Friday, May 22, 2015

15 signs that you are a father




Having a child is really only one sign that you’ve become a father. Few things have as many milestones as fatherhood. Just in case you are not sure if you’re a father yet, here are a few signifiers.

You know you are a father when,


1.     20 to 30% of your diet consists of uneaten bread crust.

2.     You stop asking why things are wet.

3.     The most common question from your mouth is, “Why is this on the floor?”

4.     Sleep becomes more important than sex.

5.     You long for the day that you can lounge on the sofa without the fear of a small child stomping on your crotch.

6.     The thought of a child riding you like a horse sounds sweet rather than degrading.

7.     A dream vacation means being home alone with a pizza and the TV.

8.     You begin saying things like, “Walk it off…”

9.     Getting off the sofa for a Band-Aid requires an explanation of what happened and an examination of the wound.

10. Letting the heat out sends you into a red-faced rage.

11. You accidently watch My Little Pony for an hour after the kids went to bed.

12. You accept the fact that you no longer pee alone.

13. Silent children make you more suspicious than loud children.

14. You feel as satisfied by a basket of folded laundry as you do a well running vehicle.

15. You find yourself alone, commuting to work, and singing “Let It Go.”

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him onFacebook and Twitter.  
 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Strange questions I’ve asked my wife after watching popular movies




Mel and I have been married for over 10 years. We have this game. I will ask her a hypothetical situation based on a movie I recently saw as a means to understand the depth of our love. She always answers in frank, hilarious, and eye opening ways. Here are a few examples.

Robocop (2014):

Me: Let’s say, hypothetically, that I was a police officer targeted by drug dealers with a car bomb. The government turned me into a cyborg, which saved my life, but it also made me mostly metal, all but one hand and my face, and allowed them to control my brain. Would you still love me?

Mel: If it means you would be better at fixing things, the car for example, then I would probably love you more.

Rocky:

Me: Let’s say, hypothetically, that I was an older than average amateur boxer. Through a publicity stunt, I ended up having the chance to fight the world heavy weight champion. I gave it my all in the fight, but lost. Would you still love me?

Mel: If it means you are spending more time in the gym, then I’m all about it.

The Notebook:

Me: Let’s say, hypothetically, that I was in a rest home with Alzheimer’s disease. Would you show up every day and tell me the story of our love so you could see the old me for just a few moments.

Mel: Aren’t you supposed to do that for me?

Me: Just answer the question.

Mel: Yes. But not everyday. I’ll have things to do.

Die Hard (the series)

Me: Let’s say, hypothetically, that I was a police officer with a bad mouth and temper. Every few years I find myself in an extreme hostage situation where I have to find creative ways to kill multiple terrorists. It’s a fluke, really, but I’m good at it and I always end up being the hero. In fact, sometimes I even save your life. By the end I’m a sweaty bleeding mess. Would you still love me?

Mel: Do you look good without a shirt on?

Me: Meah.

Mel: That might be too stressful.

Aladdin:

Me: Let’s say, hypothetically, that you were a princess and I was a homeless thief with a pet monkey. One day I found a lamp with a genie inside, and I used his magical powers to trick you into thinking that I was actually a sultan with a pet monkey. Would you still be able to love me after you found out.

Mel: When you put it that way, Aladdin sounds like a player. So… probably not.

Cast Away:

Me: Let’s say, hypothetically, that I was in a plane crash and ended up getting stuck on a tropical island. I wasn’t found for years and ended up making friends with a volleyball. You gave up hope, and found another man. But then, they found me. Would you blow off that other dude?

Mel: Yes. Unless the other guy doesn’t snore. That would make the choice difficult.

 The Saw:

Me: Let’s say, hypothetically, that a madman kidnapped me and put a reverse bear trap on my face for the sake of a sick game. But I didn’t win the game, and the trap went off, and now I don’t have a lower jaw. Would you still love me?

Mel: Yes. But there is something wrong with you.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, Fast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him onFacebook and Twitter.  



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I took a bath with baby. She pooped in the tub.




