Because the women in my life make every day worth celebrating

imageSitting on the edge of the bed this morning, I looked over at my wife’s slowly stirring figure. I watched her stretch beneath the blankets and finish with that little squeal that means it was a good stretch. She yawned, covering her mouth with the back of her hand like she always does. Her eyes focused and she slowly smiled at me.

I smiled back, knowing in that moment I was exactly where I was supposed to be in my life.

Before heading to work, I slipped a note into her lunch:

You make every day better because of loving you.

It wasn’t until arriving at work that a Facebook post informed me it was National Women’s Day. It made me think of how the women in my life — especially my wife, daughters and mother — are a constant inpiration, and how the gift of their presence is something worth celebrating every day.  Continue reading

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Twenty one years ago today, something went incredibly right

imageTwenty-one years ago today it was Friday the 13th. The reason I know this isn’t because I’m a savant, but because it was the day my oldest daughter was born — and everything seemed to be going wrong. The monitors were glitching, causing her vitals to disappear and the nurses’ faces to tighten into a fixed expression of forced calm. When I asked if things were ok, I was met with tight-lipped smiles of reassurance that made my stomach queasy. She wasn’t positioned right, with one arm extended above her head, as if caught in the middle of a backstroke swimming out of the womb. Eventually, her clavicle had to be broken in order to deliver her into the world.

When I held her for the first time and watched her tiny fingers wrapped around mine, I looked into her big brown eyes and saw an old soul looking back at me. It was a look that said, “I’ll make this as easy as I can for you, and I’ll forgive you when you screw up. Because we both know you will from time to time.”  Continue reading

Don’t do as I drink (and other lessons my father unintentionally taught me)

My father at age 48, the same age as I am.

My father at age 48, the same age as I am now.

My father and I were never very close. I resented him and his influence in my life for many years; he was abusive and an alcoholic who died 20 years ago today. It wasn’t until I became a father that I began to see him differently and, over time, forgave him enough to recognize the things he’d taught me through his own bad example. Even if only unintentionally, he is partially the reason I’m who I am today — as person, a man and a father.

It’s also because of him that I understand and appreciate the difference between the three.

What follows is something I wrote a couple of years ago for the now defunct blog “Black Box Warnings.” Given that the 20th anniversary of my father’s death falls on Father’s Day this year, I felt the need to share it again — for him as much as for myself… Continue reading

Want to date my daughter? This video could save your life

As my youngest daughter approaches the end of her middle school years, she has been catching the unwanted attention of teenaged boys. And when I say “unwanted,” I’m mostly talking about me. Statistically speaking, I was a teenaged boy once. I know what goes through their minds, at least when they’re not eating, sleeping and farting. But during that hour when they aren’t doing those things, they should be ashamed of themselves. That being said, if those same teenaged boys knew what was going through MY mind when I see them looking at my daughter, the teen pregnancy rate whould drop by 90 percent, with the other 10 percent being investigated by the Catholic Church as “potential miracles.”

So before the summer begins, I’d like to offer this video to any teenaged boy thinking of dating my daughter. It’s only 15 seconds. And there’s some language.

But it just might save your life…

Vengeance will by mine, Mr. Hairy Spider…

image For the last two nights, my youngest daughter has come running down the stairs about 10 minutes after going to bed. The reason? A big, hairy black spider she said is roughly the size of a Chihuahua. Being a dutiful father, I immediately rushed upstairs the first night and, to my utter horror, walked in to discover…

Absolutely nothing.

“It was on the ceiling just looking at me,” swore my daughter.

The next night, she called from upstairs so she could keep an eye on it. As I came to the door, the spider apparently dropped down the wall and behind her dresser. With my daughter standing behind me, I yanked the dresser away from the wall and shrieked in terror when, AT LAST, I laid my eyes upon…

Absolutely nothing.

Again. Continue reading

That time I organized an escaped hamster posse

image That’s right, it’s time for Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. What these posts aren’t about is venting or vindictiveness.

So what’s the point?

