Dad carrying baby

On Wearing Babies

You may have seen the story about TV personality Piers Morgan questioning the manhood of actor Daniel Craig (007, himself!) for wearing his infant daughter using a baby carrier. Morgan referred to Craig as “emasculated” in a Tweet.

After seeing the story, I have two main reactions to unpack a bit:

Reaction #1 – There is nothing more human than taking care of your children.

Dad carrying baby
Me in 2011 making three fashion statements at the mall – those sideburns, those shades, my daughter

Parents leave the house…and take their kids with them. [If you leave the kids home alone, they come and take the kids away from you. It’s in the handbook.]

Thinking that being responsible for children is a mothers-only job is beyond antiquated to the point of being offensive to literally everyone. The gender stereotypes of the past are, in many corners of the world, dissipating. Thankfully.

One of my favorite times in life was carrying my firstborn around in a MOBY Wrap everywhere we went. That sense of closeness and love is irreplaceable. Kids become more and more independent everyday, so the time they rest their head on your chest because they literally can’t do anything else is fleeting.

If a dad doesn’t want to take care of his kids, that’s between him and momma bear – and maybe a judge. So I really don’t care if Piers Morgan carried his kids or not. None of my concern.

But him criticizing a parent for spending time with his child? That’s insulting.

Reaction #2 – Why in the world is anyone questioning anyone else’s masculinity?

This is toxic.

Questioning the manhood of another man is more than just poisonous, it’s pointless.

I know men who are straight and men who are gay. Men who hunt and men who are vegans. Men who drive electric cars and men who drive monster trucks. Men who cook and men who are best served making reservations. Men who have tattoos and men who wear jewelry. Men who find serenity in Time Square and men who find peace in the wilderness. Men who love sports and men who don’t. Artists. Blacksmiths. Journalists. Business Owners. Executives. Interns. Contractors. Yoga masters. Broadcasters. Bankers. Lawyers. Chefs. Athletes. Teachers. Home brewers. Consultants. Conservatives. Liberals.

Some are more like Jeremiah Johnson and some are more like RuPaul. All of them are men.

This is not a man-power point. It’s that men come in all shapes, sizes, and any other criteria you could consider. And that’s awesome.

Let’s leave comparing someone to a one-dimensional definition of masculinity in the past. We are better than that.

Wear your baby. Or don’t.

That is between you and your family.

I’m glad Piers Morgan called attention to the picture of Daniel Craig with his daughter. Now all dads – and moms – can see an on-screen hero playing his coolest and most important role ever: Dad.




Thoughts On “Meternity”

12961491_10101010180961189_5322587186628313575_nYou’ve probably heard about Meghann Foye, an author who wrote a book about a woman faking a pregnancy in order to get maternity leave.

Her book, “Meternity,” and the mindset that goes along with it, created such a stir that Foye backed out of an appearance on Good Morning America.

I completely reject her concept that parental leave is “a sabbatical-like break that allows women and, to a lesser degree, men to shift their focus to the part of their lives that doesn’t revolve around their jobs.”

I’ve discussed my experiences from my three paternity leaves. No sleep. Eating crap to give you energy to bounce a baby from 3am-4am. And then driving the older kids to school, running to the grocery store, then running back to the grocery store because I forgot pretty much everything I went to the store to get. [Lack of sleep for the win!]

Women give birth to a human being out of their bodies. Not just a human being, but one that weighs as much as a bowling ball. Also, this bowling ball-sized person has been growing inside of them for the better part of a year. Thus, a good portion, if not all, of a woman’s maternity leave is spent physically recovering to the point of being a functioning human being again.

Don’t mistake this for “Eat. Pray. Love.” There is no period of rejuvenating self-discovery. I’ve seen maternity leave. Three times. [Don’t believe a Dad’s take here? Check out ScaryMommy’s thrashing of Foye’s position.]

Does Foye actually think that parents get a free pass on work? That sounds like an individual company issue and not a societal one. Companies should be applauded for flexibility for working parents. But if a company blindly allows parents to toss work on non-parents, a conversation with HR is in order.

Look, I clearly support parental leave. And I also support paid sabbaticals. Many companies, including mine, offer them for tenured employees. But to link the two as if they are equivalent is horrifically misguided.

