Monthly Archives: March 2015

Nobody Has Ever Had Enough Money for Kids… and That’s OK

Whenever couples are planning on having kids, but aren’t quite there yet, one reason seems to be a reoccurring theme.

“We are waiting until we are more financially stable.”

I felt this same way while my wife and I were talking about having a kid. I think my father, easily the most financially conscious person I have ever met, put it best when I told him we were trying to get all of our finances in order and have a certain amount in savings before popping out a little money vacuum. He laughed and said “David, there is no right amount of money for kids… If you have $100 then they cost $100, and if you have a million dollars, then they cost a million dollars.”

So, while financial security is a noble goal, and certainly shows some foresight, it’s also generally a ridiculous reason not to have kids. I have a secret for you, unless you make copious amounts of money, and I really mean a lot, you are never going to have that magical sum of money that prepares you for children. Obviously there are extremes to this, if you and your partner are totally destitute, and can’t even support yourselves on a day to day basis, then it’s probably not the time for kids. However, for the rest of the population, I promise you this…

Kids will cost all the money you have.

The reason is simple, you will buy the best things you can for your child. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to buy every ridiculous thing they market to you, and it doesn’t mean that you cannot raise a kid without the “best of the best” stuff. However, you will find the things you find important to your family, and you will get the best version you can.

On top of that, kids are just absurdly expensive, you can mitigate a lot of it with common sense, but daycare is daycare (and you don’t get the cheapest daycare on the block, nobody wants to drop their kid off at Bob’s Budget Baby Shack…), and feeding and clothing another person is just going to cost every dollar you can come up with. I’m pretty convinced that children do not eat food, they just reach into your wallet, remove large bills, and ingest them on a daily basis for sustenance.

So, it’s important to be financially conscious, and I certainly encourage couples to do so. However, if that is really the only reason you aren’t having kids, then go ahead and join the rest of us in the world of perpetual kid induced poverty. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds.

Never Stop Dating Your Wife

When I worked in retail a few years ago, there was an older couple that always came in to my store. They had been married for over 45 years, and were still happy and obviously in love. When I told them I was getting married, they congratulated me and told me that the secret to happy marriage is simple.

Never stop dating your wife.

I’ve seen this line elsewhere, and I’m sure it’s been written about before, but it’s also an important thing to remember. You fell in love with your significant other for a reason, and it’s good to take time and remind each other of that. It’s especially easy to forget to spend time together once you have kids. Kids are all encompassing, and everythin

g else in life tends to take a back seat, including your relationship with your wife. This is especially true when they are younger. You’re both exhausted, and all you want to do is sleep every moment you can. Furthermore, with this constant exhaustion, both people are more on edge, and you tend to clash more than normal.

Therefore, you need to take time and remember why you are together in the first place. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. The important part is that you spend the time. Bring the kids to a friend’s house, or get a babysitter, and do something. Get dinner, go to a movie, if it’s nice out, go for a walk. Just go on a date. Chances are you will spend 97% of the date talking about your kid anyway, and that’s fine. If it’s one of the first times you’ve left the kid at home, then at least one of you will probably spend the whole time worried and checking in constantly. That’s fine too, but you still need to have the time together.

It’s OK to start going out together again in baby steps (pun totally intended). On my first date with my wife after my daughter was born, we were out for a grand total of 47 minutes. My wife made me take her for sushi because “they don’t have to cook it, and we will be home sooner”. My daughter was at my mother’s house, and the restaurant we went to couldn’t have been more than a half mile away. However, it was important that we realized that it was OK that we leave and do something together. Even if that something was a little shorter than an average episode of CSI. Now that she is a little older, we will do dinner that actually consists of cooked food, and even the occasional overnight.

It can be tough to find the time (or even the will) to go out and do something, but you will be happy you did. Being parents is hard, and draining, but don’t forget you chose to have kids with this person for a reason, and it’s good to remember what that reason is.

NOTE: Wife in this post can be substituted for whoever your significant other is. I use the term wife for readability and simplicity purposes, but I wholly support involved dads and relationships of all kinds.

Letter to my Daughter: Please Dream

Dear Daughter,

Please don’t ever stop dreaming.

In reality, you’ve just started dreaming. You’re starting to see all the amazing possibilities in the world. As you get bigger, your dreams will get bigger with you. You will have thousands of different dreams, and some you will forget. However, some of those dreams will be unshakable. They will be the fuel that drives you as a person, and they will be the canvas on which you paint your world.

Unfortunately, as you get older the world will start to try and make you forget your dreams. This world will tell you all things you cannot do. It will tell you that dreaming is foolish, and you should have a

plan. It will tell you what this plan is allowed to be, and what it isn’t allowed to be. The world believes your dreams should be small enough to fit in an easily defined box. Your dreams do not belong in a box. They belong to you, and only you decide when they are big enough. You will know you are dreaming big when others hear your dreams, and tell you to be reasonable.

Please be unreasonable.

They will tell you it is unreasonable to do so many of the things you want to do. They will tell you all the reasonable things that you can achieve. Let them achieve the reasonable things. The world has enough reasonable people. You do the unreasonable things, and most importantly don’t be afraid to fail.

Please fail.

Failure hurts, because it’s the feeling of our goals hitting a wall. That wall is just an obstacle though, and you cannot stop trying. Failure is temporary, but your successes are forever. You will learn that not failing is a product of not trying, and that is far worse than the alternative. So fail constantly, and find your happiness at the end of those failures.

