Sienna and “The Breakfast Club” in 2027

Sienna’s 2 year, 4 months old. She’s never step foot in a pre-school classroom. And yet last night I lay awake until 3 am thinking about Sienna’s high school experience because I had the great fortune to attend a 30th anniversary screening of what I consider to be arguably the most honest and accurate portrayals of HS life ever to grace the silver screen - The Breakfast Club - and I can’t wait to share it with my toddler daughter.

Breakfastclub

No I’m not gonna sit her down in front of the TV and show her an R-rated film filled with cursing and frank sexual conversations, but in 13 years when she’s entering the heightened social world of HS, you can bet I will because the late John Hughes’ brilliant dialogue and character development, his ability to capture and destroy these 5 HS archetypes was uncanny and stands the test of time.

Each iconic character – Molly Ringwald’s popular, “conceited” Claire; Judd Nelson’s brash, “anarchic” John; Emilio Estevez’s athletic, “strong” Andy; Anthony Michael Hall’s anxious, “nerdy” Brian; and Ally Sheedy’s silent, “screwed-up” Allison – proves to be unhappily lumped into a category by both adults and school life. Each feels better than at least one other club member because that’s how they’re supposed to feel. And each learns that they can break out of their prisons, that their comrades all share disdain for their sometimes bullying, sometimes ignorant parents and authority figures. Each learns they have flaws. Each learns they have strengths. Each learns the other is a real person and not a cardboard cutout.

Even the adults come off flawed as imperfect. Brian and Andy’s respective parents pressure their kids into being things they don’t want to be. Via his stories, John’s household is rife with abuse. Allison’s parents appear as shadows in car and completely ignore their daughter. Claire’s father equates money with love. Paul Gleason’s Principal Vernon tries to come off as all-powerful, but he’s jaded and frightened of where his world is leading. Only John Kapelas’ Carl the janitor feels sure of his position as unknowingly to the Club and Vernon, he’s the eyes and ears of the school, collecting and keeping all its secrets, sometimes for a price, yet being a custodian is not what he wanted to be.

I want Sienna to see this, to know that she doesn’t need to fit into HS cliques to be a person, to see that parents make mistakes and to understand that although I’ll have my own flaws, I’ll never an abusive father, I’ll never apply extreme pressure, I’ll always want to be in her life and help her feel safe in unsafe world. I want her to know that she can be herself, especially in high school, and that those that do succumb to stereotypes might have things going on in their lives that she doesn’t know about.

This applies to me as well. I have so much trouble remembering that I too often take things at face value. I see people with houses, fancy cars, and huge job statuses and immediately think they’re rich and happy. I see Facebook pictures and think people lead perfect lives. It’s just one terrible aspect of depression, your brain creating false worlds based on the smallest details.

So in 12-13 years I plan to sit down with Sienna and show her one of my favorite films. She’ll probably roll her eyes at watching a movie that will by then be over 40 years old, but if I do right by her, if I’m still the parent I strive to be, she’ll be receptive. And then she’ll watch the magic on the screen, fake realities shattered.

And she’ll know.

High school hasn’t changed all that much in 40 years.

Dad’s experienced the insane world that is high school. He’s a person - just like her – but with his own imperfections.

And no matter what, he’ll never forget about Sienna.

What other high school genre films do you feel fit the fold standard of The Breakfast Club?

Depression: It’ll Be Back

Depression is like the terminator, but not the slow and steady Arnold Schwarzenegger version. It’s more like the Robert Patrick design from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, that liquid metal that regroups if blown apart, twists and morphs into various forms in its quest to take you down, and is exceptionally fast, determined, and dangerous. You could be cruising along for weeks thinking that your meds are working (and they are) and then suddenly it’s on you like hot lead, crushing you with sadness. And sometimes you don’t know how it found you or how to take charge and battle it until someone points out the trigger or it’s revealed in therapy. That’s what happened to me over the weekend. I’d had a number of good weeks and then depression was back in all its horrible glory leaving me feeling as if stuffed into a sarcophagus of sadness.

terminator

Still from Terminator 2: Judgment Day

But why?

Let’s flip back the calendar.

