Essays From A Parent

Being a father is not how I imagined it.

When my wife Danyael was pregnant with our first daughter, because I’m the type of person who definitely likes to learn as much about as many things as possible and who does not like surprises, I did a lot of reading and researching about babies and being a parent in general. 

I went looking for books or articles about anything related to being a parent. I was looking to learn about what a woman goes through during pregnancy to how the fetus develops from week to week to what types of foods are good to eat and what kinds of behaviors I should expect to witness to what kinds of baby strollers are in right now to what are the most popular names from the past decade to how hospitals work and what to expect when my wife would go into labor and so on. If there was something to learn about anything related to this adventure, I was interested.

The problem I found was that I had a very difficult time finding anything that was written from or for the perspective of a dad. So while I could read a book about “how you’ll be feeling in the 1st trimester” or an article about “what cream to use to help prevent stretch marks,” there wasn’t a lot of “you’re going to be a dad, here’s what you need to know.” In many cases, what I was reading was actually quite disconcerting. Many of the articles had a tone that felt a bit “anti” me. For instance, there was one article I read that I thought was about baby tantrums but was actually about how the person who wrote it had a husband who she wanted to blame for everything. 

It had things like, “I was in a store shopping with my baby and she was a having a full meltdown. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Well, after confirming that she had a clean and dry diaper, that she wasn’t hungry, and that she didn’t need to burp, I called my husband to find out that he had introduced a new food without telling me. It’s all his fault.”

I’m exaggerating a bit but most of what I read made me feel that way (perhaps I was being too sensitive) and I frankly don’t blame them. People write from their own perspective and I think it’s simply that there were very few, if any, blogs or books by dads about dads, for dads. Don’t jump down my throat please. There is plenty of airspace and plenty of words for everyone. I was just trying to be as prepared as possible so I could do the best job as a husband and as a parent.

This was ultimately the reason why I decided to start writing a parenting blog of my own. I wrote my first post in 2010. I had a few goals when I started this blog: I wanted a journal, for myself, so I could look back someday and remember all the big moments. I also thought, maybe, just maybe, if there are other dads out there who went through a similar “research plan” only to find that they couldn’t find anything relatable, well, maybe this could be that. I even thought that if other dads wanted to write their own posts, that would be even better. Maybe someday, I thought, I could build some sort of parent community where people wrote about their own adventures.

I made a few rules for myself. The first rule was that I would use my own voice. For people who know me, I suspect you can hear me in the words. For people who don’t, maybe it’s a little informal or unusual to read things that are designed to be more “conversational.”

The second rule was to be authentic. I wanted to be present in all the moments of parenthood and then reflect on what that was all like for me. I didn’t ever want to fabricate stories so everything I would write, glamorous or otherwise, would be what actually happened (mostly: see the fourth rule).

The third rule was that I wouldn’t create any sort of schedule for writing. A lot of people who write for a living make it a point, like working out, to have a rigid schedule. I think that would be great for me too and while I love a good schedule, this rule contributes to the reason rule number 2 works. I would write when an idea struck me. Basically, if I had an emotional response or felt strongly about some event that I just witnessed or experienced as a parent, that would be the reason to write. There were some years when I wrote 3 posts what whole year and other years when I wrote 10. 

The fourth rule was to protect my children. This is a broader rule. I always tried to be careful to write about things that would not violate their actual privacy. I didn’t want to write about anything that they might look back at someday and feel truly embarrassed. I certainly wouldn’t want them to be angry with me for sharing something that they thought violates their trust. Certainly they wouldn’t mind if, in 2040, they look back and read an old post about how they liked to read or how potty training went for them.

This last rule is ultimately what brought me here. I have been writing about my daughters on this blog for 13 years. As they’ve gotten older (almost 15 and almost 16 now), the things I could share that are the age-parallels to when they were, say 4 and 5 years old, are almost all things that would violate the fourth rule. I’ve never felt comfortable writing about whatever their thoughts are on relationships and partners so I won’t do that. What about when they get to the stage where they might dabble in drinking alcohol or trying marijuana in any of its forms? I wouldn’t write about that either. While I could ask their permission each time, it started to feel tedious and less authentic or organic.

