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How Young Is Too Young To Ship Your Kids Off Part II: The Prodigal Chicagoan

Yesterday evening I fired off a quick post about my return home to visit my folks and retrieve my daughter. Unlike the love/hate relationship I have with New York, Chicago was a place I escaped as a college boy to find myself in the wilderness of the world. Each time I return to her, I return stronger and more knowledgeable than the last time. But an overwhelming sense of betrayal settles over me each time I touch down. Chicago and it's outlying areas are where the majority of my family resides. The rest, I don't know.

The wife dropped me at LaGuardia Airport at 5:30 this morning. I sidestepped most of the chaos that greeted me by bringing a compact carry-on suitcase with me. By sleeping through most of the flight, I avoided my ever-growing flying jitters. I landed at O'Hare airport at 8 o'clock this morning, but didn't get out of that behemoth structure until well after nine. My father retrieved me from the baggage claim and we caught up on the drive home. We ran errands along the way. When we arrived my father was carrying a bag of stationery from Staples and I, a bag of cereal, contact lens solution and Preparation H from Walgreens (don't ask or wonder) along with my luggage.

To be honest, I was more curious than I was excited as I walked the path to the porch of my parents' house.

But when my father opened the door...

I saw a little, cheeky face with 4 pigtails peek through the opening and yell, "Grandpa!" Then she saw me and screamed at the top of her lungs. I walked into the house and watched my child run zigzags between my parents. She hopped, spun in circles, grabbed my mother's legs, grabbed my dad's legs, ran to the front of the living room, and ran into the kitchen --- screaming the entire time.

"Hi, baby," I said, softly and opened my arms.

She ran straight at me and jumped into my arms. She dug her fingers into my neck and wrapped her legs around my torso. She's gotten taller since I last saw her and she's speaking in full sentences. In that moment I saw my father snapping pics out of the corner of my eye and my mom rambling on about how cute we were. But in that moment all I truly heard was my baby's breath against my eardrum as she buried her face into my shoulder. In this place, I was completely at peace.

I spun her around to face a mirror and saw her grinning from ear to ear.

"Daddy," she said, with glee. She kissed me and pulled at my cheeks.

"I love you, baby," I told her as I set her down. "I love you so much."

And she hasn't let me out of her sight since.


How Young Is Too Young To Ship Your Kids Off For the Summer?

For those of you who are friends of Makes Me Wanna Holler and were visiting at the end of June/beginning of July, you'll remember I was a complete mess as my father's generation put it, "I was fit to be tied." I let it all hang out: the bad, the ugly and the worse. I chronicled all of this in the series When A Father Attacks (If you click on this, make sure you read the entries in reverse order...this way you won't start at the end.).

Fast forward to the present, and it's been almost five weeks since that turbulent time. I'm somewhat of a changed man and have come to several revelations about my wife and children, who I am and how I am in relationship to them.

Tomorrow morning I'll be on a plane to my beloved Chi-Town to visit my folks, lounge around the house I grew up in, cool out in the evenings in the backyard and see my baby --- hold her, squeeze her, kiss her a thousand times --- and then some more.

The way life is she probably won't be happy to see me.

We'll see...I'll keep you posted.


Post Update: A Bourgie Hot Mess

I've updated A Bourgie Hot Mess & The Sazerac with a photo I received from a family member who documented my collapse that evening.

Check it out.


When Is Rated-R not Rated-R for Kids?

[Mature Content Alert]

A few weeks ago, my wife, son and I sat down for our Saturday night movie night. This occurs for three reasons: 1) my son is perpetually bored if left idle for more than 2 seconds; 2) my wife is perpetually antsy if not busy for more than 2 seconds; and 3) we like movies. On Saturday nights when we don't have anything to do or don't want to go anywhere, we rent movies or catch up on our Netflix queue.