My final thoughts for Foye? Thanks for starting a national conversation on this topic. Maternity trumps Meternity. Always. Best of luck with your book.


Reflecting On My Paternity Leave

IMG_2694Four weeks ago, we had a perfect, beautiful baby boy.

And since that moment, a lot has happened.

We introduced Squishi to his siblings.

We realized how damn hard paternity leave actually is.

And, apparently, we doomed our baby to a terrible life.

With my paternity leave coming to a close in just a few hours as I write this, I thought it would be a good time to reflect back on the past four weeks.

So here goes…some notes from four very full weeks of paternity leave:

  • Health
    • Days I Planned To Work Out: All of Them
    • Days I Actually Worked Out: None of Them
    • Sodas Consumed: Zero
      • Seriously, I picked the worst time ever to give up soda. Good for health, but ROUGH on life with a newborn.
  • Late Night Cravings
    • Boxes of Batman Cereal Consumed: One
      • The Superman cereal was caramel-flavored. Pass.
    • Industrial Sized Bags of Kettle Corn Consumed: One
    • McFlurries Consumed: One
    • Bags of Target’s Monster Mix Consumed: I Plead the Fifth.
  • Sleep
    • Nights Spent On Hospital Couch: Two
    • Most Consecutive Hours of Sleep: Four (3 times…I think)
    • Times I Slept So Hard My Face Hurt: Ten
  • Bodily Fluids
    • Average Minutes After Putting On A Clean Shirt Before Amzi Spit-Up On It: 0.32
    • Times Amzi Peed on Me: Seven
    • Times Amzi Spit-Up In My Mouth: Just Once. Thankfully.
  • Daycare Commute
    • Hours Spent Doing Daycare Drop-Off/Pick-Up: ~ 1.75/day
    • Songs My Older Kids Now Know From Me Driving Them To School For A Month:
      • “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms
      • “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
    • Songs I Now Know From Driving Them To School For a Month:
      • “Cake By The Ocean” by DNCE
        • That’s gotta mean something filthy, right?
      • Justin Bieber’s entire album
        • Shockingly good!
  • TV
    • Seasons of House of Cards Watched: One
    • The Price is Right Conclusion: Drew Carey is better than I expected, but no Bob Barker
    • Daytime Talk Shows: Ugh…
    • Favorite Middle-of-the-Night TV Shows:
      • Robot Chicken
        • 12-minute episodes for the win
      • Caribbean Life
      • Nothing But Trailers
        • 60 minutes of movie previews…a 3am treat!
  • Home Improvement
    • Trips to Home Depot: Three
    • New Sink Faucets Purchased: Three
    • New Sink Faucets Installed: Zero
    • Flowers Planted in Front Yard: 27
    • Solar Panels: Thinking About Them
  • Baby Snuggles
    • All the time. Hours and hours each day. Perfection.

I got to stay home for full four weeks with my wife, my newborn, my two older babies, and my dog. What else could a guy ask for?

I’m sad to leave my wife home “alone.” It’s been great to spend so much time together – not just in the middle of the night for diaper changes. We’ve had sushi date nights (with Squish). We’ve gone to fun lunches (with Squish). We’ve even worked on a lot of these blog posts together (with Squish). It’s been phenomenal.

In addition to my wife and baby, I had so much fun with Beanie and Bug. Instead of rushing from home to school to home, we got to take our time and enjoy the journey. Sleep in a bit. Take the long road. Snag some muffins for breakfast. Skip school for family fun every now and then. Without the stress of being on time in the morning or going to bed at night, we had FUN together.

On the other hand, going back to work is exciting. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my team and clients. I’ve missed the daily action of my career and feel motivated to jump back in.

To sum it all up: Four weeks went by. My family size increased. I barely slept. And I’ve never been happier.




I voted sticker

The Truth About Giving Kids Unique Names

Dear Lady We Met At The Local Voting Location,

I voted stickerHi, you may remember me. My wife and I brought our 3-week-old son with us to vote this morning. We met you there, after we cast our ballots, at the table where you pick up the “I Voted/Yo Vote!” sticker.

You saw the newborn sleeping in the red infant carrier and were blown away by “the youngest voter in the district.” You wished us best of luck in parenting him and hoped only the best for him and the world he would grow up in.