I recently had a realization that this blog, in the form that it has taken over the previous 13 years, had to end.

There’s just not a lot that I can write about them any more that would feel “safe.” Once I had that realization, I thought about how to wrap it up. I’ve always wanted to write a book and have been throwing ideas around for the past 10 years. How do I end this blog? I should write a book that is a highlight reel of my experience as a parent so far. I should write a book that not only has revised and updated content from this blog over the years but also new thoughts and feelings on all of those topics.

So that’s what I did.

I thought about different kinds of ideas for how to string this all together in a way that maintains the mission and the rules. I wanted to put something together that would be fun to read, while also being thoughtful, sad in spots, and even a little ridiculous from time to time.

Oh, one more rule I forgot: I told myself I wanted to be very mindful to not be prescriptive. I am not a doctor or a child psychologist. I’m just a person who, when I started, was a new parent trying to figure it out like so many other people. I set out to consciously write about my own experiences and if people found that relatable or funny or useful, that’s great. If they didn’t? There are plenty of other places on the internet to spend your time. 

My story is not wild and crazy. 

Essays From A Parent is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from being a parent. There are stories that range from the time my daughters were born all the way through to where they are now, in High School. There are even a few original poems I’ve written and some stories about me because I figured a little background about who I am might add some context. 

I am by no means an expert on parenting. If you are a parent, I’m sure you have your own experiences as well. It is worth noting that my wife and I have always worked together to make sure we were giving consistent messages to our daughters. While we have not always agreed on how to approach this issue or that conversation, we always support each other. You might agree with some of the ways we’ve approached our parenting and daughter adventures and you might disagree. I’m ok with that. I’m not preaching that you should or shouldn’t do anything the way we’ve done it or the way we’ll continue to do it. My goal isn’t to “convert” you to or to espouse my philosophy on parenting. It’s simply my set of experiences and my opinions and maybe some of it will be relatable. Maybe some of it will make you laugh. Maybe some of it will make you cry. Maybe some of it will make you think I’m an idiot. I’m ok with all of that. 

As a child I was in to a lot of what would be considered nerdy things. I loved computers and gadgets and Transformers and Star Wars. I’ve always also been fascinated by how things worked. My mother would tell you a story about how when I was a toddler, someone gave me a kid-sized tool belt with a few tools, including a screwdriver. One day I decided that I wanted to take the railings off the steps in our split-level house just because it seemed like a fun thing to do (don’t worry: I put them back on the steps). Figuring things out has always been fun and challenging for me. Parenting is no different. I am a confident person but not so confident as to believe that I know all the answers in any one area. 

I am always trying to learn and always trying to improve as a husband and as a parent. As nerdy as I am, I’ve also regularly had urges to express myself creatively. While writing software professionally allows for a certain type of creativity, writing in this way has also always been fun for me and has scratched a different kind of itch.

Where the nerd who is actually more of an introvert takes over is when I start to feel anxious about the idea of putting something I worked on out into the world for people who I don’t know to see it and wondering why anyone would care and if anyone would read it. I learned fairly early on in the blog’s life that it didn’t really matter to me who was looking at it; that it was enough of an exercise that made me feel good so it was worth doing. If other people got anything out of it, that was a bonus. As a matter of fact, if you remember the original intent of the blog (to perhaps have a place for dads like me to write about their experiences and in some way to give a perspective that might be useful for other dads), it turned out that the audience was mostly made of people who weren’t dads. Many of the people I’ve heard from over the years who have found useful or enjoyed what I’ve written on the blog have been moms or even people who don’t have any kids yet but hope to at some point. 

Whoever you are, you’re welcome here. Whatever your opinions and perspectives are on parenting, you’re welcome here.

I have loved writing about my parenting experience on this blog for 13 years. I have no intention to stop writing. I am just not sure what I’ll write about or if it will be about my daughters.

We shall see.

I have, however, completed a first draft of the book and am currently editing, revising, proofing, and in the process of figuring out the right publishing path. I look forward to updating you when I have more information.

I hope you will enjoy reading my Essays From A Parent even half as much as I have enjoyed experiencing it and can’t wait for you to have the opportunity to read it.


PS No, I will not do the sex talk with your kids.