Of course, I will be there when your dreams come true, and when they don’t. I will be there for your successes and failures. I will help with the little dreams, the bigger dreams, and of course the huge unreasonable ones… those are the most fun.

Love,
Dad

Nobody Sings Songs About Parenting

Nobody sings songs about parenting. Oh sure, they write songs about the easy stuff, like loving your kids, and “watching”them grow up, but nobody sings songs about parenting. Parenting doesn’t fit into songs, it’s hard, and it’s exhausting, and more often than not leaves you covered in bodily fluids that aren’t your own. Nobody sings about the 2 AM teething, the stomach bugs, the dinners where your kid throws more food on the floor than they put in their mouth, or the meltdown in Macy’s because you didn’t have the right color Frozen fruit snacks.

Songs tend to be about the extreme ends of easily definable feelings… love, hate, having fun, being sad, etc. There is no easily describable feeling in parenthood past the unconditional love. This is because nothing can prepare you for the idea of being exhausted to the point of tears at 3 am for the sixth night in the row, because your kid is cutting molars and just had a poop explosion (non-parents, that is exactly what it sounds like). You aren’t prepared to be in that situation, and although you’re exhausted and covered in a disgusting mess, your only thoughts are “How can I make this kid feel better?”

So what do they sing about? They sing about “watching” kids grow up. This is nonsense, no involved parent has ever “watched” their kid grow up. The idea of “watching” someone denotes a level of hands off care that is laughable as a dad. You have to get in there, get dirty, and raise your kid. The good news is those kids will give you much more than you ever put in, they give it by being amazing, and doing things you never imagined. They give it with a sweet “I Love You” and painted pictures, and they give it by growing stronger and smarter than we ever were.

Of course, they will also give you the stomach bug they picked up at daycare.

Attention Pink Princess Shirt Makers: THE MARKET IS SATURATED!

Well thank goodness they printed another one of those

The world in general has made some great strides for little girls in the last few decades. Girls are far more exposed to business, the sciences, and other previously male dominated careers. This is great, and I am happy my daughter is growing up in a world where all these avenues will be open to her. That being said, there is a place that the world is still greatly lagging behind, and that is clothing for little girls. There is still an epidemic of pink princess and pastel “I’m cute!” shirts.

This actually hurts my brain to look at.
Yes, I am aware that there are companies out there making girls shirt about sports, science, art, etc. However, they are the extreme minority. When I walk into a store for my daughter, most of the time finding any clothing that isn’t cotton candy pink or an eye piercing version of purple is extremely difficult, and that is a problem. Even when a shirt is a “boy’s subject” like superheros or sports, too many times companies insist on making it “girly”.
A color combination that strikes fear into villains everywhere.

Most messages kids receive are from viewing the world around them, it’s not always someone intentionally saying “You are pretty, and that’s more important than anything!” The message comes from the constant bombardment of ideas, and constantly being covered in clothing that reflects that message is still an issue.

I am not against girls wearing this kind of clothing sometimes, or thinking they are beautiful (the absurd image of beauty this country pushes is it’s own can of worms), but there has to be more. Some days my daughter wants to put on a princess dress, and some days she wants to build towers or play her drums.  Girls have to know they can do anything and be whoever they want to be. Half of my daughters t-shirts are from the boys section, because I couldn’t take the idea of another pink graphic tee. 
By the way, this is about 98% on us as parents to convey this message of success to our daughters, but having more of the right messages around us would make our jobs a bit easier.

The Mystery of the Men’s Room Changing Table

The Holy Grail

Although society as a whole has become reasonably progressive about what duties are for moms and dads (basically, if it’s not breastfeeding, both parents can do it), there is still one area of parenthood that is still apparently sitting somewhere comfortably in the middle of the 20th century. I am, of course, talking about the lack of changing tables in men’s bathrooms. Seriously, in 2015, I would guess over half of men’s rooms still have no changing tables. I understand if your 21 and up club doesn’t have this high-tech amenity, but I’m talking about places like bookstores, restaurants, play parks, etc. You know, places dad may just want to spend some time with the kids.

Frankly, I don’t understand this phenomenon. It’s not like dads don’t change diapers at home, or that it is even that big of a deal. Installing these magical artifacts of diaper changing bliss is hardly a major expense. I love daddy and daughter days out, but diaper time is generally miserable, and it’s not because of the diaper. Way too often you enter men’s room when the five stages of grief kick in…
1) Denial – “This is a decent place, they probably have a changing table, there is no way this place doesn’t have a changing table, I must be missing it. I am not changing her on this floor, and there is no counter space…”
2) Anger – “WHY DON’T THEY HAVE A CHANGING TABLE? DOES NO CHILD POOP IN THIS STORE? THIS IS &$^$&*# RIDICULOUS! THIS FLOOR IS FILTHY, WHY ARE THERE STANDING POOLS OF WATER?”

3) Bargaining – “I would buy all the toys in aisle six if a changing table magically appeared. Seriously, all of aisle 6, and the trucks from aisle eleven.”

4) Depression – “I remember a happier world, a world where I didn’t have to try to keep a fidgeting two year old on this 2′ x 2′ orange pad that may or not be protecting her from the elements creeping off this vile floor. The elements that she obviously must try to touch…”
5) Acceptance – “It’s done, you’ve been changed, probably for the worse.”