Tag Archives: fatherhood

TMLFYI… | Beyond Explanation

I don’t know how to explain it or you. I’m dumbfounded.

You’re 5 years old and change. Sometimes you have the auditory sensibilities of an 80 year old Roadie who traveled with the Stones but “never could afford those ear plugs”. But sometimes, you demonstrate the auditory acuity of Superwoman wearing Miracle Ear.

The best part? Those often toggle on and off as personas in the same conversation.

But I’m here to write for you today because there are times when I do just feel. Heavy. Old. Dragging. Barely carrying my own weight let alone being able to pick you up when you want.

And the most magical sound and the most magical face for me is yours, in that moment. When literally not a soul is attuned to my self-awareness of my own inabilities, and life is just moving forward — Godspeed – life is just accelerating like Cole Trickle on a comeback lap.

When literally, that’s the scene, and the studio audience is waiting for a feeling.

You step in.

Every time.

And make eye contact. It’s one of the times you treat me like you treat everything else you focus on, and nothing else matters. You drop your fork. You drop your crayon. You drop your dolls. You drop your interests.

And you look at me and you keep saying “Buhboo” until I look back.

And then you drop it like Thor’s hammer.

“I love you.”

And with that, my wings have wind.

You’ve done that to me since you were born, Buhboo. With your actions (when I was stressed and needed you to chill or sleep or stay asleep, you magically did), and now, with your attention.

Thank you, Buhboo. You heal me with your words and your attention. I love you, Anaiya.

Image from iOS (1)

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TYMMPB… | Embracing Kipling

BLOG--Jaan ChillingMy son. It’s amazing to say that. The my part is incomparable. The son part was one half of a win:win.

And winning is all it has felt like. One month ago today, and precisely one month ago from the moment I started writing this post (10:49), you were born to us. And you went straight to your mother’s chest where you spent quite a bit of time — and have spent quite a bit of time since. There’s no denying that you will be a momma’s boy. And as a momma’s boy myself, I can tell you, there’s no love like the love you’ll get from your mother.

When you’re old enough to read this, who knows when I’ll share it with you. You may feel slighted. For the first year of your older sister’s life, I wrote frequently. Because the time to do so existed. Such is not the case for you. With you. So instead I’ve decided to write you 12 letters, each on the monthly anniversary of your birth and into your first birthday.

Today, I start by telling you how proud you’ve made me already.

People define masculinity and manhood in very different ways. My definition as always run closest to how Rudyard Kipling encapsulated it in his poem, “If…” Especially the lines I’ve bolded below.

You have managed to make it through the month without being the least bit of hassle or burden. You sleep in the family room. That’s where you make your home. Sister running around the house. Visitors in and out the door. Sunlight through the windows. Pans clanging in the kitchen. TV sometimes on sometimes not. And yet, you go about your day unfazed and unbothered. Attributes that will serve you well.

You have managed to make us feel like great parents even with all the scrambling and distractions around us. You take solace in our arms and by our voices. You make your  mother’s arms your home. You make your sister’s voice your lullaby. You make your nani, dadi, and foi feel like they are absolute experts when it comes to baby whispering.

Don’t believe me? Check out how much your sister adores serenading you. 🙂

At one month, you’ve managed to do what no one month old can ever be expected to do: you’ve managed to enter the world with such fine humility, that even your birth is somehow about everyone else feeling good, valued, helpful, loved.

Today You Made Me Proud By … embracing the spirit of Kipling’s If. I promise to make you proud by learning from your humble lead.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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My $.02 | 39 Years, 364 Days, 23 Hours

I’m sitting here. Having just turned off (mercifully) “This is 40” and to at least maintain some thematic consistency, popped an aged bottle of FiftyFifty’s Eclipse (Elijah Craig 12 Year) from 2012, and turned on “No Country for Old Men.” I’m about to be 40.

