Friday, January 23, 2015

Horsey rides



 
Photo by Timothy Vollmer

 

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I was on fours, next to the front door, waiting for my rider. It was about 8 p.m. and Mel, my wife, was sitting in a glider feeding our baby. The lights were out. Tristan, our 7-year-old, was already in bed.

Down the hallway came Norah, our 5-year-old. She was in a blue Elsa Princess nightgown, her hair wet and neatly combed. In her arms were a six-foot long fuzzy green body pillow and a long beaded necklace. These were to be my saddle and harness.

Every night before bed I gave Norah a horsey ride to her room. I’m not sure where she came up with the idea of riding me like a horse. Perhaps she’d seen it on TV, My Little Pony perhaps, or at a friend’s house, but what I do know is that I never suggested it to her. She never rode a real horse, just seen them tugging at grass on the side of the road. In fact, until she came up with the idea I never even thought of giving one of our children a ride on my back. The first time Norah suggested that she ride me like a horse, I grumbled.

It sounded degrading.

Norah was standing next to me now. My head was down so she could place the necklace over my head. All I could see were her little feet. The nails were painted in conflicting bright colors. She placed the body pillow across my shoulder blades and said, “Give me a lift.”

It’s funny to think that even with me on all fours, I am too big for Norah to climb onto. She is a petite little thing, less than three feet. She has her mother’s brown hair and blue green eyes. It’s hard not to look at her without my heart melting.

I turned my left hand into a cup shape, and held it about 6 inches off the ground. She stepped into it, tugged on my shirt, and pulled herself onto my back. I could feel her wiggling around on me. She grunted into position, placing her feet next to my shoulders. She grabbed the necklace, and pulled it snug against my neck. Then she clicked me with her heels and said, “Giddy up.”

I plodded forward, slowly, feeling her slide side to side along with my movements. She nudged me again with her heels and said, “Faster, horsey.”

“This is a one speed horse,” I said.

I could hear Mel laughing behind me.

Before having children, if someone were to approach me and ask to ride me like a horse, saddle, harness, and all, I’d have told them to kiss my ass. I can think of few things more degrading. But with my children, my daughter, I look forward to giving her a horsey ride to bed. I don’t know what it is about children, but they can get you to do some really crazy things and then feel really good about it.

As I crawled down the hall, Norah on my back, I felt a warming chill in my heart. I felt a deep love for my daughter, a feeling that what we were doing was a memory that would last a lifetime. I could feel how happy this made my daughter, and even though crawling down the hall hurt my knees and wrists and pride, I felt wonderful about it. As long as I was able, and as long as Norah was willing, I knew I would plod down the hall with her on my back each night.

We reached her bed, and I walked alongside it. She pulled on the reins, and said, “Whooooa, horsey.”

Norah choked me a little, and even with that, I couldn’t help but laugh. She stood up on my back, and then stepped casually onto her bed. The she reached out and took the saddle off my back, and the reins from around my head, and said, “Horsey, you can be a daddy now,” while patting the back of my head.

My knees were a little stiff by this point, so it took me a bit to stand. And when I looked down at Norah, she was smiling. It wasn’t a smile of control, or anything. It was a look that seemed to say, “You love me.”

I sat down on the edge of her bed, put my left arm around her, and said, “What story are we going to read?”

She didn’t answer my question. Rather she wrapped her arms around me and, “You’re a good daddy.”

I laughed and said, “I love you, too.”

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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 on Facebook and Twitter.  


Thursday, January 22, 2015

23 The Foulest things YOU have done as parents


 
Photo by Gordon

 

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Parents do some nasty things while raising kids. But I didn’t realize just how nasty until I posted this question on my Facebook fan page, “What is the foulest thing you've had to do as a parent?” I read through all the responses, and let’s just say you are all solders. Below are a few of the really nasty ones.

1.     Clean poop out from the bottom of my fingernails. Didn't realize I missed a spot and thought there was a piece of food underneath it and used my teeth to get it out....