So my wife decides to rent Shoot 'Em Up with Clive Owen (an actor I like). I vaguely remember asking her the rating. She told me it was family friendly. Growing up, my folks didn't take me to or allow me to see any R-rated movies. Now of course I managed to slip one or two in while visiting cousins, or sneaking into a show/movie theater here and there ("show" is for all you Midwesterners). But the rule of the house was: "No way, no how, not while you're living in this house."

And that's my rule today.

A few have slipped through the cracks: The Matrix Trilogy (I excused this as sci-fi violence and made my son cover his eyes during the latex and leather scenes); Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (I made him cover his eyes during the one love scene); The Blade Trilogy (Grandma and one of my wife's girlfriends are to blame for this one); and only God knows how many awful Steven Seagal movies (thanks to my wife's stepfather).

My wife's folks weren't as strict as mine, so we occasionally bump heads on parenting ideology and practice. I automatically say no first, then weigh the options before deciding whether or not I want to change my mind. She weighs the options and does her best to say yes.

Back to Shoot 'Em Up...

Roughly two minutes into the film some random pregnant chick is being chased by a gunman, she gives birth, and Clive Owen (the hero in the film) comes to the woman's aid and pops one of her boobs out of her dress to keep the newborn quiet.

I thought to myself, Okay, breastfeeding is natural.

Every other word was F-this, F-face, F-that and F-you. Then the woman gets shot in the head and dies with her boob still hanging out.

Hmm. Now, I'm beginning to wonder.

There are a few more gratuitous displays of this dead boob before Clive Owen makes off with the newly orphaned child to what appears to be a nunnery. When the nun who answers the door turns around, her bare naked butt is out. Why?

Because it's a whorehouse.

What happened next occurred in a matter of seconds: My son blurted out, "ewww...." and put his left hand over his eyes; Clive Owen and the prostitute go up a flight of stairs; the screams of a woman in the throes of passion floods the television speakers; I scrambled for the remote and yelled at my son to go to the back of the apartment; I found the remote when Clive Owen and the nun burst into a room to find a naked woman riding a man; I dove across the room, turned off the television, then the DVD.

At this point my son was in his room looking his walls. My wife was on the couch looking half-horrified, half-ready to bust out laughing. Oh yeah, she also looked completely guilty.

I grabbed the Netflix sleeve to check the rating. "Rated R for pervasive strong bloody violence, sexuality and some language."

"This is rated R!" I scream.

"I told you that, but they said it was family friendly," she explained, hunching her shoulders.

Netflix says depending on the type of family and kid, it could be an acceptable movie (Netflix explains this much more thoroughly than I'm willing to do here). But ours is not the kind of family that found any of the first three minutes of that movie acceptable. And honestly it doesn't matter what kind of kid my son is. T&A will not be a part of his visual diet. Not while he's in my house. No way. Now how.

Two weeks later, I watched it with my wife and neither of us could believe it could be considered even semi-acceptable for viewing. On it's face Shoot 'Em Up is a spoof of preposterous action movies and it was good, but it's not for anyone under 16 and depending on your house rules, maybe not even then.

There's a reason movies are rated-R. More times than not, the reasons are good.

When is rated-R not rated-R for Kids?

I can't say always never, but I do feel almost never is an appropriate answer.


Batman, Bale, Jesus & Myself

The Dark Knight has done the unimaginable by bringing in $158 mil over the weekend. If I could have just 1% of that my days as a working stiff would end immediately. I was completely satisfied by the movie and now have shifted my more ridiculous daydreams from Iron Man back to Batman.

By Monday, in the midst of all the hoopla, there were allegations that Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne) beat up (assaulted) his mom and sis. It looks like everything has been dropped, but it’s staying in the news despite the fact that there’s no real details and Bale nor his family are talking about it.

Seems like they need Jesus. I sure do. The stuff of my life has become so hectic as of late, I haven’t had the opportunity to write here, but I do want to point out the poll in the right hand column is set to close in 3 days. Don’t forget to vote. And sooner rather than later the posts will return.