I used to believe in milestones. New Year’s Day, for example. A time to commit to the refresh. Like going to a chiropractor for your life and having snap your spine back into alignment. But it rarely worked. A year was like a half-step (and Big Daddy Kane taught me years ago that simply put, there would be no half-stepping.) I quickly found change to be more valuable in two very extreme time periods:

  1. At the next stroke of midnight to create momentum via urgency and adrenalin (I decided to give up cheese, fried foods, and Facebook earlier today, and set the effective time for midnight.) Deciding something, while giving myself a few hours to process, but not too much time to digress, was a great way to get things going.
  2. At the next five year mark. To create a true arc to my story, to push myself to set large, somewhat audacious goals, and to give myself the freedom and flexibility to take risks as I pursued that five year plan like hell.

I’m a short while away from a milestone many people celebrate. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that my birthday is truly worth celebrating — but not for me. I’m a short while away from 40. I’m alive. I’m happy. But celebrating 40 for me is celebrating not dying. Truly. Instead, I choose to celebrate the people who have helped me get this far. The people who keep me alive. And the people who go out of their way to make sure I’m happy. My birthday, every year, is a tribute to all of you. And evidence of the fact that even I couldn’t screw it up.

I have many things I need to improve upon in the coming five years, some of them kick-off at midnight. Most of them I’ll keep to myself (like I did at 30, and like I did at 35.) But I can tell you one thing I feel like I made great progress with in the past five years, and that I plan on kicking up several notches in the coming five: love. I love my wife. I love my daughter. I love my family. I love my friends. I love my work (and my team.) And I’m not going to be bashful about saying it.

Life is grand, folks. Years are beautiful. Whether coming at you at blinding speed, or retreating behind you with even greater pace. Life is grand.

That’s all I’ve got. No genius (no surprise?) Just admiration. Respect. Love. For everyone around me. Thank you for making the journey so wonderful. I can’t wait for what’s ahead.

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TMLFYI… | A Teardrop

ANAIYA--TearAbsolute silliness, the world will tell me. But it works for me. It’s obviously not sustainable nor is it remotely realistic. I’ve actually already failed.

But I’ve committed to myself that when I’m around you and you cry, I will drink your tears. By holding you in my arms, by squeezing you like nothing else in the world matters, and by slurping whatever teardrops are rolling down your cheeks with an insatiability I wish I could direct to all aspects of my life.

“Daddy drinks your tears.”

So today my love for you is a teardrop. It has worked so far. And I’m willing to do it for as long as it works, and I’m willing to try it for the rest of your life if there’s a chance it will work ever again.

That’s fatherhood, I guess. From where I stand right now, that’s an example of fatherhood.

I love you, munchkin.

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TMLFYI… | Reach

Anaiya--ReachDoes this qualify as the greatest thing that has ever happened to me in my life? If not, it’s close. It’s darn close.

Your amazing Mom, as usual, woke up this morning with you and took care of you while Daddy shook off the lingering effects of a night out with some friends. I pushed my wake up from 6:45 to 7:45 and the extra hour was necessary.

I came down refreshed and ready to head out to work, but then things got interesting. You were on your playmat, your once favorite playmat now turned least favorite place to be playmat, so your fussiness (I say fussiness by your standards recognizing that for any other being in the world, it would qualify as mild, borderline unnoticeable, discomfort) was expected. But what happened after changes how I will se the world for the rest of my life.

You reached out for me.

You were uncomfortable on the mat. Your mom picked you up. And you stayed a little uncomfortable.

Then you looked at me and you reached your hand out to me. You wanted Daddy. I took you, and you stopped fussing. You were happy. I was over the moon. And your mom was gracious — because she does all the work and yet somehow, you still wanted me.

It’s a beautiful moment. When I handed you back to Mom so I could head off to work you looked back at me and reached out. Again. Which is the shot I caught on camera here. The original moment is captured in a more permanent and easy-to-reference place: my heart. For the rest of time.

Today my love for you is best defined by reach. I’ll never forget your face when you started, and your calm when I held you. The most perfect of father-daughter moments, and the first of many to come I’m sure. 

