Are Stay at Home Dads as Rare as Unicorns?

Don't worry son, Daddy has it under control.
Don’t worry son, Daddy has it under control.

Becoming a father was an experience filling me with a pride I’d never felt before.  When the initial euphoria passed my emotions ranged from happiness to concern.   Realizing I’d be responsible for caring for this this fragile little thing my biggest worry was please don’t let me screw this up.

Esther and I started out as tag-team parents.  She gave me my initial parental crash course—SAHD 101.  It was all new to me, my first time feeding, changing and bathing a baby, it went well but I was working with a net—Esther was there to grab the reins if there was a problem.

Esther’s returning to work from maternity leave meant it was time for me to fly solo.  Easing my transition she packed the baby bag and left three outfits for Cristian daily.  I eased her separation anxiety by texting her status updates and pictures of the baby throughout the day.

In addition to my initial anxiety, a few family members were concerned—okay maybe more than a few.  Trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s always seemed to coincide with aunts, uncles and cousins stopping by for a visit.  Although many wanted to see the baby—sometimes it was more than that.  There were too many offers to feed and change the baby.   I guess they thought I didn’t know what I was doing.  If I knew this in advance I’d have loaded Cristian up on prunes for an extra gooey diaper.

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Coming from a large family means my family tree is filled with many older cousins who are more like aunts and uncles.   My generation’s male children were the first taking a greater part in the parenting responsibilities than our fathers did. The older guys never fed or changed a baby.  Looking at us they must be wondering where did we go wrong.

Initially my aunts were confused by all this shared responsibility.  My brother, for example was an excellent Dad from Day One.  It didn’t surprise me—my aunts didn’t know what to make of it.  Watching their confused expressions the first time they saw him giving his daughter a bottle, you would have thought he split the atom.

It’s been 16-months and I still hear “how cute” from aunts, uncles and even a few neighbors when they see me taking care of the baby.  If my brother feeding and bathing his daughter was a surprise then I must be a Unicorn.  I mean I’m home taking care of him every day.

What the older generation hasn’t grasped is this isn’t about being cute—I’ll leave that to the baby.  I’m not alone, there are many like me doing the same thing either by choice or because of their current situation.  I’ve thought about leaving the baby home on the couch with a bottle and the remote while I go out, but it probably wouldn’t work out so well..  So maybe not.

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I’m Nominated for a Liebster Award

liebster

I’m Not Grandpa was nominated for a Liebster Award by Jeremy Atkins of Go Ask Your Daddy. Thank you Jeremy!  Please take a few minutes and check out Go Ask Your Daddy.

Accepting this award is a great honor, passing it along to other bloggers is an even bigger one.  The Liebster Award is passed to newer bloggers from more experienced ones as a way of acknowledging the work put into producing and maintaining an exciting blog.

I’m Not Grandpa is written from the perspective of a 50-Something First-Time Dad.   The tales of this Stay at Home Dad are written with a mix of sarcasm and sentiment.

I started I’m Not Grandpa as a way of documenting the excitement fatherhood and have been surprised at how it’s been received.  Along the way I’ve enjoyed reading the work of many Mommy and Daddy bloggers as well as many well-written blogs covering a vast array of topics.  Facebook and Twitter allowed me to meet some amazing writers through various blogging groups and even more amazing people as we perfect our craft.

Here’s what Jeremy said about I’m Not Grandpa in his nomination:

 You definitely don’t see many first time dads at the age of 50, but Frank’s blog chronicles just that.  This is one blog that I will definitely follow and look for new posts about his adventures.  I became a first time dad 10 years ago.  I can’t imaging becoming a dad in my 50s.  An enjoyable blog!

Liebster Award Winner Rules:

1 – Thank the person/blog who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog.

2 – Display the award on your blog. This can be done by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a widget (note: the best way to do this is to save the image to your own

3 – Answer the 10 questions about yourself that your nominating blogger chooses for you (see my questions above).

4 – Nominate 10 blogs that you feel deserve the award. These must be new bloggers (less than two years blogging) who have fewer than 1000 followers.

5 – Create a list of questions for your nominated bloggers to answer.

6 – List these rules in your post (feel free to cut & paste!)

7 – Inform the blogs that you nominated that they have been awarded the award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it.

The rules of accepting the Liebster Award ask me to answer a few questions and post them to my blog.  Here they are!

1 – What inspired you to start your blog?