It was a lovely interaction. We started walking out the door.

“Oh, what’s his name?” you asked curiously.

Squish. [Squish is not his real name, remember]

“Oh No! Do you know what you have done to him? He will have a rough life with a name like that.”

In the moment, The Best Mom and I smiled politely, mumbled something to end the conversation, and left to go about our day.

But I think you deserve a more thoughtful response.

  1. What the hell is wrong with you? In what world do you think it is appropriate to not only openly question the name parents gave their child, but then attempt to guilt the parents by predicting the challenges the kid will face? Neither of those is alright.
  2. We know we gave our kids unique names. Before each of our children were born, we discussed their names for MONTHS. There is not a conversation you could have about their names that we didn’t have before the kids were born. They are unique for a reason. We have nothing against more common names, but went down a different path.
  3. It’s our decision. There are precious few things people get to do that make a lasting impact beyond their life. Naming your children is one of them. And we did not take that responsibility lightly. We are certain the parents of Beyonce, Cher, Madonna, Kanye, Denzel, and even Suri, carefully considered the names of their children.
  4. “Squish” is a Biblical name. We didn’t make this name up. And even if we did, it would still be OK.
  5. Each child’s name has deep meaning to us. We named all of our children after beloved deceased relatives. Those relatives had specific characteristics that we wanted our children to embody. Every time we see our children, we are reminded about Harriet, Robert, and Bernard. Three unique, wonderful people that we named our children after.
  6. If you judge, judge silently, like a normal person. I don’t care if you go home and call your friend and say, “Friend, you’ll never guess what crazy name these people I just met named their kid!” Sure, you may qualify as a horrible person for doing so, but at least you wouldn’t be poo-pooing us to our face. In the presence of our child.
  7. Don’t worry about our kids. Our kids, and their awesome, meaningful names, will be just fine. We are raising them to be strong, confident people. They love their names. And as our children learn more about the relatives they were named after, they will love their names even more. And, hey, when they turn 18, they can petition the court to change their names to Sally or Bob. Or SallyBob. Whatever.

So what did we do to our kid?

We gave him a name with purpose. A name with meaning. A name that will stand out. A name that he will define to the world…the world he will hopefully make a better place.

Thanks for the reminder.

– Mike


Paternity Leave is Effing Hard

Going on a date with Baby Hava in 2011. #ThoseSideburns

As I write this, I’m in the midst of paternity leave after Baby Amzi’s arrival.

Taking time off after you have a baby is critical. I’m so grateful that I can take a full month off, due to the support of my company and my colleagues, combining parental leave and paid time off.

So many companies don’t offer ANY parental leave. I have so many friends, men and women, that had to rush back to work way too early after having a baby. Others have very progressive policies. My friend Julia Beck is leading the way in advocating for companies to do more than meet the bare minimum in dealing with new parents on leave and as they return to work.

I clearly believe more time with your expanding family is better, but understand the realities dads face in the United States. Not all of us are afforded the opportunity to take as much time off as we would like. And I won’t even begin to discuss parental leave in the United States vs. the rest of the world today.

Whether you take a little bit of time or a lot of time, there is one constant truth: paternity leave is effing hard!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s happy and wonderful and incredible, too. But it’s hard.

Let me count the ways:

  1. Sleep. As in, the thing you used to get, but don’t get any more. Even the BEST sleeping babies max out at 3-4 hour stretches of shut-eye.
  2. Stains. You have them on all your clothing. And on your bed. You aren’t sure what caused the stain, who it came out of, or how long it’s been there.
  3. Changing an explosive diaper at 4am…your idea of a good time? Not mine.
  4. The crying. Soon, you will learn the difference between your baby’s cries. There are different types of crying for hunger and tired and those blow-out diapers.
  5. Hosting. Everyone you know wants to visit the baby. This is a blessing! I’m in no way complaining about that. But I will say that preparing for a bris (Jewish circumcision ceremony) in our home eight days after having a baby, was akin to competing on American Ninja Warrior for a week straight. Remember, Momma Bear is devoted to the baby. Basically everything else is on you.
  6. Other Kids. Keeping our two older kids on somewhat of a normal schedule (eating, sleeping, daycare, bathing) when you haven’t slept, are covered in stains, etc., is a massive challenge. And if they have a school presentation or project? Heaven help you…
  7. Hunter and Gatherer. You, Big Poppa (and other non-birthing parent), are the one responsible for just about everything outside of the newborn. With our daughter, I spent most of my paternity leave running between the grocery store, Home Depot, and Target. Thankfully, advances in online shopping and delivery have reduced SOME of the back-and-forth, but not all of it. Keep in mind that Momma Bear and Baby Bear just went through perhaps the most physically traumatic natural event of all time. You have to take care of them.
  8. House Work. One of the benefits of being home all day for a period of time is the ability to cross house projects off your master to-do list. This is a perfect time to do these things, as it will definitely make Momma Bear happier when you go back to work, but there is definitely guilt. Every moment you spend away from the baby is not fun. Even if you are doing things to benefit your family.

