Patience

Today I am 28 years old. I don’t think much of the day really. It’s not like I’m turning 30 and have to have some kind of a crisis about the whole thing. There have been many events that have made me consider my age considerably more than this particular day. For instance my eldest daughter started asking me questions about the moon the other day.

“How do I get up there?” She asks. I smile at her; we have done this before.

“I don’t know, Hannah, how do you get up there?”

“Maybe in a rocket ship.” She says reaching up to the darkening sky.

Smart kid. This makes me consider my age. I’m 28, and I’m having a conversation, about science, with a two-year-old — my two-year-old.

My age is a product of times I’ve gone round the sun. It’s the struggles of the earths daily rotations. Laughter, loss, love, dept, overcoming obstacles, crashing down to the earth and then getting up. 28 years of life and I don’t feel much different in many ways. I’m in comparably better shape than I was 5 years ago. I am slightly more world-aware; more world-weary too. What, though, can I say about being 28 that should mean something to somebody?

So far, the difference between 28 year old David and say 21 year old David is the great amount of patience that comes with age. Some people call this wisdom. I’m not sure I want to quite go that far. I have learned to be patient at this point in my life. I don’t press through things forcefully anymore, I will wait for an opening and slide in where resistance is lightest. Screaming children are just a moment that will pass. I’m not afraid to just sort of enjoy that moment and know that they will soon be too old to have a good crying tantrum. I vividly remember being ready to jump into action at any time, for good or ill when I was younger. Make something happen. Solve a problem, fix a break, mend a tear.  Now I want to just soak it in a little bit before I get too busy I miss the whole thing.

Patience.

It’s what you get when you’re an adult. Oddly, it’s the sense of having time to wait for things, time to enjoy things. And yet, I have less time now than I have had in the past. Less time on this planet remaining, less time available with everyone’s busy schedules. But, patience. That’s what I’ve accomplished in 28 years.

Now I have to teach Hannah a little of that patience; she’d like to go up and visit the moon.

If you ever have a kid, get one of these

I don’t have too much to say here other than the fact that as a parent of a small child being able to have the kid in a position where they are comfortable and being able to use both your hands comes primarily at nap time or when your partner is doing the holding. Kids like to be close and feel secure but you still need to make dinner or do other normal household chores.

Hannah in her carrier

When it comes to all of that, I highly recommend you get yourself one of
these baby carriers. You can put it on your front or back, and carry the kid facing you or facing out. Hannah is a big fan and it lets me cook, clean and play games all the while she can look around or tuck in and snuggle– whatever makes sense at the moment. I also took this thing for a spin at the Mall of America a couple weeks ago. I think aside from Hannah’s mind being blown on the spectacle of the thing, she was pretty happy to ride along and see the sights from the safety of her carrier.

Point being, if you have a kid get this on the registry, you’ll thank me later.

A New Dad: 4 things I’ve learned in 4 weeks

Baby Hannah in her hatI haven’t written yet on this subject, but I will be writing about it much more going forward. I am now the proud father of my first child. Hannah Grace Siegfried was born on December 29th 2012 at 11:22pm. She was 3 weeks early and weighed in at a wopping 6 pounds 9 ounces and 20.5 inches long.

In the last 4 weeks, like any new parent, I have had to learn a lot. I think perhaps less than some and likely more than others. These four things are as much learned as confirmed guesses I had about fatherhood. These four things have worked well for me as a dad so far.

1. Be consistent.

My mother once told me (and yes this is one of the few phrases of wisdom I have actually remember from my mother) as a father you can’t always be there for your child, but you can always be consistent. This may not be universally true thanks to the emergence of stay at home dads, but, for the most part, most dads are around for the first week or so full time before having to go back to work and leave a very young baby and a possibly overtired, overwhelmed mom at home alone. This was the situation I had to deal with after two weeks with my wonderful wife and new daughter at home. The feeling is heart breaking. I love them both so much, and the trials they have faced together in her short life have been hard on both of them. As a dad, I can’t be there every minute, but what I can do is be there consistently. I come home in the evening, eat or help make dinner and then launch into the bedtime routine. I take the early morning feedings as often as I can in the time I have before work. I am always there to help, and I know my wife knows, and soon my daughter will know, that I will always come home to them and solve all the problems I can help them solve.

2. Be flexibly rigid.

I have known from the beginning that winning the first few months was all about getting a schedule down. Babies and everyone else do well on schedules; also to refer to the above, what could be more consistent than a schedule. The first thing that gets out of wack is your sleep schedule. We had Hannah at 11:22pm and there was no sleep to be had that night. I think I was up for at least 48 hours straight at one point. I didn’t get on it as well as I could have, but, as soon as we regained some of our wits, we enforced a pretty strict bedtime schedule. Keeping her awake for several hours before bed followed by a big feeding and sleep time gives us at least 6 hours of sleep in a row at night (and sometimes more for my wife as she can get to sleep while I do the bedtime routine). I can’t ask for much more than that right now and with that schedule in place we have done pretty well. There is a point though,  and it happened to me last night, that you do everything in your power and she wont stay up those few hours before bed or she refuses to eat on your schedule. Don’t stress out, know when she knows best and try again tomorrow.

3. Come ready to learn

As I mentioned above there will be times when she knows far better than you what the right thing to do it. Some of this comes by trial and error, and sometimes she will fix you with those beautiful eyes and just give you a squawk a grunt or a scream and you know whatever it is that you are doing isn’t working. Sometimes it is that you are just the wrong person, sometimes she just needs mom. The instincts we are born with are nothing short of amazing. Hannah’s instincts are the penultimate guide to how to take care of her and if you are ready to listen she will let you know just what to do. To note: Some screaming at you for doing it all wrong is pretty normal, they have short memories though and will usually snuggle with you once you figure it out.

4. The family that games together stays together

I intend a separate post on this subject as the phrase was handed down to me in the weirdest of ways, however, this is just how I have dealt with the issue of too much baby time for my wife. Everyone needs their alone time and their breaks from even the sweetest of babies. My wife and I have always been conscious of this and we spend good amounts of time away from each other and good amounts of time finding new things to do (to prevent fights and boredom). I say the family that games together stays together because a couple of times a week I take our little girl, either get her napping, or just hold her in my lap while my wife and I play a game. It cuts the stress, we get to talk and she gets to take a moment to stop spending her entire day thinking about our daughter. This might not be long, usually less than an hour, but, I think it is refreshing for both of us and it is one of the ways I plan to continue helping to maintain both  our sanity.

That’s it for now, I know I will have more theories to test and more things to learn on the way. Cheers to you Hannah, you’re already beginning to change my entire life and outlook.