Sunday, June 21st we celebrate the men who have filled the role of “father” in our lives. The transition into motherhood and fatherhood can be so different. Women experience a physical change that clearly reflects entering this new phase of life. It’s very hard to miss that something new is happening. For men, however, there is no growing belly, second heart beat or fluttering of a baby’s kicks to signal a new page outside of watching their partner. This means becoming a dad can be just as much about deciding to step into the role as it is contributing DNA. It means readily accepting the care and responsibility for a new life and that is a big job! Continue reading
There’s nothing like a parent’s pride and love for his newborn. Everything is fresh and sweet, if also exhausting and hard work. Often parents find themselves so immersed in the moment that they lose sight of the larger process of maturation and discovery. That’s why this super sweet dad decided to document his son’s first year of life, by recording one second of each of those first 365 days.
The dad writes:
Meet our son Indigo who was born on the 9th July 2012. From that day my wife and I videoed Indigo at least once a day, every day up to a year old. For his first birthday we’ve spent some time putting together a video of his entire first year. He doesn’t quite appreciate it yet, but we hope that in a few years he will.
If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye then we don’t know what will!
A lot happens in the first year of a child’s life. Most grow about 30% of their original weight and 20% of their original length; they begin smiling, reaching for object, rolling over, babbling, and some even take their first steps. It’s a whirlwind time that might seem to take forever in the moment, but which in hindsight goes by in a flash. Taking steps to document the process, as these parents did, can be one way to make sure the moments are never lost to our memories.
How did you document your children’s infancy? Tell us about it in the comments section below!
I haven’t seen my Pop in 20 years or so. I’ve forgiven him for skipping out on his fatherly duties and have accepted that he walks a path that leads him far away from home. His dreams were always much bigger than the reality his small suburban family could provide him. He wanted to change the world. And he did so through education.
He taught English through a bilingual program he developed at Boston English High School. He lectured passionately and positively about the growing Latino movement in Boston. He was even invited by Harvard University to do a lecture series about his work. I remember attending one of his lectures and was completely shocked when a swarm of undergrads rushed the lectern after his presentation, praising him for his work and his passion. His students loved him, his teacher community praised him, and his family thought he was nuts.
Pop walked down the street pinching a joint in one hand and flashing a peace sign in the other. His signature look was a “No Nukes” sweatshirt, overalls and long curly hair wrapped up in a red bandanna. No apologies. Crazy genius, I like to call him. I respect him for achieving some pretty amazing things as a teacher and advocate for the Latin community in Boston, though as a father he pretty much sucked.
In 2001, my husband MG introduced me to Dorchester’s Mother Caroline Academy and Education Center, a tuition-free inner city middle school for bright girls of limited financial means. He’d been involved with the school’s fund-raising mission for some time and brought me to their annual spring event in Jamaica Plain. I remember being greeted by a bunch of smiling girls in plaid kilts, knee socks and over-sized red blazers with shoulder pads – all singing, chattering, laughing and doing double dutch. Suddenly an nun came out of nowhere and jumped between the ropes. She was really good. A couple of other nuns ran in and did the same. It was absolutely adorable. I laughed out loud. And so the love affair with MCAEC began.
After a few years of attending MCAEC’s Spring Gala, their annual fundraiser, I joined the planning committee, eventually co-chairing the event for 3 years. As my family grew, I’d take my babies along with me to the school for meetings. I would sit and breastfeed at the conference table and hand off my full-bellied baby to a friend when it was my turn to speak. I enjoyed the experiences, but longed for a real connection with the girls for whom I spent so much time raising money. Plus I was knee-deep in diapers and nap schedules. So in 2009, I took off my co-chair hat and signed up to mentor a student.
My girlfriends KF and CP also decided the time was right to reach out to one of these amazing Mother Caroline girls. So the three of us attended a meet and greet with the entire 8th grade class at a swank football party in a private box at Foxboro Stadium overlooking the 50 yard line (provided by a generous donor, of course). After a few awkward conversations, I came upon a charming girl, LR – well, “came upon” might be an unfair way to put it. Honestly, I practically gave CP the Heisman to get to her, interrupting their conversation and shoving myself between them. The reason for my boldness, though unknown to me at the time, would be revealed later.