Paternity leave is not a vacation. It’s work. A LOT of work. It should be work. You had a damn baby!

And you are the right man to handle the challenges. Just make sure you get enough baby snuggles.

Dad Survival Kit: 3am Baby Feedings

IMG_6347Whether your baby is nursed or bottle-fed, your new addition will need to eat in the middle of the night. Likely more than once.

For breastfed babies, like ours, Dad’s role is a little more defined than babies taking formula.

But no matter how your baby gets his or her sustenance, it’s important to be prepared for what happens when the inevitable 1am, 3am, 5am feedings come.

The following is your Dad Survival Kit on how to handle these feedings:

  1. Just Change the Diaper. I’m calling on Dads to do at least one thing for every middle of the night feeding: change the effing diaper. It’s not fun, but did you push a 6-10 pound human out of your body? No. So let Mamma Bear rest an extra minute while you wipe your child’s rear. Related: For those early weeks, have a makeshift changing table in your bedroom. The baby is likely your third roommate during that time, so putting a table in the corner with a table lamp will make life so much easier.
  2. Load the DVR. When baby is up, at least one parent, and likely both, will be up, too. And you will want something entertaining to watch in the middle of the night. Don’t get too aggressive, though. You may think this is the time to binge-watch Law & Order: SVU reruns. And you would be totally wrong. Remember, this is 3am we’re talking about,man. I recommend short, funny shows that can keep you entertained without requiring too much (read: any) brain power. Our favorites right now include @Midnight, Robot Chicken, and Caribbean Life.
  3. Snack Up. This is where it gets tricky. You are awake in the middle of the night, which means STAYING awake in the middle of the night. Much like an anesthesiologist that tries to give you the minimum amount of medication required for the entire period of performance, you need something to keep you going, without making it difficult to go back to sleep. We keep boxes of cereal on our nightstands to help fuel us for as long as needed. CAUTION: mindless munching makes it hard to get quality sleep afterwards, so limit your intake.
  4. Keep It Short. Become a Navy SEAL of parenting. Wake up, do your job as efficiently as possible, go back to sleep. You are lucky if you can get three straight hours of sleep, so don’t waste a single second of potential sleep by doing anything other than sleep.
  5. Communicate Expectations. There is no one right way to divide your parenting. But there are right ways for you and your partner – and they all center around effective communication. Talk through how you want to handle the middle of the night feedings BEFORE it’s 3am and you resent each other for not reading minds. Just talk it through.

This period of time is not easy at all. It will test your willpower. It will push your relationship to new levels.

Above all else, though, it should be happy.

Use this survival kit to keep it that way.


Baby Snuggles Are Magic

Newborns are hard.

Ridiculously hard.

They eat…constantly. They sleep…barely.

They spit-up.

They poop.

They pee.

They cry.

But they also do one thing that makes up for it: They snuggle.

Baby Snuggles: Magic. IMG_4067

When a baby curls up, head on your shoulders, bottom on your forearm, hands tucked under their body, there is nothing better for a parent.

Those moments override the stress and sleepiness of a baby’s first few days, replacing them with a rush of love and energy to get you through.