I was bathing with my one-year-old when she grunted a little, her face went red, and it happened. She pooped. Then she gave me a two teeth, gummy smile, and said, “Bah…”

I was home alone with Aspen. My wife, Mel, and our two older children were at a church activity. They had been there later than expected, so to save time, I just hopped in the tub with Aspen.

The little brown poop floated to the surface, and rolled over. I looked at it for a moment, not sure just what to do. Sadly, this was not the first time a baby had pooped while I was in the tub. Every time I get in the tub with one of my young children I know there is a 40% chance that poop will happen. But every time it does happen, I am always surprised.

I froze, weighted with thoughts and questions: should I leap out? Is there poop on me? Can poop bacteria travel through water? If I don’t touch it, will I still be clean? Why is the baby so happy about this? Why haven’t I gotten out yet?

And as I thought, Aspen turned around and reached for the turd. She got half a grip on it, breaking it into smaller pieces. Then she reached for her mouth, and I caught her hand.

Everything goes in a baby’s mouth.

I tugged her out by wrapping my left arm around her waist, and held her poopy hand with my right. I took her to the sink, and washed her hands.

We were both freckled with baby poop. I could feel it. This was not the worst kind of poop. It was somewhere between adult poop, and small animal poop, never the less, it was still poop. As a parent, I’ve learned a lot about poop. In some ways I feel like a poop expert. And yet I couldn’t quite figure out just what to do in this situation. Last time I was in the tub and a baby pooped, Mel was home to help.

But now I was alone.

Very alone.

I set Aspen down and shut the bathroom door. Then I drained the tub. Baby poop spotted the tub, and the tub liner, and the baby toys. I wanted to just light the tub on fire and start over. It seemed like it might be easier, and more sanitary. But I couldn’t, so I turned the shower on high and hot, and started working the poop down the drain. I had to use my hand once to force a large chunk down, and as I touched it, felt it’s texture, I thought about how this is not what I signed on for. No one ever told me that I’d be forcing poop down a bath drain before I became a father. If they had, I assume it would have been a deal breaker.

I was so focused on the task at hand, my own misery, that I didn’t notice that while my back was turned Aspen had gotten a hold of the plunger and was now chewing on the rubbery business end. And when I spotted her, she laughed at me. A sweet baby laugh that seemed to say, “You weren’t paying attention, so I did this to myself. You suck as a dad.”

I took the plunger away and said “Yuck,” and “Gross” in hopes that she would understand that what she did was nasty and never do it again. But I don’t think she got that message. Instead she just smiled, and then crawled to me and hugged me, and all I could think about was how she’d just had a plunger in her mouth, and she was wet with poop water. I didn’t want to hold her. I wanted to soak our bodies in bleach. I wanted everything to be clean and bacteria free. But I couldn’t do that just then, so I picked her up, looked in her blue eyes, and said, “You are the nastiest baby I know.”

She didn’t laugh, or cry, or look offended. She stuck her hand in my mouth. The same hand that touched the turd. The same hand that just touched the plunger. I spit her out, and gagged. I put Aspen down again and used some cleaner on the tub and the toys. I kept a closer eye on her this time.

Then I filled the tub again, we both got in, and I lathered us both with soap. And as I did, she giggled and cooed, and by the time I got out, I didn’t think about all the nattiness we’d just gone through. I didn’t even feel gross anymore. I had, for the most part, put it behind me. By the next day, I felt confident that I wouldn’t even think about it.

I wondered why I wasn’t angry. I was frustrated and grossed out when it all happened, but I never got angry. I thought about how, if anyone else in the world pooped in my tub while I was in it, made me clean it out, and then stuck a poop hand in my mouth, I’d have them killed. But with Aspen, my daughter, I put it all behind me within moments.

This is the real power of children.


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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter
Photo by Lucinda Higley



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

5 Things I never should’ve said to my wife after our first child



Photo by Gregory Rallen

I had my first child eight years ago. I was 24. I had no idea what I was doing. I was young, confused, and scared, and all of this caused me to say some really bone-head things to my wife. I feel horrible about it, so I am going to have a conversation with my former self. Hopefully you new fathers out there can learn from my mistakes.

When did the doctor say we could have sex again?