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TMLFYI… | Pacified

(Note: This photo was taken on 3/25 at 6:33 am.)Pacifier

She’s got hands! That’s the realization here.
Since your birth you’ve managed to pull off something miraculous on almost a daily basis. But this one, this was one for you. It’s the first time I watched you try to take care of yourself. Amazing right?
It’s the morning. You’ve woken up with some serious hunger pangs so you’re trying to balance saving your energy with crying out loud so that I know you’re hungry. It’s always a fantastic balancing act on your part.
Against the advice and counsel of just about everyone, I’m trying to lessen the pain on both your vocal chords and my ears by introducing you to a pacifier. Sometimes, you hate it. And when you do, you spit it out with the quickness.
But when you like it? I feel like the binky had to have been dipped in chocolate because you’re sucking on it like it’s candy. Amazing candy. Like no candy I’ve ever tried. A candy beyond mine (and Homer Simpson’s) wildest dreams.
The sucking part is adorable. But today you did something extraordinary. While I thought you were about to smack yourself in the face (something you will sometimes do) you actually allowed your hand to slowly make its way to your pacifier. You then pivoted your wrist and put your palm on your pacifier.
(Suspense right?)
Hands 2And then you pulled it out, kind looked at it like a drunk would his house keys, and jammed the whole thing back into your mouth. I tend to have my camera on the ready with you so given that all of this happened in slow motion, I was able to capture your hand still on the pacifier after you’d reinserted it into your mouth.
You did something most adults forget how to do. You pacified yourself.
You’re growing up so fast, my munchkin. Like I wrote about earlier, you’re going to need me less and less every single day. Today was beautiful to watch for you, and humbling for me. Today my love for you is pacified. And I’m totally fine with it.

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TMLFYI … | Satiated

Something worked!

I got home from work today and you were doing well. Playful. Your Eeshan Kaka was here and you were your compelling, beautiful, natural self which also means you completely won him over and made him your servant and enabler for life. I know. I’ve been there.

But as the night wore on you weren’t quite satisfied yourself. You were eating, enough to fill you up in the short-term but not enough to knock you out and satisfy you for a few hours. You were napping, but you’d snap out of it almost as quickly as you’d fall into it. Everything you were doing, you were doing in fits and spurts.

I feel lucky today though. I want to figure this out and today, I think I can. So I work some options and get you to take 2 ounces at 10. So far so good. You burp yourself into a milk coma. I hold you upright for 15 minutes. And then we swaddle you and drop you off in your crib. All is well. I clean some dishes. Sanitize your humidifier. I even get some work emails out.

At 11, you’re up again. First I see some flickers on the monitor screen. Motions. It’s you doing your darned leg lifts again. (Your core has got to be pretty fantastic at this point, by the way.) After the flickers on screen I hear bleats in stereo, both directly from the room and from the monitor. Surround sound fail on my part.

But you just can’t be hungry. You’re tired. Your diaper probably needs a little changing. So I do that first. Blue line down the front of the diaper means it’s game on and I have you wiped, diaper swapped, and smiling in minutes. I don’t want to feed you though. I don’t think that’s what you want. I think you’ll take a half an ounce; but then you’ll be unsatisfied and I think you’ll wake up shortly again anyway.

So I leave you on the peanut and we start stretching and exercising. You look like Cynthia Cooper before a game — and I’m your trainer. We’re stretching your legs. Stretching out your arms. We’re getting downright PT up in this nursery. And after a few minutes, a beautiful thing happens. Your eyelids get heavy. Another twist of your hips and your eyelids start to look like they weigh pounds. Like keeping them open is your greatest act in defiance of gravity.

I pick you up, I reswaddle you, and then I caress your head lightly. Just fingertips. Every stroke seems to create a slightly stronger seal between your eyelids. Soon enough, you’re out. And I watch you. I shush lightly. I stare deeply. And I don’t know where the time has gone. I really have no idea.

SleepingAfter 20 minutes I shake off the daydream (mostly because my body was falling asleep in weird places and stages.) I take this picture and decide to finish up some emails and then write this post. Here we are, 45 minutes later, and you’re still at peace. 

So today, my lovely, brilliant, amazing, beautiful, gorgeous, stunning, outstanding, wonderful daughter, my love for you is briefly satiated. All because I found a way to bring this look to your face. It’s not quite the happy dance you gave your mom last week, but in context (midnight on a work night), it’s downright perfect.

Perfection kind of seems to be your thing, though. Who knew?