Months ago my college friends and I decided to get together in Boulder, Colorado to celebrate our 40th birthdays. Excited at first, I soon became agitated and nervous, unsteady and unsure. I began having panic attacks because without warning I WAS the college me, not the 40-year-old me, the boy who felt ditched for alcohol, whose desires felt secondary to his friends’ need to party all the time. I didn’t drink in college. I was too afraid, terrified that by losing control my since-corrected gynecomastia (male breast enlargement) would be exposed. And yet I wound up in a group of heavy drinkers I met Freshman year. It wasn’t all bad, but because I was depressed and frightened I was unable to seek out others who shared my likes: movie nights, baseball, etc. My friends are good guys but acted like college kids since, well, they WERE college kids. They were selfish, sometimes cruelly so, in regards to considering my feelings, and I felt I gave a hell of a lot more than I received. They all apologized over the years and I think it was genuine. I no longer blame them but apparently the kid in me still does. He remains mistrustful, fearful of getting hurt and worried I’d get drowned out like in school and eventually those feelings burst from my chest in anxious breaths and caused my fingers to tremble. Would my friends listen to my wishes to see the natural wonder of Boulder every once in awhile in lieu of getting wasted? Almost all of them are 40 now, but would they, now that they were together in a big group again for the first time in who knows how many years, want to relive their college years? The rational side of my brain said no, that we’d go to a Colorado Rockies game (which I’d requested to do when we first talked about Boulder), that we’d drive around and explore the picturesque town in addition to the expected drinking, that my voice would be heard, but the hurt college kid in me disagreed.I couldn’t commit to the vacation knowing that should I go, I’d (whether wanting to or not) “test” their sincerity. That wouldn’t be fair to them, nor would the fact that they’d have to be on edge around me in case I had a panic attack. So I pulled out of the Colorado adventure.

The reunion happened this past weekend. And that, Elaine pointed out, was the trigger that allowed my terminator to find me.

And so that pulverizing depression as I subconsciously second guessed myself. as I lay in bed completely unable to care for Sienna. According to Elaine, now that I’d “found my tribe” in the dad blogger community and been fully accepted for who and what I am (though I’m still shaky on that), that weekend was like breaking up with the old me and thus I was in some sort of mourning. I think that’s partly true. I think it hurt me that I feel more accepted by the dad blogger community now then I ever did in college, but I also think I was berating myself for not being fair to my college friends, for not trusting them.

Trust is such a tricky thing when you suffer from depression and have been stung as many times as I have over the years. You so want to give it, but you’re scared to. You want to believe, but your irrational mind won’t let you. You want and need almost tangible confirmation, but that’s impossible to get. Your damaged brain won’t let you take that leap of of faith.

Should I have taken a leap of faith with my college friends? Did I blow a chance to have an amazing time with people I haven’t seen in years, friends that might have mellowed from their partying days?

The fog of depression is starting to lift. I look at Sienna and Elaine and know they’re here for me, that they’re the most important things in my life. I also went to a dads’ night out courtesy of the NYC Dads Group and Baby Bjorn at a swanky hotel for the MLB All-Star game and cheered Derek Jeter on during his final appearance. I talked baseball and laughed and received hugs from friends knowing I was going through a rough time, that I was once more suffering depression. I received tons of messages on FB from dad bloggers across the world giving me virtual hugs. And I’m so thankful for that.

But at the same time I wish I’d had the courage to go to Boulder and place my trust in my college friends and I feel haunted knowing I might never again have the opportunity to find out.

Now back to battling my personal terminator.

all star game

30 members of the NYC Dads Group (including myself and many of my friends) gathered to watch the 2014 MLB All-Star Game

A Tantrum Leads To A Near Wedding Fiasco

We double, triple, quadrupled checked everything. Meticulously packed all items. Card holding crucial check stored in Elaine’s handbag. We packed up Sienna for her overnight stay with my parents making sure all her favorite stuffed animals were accounted for and we were good to go for our 3 and a half hour trip from New York to Pennsylvania for our friends’ wedding. We even got the front door open.

And then like an unforeseen hailstorm – tantrum.