2.     The dog pooped on the floor and the crawling baby found it - and ate some of it - before I found out.

3.     Play day at the park. Held my (at the time) 6-month-old above me playing airplane and singing to him. He puked in my mouth. I then proceeded to throw up on the grass, the smell upset my oldest stomach and he puked all over the front of him and me. He had to walk two blocks home like that...

4.     I have been nit picking all day. Lice!!!! In all 3 of my girls hair! Not how I wanted to spend my five days off.

5.     Chop up my daughters poop in a friend’s toilet because it was sooo huge it wouldn't go down. We did it discreetly w/ a pencil.

6.     Clean poop out of the knobs of my brand new surround sound receiver.

7.     I took my one year olds diaper off right before bath, he took off naked to my living room pooped on my floor, got it on his hands and touched the knobs on the receiver. I used q-tips to clean it out. It was a Bose too! Smh!

8.     My son came by my bed in the middle of the night. He said his stomach hurt. Before I could get up he started throwing up. I pulled him into bed to let him throw up all over me. I figured the bed and I were easier to clean than the carpet.

9.     Rectal stimulation.. Aka Helping baby poop.

10. Pull a hard poop out of babies butt. It got stuck half way out.

11. Fishing tub toys and a kid out of a tub full of floating poop.

12. Getting puked on in the middle of a restaurant. It keeps coming so I try to run to the bathroom, but end up leaving a trail of vomit along the way. Get my son all cleaned up and changed. I take my shirt and bra off and zip up my jacket, since they are covered in barf. Go back to the table and our food has finally arrived, and the waitress had put our dinner right next to a puddle of vomit.

13. My daughter decided to rip off her diaper and her poop went on the floor ...it was that rabbit poop type....my son was crawling and found it. Yep. He put it in his mouth...had to fish it out. Gag.

14. After my son woke up from his nap (or so I thought he had slept) he proceeds to inform me that he "swallowed money's from his new coin jar". I ran to check his coin jar and sure enough $1.70 was missing. Called the pediatrician who told us to catch every bowel movement and pick out all the coins until every last one was accounted for. That evening after work my husband was watching the kids while I went to a meeting. The look on his face was priceless when I gave him the instructions from the Pediatrician. His response, "do I have to do that too?"

15. Watching my son pee on his face & in his mouth while I used a diaper to catch the projectile blowout coming out the other end!! Super Gross!!!

16. I had to hold my daughter down while an ER Doctor cleared an impacted bowel.

17. Hold a puke bucket for my 5 year old while breastfeeding a newborn baby. Multitasking.

18. Plucking poopy baby wipes out of the clogged toilet filled with poo! Thanks son. LOL!

19. I was always anti play place areas. They seem so gross to me. So my son up to age 4 had never been in one Then at a family event my husband gave him the go. And the first and only time he went into one, he came out covered in someone else's puke.

20. My son stuck tissues up his nostrils when he was about 18 months old. There was so much up there we couldn't get it out. As it was in the evening we had to go to the hospital. The nurse said I needed to give him mouth to mouth and a sharp blow. It worked, but when we looked up, the gooey snot ball had landed on the nurse’s hand!!! I could have died!!

21. Watch the movie my husband took of my c-section. I asked him to film the baby and he thought I meant the procedure as well. The doctor was literally pumping my stomach to get the baby out.

22. Had to politely ask company to leave after going to check in on my 1 & 2 yr old boys who were tucked neatly into bed/crib since they shared a room. Yup, they were quiet alright. The 2-year-old helped remove the 1-year-old's diaper, which was conveniently full of crap, and they proceeded to paint the bedroom.
We tore out carpet that evening. That's the night my boys learned the word "shit" because...If it's not in a toilet or a diaper, it means I have to clean it up. If I have to clean it up, I'm not using Mommy-talk...I'm calling it what it is....SHIT.

23. My then 6 no old daughter sneezed just before the diaper went up and a substance similar to thin, sticky guacamole, shot out her rear and onto my forearm!


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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 on Facebook and Twitter.  


