Dad at 40

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Archive for the category “It’s a Long Night”

Parenthood and Psychological Warfare

I was in the military many years ago. I recall hearing about this thing called psychological warfare. Then if you fast forward about twenty years, you will possibly recall the issues the U.S. had with Abu Ghraib. I remember reading the things that they did in that prison setting. Now, I am not getting political, but I am going to explain what I am getting at here.

Parenthood is a lot like psychological warfare. Let me explain this perspective for a minute. At 42, I want some peace and quiet in my life. I like things to be ordered and flow in a natural progression that makes sense. However, children are not like this. I can live with that. But, when you get into infant territory, you are in what I like to call “holy shitsville”.

Luke is an amazing child, but he brings the pain. See, every time that he wakes up, he is screaming bloody murder. It is his thing. He does not like waking up and he lets you know it. He will randomly just start going ballistic. Once again, no rhyme or reason, just a small, screaming machine. He will do this at various times throughout the night, causing sleep deprivation. Just as you start to drowse off, a blood curdling scream is let loose into the bedroom and you are pulled from that comforting envelope known as sleep into a dark and depressing place.

So, we are starting to get into the psy ops stuff here. Sleep deprivation. That is a biggie. Then, he will want to be held while you stand. Not sitting, but you must stand and follow a specific pattern. I have flashbacks to seeing a poor prisoner standing on a box holding his hands up to his side. I am standing and holding this child in a position that will hopefully keep him calm and prevent him from crying. It sometimes works. Most often, I move incorrectly and cause him to start the screaming cycle again.

Then we get into the crazy stuff. Poop and pee. Seriously, this kid should be a sharpshooter with the aim that he has. And what the hell? Where does a two and a half month old get that much pee? He is a peeing machine and if you give him just a second, he will put you on blast. Poop….goodness. It is scary when he cries havoc and slips the dogs of war. He becomes the perfect machine to torture you. Now, I have it easy, but my poor wife is stuck with this way more than I am.

You may be thinking that I am crazy to make this comparison. But keep in mind, there are some significant parallels in the actions here. Intent is a different story and actual torture is a malicious act that I would not make light of. However, a child does much the same to a parent but because we love our little bundles of joy, we just quietly accept it. My wife often states that she did not read that part in any of her parenting blogs. I tell her that no one wants to talk about the hard side of parenting….the long nights with a screaming baby. Poop and pee parties that really leave you questioning your sanity. Walking laps in your living room because your child is going ballistic.

The reality is that parenting is hard work. It is not for the weak-willed. It takes courage and commitment. So many people have children then do not live up to the responsibility associated with being a parent. Kids and babies will push the limits of what you can reasonably handle, and then they will do it again. If you ever read those stories where a parent hurts a child, you will notice it is because the child is screaming and the parent loses his or her cool. This in no way condones any hurtful action towards a child, but it makes sense that a person could lose his or her cool if they did not know how to handle a small child.

Parenthood is scary. It is scary because there are a lot of unknowns. The scariest unknown is yourself. What will you do when you are stressed out and your child is screaming bloody murder? What will you do when you are tapped out and your child will not stop? What will you do when you cannot give another inch and your child needs a mile?

This leads into another topic I want to discuss soon enough….but I am trying to figure out how to word it. Stay tuned for that one…..it will be a tough one to discuss.

Sleep -Saying Goodbye to a Dear Friend

Sleep is critical at any age. If you do a little research, you will see that the more you sleep, the better. Many professional athletes insist on sleeping at least 12 hours. Sleep is when our body repairs itself. So, I look back on my 20s and 30s and cringe when I think about all those days that I only slept 4 hours or less. Don’t get me started on my lack of sleep during my Navy days.

At 42 now, I cherish sleep and what it does for me. It is a valuable tool in my anti-aging arsenal and one of the things that keeps me sane and, I like to think, young. So, having a new baby really just wrecks the hell of out that. And listen, we men are pretty lucky because babies generally want their mothers. Although, you dads out there that for some reason are raising your babies on your own….my hats off to you and you know even better than I do how hard it is to function without sleep. But, I digress, we men are generally pretty lucky because we get more sleep than mom.

