My friends asked me a couple weeks ago if I was enjoying my time as a father. I hesitated for a moment because a firm “YES!” would have been a complete lie. I couldn’t blurt out a resounding applaud for my son because, at the time, Teddy was going through his 6-week growth spurt; apparently, babies have several growth spurts within the first year. He went from an angelic newborn with predictable sleeping habits to a grumpy-old-man who wants to escape the nursing home. There was nothing we could do to soothe him, and his fussiness tested my patience to the point that I fantasized about sleeping in the garage. The growth spurt lasted a couple of weeks, and we are starting to see some rays of hope. Teddy is now 2 months old and weighs a whopping 11 pounds. We took him in for his first round of vaccinations; he cried a little bit but we promised him ice cream afterward – Christina and I really enjoyed the ice cream.
If my friends asked me today if I enjoyed my time as a father, I would leap up and give them a hug. I know there will be more growth spurts and hard times, but Teddy’s personality is starting to blossom – a big deal to all fathers. Newborn babies stress me out, and you can’t really do much with them because they are asleep 90 percent of the time – either sleeping, eating, or crying. Two-month-old Teddy, on the other hand, enjoys kicking his legs, smiling, and getting his double chin squeezed. It’s not much, but for a father who has no maternal bone in his body, it is a big step towards one day throwing a baseball or talking about Plato. I find it interesting the difference between men and women during the baby phase. Christina is always on the verge of tears thinking of Teddy becoming a man. I, on the other hand, am excited about those formidable years of Teddy’s maturity.
Of course, we both are going to enjoy the journey, but it is definitely apparent which part of that journey best fits our personality. Christina is an amazing Mom, and she could probably nurture a rabid dog to sleep. My forte is being a coach and motivator – attributes which don’t kick in until much later. This points to a key philosophical concept. Children need both masculinity and feminity while growing up – the Ying and Yang of parenthood. There is a lot of arguments over sex and gender in today’s world, but I don’t believe anyone can argue that it doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes a village of people because men and women bring unique gifts to the table of life. There is a big problem today of men leaving their families; a father or male role-model is essential. Consider the following stats…
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (US Dept. Of Health/Census) – 5 times the average.
- 85% of all children who show behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Center for Disease Control)
- 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes –14 times the average. (Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26)
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (National Principals Association Report)
- 70% of youths in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes – 9 times the average. (U.S. Dept. of Justice, Sept. 1988)
- 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes – 20 times the average. (Fulton Co. Georgia, Texas Dept. of Correction)
- 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes. [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census]
- 71% of pregnant teenagers lack a father. [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services press release, Friday, March 26, 1999]
- 90% of adolescent repeat arsonists live with only their mother. [Wray Herbert, “Dousing the Kindlers,” Psychology Today, January, 1985, p. 28]
- 75% of adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes. [Rainbows f for all God’s Children]
To find out more information about fatherless households go to the National Fatherhood Initiative
Some of these stats are from the 20th century but the findings today show the same detrimental pattern. We need good men to help raise the next generation of children – and I hope to be enlisted in that pursuit. So the next time my friends ask me how I am enjoying my fatherhood…I will try not to hesitate too long :).
At this very moment my stomach feels so fat that it is currently protruding onto my keyboard and obstructing the right-click button. This is a major problem because I am a Registered Dietitian and there are levels of fluffiness which cannot be surpassed. My recent weight gain is a result of my family vacation to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Oldham family vacations are not the type of trips where one lays by a pool and relaxes. No, the Oldham family vacation is more like a marathon where volunteers hand out ice cream cones instead of cups of water. We are all healthy people when not on vacation but we tend to go about our trips as if we were all possessed by some carb demon. From the beginning, bags of chips, cookies, granola bars (not the healthy type), and chocolate populate the car on the 8 hour road trip. We did not eat when we were hungry but rather when we solely glanced over at the carb bag-the temptress entangling us in a dance of seduction that always ended in a lust for more.
Upon our arrival to Minneapolis, we went to the grocery store to gather our precious food for the week. Normally, when I go to the grocery store, my cart is filled with fruit, vegetables, and meat; on the Oldham vacation a cart like this would be promptly doused in lighter fluid and set on fire. The vacation cart is only filled with the most precious carbs that are unthinkable for consumption at other times in the year: double stuffed oreos, Cheetos, Doritos, gallons of ice cream, biscuits, donuts, potato chips, pizza [insert favorite carb]. We get enough food for two weeks but somehow find ourselves back at the grocery store only a couple days later for another hit of the good stuff. Purchasing food at the grocery store is not enough for the Oldhams-we require carbs from all sources. After purchasing the groceries, we headed to a famous ice cream store which serves enormous portions. I decided to order the biggest portion and was presented with a gallon sized bowl of ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and topped with whipped cream-my father and wife circling me like vultures over a dead wildebeest.