Sienna wanted to wear her Mickey Mouse fleece despite it being 83 degrees outside and was not leaving the apartment until that red and white polka-dotted coat safely encased her torso. We tried reason, but it shockingly failed miserably. So we put her in the fleece because we had to go go go.

Got down to the car, buckled her into her carseat, and set off for my parents. Dropped her off with my dad with lunchtime instructions (like she’d eat anything) and once we plugged in our hotel’s address into Google Maps, it was time for smooth sailing pending little traffic.

Elaine and I relaxed a bit knowing we were Sienna-free for a bit more than a day. We sang along to 80s ballads. We talked about weddings and reminisced about our own. We planned to get to the hotel with hours to spare so we could unwind from the drive and shower before the cocktail hour and reception. It wasn’t until we reached the mouth of the Holland Tunnel that Elaine shouted something that made my guts fall into my shoes:

“We forgot your suit! My dress! We have nothing to wear!!”

That’s what a toddler tantrum can do. It can unravel all of your painstaking plans and careful choreography. Our formal wear stood in the closet next to the front door laughing at us fools now an hour away from home. Sienna was probably obliviously happy in the park, playing with in the sprinklers with Pop-Pop, her fleece long out of mind.

“What should we do? There’s no way not to go through the tunnel!”

“It makes no sense to go back,” Elaine said. “It’d take us 2 hours to get back here. They’ll forgive us when they hear the story.”

“We can’t go in wearing jeans and t-shirts!” I countered.

The Holland Tunnel opens right next to the Newport Mall on the New Jersey side. It was almost serendipitous. We screeched into the mall parking lot and raced to Macy’s. Time for emergency shopping!

Elaine and I raced to the women’s petite section and she desperately pulled everything in her size off the rack.

10487263_10152224979471732_3655817482021347448_n

Elaine makes a face of desperation as we emergency shop

The second dress she tried on was perfect. She grabbed some gold stud earrings off a kiosk and then it was my turn. I needed slacks, a sport jacket, a tie, a shirt and a belt. Luckily we’d packed our shoes in the suitcase. We ran to the mens’ section but both of us were lost, so we asked for assistance. We told the nice woman who helped us that we were on our way to Pennsylvania and just now realized we’d forgotten our formal wear.

“What?” She said. “You know, I’m angry at you! How could you do that?”

“We have a 2-year-old. She threw a tantrum.”

“Stop right there. I forgive you. Mine’s 4. Let’s go find you an outfit.”

Elaine and the saleswoman worked together to pick out my clothes and it was perfection. The suit fit perfectly and matched Elaine’s dress. She then told us to hold onto the tags so we could return everything which didn’t feel right to me.

“You didn’t hear it from me,” the saleswoman said, “But people do it all the time. Besides, in your case it’s a toddler-related emergency. Don’t worry about it.”

We bought the clothes, drove the rest of the way to the hotel, checked in, got dressed and made it right at the end of the cocktail hour. But we had to stop and take a picture, of course. I mean, how many times does something crazy like this happen? And we did look good for being dressed almost completely off the rack. My wife looked especially hot.

10505507_10154388103455533_9125975822592584697_n

Off the rack, baby!

 

I don’t know how many times we told the story, but it got huge laughs including from the bride and groom.

“You see how much we love you?” We joked. “This is what we do for you!”

It was a beautiful reception, two cultures (Indian and Chinese) coming together to form a brand new one just as Elaine (Latina) and I (Jewish) had 8 years prior. We ate and danced all while making sure not to mess up our clothes.

The following day we made a pitstop at Indian Echo Caverns which was just 20 minutes from the hotel and got to marvel at some of nature’s beauty. As I looked at the glistening stalactites and stalagmites, crystal-embedded limestone and underground lakes, I forgave my daughter for her last-second tantrum and imagined taking her to and sharing with her such a wondrous place as Echo Caverns. There’s something about appreciating each moment with your child, about not wanting them to reach the next phase in life, but there’s also something about wanting them to reach that point where they excitedly look at the green, blue, red, white rock formations just beneath a parking lot. I can’t wait to see the awe in her eyes when she sees something like this:

10481984_10152227616436732_1496832612115400536_o

An underground lake at Indian Echo Caverns

But that’s still 1-2 years away.