Sadly, the last couple of nights have been really hard on me. My son has been really, really, really fussy. There is nothing like laying your head on a pillow to fall into a deep slumber because you are tired as hell only to be gently and sweetly woken from your much needed slumber by the piercing wails of a baby. So, I found myself online last night looking for sleep solutions for my son. All this brings me to my actual review:

Instant Baby Sleep – you will find this product online. I guess it is not so much a review as a word of caution. All the online reviews for this thing are marketing tools. Each one. So, I like to think – SCAM. But, when you read them, it clearly says not scam. Which, screams to me SCAM. There is a shaky video or two on YouTube, which says to me SCAM…since it is only a minute or two long. At $29.97, I would not recommend you spend the money on something with no guarantee. More importantly, it offers no refunds. The company is headquartered in South Africa. Hey, South Africa is a great country I am sure, but why don’t I just light a $10 and $20 dollar bill on fire and call it good. You have been warned!

8 Minute Sleep – so, this one I actually tried. Here is the beauty of this, it is actually free online. These cats are cool enough to post it on YouTube, all ten hours of it! Try before you buy. Now, that is a company I can have a little faith in. You may be asking why spend the $5 to $8 bucks on it if it is free online. Well, I was lucky enough to be connected to wi-fi at home and able to stream via my YouTube app. The purchase is if you want to buy the audio file separately. This allows you to put it on your phone.

Since I used the audio file, I will say this, my son was crying inconsolably (yes, that sounds dramatic, but it is true). I fired up YouTube and used their Baby Sleep Miracle – Pink Noise option. It sounds like static and I really wish I had not just watched Poltergeist a couple of days back, but after about 3 minutes my son just stopped crying. It got to the point where the wife sat up worried that something happened to him. He was in a deep sleep. We left it on for the entire night. About 4 hours later he woke up because he was hungry and needed a diaper change. But, 4 hours of sleep!!!

Now, can I say with any certainty that it will work every time. Nope. Will it keep a baby that is in pain or suffering from colic asleep? Not sure. But did it work for us last night for a while. Hell yes! So, that is enough for me. 8 minute sleep earns my $8 and my gratitude.

I stress this to you all, I am not some corporate shill trying to take your hard earned money. Real dad here writing a real review of something that worked for me. Besides, it is free on YouTube, so you do not even need to buy it.

Good luck out there…I hope that you all have great success with getting sleep.

 

 

A Second Chance

1997

My son was born in 1997. He is a great kid. However, looking back on my life, I wonder if I was a great dad. You see, I never had a father. I grew up with a single, working mother who served in a dual role. I watched from a distance as friends and classmates had fathers, but I never knew what that was. So, naturally, I was worried that I had no idea how to be a father. I’d like to say there is no book that teaches you to be a father, but I would be lying, as there are no doubt hundreds, if not thousands, of such books. I learned that having a book to read does not equal having the skill or natural inclination to do the job well.

Thus began a journey to learn to do something I had only seen from a distance. A journey to fill a void I felt for a long time. And yes, I think we all have that friend that will roll their eyes at a sentence like that….as I can just see him rolling his eyes right now. Regardless of eye rolling, it is how I felt then.

2015

December 9th was a defining moment for me. We have many moments, but only a handful of moments we would categorize as defining. As I stood by the bed watching the doctor masterfully deliver my child, I realized that this was my second chance. As the doctor placed my son on his mother’s belly, I could not help but get momentarily choked up, as a wave of emotion overtook me at seeing this little human. I cannot describe it. It is something you have to feel for yourself. To those expectant fathers, it is something to look forward to. I am more concerned about those men and women that do not feel that wave of emotion. I know they exist and I can only hope that it does not change the experience of the child in some way.

A second chance. I had my second chance to correct the mistakes I made with my first son. I know I sure as hell made some. There are some regrets I have carried for years and while I cannot undo what transpired, I surely can do better this time around. I have to. Otherwise I learned nothing from my greatest teacher….my first son.

 

What You Can Expect

So, this is my first blog. I have occasionally posted things online, but this is my first personal blog. For years, I fancied myself a writer, but in all honesty, I could never put pen to paper and write. But this medium, this is what I enjoy. The real unfiltered life I lead from day to day.

You will not find any sugarcoating on this page. I will keep it as real as I can. I am far from perfect, but the one thing that I am not is fake. I see a lot of fake stuff online. People claiming to have these perfect lives or dispensing advice because they know better. Because they did everything right.

Not me. I offer insights based on things I did wrong. Trainwreck. This term is often used to describe someone’s life when it all goes wrong. Well, I am not a trainwreck. However, I can honestly say I could be described as a series of fender benders. As I look back, I can see where I should have gone left instead of right. Or zagged this way instead of that way. It all seems so clear, but hindsight is 20-20.

This blog will be about the journey I’ve had and the journey I am taking again. I hope that people will relate to my story and experiences, be entertained or mildly amused by my writing, and appreciate the reviews and suggestions I make.

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