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How having a father in jail made me a better father



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My father left when I was nine, and died from drug addiction when I was 19. During those ten years he was in and out of jail, mostly for driving while intoxicated. When I was 16-years-old, he was given an 18 month sentence in the Utah County Jail. This was his longest sentence, and sadly, it included the most consistent communication of our relationship because he had two phone calls a week, and he often spent them on me because I was one of the few people still willing to pick up the phone when he called.

I hated having my father in jail. I hated having to explain it to friends and teachers, because I knew that they would look at me differently, so I often lied about him. Sometimes I said that he lived in another state, but mostly I said he was dead. It just seemed easier than the truth, which was that my father was not much of a father at all. In so many ways I just wanted to forget him. Pretend like he never existed because it was easier than dealing with the fact that I found him embarrassing. But most importantly, I felt a deep sorrow in knowing that he wasn’t like the fathers my friends had. The ones that were dependable. The fathers that showed up to sporting events and parent teacher conferences. The fathers that were supportive and compassionate and sober.

I’m not trying to say that my father didn’t have some valuable qualities. He wasn’t completely without worth, and over the years, and as I have gotten older, I have started to better understand who he was. He’s been dead for 13 years, and now that I’m a father of three, I think about him a lot more than I ever have.

Honestly, I wish he would have been better. More dependable. More compassionate. More dedicated. More connected and understanding of his children. When I first had my son, I thought a lot about the fact that I never really had a father, and I didn’t know how I was going to be a decent father without a good example.

It made me bitter. It made me jealous of fathers who had good examples. I hated chatting with other dads and hearing them tell me about lessons they learned as a child from their fathers that came in handy now. I hated hearing them tell me about how they had a good chat with their fathers before having children about what it would be like to be a father.

I though a lot about all this stuff for several years until one day, when my first son was five-years-old, and we were living in Minnesota, I helped my son make a stick horse. We were living in a town home and I was attending graduate school. It was fall, and there were leaves and sticks in our front yard. I asked Tristan if he’d ever rode a stick horse. He looked up at me big bashful blue eyes, and said, “No.”

I found a couple sticks on the lawn, broke off the side branches so they would be straight, put one between my legs, and hopped around the yard like I were on a horse.

“That’s it,” I said. “I used to do it with my father.”

And with that statement, I thought about when I was a boy, and one of the few happy memories I had with my father. I was around 7-years-old, just a little older than Tristan. Dad handed me a stick, just like I did with my son, and showed me how to ride it around the yard.

I remember feeling warmth in what he did. A simple tenderness that I assumed would always be there. I could see that same feeling in Tristan’s eyes as he rode his stick horse.

I knew that I wanted more of these moments with my children, but rather than getting bitter like I used to, I thought about the dad I had for just a short moment. The one who showed me how to make stick horses, and I said, “I’m going to be that dad. I’m going to be the father I never had.”

I committed to being dedicated to my children. I promised myself that I would never abandon my children. That I would love my wife and my family more than myself. I promised to never consume drugs or alcohol. To show up to my children’s parent teacher conferences and sporting events. Rather than getting more pissed off about what my father wasn’t, and using that as an excuse to feel lost, I decided to do something more.

Tristan and I rode stick horses in the yard for an hour or so. Eventually Tristan’s three-year-old sister, Norah, came out and joined us. She mostly just banged her stick horse on the driveway, but she seemed to be enjoying herself. It was a simple, but awesome moment for me as a father because for the first time I realized that I was getting back what I’d always wanted, a father-child relationship.

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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 on Facebook and Twitter.  



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Foulest things I’ve done as a parent




Photo by TJ Wolfe

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Parenting is not all hugs and peekaboo. Sometimes being a parent means doing some nasty shit. Here are a few of my personal worst.


Cleaned vomit diarrhea mixture: My son was 8 months old when he contracted a spectacular virus that turned his anus and stomach into little fountains of nastiness. I came into his room one night to find him reaching up from a bog of green and black fluid resting atop is crib liner. The smell made my tummy sad, and I will admit, I looked at him for several seconds trying to decide if it really was my obligation to pick him up. Part of me wanted to just leave him in the filth and start over with a new child. Eventually I did, however, decide to pluck him from the crib, place him in a warm bath. It took Mel and I some time to clean up the mess because we had to stop, step from the room, and gag at least 3 times.