What amazes me most is how I handled the situation. No I wasn’t happy, but for some reason anxiety did not grasp my chest and leave me incapacitated. In the past I would have been reduced to jelly. I probably wouldn’t have been able to drive and it’s quite possible we never would have been there to witness our friends’ nuptials because my parents would have had to drive out to Jersey City to take my shaking, stuttering self home. But this time laughed at the ludicrousness of our predicament. This time I emergency-shopped. I problem-solved. And when we reached Queens on the way home, we dropped in at Macy’s and returned just about everything. The dress stays. Elaine’s just way too gorgeous in it.

So I forgive Sienna for being 2 and throwing a tantrum and forcing us to forget to bring our formal wear to a wedding 3 and a half hours away. I can’t be angry with her, especially since we avoided a potential fiasco and I proved to myself that I am indeed improving in the mental health department. I might not be exactly where I want to be, but I can’t refute facts.

Besides, she gave us a great story to tell.

 

The Fault In My Stars

I watched The Fault in Our Stars last night and then couldn’t fall asleep until the morning’s wee hours. Not because the movie got to me. I’m always able to distance myself from film, television and literature and found, well, faults in the cinematic adaptation of John Green’s terrific novel. While the movie opens with a voiceover of Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley in yet another wonderful performance) telling us cancer is real and unpolished, not like what we see in theaters, the movie ironically lacks that authenticity and instead feels glossy and melodramatic despite great acting. I blame the score and part of the script, but I digress.

Yet my mind spun all night. I’m not a hypochondriac, but I’m the type of person who feels an ache and immediately thinks cancer, like I’m just waiting for that bombshell. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a parent of a dying child, but I couldn’t. I’m unable to do hypotheticals. I’m unable to invent feelings. I feel what I feel when I feel it even if it’s irrational or circumspect or all out wrong. It’s something my therapist and I argue about on a consistent basis. She asks me to imagine being happy, but I don’t know how to do that. So I couldn’t conjure up what a parent of a child with cancer might endure just as I’m unable to picture myself losing an arm in a shark attack. But I could put words to it: devastation, heartbreak, fear, loss, agony, self-pity, rage.

And that made me think of Oren Miller, the founder of the Facebook Dad Bloggers site, the man known as a Blogger and a Father, and the person who by welcoming me into the group as a writer and friend somehow changed the course of my life. Oren went into the hospital for back pain, what he thought was a muscle strain. It’s something we all experience at one time or another. Some weird pain that won’t go away. Some don’t worry. Others like me automatically think cancer! I don’t know what Oren thought when he went to the hospital for his mysterious pain, but I’m sure he didn’t envision a diagnosis of stage 4 lung cancer and a prognosis of maybe a year left to be with his wife and two kids and friends and pets and trees and beauty and sadness and the world that he’s known all his life. How can you predict that even if you’re like me and expect the worst?

In what can only be described as gorgeous, Oren laid bare his soul about the horrors he’s facing, the positive attitude he’s taking (or trying to take), the epiphany he had 4 years prior about being so worried and annoyed and uncomfortable that he didn’t realize he was having the time of his life. Read his words. Are they beautiful? Heart-wrenching? There’s no doubt they are and the dad blogger community came out in droves to support him. Brent Almond of Designer Daddy started a fundraiser with the meager goal of raising $5,000 which was blown away in a matter of hours. Weeks later more than $30,000 is there for the Millers and a new goal of $35,000 has been set. I have no doubt it will be surpassed. More than 40 dads blogged about Oren, his leadership, his friendship, his fight. I did so myself. John Kinnear of Ask Your Dad Blog wrote about Oren and the fundraiser for Lifetime Moms. Carter Gaddis of Dadscribe covered us dads rallying around Oren for Today.com. Even the Chicago Tribune profiled our rally and Oren’s fight. Men left and right shed tears as words poured from our hearts onto the screen.

But still…

I can’t imagine what Oren’s going through. What is it like to be 40ish, have a beautiful wife, 2 amazing children, a dream house and be told that cancer’s eating you alive so quickly that you might have one year left on this planet? Is there something wrong with me that I’m unable to feel what my good friend Oren is feeling? Does it mean I can’t empathize?