Over Squish’s first week of life, he has done the following things:

  • Prevented us from sleeping more than 2.5 hours in a row.
  • Peed on us. Multiple times. He has “after seeing a movie in a theater” amounts of urine.
  • Filled a diaper with nasty, watery poop. And then 30 seconds after we cleaned the mess, did it all over again.
  • Spit-up on us. A lot.
  • While laying flat on his back next to me, spit-up in the air and directly INTO MY MOUTH. MY MOUTH! [I was too amazed – and kinda proud – to be grossed out.]

None of this was anything close to pleasant.

But those snuggles, man…

Shortly after peeing on me twice within one diaper change today [I said he had insane amounts of space in his bladder], we laid down and he slept on me for an hour. I dozed off for just a few minutes, but those were freakishly restorative. And without a doubt, enough to power me through the rest of the day.

Like I said, baby snuggles are magic.


Build Your New Family Dynamic in 6 Easy Steps

[Note: Something like 99.9% of the awesomeness and 100% of the ideas in this post came directly from The Best Mom, my wife.]

Introducing Beanie (almost 5) and Bug (almost 3) to Baby Squish was a long-term project. FullSizeRender

It had to be: a baby coming into our family would completely change the entire dynamic. Their roles were established and once the baby was born, would never be the same again.

We had to prepare them over several months and utilize multiple tactics to make sure they excitedly showered Squish with love, and knew how to act around him.

  1. Constant References: We first told the kids about the impending arrival roughly four months in advance. There was no real reason to loop them in earlier, since they didn’t know what was happening. But after they knew that a baby was coming? We spoke about ALL THE TIME. In the car to and from school. At dinner. Before bed. Running errands. A day didn’t go by that we didn’t mention the baby.
  2. Engage Their Brains: We knew that just talking about the baby would definitely familiarize them with the baby’s arrival, but wouldn’t be enough. Later in the pregnancy, we started asking them questions about the baby. Would it be a boy or a girl (since we didn’t know!)? What were they most excited about? What did they want to teach the baby? We found that asking these questions allowed us to build their excitement every day.
  3. Give Them Something New: Their world was about to change in ways they had no control over. We needed to counteract that, so they both had a sense of newness in their lives beyond the baby. Best solution? Upgrade their bedrooms!
    1. First, we moved our daughter out of a toddler bed and into a twin bed! This was the most exciting change in her daily life since…moving into the toddler bed. Since she loves rainbows and unicorns, we decorated her entire room in them (plus a Star Wars poster she was beyond excited about!). Now, every day, she went to sleep and woke up in her happy place.
    2. Second, we transitioned our son out of the nursery and crib into his “big boy room” and into our daughter’s old toddler bed. Her told us he wanted his new room to be a firetruck. So we went to work, strategically spray-painting the white toddler bed into the best firetruck bed ever. (separate post on that coming one of these days)
    3. Separately, they also got new “big brother/big sister t-shirts to wear when the baby arrived. We kept these as visible to the kids as possible over the final week of the pregnancy, so they could see them and get excited to wear them.
  4. Involve Them In Prep: Another great way to get kids excited about a new baby is to have them actively involved in getting ready. Giving them small jobs, like taking a box from one room to another, or helping check and replace batteries on swings and toys are things they can do that are meaningful contributions. Plus, it provides a fun parent-kid activity away from the TV.
  5. Gifts From The Baby: Let’s be honest here, little kids prefer to get instead of give. We bought the kids gift bag from “the baby” that included play sets, pajamas, and other fun things. As soon as the baby was born, my parents dropped these bags at the hospital, so when they brought the kids a few hours later, there were magically presents from the baby to Beanie and Bug! We also said that Amzi catered the room with hospital graham crackers. Don’t judge – it got the job done. Both kids gave the baby kisses and thanked him for the presents…and the snack.
  6. Snuggles All The Time: The best way to build that new sense of family belonging and responsibility is to be together. Sure, we aren’t trusting our kids to babysit, or even hold the baby unsupervised. But finding those key moments where we can all snuggle in bed, or Beanie can hold the baby while sitting on a couch next to Mommy, or Bug can sneak in a quick kiss…those go a long way. That is where the magic is. We started this the day #3 came home from the hospital.

Our new world is just getting started. We know there are mega-challenges ahead, most of which we can’t even imagine right now. But making sure our foundation — our happiness and togetherness as a family — is set, will help us stay strong in the weeks ahead.