Simply to offer reflections from someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way he knew how: with humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who inspires me each day to laugh for the right reasons.

Now, we can all look back on those years and share some laughs together…

* * * * * * * *

When you find yourself force-feeding Pepto Bismol into your child’s constipated hamster, you figure you’ve faced one of your greatest challenges as a parent.

But you would be wrong. Continue reading

More often than not, the Easter Bunny wears boxer shorts

(With it being Easter, I thought I’d skip this week’s edition of Post Traumatic Sunday and run a different kind of flashback, reminiscent of when my children were small and the Easter stakes were always high. Whether this day is observed in your family or not, we can all agree any day that you can be together is worth celebrating…)

Easter dad in boxers In the wee hours this morning, something magical happened in backyards all across America as, one by one, each of them was visited by …

You guessed it! A half-naked father hiding Easter eggs.

That’s right, the same fathers who were stomping on the roof with sleigh bells Christmas Eve were out in the yard in their boxer shorts with an arm load of colorful eggs not long after sunrise.

Their mission?

Keep this tradition alive while trying not to step in anything that could elicit a response deemed inappropriate for Easter morning. Continue reading

Sitting in your kindergartener’s chair may require an extraction

image It’s time for this week’s installment of Post Traumatic Sunday, which are posts written during my first marriage. None have appeared on this blog before, and only a couple were included in my book. What these posts aren’t about is venting or vindictiveness.

So what’s the point?

Simply to offer the reflections of someone dealing with an unhappy marriage in the best way he knew how: with humor.

Eight years later, I am happily re-married to someone who constantly inspires me to laugh for the right reasons.

Now, we can all laugh together…

* * * * * * * *

Though it had been five years since our daughter’s first parent/teacher conference, my wife and I felt the same familiar anxiety as we entered our son’s kindergarten classroom, sat across from his teacher, and realized:

Neither of us is getting out of our tiny chair without having it surgically removed. Continue reading

Your home’s underbelly is no place to be manly

image There comes a time in every man’s life when he must set an example for his son by crawling under the house to fix something. This must be done with apparent fearlessness even though he knows whatever needs fixing is going to be located in the darkest corner of the home’s underbelly, probably behind a spider web the size of a commercial fishing net.

Several years ago, I used plywood to seal up the underside of our home and stop what I suspected were nightly “rave” parties hosted by our cat. These parties generally started around 11:30 p.m. and were held directly beneath our bedroom floor, where it sounded like 20 cats playing Twister. Naturally, I had no choice but to break up these parties by getting out of bed and shoving our 60-lb. Labrador headfirst through the crawl space in our closet floor.

My point is this: Sealing things up stopped the cat parties. Unfortunately, it also turned the crawl space under our home into a frightening black void where, thanks to evolution, a species of hairy, sightless, spider-like rodents with large fangs and the ability to mobilize telepathically has nested, colonizing into the hundreds.

Possibly even thousands.

I know this because I’ve shined a flashlight down there and — this is not an exaggeration — I’m pretty sure I saw something move. Continue reading

Mother’s Day cards have no rhymes for ‘episiotomy’

imageSoon, it will be Mother’s Day. For many of you, it means sending a flowery card that says all the wonderful things you’d say if only you had a thesaurus and someone from Hallmark breathing down your neck. The truth is, the meaning of Mother’s Day has been lost over the years thanks to stupid greeting cards filled with heartfelt phrases like:

If your love was an ocean, you would’ve drowned me as a child.
Or,
When I think of love, I think of you. Because of this, you have no grandchildren.
Or,
With every smile, I remember a special moment that will never ever be forgotten — Happy belated Mother’s Day!

The true meaning of Mother’s Day, as any mother will tell you, has absolutely nothing to do with flowery cards or fond memories — and everything to do with sacrifice.

That’s right. You want to let Mom know you really care? Forget about comparing her to “a beautiful rose laden with thorns of caring,” and remember all the stuff she endured for you even before you HAD a memory. If you’re not sure where to begin, I have two words for you:

Breast Pump. Continue reading