Had a child’s booger placed in my mouth: When my first daughter was three, we had this game where I’d put something from my dinner in her mouth, and she would place something from her dinner in mine. It was a way to get her to try new things. And it worked, for the most part. I’d tell her how excited I was for her to try something, and my excitement often got her excited. Every time I’d give her something new I’d say, “Yum, Yum, Yum.” This really backfired once she decided that boogers were delicious. After a few failed attempts, one day she managed to cram one of her boogers in my mouth as I was on the sofa reading. I should probably admit that the thought of it was much worse than the actual taste. Norah’s boogers tasted a lot like mine, a rich salty flavor I can still recall from my childhood. 

Fished keys from used toilet: Last summer I found my keys in a toilet full of yellow water. To this day, I’m still not sure who placed them there, but I suspect my middle daughter. She was in the middle of a water fascination. Although, It could have easily been my older son. I try not to think that it was my wife, because then I’d have to assume that she secretly hates me, or has a fetish over me touching her own pee. None of those are rooms I’d like to enter. Long story short, I tried fishing it out with a few things: coat hanger for example. But I just couldn’t get the right angle. Finally I had to just reach in for the bastards.

Dug poo from a toddler’s butt: This was not me, actually. This is a story from my wife. But it’s just too foul to pass up. Our first daughter had some major problems with constipation. She must have been three-years-old. One day, while I was at school, Norah flat out couldn’t poo.  Mel gave her a little examination, and could see the poo stuck in her butt. My wife, the champ that she is, rolled up her sleeves and dug that poop out with her pinkie finger. Norah remembers none of this, which is both good and bad. Good because she will not be emotionally crippled from reliving the memory when she’s older. Bad because Mel will not get the life long credit and respect that she deserves for plucking a turd out of someone’s ass.

Plucked a turd from the tub: This has been a problem for parents ever since children stopped being bathed in natural bodies of water. When my oldest son first pooped in the tub, I assumed that if I pulled the plug it would simply go down with the water. I was wrong. Rather it broke into a few pieces and got wedged in the drain. I tried to force it down with water pressure, but it resisted, and eventually I had to dig it out with my hands. I learned a lot about what will and will not go down the tub drain, and have since changed the way I approach this situation.

What are some of the foulest things you’ve done as a parent?

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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 on Facebook and Twitter.  



Monday, January 19, 2015

Homework: parents' eternal struggle

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Just after work by my wife asked me to go pick up some pizzas. Tristan, my 7-year-old, wanted to go, and I asked him if he’d done his homework. He looked up at me and said, “no.”

Then he said, “I’ll get my shoes on.”

I supposed I shouldn’t be surprised by his reaction. Mel and I have been trying a lot of different methods to get Tristan to do his homework, and I think it’s being interpreted as inconsistency. Tristan is seven-years-old. He attends a charter school in Small Town Oregon, just down the street from our home. They have a policy at his school that if he doesn’t show up with his homework completed, he has to stay in from recess and finish it. We tried using that as a threat, and his response was, “I will still get some of my recess.” Then he went back to playing with his toys. We tried not letting him leave his bedroom until he finished his homework, so he decided to just lay on his bed, look at the ceiling, and hum. We tried not giving him any screens until he finished his homework, and so he started running laps down the hallway. We have tried any number of punishments and rewards, and mixes of both, and he still only finishes his homework about 60% of the time.

It was frustrating as hell and I wasn’t sure what to do.

I walked over to Tristan. He was putting on his shoes to go with me to pick up pizza, when I said, “Dude, had you finished your homework, I’d have taken you. But you didn’t. So you need to stay home and get to work.”

He looked up at me with big angry eyes, his lip quivering.

Then his younger sister, Norah said, “I finished my homework!”