Oh… poor you. Having to go a few months without sex. Your wife just had a 6-pound baby ripped from a gaping hole in her stomach (C-section), but that pales in comparison to how horny you are. Dude… deal with it. Your wife just grew a baby inside her body, then had a major surgery where a human life was dragged out of her, and finally was crudely stapled back together. Do you really think she needs you crammed up inside her? Think with your head for a minute. Give her body a rest. She’s earned it.

When are we going to start exercising again?

I see what you did there. You said “we” and not “you.” Classy. You know what your wife just heard? “You need to get busy losing that baby weight.” Or maybe, “I’m not finding you as attractive after having a baby.” So basically you just confirmed what most women fear after having a child. Nice work, asshole. You are both adjusting to a new baby. She is adjusting to a new baby AND a new body. You married her because she is sweet and wonderful. Because she made you feel like a better man. Not simply because she looked good in a pair of jeans. So think about that and give the new mom a break.

I’m tired.

Listen, I get it. Having a baby is exhausting for both parents. I’m not saying that you are not tired. But saying it to your wife makes her feel like she needs to do something to help you get more rest. Or it’s like you are asking her to console you, or reward you for being such a trooper. That is not her job right now. You can get emotional support for how tired you are somewhere else. Because you know what, she is the one working to put her body back together while producing milk to feed the baby. Her body has shit to do, she doesn’t have the energy to make you feel better about being tired, so do her a favor and shut the hell up about how tired you are.

Ugh… do I have to change the baby?

Yes you do! You are a dad! This is a partnership. If the baby is poopy, handle it. Don’t pass that shit onto your wife. Take pride in it. This is a new era. An egalitarian age where a man can change a diaper and feel good about it. Take advantage of the fact that you can, with the simple act of changing a baby’s butt, without complaint, be a huge help to your growing family. Stop being lazy and stop acting like you are better than the job.

You have three months off from work. It’s like an extended vacation.

NO! IT! IS! NOT! It is recovery time, you dumb ass. It is time for your wife to get her body back together, and for her to connect with the baby. She should get as much time as she needs off (3 months, 3 years…). That would be a decent maternity leave. What you were trying to say was this. That you wished you had time off so that you could care for your wife and child. So that you could spend time connecting as a new family. You are not pissed off because your wife gets maternity leave and it’s a vacation. You are pissed off because you don’t get paternity leave, which is bullshit.

You would also enjoy, The Copycat Game Is For A-Holes

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter
Photo by Lucinda Higley


Monday, May 18, 2015

Just because I’m a husband doesn’t mean I know how to catch a mouse

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Mel and I were married just over a year when we discovered a mouse in the attic. We were both in our early 20s and living in a 1950s, 900 square foot, two-bedroom home in rural Provo, Utah. Behind us was a cornfield, and behind that, a hay field.

It started with a scratching. Then we began to notice mouse droppings beneath the sink, next to a container Mel used to store bacon grease.

“Ugh…” Mel said. “I can see his little snout print in the grease. He’s eating the grease. That is so nasty.” She shivered as if she felt violated.

“Get rid of it,” she said.

We both stood in the kitchen, examining the cupboard below the sink. I felt like she thought I was a mobster, or something. I mean honestly, what the hell did “get rid of it,” mean?

She gave me a stern look that seemed to say, “This is your job.”

I’d never killed a mouse, and yet somehow Mel assumed I was qualified simply because I was a man. She made a lot of assumptions like this early in our marriage. She assumed I could fix a car. I couldn’t. She assumed I could manage a budget. I couldn’t do that, either. I tried to hang a shelf in our kitchen on Mel’s request, but I got so frustrated, and swore so much trying to figure the damn thing out, she ended up calling her father to finish the job while I was at school. I think she assumed I’d feel bad about her father having to come and finish the job, but I didn’t. I was just happy that I didn’t have to deal with it.

I wanted to tell Mel that I didn’t know how to kill a mouse, but I didn’t know where to start. It was early in our marriage, and I was too self-conscious to say something that open and vulnerable, so I said something mean that I might have said to one of my guy friends.

“It’s just a little mouse. It’s not going to hurt anything. Stop being a pansy.”

Mel gave me a flash of anger. “It’s nasty! I’m not going to live in the same house as a mouse. No way. You need to do something about it or I’m staying with my mother.” She folded her arms. It was her, or the mouse.