LR and I chatted easily for a long while, sharing some pretty personal things about each other and discovering lots of commonalities between us. She’s an old soul. Thoughtful, inquisitive, interesting, genuine, beautiful. I cornered the head of the mentoring program at the end of the game and gushed to her that I had a great conversation with LR and would love to have her as my mentee. As it turned out, LR liked me, too. So we were matched and spent the next few months getting to know each other.
The program head shared with us that typically mentor/mentee relationships start off slow. And I think that’s true for LR and me. Friendship and trust grows over time and as LR has told me, “We have a lot of years to do that.” So we’ve been sporadically setting up outings and getting to know each other. A couple of weeks ago LR and I were in the car together, talking about high schools. I mentioned that my Pop taught English to bilingual students at Boston English. She said, “My Mom went to Boston English.” Some quick math led us to realize that our parents were there at the same time. And LR’s Mom being Puerto Rican, the likelihood of her knowing my Pop was good. Really good. Really really good.
About 8:30 that night LR called and told me that her Mom had class with my Pop, “Mr. Cronin”, and remembered times staying after school with him when he’d tell her about my family and his days living in Honduras with the Peace Corps. Not only that, but she also spent a couple of years as a counselor at Pop’s summer camp “Campamento Hispano Internacional” in Waltham. I had also spent a fair amount of time at that summer camp as a kid, visiting with Pop. Weeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrd.
I’d just spent the last couple of days blogging about coincidences so I was certainly conscious of the ones happening in my life and was well-studied on synchronicities. And right there, on my family room couch, I was living through a pretty major one. I hung up the phone with LR and chewed on the idea for a minute. Then I proceeded to burst into tears. Fat ones. A full-on contorted-face-heaving-chest ugly cry.
I surveyed my mind to figure out why I was having a fit and realized that I was feeling the loving presence of my Pop for the first time in 20 years. I felt our intangible connection through the Universe. I saw the parallels between us, our mutual desire to make the world a better place, and the genetic gifts he gave me that have allowed me to be where I am today. I understood in that moment that God’s power is great. That there are no coincidences. That LR is my karmic gift, one that I am so happy to accept.
The things that had to happen and the timing of which those things had to occur was perfect. Divine. How on earth could something like this happen without God? God is perfection, organizing events in just the right way, even though to us it looks like total chaos. But it’s not total chaos, it’s divine chaos.
For me there has been a paradigm shift. LR fell away from my Mother Caroline family and neatly settled into my soul family. We are part of each others’ weaving labyrinth of life and always have been. And now we know. Now there’s no question, no surprise that I practically gave my dear friend a black eye to get to her at that football game over a year ago. Everything is written.
I thought about the series of events that had occurred over my lifetime and decided this…
Change (in some cases loss) is inevitable. Embrace it. Everything will be okay. And sometimes, what you think is lost forever is really not lost at all. God will bring it back to you in one form… or another.
Summer is here at last, and with it comes beach days, lemonade stands, and, of course, barbeques! Lucky for us, Father’s Day is just a few days away, and it’s the perfect time to get out the grill and have an outdoor meal.
If you’re among the health and wellness-conscious, though, then you might be wondering: What about the health risks? Isn’t there a link between grilling and exposure to cancer-causing chemicals? Your fears would not be entirely unfounded. The primary risks associated with barbequing come from using a high heat, grilling high-fat meats, and inhaling the smoke produced by this combination. But never fear! There are steps you can take to ensure a healthy, hazard-free Father’s Day BBQ.
Here are 5 tips to help you have the perfect BBQ feast Dad will love on his special day:
- Turn the temperature down. This will minimize flare ups and charring which can be harmful to health. Grill at a medium heat – and you can always pre-cook meats and fish a bit in the oven before throwing them on the barbeque.
- Opt for low-fat foods. This isn’t anything personal against healthy fats, but for grilling purposes, vegetables, fish, and lean meats are the way to go. Heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, both carcinogens, tend to form as fat drips off into the flames and creates smoke. Less fat, less risk!
- Use olive oil, lemon juice, or soy sauce for delicious, anti-char marinades. Thick marinades tend to smoke up more, so these thinner, healthier glazes will not only add great flavor but keep charring to a minimum.
- Line your grill with aluminum foil and/or place food on the perimeter. Anything you can do to minimize grease dripping into direct flame will ensure that your barbequing experience stays healthy and smoke-free. If you just must have that blackened taste, then get your fix through vegetables, whose proteins aren’t affected by heat in the same way meat proteins are.
- Clean the grill before your party! This goes without saying, but it’s healthier, more hygienic, and less hazardous to cook foods on a freshly cleaned grill.