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TMLFYI … | Tortured

“Devices that produce soothing sounds in order to lull infants to sleep can be loud enough at maximum volume to damage their hearing, researchers reported Monday.” – NY Times

Every modern day toy we have for you is in some form, a new casing for a sound machine. Your MamaRoo. Your swing. Your playmat. White noise machines are everywhere. Your mom has been concerned about their noise level all along. My hearing is degenerating at a very steady (somewhat troubling) clip so the problem for me is that I actually don’t know when I have the machines too loud. Even when I have them cranked to higher levels on the dial they sound reasonable to me, which is pretty problematic.

I should be using more common sense. It’s one of the lessons I learn every day in every walk of life. I can’t expect others to determine what portions of food are right for me. What level of exercise I can tolerate. What sound levels make sense to me in a white noise machine or my headphones (I still think my headphones are pretty sick — Zik? — by the way.) I should simply be using more judgment when it comes to you, my munchkin. This is a place where I could stand to be substantially more like your mom. She questions everything. When it comes to you, I need to let her do that more. I need to get less annoyed with those frequent pauses. And I need to know that it’s all worth it for the times her questions turn out to be the right questions to ask.

I can’t only externalize, though. Last night was brutal.

I don’t have too many truly haunting memories. Seeing your Great Ba’s body before cremation. Your Fua Dada. September 11th (and actually playing back the evening of September 9th.) I’m sure there are a few others from before, but there’s a new one from last night.

20140306_004918Your freaking sniffles. I have no words. I haven’t been able to shake your sniffles all day. You see, you were having a little trouble eating yesterday. You’d get through about an ounce and fight us. It’s all because of your sniffles. You couldn’t breathe. We didn’t quite know until later into the evening though that it was your congestion that was making you fussy. When are we going to learn that when you’re being fussy you’re telling us something very clearly.

You woke up periodically crying. We salined the heck out of your nose. We pumped and sucked gook from your noose. Your mom even tried some humidifier and hot shower tactics to help. You seem better now. You took down 3 ounces a few times. But I will never forget you waking up at 4am and 7am and a few times in-between because you were just having a hard time breathing. Did you know your mom slept on her side literally cradling you from about 4am – 9am?

20140306_003503You’re a lucky lady. And I just hope I can shake those images of you. It’s a hard thing when you’re feeling this kind of love, I guess.

Kind of also makes me regret every fight I’ve ever had with your Dada and Ba-ji. Reflecting on any of those only makes me that much more tortured. A lesson that can never be learned early enough — more specifically, a lesson that no matter when it’s learned, is always a lesson learned too late.

Sleep easy, munchkin.

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TMLFYI… | SMILES!

TSmiles2his is the most amazing picture I have ever seen. I don’t believe a more adorable picture has ever been taken. I’ve been to Hallmark. I’ve seen all the black and white greeting cards of children. And frankly, I think any picture on the front of one of those cards should be replaced with this.

Work hasn’t been easy. From a physical standpoint, I can say that even with the extraordinary support we’ve received in-person (especially from your Naniji and your Tita Fai), we’re a little more sleep deprived than usual. But when we see you like this, everything resets. Forget 5-hour energy … we should bottle your smile.

Looking at this picture was a life changing experience. Overwhelming. When your mom and I married, I made it my own personal challenge to make her happier day after day. Now I have another fundamental goal. Whenever we are lucky enough to bask in you being this happy, the world will cease to matter and everything will be ok. It will be like a reboot of The Matrix. Our job as parents is to help you get there as often as humanly possible.

Challenge issued. Challenge taken, munchkin. We’re on it.

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TMLFYI… | Rolling

Like camera rolling. Every day your mom finds time to send me pictures of you in action while I’m at work. I’m fairly uninterested in responding to my phone (texts, calls.) But there are few things that can get me to respond to a phone cue better than the incentive of knowing I’ll have a stream of photos of you to look at.

Today I wasn’t disappointed. You’re active. You’re moving. You’re alert. You’re engaging. We’re seeing your personality come through more and more everyday. I wish I could turn this into a flipbook and have it play on repeat in the upper right-hand corner of my screen. Just under the clock, so I could look at you and then know just how long it would be before I’d get back to you.

Roll 1Roll 3Roll 5Roll 4Roll 6 Roll 2

 

Amazing.

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