This is what kept me up last night. I lay in bed in darkness, at times feeling Elaine’s body heat when she rolled close to me or I close to her, trying to imagine those words: “You have a year to live.” Trying to imagine the ravaging mental and physical pain. Trying to feel. How would I react if got such news? Would I shatter like stained glass dropped from a rooftop? Would I put on a brave face and walk into battle, head held high. Would I sit alone in a room, shunning my loved ones as my father’s late friend did when he learned he had cancer? I don’t have a clue. I don’t have answers. And I feel like an awful person because of it.

I love Oren. I’ve met him once in person, but I love him because his friendship opened up a world of possibilities to me. And I’m scared for him, for his family, for myself. I want to run down to Baltimore and be with him. I want to cry, but no tears come because I can’t imagine what Oren’s life is now like.

I tossed and turned trying to envision myself hearing that Sienna might die from cancer, that I’m suddenly thrown into a world of chaos, machines, life support, chemo, pain, pain, excruciating pain. I can say the words, but I can’t feel them. Does it make me a bad person that I can’t answer the hypotheticals? That I can’t see beyond my own damn eyes? That my brain, my selfishly depressed mind, can’t see past my own irrationally fractured stars?

And that I can’t even imagine hypothetical happiness outside of empty words and phrases?

My therapist would say that I’ve only reinforced my negativity throughout this post with words like “can’t” but I’m not sure how else to ask these questions and demonstrate what I am, who I am…currently.

The Fault in Our Stars wanted to show cancer unblemished by Hollywood. The book succeeded, in my opinion. The movie failed.

Oren Miller isn’t living a movie or a book. He’s living his life. His real life. His real life with stage 4 lung cancer that’s spread to his brain. He’s fighting a real battle.

And as much as I want to, I can’t visualize it or feel what it’s like.

What does that say about me?

A Groundbreakering Dad Blogger Needs Our Help

Ndzb2JibTj6OLCVzx0BBTQ

Oren Miller, Dad Blogger extraordinaire, needs our help

I started blogging about raising Sienna while battling depression and anxiety just over a year ago. In that time my relationships with my parents and sister have improved. My depression and anxiety have lessened somewhat, though they still make appearances. I’ve spoken in front of 200+ people at the 2014 Dad 2.0 Summit in New Orleans about my depression and received a shocking standing ovation. I’ve seen my work published on The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and WhatToExpect.com amongst others. I’ve even been published in a book: Dads Behaving Dadly: 67 Truths, Tears and Triumphs of Modern Fatherhood. And the fact is, none of this would have happened had Oren Miller aka A Blogger and a Father and the founder of the Facebook Dad Bloggers group, not graciously invited me in and urged me on.

It was a fight for me to put myself out there, but it’s nothing like the fight Oren’s facing right now as he was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. So us dad bloggers have rallied around one of our leaders, one of our own. One dad blogger set up a fundraising site on GiveForward with the goal of raising $5,000. Within days it has surpassed $20,000. But $20,000 can only go so far towards medical bills and taking care of Oren and his family. We need more. I’ve given as much as I can and I hope others will be willing to do the same.

Too many of us, including myself, are bystanders when it comes to things like this. We see fundraising pages and we click on by…until we’re suddenly in the position of NEEDING a fundraising page. I won’t do that with Oren because magic happens when you stop being a bystander. If I give, as I did, and then I write this post which causes someone else to give and/or share the post, we could create a snowball effect and the amount we can raise for Oren or someone else in a similar situation can snowball.

Oren hates being in this situation. It’s not easy for him to ask for help. It’s not easy for any of us to do so. But it’s time. He needs our help. A good friend of mine, a person who changed my life in significant and astounding ways, needs our help. Join in the snowball. Help make it grow to the point where it could fill the Grand Canyon.

Oren Miller needs our help.

 

7 Ways That Professional Athletes Are Like Toddlers

You wouldn’t think it to look at them considering their sometimes enormous size (sometimes 7 feet tall and/or 350 pound multimillionaires that exhibit insane coordination and athleticism), but our favorite professional baseball, basketball, football, hockey and soccer players have a ton in common with wee toddlers. How so? Let us count the ways?