Now that you’re all set for healthy, risk-free Father’s Day BBQ, here’s a mouth-watering recipe that will make the perfect centerpiece for your feast. It uses a lean meat, a thin marinade, and a healthy dose of spice that Dad will love. Enjoy!
Asian Barbeque Chicken
- 1 pound chicken
- ¾ cup plum and/or apricot sauce (store-bought or homemade)
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1½ teaspoons Wakaya Perfection Organic Ginger Powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- Sesame seeds (optional; sprinkle on after cooking)
Stir all ingredients together until well blended. Adjust spices according to your taste. Meat can be marinaded in sauce or just brushed on at barbecue time. Brush glaze on meat at least twice per side while cooking, and turn meat often to minimize charring. Serve with a side salad or baked beans.
* * *
Summer is finally here, and now is the perfect time to stock up on Wakaya Perfection’s 100% organic ginger powder to use in your favorite recipes! Visit WakayaPerfection.
Use the promo code THRIVE and receive 15% off your next purchase!
"Anyone can be a father but it takes someone special to be a Daddy." – Unkown
I have this quote hanging on my refrigerator. It’s in a magnet frame and it holds up my daughter’s artwork. She’s 7. She’s special. I know all parents say that but when other people tell me that all the time I know for sure it’s true. What a gift she is.
Father’s Day is a special day for me because it gives me a chance to reflect on being a Daddy. I use this day to pause and give thanks for the blessing and opportunities to raise this little gift. It also gives me a chance to realize who taught me how to be a Dad. I think I’ve become pretty good at it especially in this past year. I’m now a single parent, after a divorce, and it’s prompted me to dig deep in order to face that challenge. So far, I think I’ve done okay. My little girl is doing pretty well and I have one person to thank for that more than any other. That would be my Dad.
That quote up above is true. It’s the same in business when we think about Managers and Leaders. You see when a person becomes a manager in a company they are generally promoted and appointed to that position. This is like becoming a Father. However, becoming a Leader takes more than a promotion. This is like becoming a Daddy. Being a Father doesn’t require much but being a Daddy does. It requires a good bit of emotional intelligence including self-awareness, confidence, courage, love, compassion, patience, and attendance.
I have the best Daddy. I once referred to my Dad as the "CEO of Dads". What I know about being a Daddy to my daughter I learned from him. I tear-up as I write this because I know that without his love I would have been lost for most of my life and certainly would be lost as a Dad myself.
Happy Father’s Day!
In order to achieve all that is demanded of us, we must regard ourselves as greater than we are.
– Johann von Goethe
Becoming a father can bring up a lot of issues for us. It can make us take a look at who we are and where we’re going. It can make us question our ideas of work, money, happiness, and romance. How am I going to pay for it all, being the sole supporter? Does what I do for a living mesh with my family’s needs? What do I do if my child or wife gets sick?
After my first child was born, I remember thinking that it was pretty amazing that we could have a baby and that we were solely responsible. We weren’t just babysitting, and wouldn’t be giving the baby back to someone later. I mean, where’s the owner’s manual? What if we forget to do something? Who’s responsible here?
As with most things in life, most of it is just suiting up and showing up, doing your best. Once we listen to our intuition and connect with our child and partner, we will be able to act in full confidence, no matter what the situation is. And the acting part is an important piece of regarding ourselves as greater than we are.
We act. Then we become.
When our oldest daughter was an infant, I used to joke that I wished that we had twins, so that I could hold one. I envied the closeness of mother and child, and was impatient for papa-time. When she got older, we had more one on one time, but when she was an infant, I was just the designated burper. Now we have papa-time, and she’s so curious about me and what I do, and how things work, and what project can we work on together?
Sometimes I wonder if I can possibly be the father that my children need. I’ve got my flaws and weaknesses, so how can I teach them something that I don’t know for myself?
Within each of us is a natural pattern and a natural connection to the source of all wisdom. Tapping into that is how we become a natural father. A father that listens for the teaching in everything, and a father that learns from his child.
You’ve probably heard the terms natural parenting and natural mothering, but natural parenting probably has a very specific definition to some people, so I’ve been using the term natural fathering. Natural fathering embodies an intuitive approach to the role of the father in the new green family. It’s a positive model of masculinity and fatherhood, of being fully present with our family and fully conscious of our power as men.
First we act as strong fathers, capable fathers, intuitive fathers, and then we become great fathers.