Paternal Fear

Yesterday the wife and I watched Sweeney Todd with Johnny Depp. I hate musicals, but it was pretty good once you got past all the blood (I'm not the blood-and-guts movie type).

There was a montage in the movie where Helena Bonham Carter's character was singing about the life she and Sweeney Todd (Depp) could have as a couple. In every imagining she sang about --- picnics, beach trips, marriage --- she was happy and Todd was brooding over enacting revenge over those who had wronged him. I had to laugh because I saw myself completely in the imagery. Before the economy became what it is now and especially so now, as a parent, I am gripped with a singular fear: not being able to give my kids the upbringing I was given.

I'm not talking ideology, mores or beliefs. I speaking to what I had as a child at both my kids' ages versus what they have from me. I didn't have every game console known to man (except xBox), an iPod and hot sneakers like my son, but I had quite a few Mattel games, a SuperWalkman and Hard Times by RUN-DMC, and a nice white pair of Ponys that I cleaned almost hourly. I also had a house to lounge around in, a backyard to cool out in (when I wasn't mowing the lawn or helping my father erect some wooden temple to himself a.k.a. the forever incomplete deck) and space to lounge, wander, wish, hope dream and brood.

My daughter's with my folks for July. Since she's been gone I've received reports every other day from my folks on her discoveries of worms, playing in her baby pool, running, skipping, playing as free as a bird as I did in the home in which I was raised. As a toddler, I vaguely remember walking with my mother on endless journeys through our neighborhood, running back and forth through the sprinklers in our yard, and chasing fireflies after sunset. Last week my folks bought her a tricycle and a part of my heart caved in. Not because my folks are doing these things as opposed to me, after all, that's what grandparents are for. But because once her month is over in Chi-Town and once my son's free-for-all in Virginia comes to its conclusion they both have to come back to our tiny, cramped apartment that has no yard, one television, and hardly enough space for 4 people to breathe comfortably.

These are the sacrifices my wife and I decided to make in order to survive comfortably as a New York family --- pay off wedding debt and build cash reserves --- until it came time to buy a home.

The only problem with this plan is that we aren't comfortable.

A couple weeks back, I finally accepted the fact that my job doesn't parcel out promotions or raises. I had been denial over this for at least a month prior until the boss lady told me herself.

All of this truly makes me wanna holler. Something has to give because I can't. Brooding constantly quickly becomes toxic, robbing the present of its color, making any hope for a future bleak at best.

Thankfully, fear is made of the same intangible stuff and can become the motivation for great change. It always has been for me. On a day like today when my wife states she doesn't want to spend another season in our current residence, my son tells his cousins he doesn't want to come home, and my daughter no longer wants to speak to mommy or daddy over the phone, were it not for the grace of God, I'd probably crawl inside myself and never come out. My fear of failing, limping along, eking out some humdrum rudimentary existence are revving at an all time high as of the past two weeks. What am I going to do?

Two words are going to get me through: "But God..."

So many bad stories (much better than mine) have ended well with these two words. Tune in for further details.

If you're a father and you have fears regarding your kids, how do you manage?


The Dark Knight is Here!

It's here! After an amazing start with Iron Man, a so-so viewing of The Incredible Hulk (I haven't seen Hellboy 2 yet) --- my inner-superhero will finally be satisfied this weekend after waiting for what felt like an eternity!

The follow up to Batman Begins stars one of my favorite actors, Christian Bale, and another guy I was beginning to get into before his untimely death (Heath Ledger).

The Dark Knight is rated PG-13, but from the little bits I've been allowing myself to hear, this is not a movie for kids in general, so bring 'em at your own risk.


A Bourgie Hot Mess & The Sazerac

Two weeks ago I was in the great city of New Orleans for the first time in my life. In the birthplace of jazz I got a chance to relax, soak up the hot sun, suffer in the humidity, ride the Riverboat Natchez along the Mississippi, eat like a four hundred pound man, drink coffee all day long, and live for a few days in a historic apartment located in the French Quarter. I have to thank my wife for taking me. It was my Father's Day present.