I’ve been blogging for about five years, mainly about running, my running blog is North Queens Runner.  During my wife’s pregnancy I read a few parenting books, although they were helpful, they were written mainly for by women for women.  As a sarcastic person, my mind went to the races and I thought this would make a great blog.

2 – What blogging goal are you currently striving for? 

Trying to post quality work on a consistent schedule, it’s not as easy as it sounds, while balancing work and caring for a 16-month old son.

3 – What activities do you enjoy outside of blogging?

I enjoy running I’ve run 12 marathons and two ultramarathons and am an avid cyclist.  I love movies, all periods and genres.  I’m a big New York Mets and Dallas Cowboys fan.  I enjoy spending quality time with my wife, which is harder to do since the baby was born.

4 – What tactics do you employ on those days when blogging is hard & frustrating? 

A writing teacher taught me, there are two parts to a writer, the Generator and the Editor.  The Generator takes the raw material from your head and gets it onto paper, a computer screen or whatever medium one uses for the process.  The Editor takes this raw material and crafts it into a finished piece.  On those days when I’m blocked I just write, not attempt to make every sentence perfect, just generate raw material, it can usually be cleaned up in future drafts.

5 – If you could have lunch with any famous person, who would you choose?  Willie Mays, probably the best centerfielder ever.

6 – What are your three favorite blogs to follow?

Pavement Runner, Dad and Buried, and Life as a Rambling Redhead.

7 – What piece of blogging advice have you found to be most helpful?

Write for yourself.  Don’t write with an eye towards monetizing your blog towards a mass market, focus instead on writing quality work.  If you consistently do this the rest will take care of itself.

8 – Are you a full-time blogger or do you also hold down a day job? 

I work from home as a consultant, it lets take care of the baby as I work.

9 – What is your favorite post on your blog thus far?

My favorite post is What’s in a Name.  It’s one of my first posts where I write about my wife and I picking our son’s name.  I got the sarcasm just right in that one.

10 – What social media platforms do you use and which one is most effective for you?

I’m on several, Facebook. Twitter, Instagram and I just created a Pintrist profile.  Facebook and Twitter allow me to promote new posts on my blog, they have allowed me to network with other bloggers and learn from them.

Here are my nominees for the Liebster Award.  You may accept if you like, it’s completely up to you

Syreeta @ Pecan Momma Tales  Syreeta is a wife and mother in a blended family.  Her blog is a support system for mothers and parents taken from her own experiences, offering encouragement, parenting, marriage and relationship advice.  Her posts are inspiring.

Suzanne @ maQ + Suz BlogA lifestyle blog by Suzanne Spiegoski, a freelance portrait and lifestyle photographer, as well as writer and published author.  Her posts are a mix of photography, fashion, food and recipes, health and fitness in addition to her day to day adventures.  Her posts combine text and images with such synergy, everything from NYC Street Art to the recent blizzard.  Great stuff!

Tanya and Nara @ Motherly AdventuresWritten by a pair of thirty-something friends who met a decade ago while backpacking through Europe.  Flash forward to present day where they are wives and mothers blogging about topics such as pregnancy, making life easier for new mothers and juggling family and career.  A good read.

Kirstie @ TEFL Teaching AbroadKirstie is a qualified TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Teacher from Leiscester England currently living and teaching in Chiang Mai Thailand.  She writes about her experiences living in a new land and traveling through and exploring neighboring countries.

Michelle @ Hello Peachy Skin – Looking young and healthy has never been more confusing.  The cosmetic companies tell you their anti-aging creams have magical powers.  Doctors say Botox is the answer and every other week a new diet goes mainstream offering the answer.  Who do you believe?  Michelle investigates; her posts are based on what scientists have proven to be true.  Are they?  Follow her blog to find out.

Jeff @ Daddy is Best – Jeff is a blogger, writer, aspiring speaker, humorist, husband and father of two children.  I was drawn to this site because like me Jeff became a Dad is in 50s.   His posts are insightful real-life depictions of day-to-day life—he doesn’t sugarcoat things—he tells things like they are.  His posts keep me coming back for more.

Susan @ Skirt in the Kitchen  This lifestyle blog merges many things, food and music, and modern and vintage.  Susan makes it all work the way an excellent cook combines ingredients in just the right proportions creating an unforgettable meal.  Reading this blog makes me feel like I’m having a slice of homemade pie with a good cup of coffee at her vintage kitchen table.