We act as friends and teachers to our children, and through teaching them we receive our own education.
The rewards of fatherhood are many, but the personal growth that happens when you become a father is huge. There probably isn’t a school or book anywhere that can teach you as much as having children does. By living simply and focusing on the important things in life, like love and good food and positive relationships, our children learn those things alongside of us. It’s a blessing.
[Originally published at Natural Papa]
The start of the new school year can be a nerve-wracking time for our kids and stepkids. Here are 10 tips to help smooth the way. (Pronouns alternate between genders.)
1. Listen to what’s happening. If she’s stressed or upset about cliques, teams, new subjects, or anything else—give her your attention. Provide her time to get things out and do some processing before jumping in with judgments or suggestions.
2. Help him keep perspective. Gently remind him that there are more important things than who’s wearing what, or who is going out with whom. Let him know (in word and deed) that you love him for who he is, no matter what.
3. Set the stage. Ask your child what a successful school year would look like for her—friends, sports, activities, dating—and then have her tell you about how important each goal is to her and if she thinks each one is realistic. It’s OK to discuss your expectations regarding grades, but remember the important lessons learned outside the classroom and all the pressures which face our kids today.
4. Nurture your special father-child bond. Go out for ice cream, go swimming, shoot hoops, or do something you know he loves. The beginning of school is a great time to begin a new tradition. How about a lunch date the last Saturday of every month?
5. Let her cope and experiment. School can be a great place for her to learn important personal and interpersonal skills which will serve her later in life. Don’t rush in to solve every problem – listen. But never back down where her personal safety is concerned.
6. Walk a mile in his shoes. Try to imagine what he’s experiencing and what it means to him. Your understanding and empathy can help him make it through his own trials.
7. Celebrate success. We dads sometimes tend to focus more on what’s not going right than we do on what is going well. Be sure to let her know how proud you are of her talents and accomplishments—even if they are not readily recognized by others.
8. Be his hero. Stay always mindful of his unique spirit and give him your loyalty, kindness, acceptance, respect, and support. Your influence in his life is unique, so make it as positive as possible.
9. Tell stories about yourself. Many things have changed since you were a kid, but most of the important stuff is still the same. Share your own youthful struggles with staying true to yourself, your values, and your friends. Don’t make every story into a lecture, and be sure to admit your mistakes—they can teach her a lot (starting with humility)!
10. Honor his interests. Even if his passion isn’t your first choice for fun, be there for him, let him teach you about his interests, and learn why he’s passionate about them. Your validation is a huge help to him.
To learn more about healthy fathering, visit www.TheDadMan.com.
Recently, my wife and I went on vacation, and I had to explain to my nine year-old son why it was just the two of us going. I explained that mom and I needed time for just the two of us, just like he and I spend father and son time.
Each year, I take Ethan to the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival in Hawaii where we live and where I teach Huna, the ancient system of empowerment and flexibility of the mind/body/spirit that is being passed down to me through family lineage. One idea of Huna, taught by Hula master Uncle George, is that your spirit and higher self come through when you dance. Going to the festival with my son gives us time to bond and cultivate a strong foundation in our relationship. These are lessons I learned from my own family.
My grandfather was the happiest man I have ever known. I remember spending time with him while we were on family vacations. This strengthened not only my own spirit, but our family. Grandparents’ love and guidance can be a great support and foundation to help parents raise their children.
This concept of lineage, of passing down valued lessons from generation to generation, is central to the Huna way of being that I teach.
Huna means "secret" or "hidden wisdom." It is the modern term used for Ho’omana, the ancient Hawaiian system for empowerment.
Ho’o means "to make." Mana is "energy." Taken together, Ho’omana means to make life-force energy. Huna teaches people how to get in touch with their life-force energy, how to move it, and how to understand their connection with the environment and with others.
In the Huna tradition, women carried all the mana in the lineage. The masculine side directed the energy because energy undirected simply disperses into the universe.
I was raised by a single mom who is an empowered woman. Yet I learned from my Huna lineage the concept that a father needs to be there for his son as well.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to begin learning Huna at the age of 13 directly from Hawaiian elders. They passed down this knowledge, a gift based on thousands of years of indigenous experience, to our family.
I remember, when I began studying Huna, people would say “one day you’re going to teach it” and “you need to do this because your dad did.” But that western concept of lineage misses a valuable point.