“Ok. Ok.” I said. “I’ll figure it out.”

But I had no intention of figuring it out because I didn’t really know where to start. I assumed it was in the attic, or the walls. I had no idea how to get inside the walls and kill it, and I didn’t know how to get into the attic. I so badly wanted to be a strong husband. I had a deep feeling that I should, inherently, know how to catch a mouse. Catching a mouse sounded so simple, and the fact that I didn’t know how to do it made me feel like a failure. This happened a lot early in my marriage. I was afraid to admit that I didn’t know how to do something that a man ought to know how to do, so rather than admit it and search for help, I just tried to ignore the problem.

I assume Mel interpreted this as me being lazy.

A few days later I woke up to Mel shoving me in the night.

“What?” I said.

“Shhhhh” she said. “Listen… do you hear that scratching.”

Above us was scratching and squeaking sounds. The mouse was burrowing, or something, right above us.

“I’ve been up for an hour listening to that nasty thing. Why haven’t you gotten rid of it?”

I sat up in bed. Listened for a moment. Then I said, “For all I know it’s a little family of mice up there, living their lives, keeping to themselves, and only coming down once in a while for bacon grease. So I took the grease away. It’s just a matter of time before they will get hungry and leave. We just need to wait it out.”

Mel started hitting me in the back, “I. Can’t. Sleep. Not with that thing up there. No way.”

She went on, about how I should handle this. How it was my responsibility as a man to handle it. And with each statement, I felt like she was asking the question, “What kind of man are you?” I told her that I’d handle it, without any idea of what that meant, and she kept saying she was going to stay with her mother. When I think back on this moment, I realize that she wanted me to be as masculine as her father. Mel’s dad is a professional blacksmith. He could catch a mouse. He could fix a car, too. But at the same time, he didn’t get up in the night with his children, or do laundry, or change diapers. This is one of the more complicated things about the era of men born in the early 80s. I am expected to be as masculine as a man from the 50s, but also the kind of man that will live in an egalitarian relationship where all housework is shared equally. I can do the housework part, but that truly masculine stuff I’m no good at. But I feel like I should be, so it comes out sideways in feelings of insecurity.

Eventually, I turned on a box fan to drown out the noise, and we both fell asleep.

For one week we argued about the mouse. Mel made threats that she was going to stay with her mother, while I felt pathetic, and pitiful, not sure how to handle the damn situation, but too self-conscious to admit to it. Thinking back, there were a million obvious solutions to the problem: mousetrap, mouse poison, an exterminator. But my pride shadowed my judgment. I just kept hoping that the mouse would eventually go away. But it never did.

Eventually Mel came home one night with a mousetrap and told me she’d had a chat with a man at the hardware store. And when she said it, I felt like she was saying, “I had a chat with a REAL man.”

“He told me to put the trap down where we have been seeing droppings. Then bait it with something it has already been eating,” she said. Then she raised her eyebrows, and I felt like she was saying, “I had to do your job.”

Thinking back on this moment, so much of this was about me. Not Mel. I felt very insecure, and it caused me to interpret things as being mean, when Mel was probably only trying to help. So much of early marriage comes down to expectations and pride, and trying to figure out just how to be a husband and wife. Sometimes that means cooking a meal, sometimes it means learning how to fix a car, and sometimes it means admitting that you don’t know how to catch a mouse.

Finally I said it. “I just don’t understand what make you think I know how to catch a mouse?”

“It can’t be that hard,” she said.  Then she paused for a moment. She could tell that I wasn’t right, but I don’t think she knew just what was wrong.

I went on, explaining to her that I’d never caught a mouse, but I feel like I should know because I’m a man.

“Why didn’t you ask someone how to do it?” she said.

I shrugged. “Because that would be admitting that I don’t know how to do it.”

I’m not sure if Mel got just what I was saying, but I think she understood that this was something deeper than she originally thought.

Mel set the trap, and I baited it with bacon grease.

The next morning, we woke up to a big fat dead mouse caught in a trap below our sink.

 You would also enjoy, The Copycat Game Is For A-Holes

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter
Photo by Lucinda Higley