1) They all want the damn ball. Almost immediately following his rookie season, former football player, Keyshawn Johnson, stirred quite the controversy when he published an autobiography titled Just Give Me The Damn Ball  in which he called one teammate a “mascot” and complained that his then team, the New York Jets, didn’t throw the ball his way enough. Many sportswriters ripped Johnson for having the gall to make such a demand, especially with just one season under his belt, and the controversy lingered long enough for beloved New York Jet Hall of Famer, Joe Namath, to weigh in by saying Johnson was acting “downright ignorant” (Gerald Eskenazi, New York Times, 1997). Johnson is far from the only professional athletes to believe he or she is the difference maker. Plenty of other ballplayers complain about playing time or get accused of hogging the ball (particularly in basketball). Now toddlers aren’t ignorant, but they sure are ball hogs, and should a bunch of them have a ball you can almost guarantee there will be arguments about not sharing as well as tears and wails. At least they’re too young to write books.

Just-Give-Me-the-Damn-Ball-9780446521451

2) They break rules they know they’re not supposed to break. Professional athletes break rules all the time, everything from skipping practice to blatantly injuring another player to taking performance enhancing drugs. Former basketball player Allan Iverson had an infamous press conference in which he constantly used the phrase “We’re talking about practice!” when it leaked to the media that he kept missing mandatory Philadelphia 76er practice. Iverson called himself a “franchise player” meaning, in his mind, that he was above it all including the rules. He kept testing his then coach, Hall-of-Famer, Larry Brown, on the subject. He tested the media. He tested the Philadelphia faithful. Toddlers consistently test their boundaries with parents. They know well enough not to climb on bookcases, but they do it anyway…again and again and again. Athletes receive punishments for rule breaking such as suspensions and fines. Toddlers receive time outs or trips to the “penalty box” just like hockey players commit slashing penalties.

 3) They refuse to accept blame or admit mistakes. How many times have you seen a football player cause an obvious penalty and then get up and act as if the referee were blind or had it in for him? “Me??” “I didn’t do anything!” How many times have you asked your toddler if they smeared Chapstick all over the television only to hear an unabashed “No!” For years cyclist Lance Armstrong denied using steroids despite piles and piles of evidence against him. He even destroyed people’s lives in order to protect his image. One-time superstar baseball player, Alex Rodriguez, followed the same suit and is now banned from the game for one year. Their refusal to accept blame caused them to become social pariahs despite their eventual weak confessions. Meanwhile toddlers break things; hit, kick or bite other kids; and destroy precious items and blame it on either siblings or imaginary creatures. Both professional athletics and toddlerhood are rife with the blame game and constant “I didn’t do its.” While all we can do is sit back and hope our ballplayer heroes stay clean, it’s our job as parents to teach our toddlers that admitting mistakes is ok and accepting blame is a part of life. Americans greatly appreciate apologies. If only our sports heroes understood that.

4) They have a sense of entitlement. As demonstrated above with Keyshawn Johnson and Allan Iverson, many professional athletes are egocentric and believe the world revolves around them. Not only do they feel they’re above us fans, some often feel they’re better than their teammates. I’m sure it’s a combination of the media and fan attention as well as the millions of dollars showered upon them, but athletes act like they rule the world. They also feel above the law as evidenced by hundreds of professional athletes getting arrested for DUIs or worse. Luckily toddlers aren’t going to commit crimes with the exceptions of occasionally unwittingly shoplifting  a candy bar (it’s up to us parents to give it back) or stealing another kid’s property, but they sure are egomaniacal. How dare Mommy or Daddy go to work? How dare we say no to their demands to use a serrated knife by themselves? Unlike athletes who should know better, toddlers are pure id and it’s our job as parents to teach them right from wrong, instruct them on the importance of sharing, and explain why it’s important to keep those candy bars on the rack.