Lineage teaches you that you can stand out as an individual. I am a different person from my father and want to do things on my own. At the same time, I have a responsibility to preserve the Huna lineage.
Likewise, it is not my son’s responsibility to someday take over my company and run it. But I’m his dad, and he was born into our family. With a lineage there is a level of responsibility. Given the gift of knowledge about Huna, my son has a responsibility to pass that on to the next generation.
Today I share this foundation, passed down through thousands of years. Learning Huna at an early age directly from Hawaiian elders, like my father and Uncle George, I can teach these ideas with the confidence that I am passing along something larger than myself.
This gift of lineage gives a confidence about where you come from. You are sharing your foundation so that those you teach can lean on that instead of leaning on you.
It is the same with fatherhood. If I make it all about me, my son will think he has to rely on me to fix problems. But if I rely on my lineage, that will give him a solid foundation for life.
When I was in my twenties, my gaze was always focused on the big things—finding the “perfect” partner, the “to-die-for” job, the “huge” book deal, or getting into the “best” graduate school. Little things didn’t matter much; they were unnecessary distractions that I treated as rounding errors. I either ignored them or focused on what came before or after. Looking back, I can see that how deeply I was affected by films and operas. I was always waiting for the sweeping climax that would bring resolution, on a grand scale, to my life. I was young and eager to fit together the largest pieces of the puzzle of life, foolishly believing that the remaining bits didn’t matter.
But now that I’m well into my thirties, my view has switched. It’s as though someone pulled the telescope out of my hands and replaced it with a microscope. Now my life is all about the small things. My emotional landscape hinges on soft washes of color applied with the finest brushes. Faint details can render me feeling exalted or defeated. One stroke can make or break the image that I call my life.
This week was no different: The small things figured most prominently. My daughter Ayla learned to say “Up a tree,” her first three-word sentence used in the right context. She says it in our secret language—everyone else hears “Uh-tee” but I know she’s telling me that the chipmunk (“mah”) went up that tree. Ayla also learned how to wash her body in the bath. She waits for me to pour some baby wash into her hand and then scrubs her belly in large, rough circles. Tiny things, right? Nope. Only a parent knows that it’s northing short of a miracle when your child’s brain, muscles and synapses work in unison toward a common goal.
An even more infinitesimal highlight was when Ayla leaned over and kissed my entire face, articulating each kiss with a “mwa, mwa, mwa” sound. In that moment, my heart sung in sunny, optimistic chords. The joy of being kissed by your child, with such relish, brought to mind the beauty of the sun interacting with a cloud—and showering the earth with a spray of sunbeams—or the awe inspiring fan of mist that results when a thumb and water-hose meet at just the right angle.
The low points were just as microscopic. I’ve been struggling to organize a childcare coop with some local parents, and this week brought a few unexpected delays. In a year, I’ll look back and wonder why these events nearly crippled me. But right now, creating a childcare model that matches my aspirations for Ayla’s care means everything to me. The critical email I received from a prospective employee made me doubt my vision. A promise to participate in the coop that was nearly revoked filled me with despair—would I be able to find an adequate replacement? Or more importantly, did I have the will to keep trying until we finally got this Utopian model to work?
Ten years ago, I would have swatted away both setbacks like a fly that got through a hole in the windscreen. In my twenties I would have declared both individuals “crazy” for not wanting to participate and immediately replaced them. I would have stayed focused on the big picture, the grand payoff at the end.
But parenthood has turned everything upside down. The supposedly big news I received this week—that I finally found a publisher for a leadership book I’ve been writing with a friend for nearly four years—barely made an imprint on my emotional landscape. “I can’t deal with this now,” were my exact thoughts after receiving the great news. Most writers live and die for each book deal, and I was no different pre-Ayla. But now I know that I can’t tackle a book until I’ve got the small details worked out. Until I know that Ayla is well cared for in my absence, I won’t be able to write anything of value and offer it to the world.
Some days I wonder whether our perspective keeps shifting, from large to small and back again, or whether it grows more refined over time. Do the big things cease to matter at a certain stage in life? Is God really in the details? Objectively speaking, I know that I haven’t got any of the “big” things right. The perfect job, relationship and book continue to elude me. But in those small spaces of time in my day when I’ve got nothing to do, I feel a big happiness well up inside me, that reminds that I must be doing something—however small—just right.
A good friend and fellow single mother was telling me about her plans to attend her daughter’s “Father’s Day Breakfast” at school today.