Aly @ Small HopperThe parents of a blended family, Aly Stuckart and her husband are a combo of West Coast ease and Southern flair and hospitality all rolled into this crazy package.  This blog finds the humor in day-to-day life  There’s also a gallery where one is able to see family pictures.

Sam @ Raising my mini meSam blogs about life as a new mom. starting with the pregnancy. She gives pulls no punches as she writes about motherhood, gives product reviews and recently adding receipes.  All this from someone who doesn’t have a clue.

Now, for all of the 9 awardees above, it’s your turn to answer the questions below and post your answers!

1.) What inspired you to start your blog?

2.) What blogging goal are you currently striving for?

3.) What activities to you enjoy outside of blogging?

4.) What tactics do you employ on those days when blogging is hard & frustrating?

5.) If you could have lunch with any famous person, who would you choose?

6.) What are your three favorite blogs to follow?

7.) What piece of blogging advice have you found to be most helpful?

8.) Are you a full-time blogger or do you also hold down a day job?

9.) What is your favorite post on your blog thus far?

10.) What social media platforms do you use and which one is most effective for you?

 

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The Night Owl

IMG_3432 (2)A few posts back I wrote about the winter of 2016 wreaking havoc on my family.  It’s been a rough one for the baby.  Last year he was pretty healthy, but this year he’s endured a severe diaper rash, lingering cold, a virus, and an ear infection.

A few doctor’s appointments and rounds of antibiotics later we’re all mostly recovered—mostly recovered.  One thing remains unsettled, Cristian’s sleep pattern.  Sleepless nights are something Dad Bloggers write about—along with drippy diapers and do Dads parent their children or babysit them.

I went back and checked, fifteen of my posts mentioned sleep deprivation or Cristian’s sleep patterns in one way or another—maybe I should chime in on the parenting vs babysitting debate.

Establishing a toddler’s sleep pattern isn’t an exact science, it requires lots of trial and error.  We started putting him to bed at 10 pm with a bottle and Sesame Street or Pepa Pig running on a tablet.  We were making progress until he got sick.

I miss nights like this one
I miss nights like this one

Lately he’s been knocking out between eight and nine, which sounds like a good thing—but really isn’t—it only upset the balance.  Cristian used to wake up once a night, upon receiving his bottle, he rolled over and went back to sleep—not anymore.

I’m now staggering down the hall two or three times a night, like a sleepwalker carrying a dog named Lulu (let’s see who gets that reference).  After taking the first bottle, he’s up an hour or two later.  When a second bottle or walking him around doesn’t work, it’s time for my fellow tag-team parent.

Mommy working her magic was once the gold-standard in soothing our cranky baby.   It irritated me a little, but if it got him back to sleep so be it.  Lately Mommy’s magic stopped working, so we’ve resorted to desperate measures.

For the past week we’ve tried exhausting our wired son binge-watching every baby program imaginable, with mixed results.  Some nights we only needed 45 minutes. However other nights we’ve taken turns napping while Cristian turned laps around the living room.

It’s amazing how children change things—once upon a time a sleepless night meant Esther and I went to work slightly exhausted but smiling.  Now it’s just exhausted.

 

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The Social Media Baby

Social Media Baby

Another time-honored part of parenting is showing the latest pictures of their son or daughter to friends, family and anyone else who look at them.  Bringing stacks of pictures to summer cookouts, Thanksgiving dinner and cornering coworkers in the company break room is part of the tradition.

It’s been this way throughout history—you can trace it back to the caveman.  The paintings on the Lascaux Cave walls were primitive baby pictures.  Visiting guests endured an hour or so of the latest images of Junior before settling down to a meal of sautéed wolf paired with a nice Sauvignon Blanc.  White wine served with red meat—now that was primitive.

My parents were guilty too. Christmas Eve 1969. I'm the little guy on the right.
My parents were guilty too. Christmas Eve 1969. I’m the little guy on the right.

Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock, brandished selfies and baby pictures taken aboard the Mayflower, sharing them with members of the local tribes during the first Thanksgiving Dinner and a tradition was started.

Technology improved over the years, film was replaced by digital cameras and Al Gore invented the internet.  Then came the iPhone, turning everyone a photographer.  Before you can say selfie stick a new phenomenon was born—social media.

It started with MySpace, the social media equivalent of the cave painting.   Before long it was replaced by Facebook and Twitter.  Soon distant relatives and complete strangers were posting, tweeting and pinning the most intimate details of their lives with reckless abandon for all to see.

