born, to change her diaper ten times a day, to cuddle with her when she woke up at three in the morning, and to see her smile back every time I smile at her. I don’t want to wait years. I want to tell her now—before my memories fade, before the routines set in, before she’s interested in more than just Mom, Dad, and the stuffed animal bunny that doesn’t have any stuffing.

And though I hate all of the waiting, I know it will be totally worth the wait when—in a few years and forever after that—I know Claire understands me when I say eight words that are more important than anything on my résumé: “You’re my daughter, and I’ll love you forever.”

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fatherhood-June2214

When I first got a camera phone, I ruined several experiences for myself. I was so caught up with documenting concerts or family gatherings or things I saw on a walk that I didn’t get to enjoy them.

What’s worse? I never looked at any of those pictures after I took them.

So when Claire arrived, I told myself that I would document what I could when I wasn’t disrupting the moment and leave the rest to my memory. But I wasn’t convinced that I would stick with it.

This past weekend, that was put to the test.

A Prairie Home Companion

For Father’s Day, Claire—but mostly Erin—got us tickets to see the live taping of A Prairie Home Companion at Ravinia.

Now I’ve been a fan of the show for the better half of a decade, and I’ve come to have a huge respect for Garrison Keillor, the show’s host. The way he tells stories and weaves music in and out of everything warms my heart in a way that is only matched by nice, long hugs and watching White Christmas in the middle of December.

Just before the show starts, Garrison and female vocalist Lynn Peterson walk around the park to start singing, and…well, here’s the Facebook post I made about the moment:

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It was a great moment. A sweet moment. They sang “You Are My Sunshine,” “Down by the River,” and one other song.

And the whole time they were singing, I was thinking, Hold her with one arm and pull your phone out with the other.

But I didn’t.

I had this moment of clarity that holding my phone out to catch the moment would have interrupted it. All of the sincerity and heartwarming I was feeling in those seconds would’ve been sucked away, and there was no telling if it would return once it was gone.

And I’m so happy that I didn’t get my phone out. It was fun holding Claire during the serenade.

And if you were wondering about Erin, she was watching our stuff near the back of the park while all of this happened. She had no idea she was missing it.

A Changed Man

This whole experience has me hopeful that I won’t feel the urge to get my phone out to document every moment that I think might be important.

This may not sound like a revolutionary idea, but, being that I work in social media, it’s counterintuitive for me. I’m used to tracking important moments and sending them out across several platforms in as many types of media as possible.

My friend Andy put it best in his comment to my Facebook post: “I’m still convinced some of the best moments in life shouldn’t make it on social media. We’re not journalists, we’re parents.” So true.

I may not take pictures of Claire’s first steps or a video of her first words, but I’ll be loving every minute of it.

 


Okay, I’m sneaking this in. When Garrison was singing to Claire, there was an entire crowd of people around us, and most of them were taking pictures. I was secretly hoping that one of them would’ve posted their picture of Twitter or Instagram, but I haven’t seen anything yet. If you know someone who was at the show and may have taken a photo of us, maybe check with them to see if they got it…? Because that would be awesome and I would be very grateful.

google-search2

The first day I was a father, everything was easy. I got to stare at the baby while the nurses took care of her. If I had a question, the nurse had the answer.

When we got home, it wasn’t horribly difficult to take care of the baby. I was a champ when it came to changing diapers and holding the baby. But when I had a question, there was no nurse around to provide an answer. So I turned to Google.

Before I explain a bit of modern obviousness, first let me explain the mindset of a new parent.

For nearly the entire pregnancy, parents are given information on how to deal with being pregnant and how to get through the birth. Very few details are given on how to care for a child for the next 18 months (let alone the next 18 years).

So when the baby does arrive and nurses go through checklists of information to tell parents before they leave the hospital, they dump details on you by the truckload. (I’m not saying that’s a problem. It’s just a happenstance.) By the time you leave the hospital, you’re lucky to remember half of it. And the details you do remember seem contradictory.