Kids are jealous creatures, and I’m confident that Norah made this announcement just to aggravate her brother. However, even if her intentions were malicious, I couldn’t tell her, "no." As a parent I end up in these situations far too often.

“Cool,” I said, “Want to come with me to get pizza?”

Norah ran and got her shoes. It was then that Tristan really flipped his shit. He had his shoes on now, and he opened the front door, and ran out to the car. But the doors were locked. He tried all four doors on my little green Mazda, then he stood between me and the car door, hand on the door handle, waiting for me to unlock the car so he could sneak in.

I stood in front of the car. It was rainy and dark. Norah was next to me wearing a purple jacket and light up princess shoes.

I asked Tristan if he’d done his homework, and all he said was, “Please.” I asked him again, and he repeated the word. Then he kept repeating it, over and over. Mel came out on the porch, our six-month-old on her hip and said, “Just let him go. He can stay in and do his homework at recess.”

And suddenly it all felt like some strange intervention. The whole family was in the front yard, trying to talk Tristan down. Trying to reason with him. And I got irritated. It was ridiculous to me that we would go through all this over 1 hour of homework. So much of parenting comes down to this. Fighting over little things that someday will become big things. These are the fights that get blown way out of proportion and make me want to pull my hair out. They are the ones that make me wonder if I’m doing it wrong. If someday my kids will hate me for my inconsistency, or feel cheated because I wouldn’t do something as simple as take them with me to pick up a pizza. But all of these thoughts and emotions are always in hindsight, because in this moment, I was pissed. I was frustrated. Rather than try and reason with him, I picked him up, carried him, kicking and screaming, into the house, sat him down at the table, and said, “Whose fault is it that you cannot go with me to get pizza?”

Tristan wouldn’t look at me. He folded his arms. He looked at the table. Then he started crying and said, “Mine.”

“Yup,” I said. “You made the decision to not do your homework. And now you are missing out. Take responsibility. Get it done.”

I was gone about 20 minutes picking up pizza. The whole time I was gone I stewed about how I handled the situation. I want him to grow up and understand the importance of homework and knowledge. I want him to have what I didn’t. My father left when I was young. My mother worked until late in the evening. I didn’t have anyone to push me to do homework, so I just didn’t. It was a bad situation, and thinking back I wish someone had shown me the importance of school when I was young so I didn’t have to learn it in my 20s. But the real problem is: how do I help my son understand that now? How do I help him to appreciate what I didn’t?

When I came home Tristan was in his room working. Mel told me that he spent half of the time I was gone pouting, and the other half working.

And once he was finished and we’d all eaten and gotten ready for bed. Once we were all calm, I sat him down for a talk.

Tristan was in his underwear, wrapped up in a quilt, and sitting on his bed.

I didn’t bring up him not coming with me. I didn’t bring up our fight, or any of that. I just said, “Do you know why homework is important?” I said.

Tristan shook his head.  “I just hate it,” he said.

“I know. I hated it, too. But the thing about school is, you need it. And I will tell you why. If you don’t learn how to work with your head, you will have to work with your back.” I tickled his lower back, and he smiled.

I told him about the jobs I had before college. How I used to work for the power company and be out all hours in the cold or the heat. I told him about how I used to load trucks with pavestones while working at the hardware store. I told him about waiting tables, and being up late and having sore feet and a sore back. “I went to school for a long time. I did a lot of homework. And now I have a job that I really like. I don’t come home with a sore body like my father did. Or my grandfather. Now that I’m in my 30s, I don’t know if I’d like working outside with my hands and back. And I assume that I’d hate it in my 40s. I know this sounds like a long ways off for you, but the real work of your mind happens now.”

I don’t know if what I said made any sense to him, but honesty was all I had. I’m probably going to have to tell him this a million more times. But what I do know is that I was as honest as I could be. And once it was all done, Tristan told me that he loved me. I said I loved him, too. And then I tucked him in and hoped that he’d do his homework tomorrow.

