Tag Archives: fatherhood

FATHER’S DAY ’21 or HAVING MY BAR, RAISED

This is a hard one to write. But I’m writing it. Because if I don’t, I will miss the opportunity to bring the accountability I’ve brought to the rest of my life to the most important people in my life: my kids.

This post isn’t for anyone else; this post is for me to read and reference over the course of the next 12 months as I hold myself accountable to continuing to grow, improve, evolve, get better, as a Father.

Today was an exceptionally tough Father’s Day. The range of emotions I continue to work through, balancing the day-to-day effort I make and the perception of that effort is … dissonant. I haven’t found a way to reconcile the reality of it all but I know it won’t be for a lack of effort or self-awareness.

In a sense, it parallels the experiences I find myself in across my personal and professional interactions. Which in some senses, makes it easier to therefore find healthy ways forward. 2021 in many ways, has been my healthiest year on this planet. Not my easiest; but in many ways, my healthiest (honestly, I think with each year, you gain more perspective, more responsibility, increased expectations, and as a result, in some senses, with each year, it all gets heavier to carry; the question is whether that weight is harder, which is a separate discussion for a separate day).

Juxtaposed with that weight associated with growth, is this increasing sense of responsibility.

See, Anaiya and Jaanu, you grow and transform at such an extraordinary pace on a daily basis. It’s impossible to keep up with your progress. And what I think really resonated with me over the past year was the fact that to keep up with you, my growth as a Father needs to keep up with your growth and evolution as a human being.

It’s 10:51 pm and I entered today fully expecting to take another step forward as a Father. One way I planned to do that was to ask my children to tell me what it was they wanted me to do better in this upcoming year.

It’s always hard to hear; what you can do better. But this evening, before the kids went to bed, it wasn’t harder, it was simply a bit more clarifying.

When you ask a question, expect to hear the truth back. Otherwise, don’t ask the question.

For Anaiya, her ask was that I find more time to put her to bed during the week. There are so many reasons this has become a near impossibility, but when I look at them, in reality, they’re more excuses than reasons. I’m excited to look back on this past year in 2022 and see if Anaiya remembers what she asked me, and, see if she acknowledges any progess I’ve made. I’m excited for it.

For Jaanu, perhaps the most heartbreaking, was that he asked me to be more patient with him when he’s not listening. What’s hard is that since the last time I truly raised my voice at him, in January, I’ve made an active effort to be patient with him and talk him through calming him down. It tells you how fragile our children are; because for all that effort I think I’m making, he still remembers … the times I’m not.

I feel the weight of the world after these two conversations. Because I know that even here, I feel very little space to reason, to rationalize.

All I have are expectations.

And like everywhere else, when it comes to expectations, you can have them thrust upon you, or you can ask for them, seek them out, and make them a choice.

I want to be the best Father I can possibly be; which is why I promised myself that as hard as it was going to be to hear, and as many excuses and rationalizations as I could make about what I heard, the only thing that mattered was the honest answers to my questions.

Because in pursuit of being the best Father I can possibly be, I’m not looking for validation, I’m looking for motivation.

Anaiya and Jaanu, thank you. For relentlessly holding me to a higher standard.

Thanks for raising the bar on me, about me, for me.

I’m on it.

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0 DAYS WITHOUT INCIDENT or I SUCKED TODAY, AND IT HAPPENS

From the moment the kids struggled to go to bed last night I had prepared myself for a tough morning.

As a parent, you know the delicate interdependency of moments. This staying up late moment is a short term concession that will make sleepytime tougher, likely make them tired in the morning, and make anything through at least lunch a battle.

So I prepared for it. Went to bed early. Woke up before them. Took all my breaths this AM. Had breakfast stuff ready to go.

All before they woke.

And I still screwed it up. I tried to cut through their behavior 15 different ways but by 11am (geez, just thinking of that short fuse is a level of guilt I won’t shake for a while) I had lost it. Separating them. Reading to them. Playing with them. Making them change their clothes again to reset the day.

In the 3 minutes between finishing a chapter in The Tale or Despereaux and starting to unpack a volcano gift the kids devolved into the worst side of Cobra Kai and I snapped. At a booming level that I’m sure is still bouncing around in their skulls.