5) They speak of themselves in the 3rd person. Speaking of egocentrism, how often have you heard an athlete say something ridiculous like,”Kobe Bryant needs to figure out what’s best for Kobe Bryant?” It seems like almost every athlete has forgotten “I” and instead goes right for the 3rd person. Toddlers too skip “I” in favor of things like, “Sienna’s toothbrush!” or “Sienna’s hair!” but toddlers can be excused for such self-absorption since we’re repeatedly using our kids’ names in front of them so that they learn who they are and can distinguish themselves from others. Athletes have no such excuse, though you can blame the media which perpetuates this annoyance by asking stupid questions like, “How does Peyton Manning feel about playing for the Denver Broncos?” At least there’s a good reason for toddlers to speak in the 3rd person.

6) Many of them have rituals. Whether it’s Hall-of-Fame baseball player Wade Boggs’ infamous eating of chicken before every game or basketball star, LeBron James’, throwing pre-game chalk-throwing, most athletes attend to some sort of ritual to assure good luck and performance. Baseball infielders go “around the horn” after a strikeout meaning the players toss the ball to each other provided no one’s on base. Basketball players slap each others’ hands after a foul shot. There are so many rituals in sports that it’s impossible to count them all. Some are superstitions. Some are just imbedded in the game’s culture. Toddlers also have rituals, particularly at bedtime. My daughter’s night-night liturgy includes milk; a pink firefly that sprays blue stars across the ceiling; an often unintelligible conversation with a Hedwig puppet (Harry Potter’s owl); Daddy and daughter singing “Rainbow Connection”; Kermit the Frog wishing her goodnight, telling her all her stuffed animal friends will watch over her during the night, and asking for a kiss and a hug; and finally a kiss goodnight and reinforcement of love from Mommy, Daddy or both. The night-night ceremony helps our daughter feel safe. Rituals help athletes feel focused. So long as something crazy like human sacrifice isn’t involved, it’s all good.

LeBron-returns-to-chalk-toss.

 

7. They like to make up funny dances. I still need to capture some of the hilarious moves my daughter makes to things like “Billie Jean” and the Alf theme music, but football players are known for wonky post-touchdown dances and thankfully you can find Jimmy Fallon’s “Evolution of End Zone Dances” on YouTube. Enjoy!

I’m sure I’m just at the tip of the iceberg. What other ways are professional athletes like toddlers?

My Debut at Huffington Post!!!!

Here’s my debut in HUFFINGTON POST about having to take away Sienna’s security scarf for a little while! I made it! I finally made it! Thank you Lance Somerfeld, Chris Bernholdt, Beau Coffron, Mike Reynolds, Aaron Gouveia, Carter Gaddis, Brent Almond, Eric Boyette and everyone else who cheered me on, gave advice, wrote to HuffPo on my behalf, introduced me to the editors, and helped me reach this level! I am stunned! Here it is!

Profiled at www.hudsonreporter.com!

The Hudson Reporter profiled me regarding my pieces in Dads Behaving Dadly! This is so exciting because it’s the first time I’ve ever been profiled as a writer! You can read the article here. I hope you like it and I hope you pick up the book at Amazon or barnesandnoble.com!

 

Front Cover DADS BEHAVING DADLY copy

Depression Hits During A Father’s Day Week of Success, Envy, Pride and Guilt

I held the book in my hands and turned to the table of contents. My name in black and white. Twice. “I’m published!” I thought. “I’m really published!” A little electric jolt awoke my stomach’s butterflies. But lurking beneath the jolt like a cancerous cell was envy and self-flagellation and the irrational side of my brain yelled, “So what? You’re not on The Today Show! You’re not on Good Morning America! This is nothing! You’re nothing! You’ll never reach that pinnacle!” What exactly is that pinnacle? I have no idea. But my depressive brain seems to know or at least claims to. The butterflies fell ill, calcified, settled in my chest and belly like stones.

It didn’t matter that the same day I saw my stories printed in Dads Behaving Dadly: 67 Truths, Tears and Triumphs of Modern Fatherhood (available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble), I debuted on WhatToExpect.com with a paid story about the first time it hit me I was a dad and was listed on Mike Reynolds’ awesome site Puzzlingposts.com as an important dad blogger to read. It still wasn’t good enough because I still haven’t hit Huffington Post or appeared in a commercial or sat next to George Stephanopoulos on a talk show set.