For example, we were told twice that we should contact the pediatrician if the baby was feeling too warm…or too cold…or if she was fussy…or if she was often sleepy. I started to wonder if there would ever be a case where we wouldn’t need to contact the pediatrician.

In the baby’s first week, I googled questions probably fifty times. Is the baby pooping too little? Is the baby pooping too much? Et cetera, et cetera.

So no, you probably don’t need to be surprised that Google is a great search tool to help anyone find the answer to almost anything. But it’s worth noting that it has kept me sane for the last month.

I believe this is an exciting time to be alive because of the new technology that is becoming available. Technology has a huge affect on my daily routines, so it only makes sense that I would use it with my daughter.

Big Brother Father

When Erin was building the baby registry a couple of months ago, it was hard for me to get excited about pink bedsheets and cute blankets. So when it came to the baby monitor, I was on top of things.

I went with the video monitor that has two-way audio, shows video in the dark, and plays music. We’ve only had a couple of opportunities to use it so far, but it’s been a lot of fun.

Daddy, Daughter, Data

Sprout Baby+When Erin and I got home from the hospital, there were tons of things we needed to keep track of—is the baby eating enough, sleeping enough, pooping enough, etc. After a couple of days without much sleep, we could hardly remember what we named our daughter let alone when we last changed her.

So I went searching for a solution and found an app called Sprout Baby+. It helps us keep track of everything important with the baby, and it shows us patters with data maps. You can see some of her diaper changing information on the right.

No Screens

Though I’m a big fan of technology, I’ve also done a lot of reading on what’s best for babies and how technology affects young children. So we made the decision that we won’t let our children watch TV (on our TV, computers, tablets, phones, etc.) until they are 2 years-old.

It’s still a little early to know if that’s a pipe dream or actually achievable, but Erin and I really believe that limiting screen time for our children is going to provide a lifelong benefit.

Claire Lorrenne PhilpotMy daughter nearly two weeks ago. It was one of the happiest, most exciting experiences in my life. So, like any new dad, I posted updates on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

While that shouldn’t be a shock (it’s what most new parents do these days), I don’t plan on posting tons more pictures of my daughter.

My decision doesn’t have to do with me trying to protect my daughter, which is a fairly common concern. I just figure that if someone wanted pictures of her, they could get them from my wife’s (or in-law’s) social media accounts.

And I’m totally fine with that. If someone really wanted to get a hold of pictures of my daughter to see how cute she is, they could find them.

My decision has to do with oversharing.

Working with social media at my job, I’ve seen people and organizations share so often that they take over my Twitter and Facebook feeds. It makes me feel overwhelmed with content from one place that has one bias, and it doesn’t take much before I stop following those accounts.

My tolerance for oversharing is low. For that reason, the last thing I want to do to my social media followers is overshare content, even if that content is the sweetest, most adorable little girl in the entire world.

This doesn’t mean that I won’t be sharing content related to my daughter or being a new father. I will share updates that are important to me and my life—like I always have. But, just because I am a father now, that doesn’t mean that’s all I have to share.

When I have spoken with other men about how I will be a father soon, I get two kinds of responses:

1. You’re excited now, but just wait… You have no idea.

2. This is such an exciting time for you! You are going to love your daughter so much.

Fathers say both of those phrases with smiles, but they’re very different smiles. One of them is warm and endearing, and it feels so encouraging to hear a dad tell me how great fatherhood is. The other smile is sly, and I feel embarrassed to for their children when they complain about them.

I fully understand that being a father will mean I will have nights that aren’t restful, days that are strained, and challenges I can’t even imagine right now.

But I don’t think those are reasons for me to lose my excitement.

What really bugs me is that people with a negative attitude are impressing their experience on me. That’s not fair to me, but it’s also not fair to my children.

I know that raising my children will not seem simple at times. But there are millions of dads around the world who handle it, and I can too.

So I’m looking forward to fatherhood and the struggles it may or may not bring. Either way, I will do my best to only encourage other fathers, because—as I’ve learned from my pre-dad experience—fathers need that encouragement.