This obsession with eating continued throughout the week with an equal obsession with bike riding/walking. You might think that bike riding and walking at least offset some of the eating. Wrong! We biked 15 miles each day, to the point that it hurt to fart, and yet we still couldn’t suck in our stomachs. I walked around the Mall of America for six hours, to the point that I needed a fricking scooter, and yet stretchy pants still felt tight. Each day I though that I couldn’t go on, that I had to go back to my normal diet. Each day I tried to refrain but it was as if I would black out and find myself eating cereal out of a Tupperware container or savoring Chips Ahoy while taking a shower. My low point came on the last day. The last meal. The final countdown. We ate at Olive Garden and then immediately went to get ice cream. After the ice cream I said that my vacation was over and I was finally ready to eat healthy again. One hour later…I must have blacked out again because I found myself in the kitchen eating two microwaved hot dogs sandwiched between a hamburger bun. Do I regret some decisions over the past week? Yes. Did I have an awesome vacation that will be with me in memory and waist line forever? Yes. Am I looking forward to next year’s vacation? Let’s just say i’m already mapping out the ice cream shops.
It was seven years ago, on Valentine’s Day, that I asked a very sexy lady to go on a date with me. I had been pursuing this fox for some time and finally got the gumption up to ask her out for dinner. In years prior, I spent my Valentine’s Day with my parents, which usually entailed eating a fancy dinner of chicken fingers at Big Boy. That sad tradition was soon to be history the day I planned my first ever “real” Valentine meal. The night was crisp, being February in Michigan, and I had asked my roommate if I could borrow his dress clothes for the occasion. Informing the guys at the dorm was half the fun and I may have lingered to long discussing my optimistic plans for romance. Suddenly, it was time to go pick up the lady and I rushed off through the empty quad to reach my date’s quarters. Reaching the door, I slowly raised my hand to knock but was overcome with sudden nervousness. “What if she doesn’t have fun?” “She can’t like a guy with braces.” “Should I give her a hug or a soft handshake?” “I want to get Ice Cream with her but can I hold in the subsequent gas!” Scoffing of the insecurities, I knocked. The door opened and my eyes lit up when I saw the most beautiful woman in the world. She wore a purple blouse that matched her radiance and surprisingly my own purple shirt. We stood at the door for quite some time staring until it got a little weird. Breaking the silence, I complemented her beauty and we set off for our special dinner.
We arrived at the restaurant only to find a long wait before we could be seated (I forgot to make a reservation). We were about to change our plans and go somewhere else when she said-“No, it’s okay we can stay and talk.” Those words seemed to melt my body into a pool of logophile-philosophical nirvana. I thought, “Not only is she drop dead sexy but she also wants to sit down and have a long conversation!” Time seemed to stand still during that chat and we soon were jettisoned to our table where we continued to converse, laugh, and digest our thoughts and food. The more the date went on the more enamored I became with this perfect specimen of a woman. Following our meal we decided to take a walk. This was when the nerves really kicked in. I had never seriously held hands with another girl. Sure, I held a girl’s hands during the obligatory Thanksgiving prayer and youth group sing-a-long but never in a romantic fashion. The only problem was I didn’t know how to initiate the intermingling of fingers. Should I just reach down and grab her hand? What if she snatches it away? I came up with a solution. I told her about a thing called “Keno” that my roommate Chris taught me about. Keno is the gradual increase in intimacy as a relationship matures. For example, the Keno at the beginning of a relationship is playful shoulder bumps or prolonged starring. It progresses to things like hand holding, hugs, and make-out sessions. After telling her about Keno, I said that “we should go to the next level.” I reached for her hand and intertwined my fingers with hers. I felt my whole body light up and I swear that first hand hold was the hedonic equivalent of eating donuts with John Candy. We finished our hand-holding walk and I took her back to her dorm room. We hugged for quite some time-not wanting to let go which would signal the end of our spectacular night. I said goodbye and seven years later that same amazing lady I took on a date is my wife, my best friend, and my biggest blessing. This Valentine’s Day, take a second to sincerely say “I Love You” to the those most dear to you and take your own trip on the memory lane of love.