Front Cover DADS BEHAVING DADLY copy

I held my book and despaired and screamed at myself to “STOP!” I pinched myself hard enough to leave a welt.

This is such an important week. For the first time I can recall, fathers are being celebrated across the country in a way they never were before. Dove Men+Care debuted a tearjerker of a commercial showing dads as real, significant, beloved, responsible people:

Today Moms changed its name to Today Parents. My friends and fellow dad bloggers attended the first ever summit on working dads at the White House. Friends and fellow dad bloggers, people who have been so kind and supportive to me, have appeared and will continue to be featured on The Today Show and Good Morning America throughout the week. A great friend nabbed a job writing for Time.com. Friends and fellow dad bloggers took park in huge brand campaigns about the changing views on fatherhood. Andy Hinds wrote about how 2014 is the Year of the Dad. And I’m so happy for them. I’m so proud of them. And I feel so damn envious that I’m NOT them. And coupled with that envy is this corrosive guilt, something my therapist constantly reminds me serves no purpose except as ridiculous self-castigation.

I’ve been blogging for less than a year. In that time I’ve created some sort of presence in the dad blogger community that I don’t understand because I feel my work sucks. I’ve spoken at the 2014 Dad 2.0 Summit. I’ve seen my writing appear on The Good Men Project and at the National At-Home Dad Network. I’ve been on the Life of Dad podcast and the NYC Dads Group podcast. The NYC Dads Group blog has shared my blogs as well as original work for their site. And each time something happens I feel that jolt of pride and joy followed almost immediately by that acidic, destructive jealousy and shame.

My brain, my ludicrous, hateful, powerful brain refuses to let me enjoy these successes and realize that having near 290 Facebook likes just weeks after launching my Raising Sienna FB site and near 270 Twitter followers is enormous, that it took some dad bloggers years to reach those numbers, because I’m too busy comparing myself to those dad bloggers with 95k likes. I’m too busy measuring myself up against the “big boys,” the ones that have sweated and worked for 3, 5, 7, 10 years to reach the levels they’re at. I’m too busy telling myself I’m not good enough because I’m not them.

I become obsessed with symbols, be it getting on a big website or television show or having a former teacher promote my work on her site or be picked to participate in a big campaign. Right now that symbol is getting on Huffington Post. Nothing compares to getting my work on HuffPo. I’m desperate to get on the site and each time I see a friend of mine share one of their HuffPo pieces, I’m so proud of them and so so covetous. I’m also extremely thankful to my fellow dad bloggers for lobbying HuffPo to print my work and because I’m so jealous, I don’t think I’m deserving of their kindness. But regardless, the point is that should I somehow reach the HuffPo level, I’ll feel that similar jolt of excitement and then it will be buried by whatever becomes the next symbol. I’m as yet unable to enjoy the present, the gifts I’ve received, the things I’ve accomplished. That’s what depression can do. That’s how strong and insidious this disease is.

I’m working so hard to get out of this treacherous, sickening mindset. I scream at myself. I physically slap or pinch myself to bring me back to rationality, but so far the irrational side of my brain is as imposing as the 700 foot ice wall from Game of Thrones and seemingly just as punishing to conquer.

But I’m not giving up. I REFUSE to give up. I’ll continue to go to therapy. I’ll continue my regiment of meds. And one day I’ll climb that wall. One day I’ll be able to look back at all the things I’ve done as successes instead of thinking about all of the things I haven’t done. One day I’ll be able to hold my next book and enjoy it for more than a few minutes. I’ll bask in my triumphs for days, weeks, months, years. The present will hold deep meaning. And I’ll no longer covet my friends’ feats thus eliminating that horrible guilt from my life. I’ll virtually jump up and down with them and revel in their accomplishments. One day there will be no despair. Nothing but pride and happiness.

One day.

Now I’m off to go sign Dads Behaving Dadly for my parents.

My Debut On WhatToExpect.com!

Today I’m featured on WhatToExpect.com in a post dealing with the moment it first hit me I was a dad. Hint: it involves Lionel Richie!

Hope you like it!