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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 on Facebook and Twitter



Friday, January 16, 2015

My super power is arguing… apparently

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My five-year-old was wandering around the house in a Frozen nightgown and holding a magic wand with a pink cupcake on the end. She was telling each member of the family what their super power was. She told Tristan, our 7-year-old, that his super power was watching screens. Aspen, our baby, her super power was crying. And Mel, my wife, her super power was love. 

She reached the kitchen, where I was loading the dishwasher, and stood before me, wand at her side. She looked up at me for some time, her mouth twisted, and said, “Daddy. Your super power is arguing,”

She lifted her wand, and brought it down. She smiled, turned, and walked away.

I stood there for some time, trying not to be offended. “Arguing,” I thought. “For real?”

I expected her to say that my super power was tickles, or love, or something sweet. I always saw myself as a loving father. The kind of dad that was compassionate and thoughtful. The kind of dad that let’s their daughter ride them like a horse each night before bed. I didn’t think of myself as one to argue. Particularly a good enough arguer that I had an arguing super power.

She must have thought I was an asshole.

Or a lawyer.

Or both.

Mel was in the dining room.

“Arguing,” I said. “Really?”

Mel gave me a half grin that seemed to say, “Sorry, but it’s true.”

I suppose that’s the really tragic part of living with children. If you want the truth, ask a five-year-old. They are full of truths and observations and all of it comes without varnish.

My first instinct was to argue against being told that my super power was arguing, and when I think back on that instinct, I suddenly realize that it must be true.

I stepped from the kitchen, sat at the table, and wondered how this happened. Was I the grumpy dad? I thought. This whole time I thought I was the fun dad, or perhaps the goofy dad.

All I could think about was my mother. When I was young, I saw my mother as this angry person. She always seemed moody. When I was a child, if I were to say that she had a super power, it probably would have been arguing. Or something similar. When I became a parent, I remember thinking, “I’m not going to be like my mother.” But there I was, obviously acting just like her. The real scary thing about all this is that if you ask my mother, she would probably say that she was a very sweet and compassionate mother. And this was true, to an extent. But most of the time she yelled… like most mothers.

When I had my first child, I recall thinking about everything my mother did wrong as a parent. It was like a mental checklist. I committed to not yell at my children. I promised myself I wouldn’t say things like, “if you’d only think first,” or “This is why we can’t have nice things,” or any number of phrases that drove me crazy as a child. But sure enough, over the past several years, I’ve started saying all those things and more. Last week I told Tristan that he was, “Driving me to the mad house.”

Damn, that sounded like my mother.

Becoming my mother was a horrible thought for a few reasons. The first was obvious. I didn’t want to become my mother. But the next few were unexpected. Suddenly I felt an understanding of my mother. I began to realize why she came off so crazy when I was child. Poopy bums, constant crying and whining, and arguing with someone over why it is important to wipe your own butt, can make a person crazy.

As I sat at the table, reflecting on my own madness, Norah approached me. She raised her wand, thought for a moment, and said, “Your other super power is cuddles.”

Then she brought the wand down with finality.

“What happened to my super power being arguing?” I said.

“Oh… ,” Norah said. “You’re that, too.”

“Wait,” I said. “That doesn’t work. How can I have a super power of arguing and cuddles? They don’t work together at all. They are binaries.”

I went to say more and Norah put up her wand and said, “Shhhhhh…”

“You have both super powers because you argue when you are mad, and cuddle later!”

Then she stomped her foot.

I furrowed my brow at this. It was truly unexpected. But then I got it. This was how she truly saw me. I was the enforcer and the comforter. I was the one who made her eat vegetables at dinner and provided her with candy for dessert. Whenever I have to discipline Norah, I always wait until she has calmed down. Then I chat with her so she understands why she was in trouble. Then we end with a hug.

Every time.

This dual role is a huge part of being a parent. Even for my mother. It’s a complicated mess, and I assume this was how Norah processed it all.

I was the super arguer.

I was the super cuddler.

I stood from my chair, and Norah ran up to me and gave me a hug around my thigh.

“Am I using my super cuddle powers?”

Norah didn’t say a word. She just nodded, her face pressed against my leg.

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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 on Facebook and Twitter