Talk about building a better mousetrap, Facebook and Instagram gives users a virtual means of cornering family, friends and virtual friends, with the latest family pictures that are draining the storage from their iPhones.  It’s found a home for all those blurry, underexposed iPhone images of today’s lunch, the latest pictures of their dogs or cats, and their children’s everything.

I always said I’d never be one of those parents whipping out and showing off baby pictures to anyone within site, whether they wanted to see them or not, before I became a parent.  According to (multiple) family members that ship sailed long ago.  So far there’s been no intervention, yet    

Cristian is a Social Media Baby—he was born in the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/You Tube era.  His birth announcement was posted on Facebook and Twitter.  Since we have family and friends (real and virtual) all across the Americas and Europe, it was the best way to get the word out.  He’s had iPhones or digital cameras in his face literally since birth.   

Used for Cristian's Baby Announcement
The Image used for Cristian’s Baby Announcement

I’m a Stay at Home Dad who blogs—sites like Facebook and Twitter is essential for promoting I’m Not Grandpa.  Blog posts and social media posts are made with an eye towards not embarrassing the baby.  Cheesy pictures of him could have repercussions, he’ll probably be taking care of me in my golden years and payback is a bitch.

Many fellow bloggers are careful regarding their children.   Pseudonyms replace their children’s names and some are careful regarding how much they share because you never know.

The flip side of the argument is this. Facebook has allowed me to keep distant relatives in Spain and not so distant ones on Long Island posted on all things Cristian.  Esther and I are amazed at how many follow our posts.  In November she took the baby to Puerto Rico, giving family members a chance to meet our newest addition.  She was surprised how many told her they checked their feeds daily looking for new pictures and updates.          

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Is Parenting at 50 Easier?

A Twenty-Something me, with beard and mullet (I know) tailgating before a Grateful Dead show. Photo Randall Luttenburg
A Twenty-Something me, with beard and mullet (I know) tailgating before a Grateful Dead show. Photo Randall Luttenburg

Becoming a SAHD (Stay at Home Dad) at 50 concerned me a little—okay maybe more than a little.  I worried about, bathing, diaper changes, and being the responsible adult.  I was working without a net—it was just me and the baby—without an adult more adult than me nearby.

I’ve outgrown my initial concerns but still dread the day when someone asks, “How old is your grandson?”  Hopefully Cristian will do the right thing and kick them in the leg.  I’m counting on you son.

I spent Sunday’s Super Bowl Party comparing notes with Dads who’ve been there and done that.  We agreed first-moments are great, tantrums suck, and debated which was more annoying, the Teletubbies or Caillou.

Here’s what I learned:

Looking Silly is Okay – My friends may be wondering about this one.  Silliness and an off-beat sense of humor is kind of who I am. I have a hard time seeing a thirty-something me bopping around to kiddie songs during a My Gym class or even out of class. These days I’ve become a rhythmless-dancing machine—it’s easier when you embrace the silly.

Baby-Related Entertainment – My days are consumed binge watching Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid and Pepa Pig.  Going to show or museum used to be a comedy club or MOMA now it’s Sesame Street Live or the Children’s Museum of New York.  Cristian’s smiling face makes up for the crowds and loud crying children.

Cristian and I heading to the Chilldren's Museum of New York
Cristian and I heading to the Chilldren’s Museum of New York

Pacing and Energy – Twenty years ago I was younger, fitter, and had washboard abs.  Today, I’m older and grayer, okay mostly white without the hair color.  A keg replaced the six-pack. Caring for and chasing after a toddler requires endurance.  Finishing twelve marathons taught me how to pace myself. Occasionally I hit the wall, but push through until Esther comes home from work or I’ve worn the baby out.

I’m Older, Calmer, and More Secure with Myself – It’s not like I’m doing yoga, sipping green tea, or reading the Dalai Lama but twenty years mellowed me.  I no longer stress things I can’t control.  I’ve learned to enjoy the moment because they won’t last forever.  That’s not to say I haven’t fired a baby bottle or thrown an iPhone across the room during those special moments.

Payback’s a Bitch – I watched from the sidelines when my friends became parents in their 20s and 30s.  Knowing I could bolt when the tantrums started was a good option to have.  Those same friends are now empty nesters, offering advice and even babysitting here and there.  These days they’re the ones reaching for their coats when the tantrums kick in.

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