I was overconfident today. There’s a lot going on and I wasn’t kind enough or honest enough with myself to give myself space. To let them hop on the TV. Or do their iPads when nothing else was working.

They didn’t need the space. Maybe I did?So here we stand. It’s 1pm. And I’ve conceded the day.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful … that tomorrow is a new day. Sometimes, the best part about increments of time is knowing that the increment you’re in, is soon over and permanently behind you.

May be a cartoon of food and text that says 'DAYS WITHOUT ACCIDENT'

For all our complaints about time moving relentlessly forward, it’s days like today that I can’t help but be thankful.

4 counts in

7 counts hold

8 counts out

All we can do is acknowledge it, give ourselves space, and get better.

Update: I shared this because I know we’ve all been there. And it felt right to share. Sometimes, even with our kids, the folks we love the most, the best thing is space. Space that acknowledges right now they just don’t want to hear it, and space that acknowledges right now, we just don’t want to say it.

I’m good. At 1230 I embraced the day. Just letting it unfold and doing less to impose myself on it and more to take the instructions it (and they) give me.

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CAN WE SNUGGLE or PARENTING IS RIDING WAVES

Simple Saturday AMs. When Jaanu makes it clear he wants to snuggle. Where. When. How long.

May be an image of 1 person and food

I got advice before Anaiya was born that success in parenting, especially as your kids are younger, is embracing their schedule and cadence when you can. Riding their waves.

May be an image of 1 person, beard, child, sitting and food
May be an image of 1 person, child, sitting and food

Sometimes those waves are turbulent. Sometimes they’re powerful and they carry you on your own worst days.

Sometimes, on days like today, they’re just magical and comforting.

#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for all of them.

And all of him.

May be an image of 1 person, child, beard, sitting and food

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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.

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REMIXED RAIN or CRUTCHES

We distributed your ashes today. There’s so much I want to write and say but I don’t know if I have the energy for it: too much life happening recently.

I do want to share a few things, though.

For example, when we took your body down in India and prepared you for cremation, the sky opened up and refreshed the earth with rain. Quickly. Just while we carried you down. It stopped precisely when we hit the ground floor. Well, today, we took those ashes from that day for distribution. And when we sat in the car, and turned away from our cul-de-sac, our windshield began to be spotted by rain again. Just for the drive. Just for those 22 minutes. It was beautiful. It’s too poetic for me to leave it as a coincidence. Instead, I used it as a crutch for the ceremony. I needed crutches. My knees were ripe to buckle a few times — mom’s face, Tita’s tears…most powerfully when your grandkids were participating. Throwing your ashes to the wind and water. Oh wow. Then. Yes then.

Those rain drops. Ami Chhatna, gave me some strength. It was beautiful to see even Mother Nature bow her head and shed some tears for you.

You’re also, all space and air and memories and legacy now. Your ashes are no longer in our house. That was a crutch for all of us too. It sounds silly. But that box in the house … that was comfort. It’s no more. And that’s hard. That’s really hard, Daddy.

Mom said it. “It’s real.” And she said so much more. Yes, we are going to be fine. But yes, it’s still so hard.

Finally. I wore your shirt today. I shaved this morning. I had my glasses on. And when I saw myself in the car window I startled myself. Honestly. I did a double take. I thought I saw you. And then I looked harder. I saw what looked like a wire hanger holding up your shirt. Hollow. Two dimensional. Empty. There’s so much legacy, love, life, to fill. If I have to be honest, which I have to be, I’m not filling it. I’m just not close to filling it.

You are your legacy longer than you are your self.#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for how you are being carried forward. How people are keeping you alive. How your presence is being maintained even as your person moves More permanently into the past. That’s beautiful. That’s a crutch. When people talk about you and remember you. Those are little crutches too.

I look at all you’ve left behind. Your legacy is incredible. It’s humbling. Mine pales, Daddy. #truth. It’s been a lot to process. But truth is truth. However when you see those grandkids of yours I think the world sees all the best of you carrying forward. That’s also your truth. They are some of the best of your legacy. And that too…is perhaps my strongest crutch. You. In them.

That’s beautiful too.#iamgrateful and #iamthankful for that We miss you, Daddy. It was chilly today. You’d have hated the weather. But loved the day.

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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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