We were also in town for the Essence Music Fest as was her cousin and his wife, my mother-in-law and several friends --- a total nine of us.

After a couple days of getting acclimated --- eating and sleeping (in that order) for hours on end, it was time to celebrate the birthday of my wife’s cousin (also an Eric). His only desire for the day was to eat at a restaurant of his choice and to go to Sung Harbor, a jazz club.

The evening got off to a groggy start after an extremely heavy lunch of Po’ Boys at Mother’s Restaurant followed by a round of Cajun Bloody Marys had on a Mississippi River tour aboard the Steamboat Natchez. [Side note: Cajun Bloody Marys are disgusting]. The drink didn't agree with me and before I went out that night I was desperate for something made of dough to soak up the spiked tomato juice.

Problem No. 1: I wound up with a bag of Twizzlers and a slice of apple pie and somehow figured this would do the trick.

Neither the birthday boy nor the rest of us liked our original restaurant choice for the night and were advised by our cabbie (who fell in love with my wife over the course of maybe seven blocks) to try Olivier’s on Decatur --- a New Orleans favorite a few blocks away.

The restaurant was packed and we didn't have a reservation. But we were intent on not expending anymore energy looking for a place to eat. We made a reservation for 8:15 --- a full hour later.

With time to kill, we wandered over to a restaurant halfway down the block and across the street. The restaurant didn’t look very inviting, but the bar was great. It opened out onto the street and the bartender, Elizabeth, was a sprite little nymph with short auburn hair, dressed in a t-shirt dress and cowboy boots. Everyone ordered right away, except for me. Everything on the drink menu looked boring except for one drink I had never heard of: The Sazerac.

A Sazerac was described on the menu as a New Orleans exclusive. It’s described on Wikipedia as one of the oldest known cocktails in existence with pre-Civil War origins in New Orleans, made of cognac and bitters, but updated to absinthe, old rye whiskey and bitters. Pure alcohol.

Problem No. 2: Elizabeth meticulously built my drink in a large martini glass for roughly five minutes.

Problem No. 3: It went down sweetly and smooth as water. So I ordered another one and downed it in two swallows. I no longer remembered I hadn't eaten since lunch.

Eight o’clock came sooner than expected and we went back to Olivier’s for dinner. By that time I knew everything about Elizabeth and she knew everything about us, thanks to my prying and sharing. Eric hadn’t finished his second drink so I helped him out.

The Final Problem: After we were seated at the restaurant, Eric's wife ordered a bottle of champagne for the table.

I loudly begged them not to make me drink it, but after a round of toasts I killed my glass, my wife's and may have even snatched a swig from my mother-in-law.

From there, Eric and I (the only men at the table) laughed at everything we said to each other. After ordering appetizers and settling on dinner, it was time for me to pay a visit to the restroom. When I stood, the room stood with me, then tilted to one side. I walked lightly and happily to restroom. Walking back to the table I noticed I was having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other --- something I haven’t experienced since my freshman year of college (a long time ago).

When I sat down I had a glass of water and got up to go back to the restroom. On my second trip from the restroom I was walking like a ninety year-old, slow and steady, making a pronounced effort to lift my feet off the ground.

A conversation began in my head…

When are we gonna eat?

What’s wrong with me?

Some appetizers came, but I couldn’t taste them. My wife lovingly fed me and we laughed some more. I stood to excuse myself from the table and stumbled quickly to the restroom where I promptly threw up. When I was finished I couldn't see.

I sat on top of the toilet top and waited to get regain my balance, my sight, my sense of taste and my marbles.

Several minutes passed.

Eric came to check on me but I insisted I was fine. I had no idea I wasn’t.

I would make several more trips to the restroom from that point, wondering the entire time, Where is my food?

What none of us knew was that there was a party of 50 in the upstairs dining room. This completely shut down the kitchen and kept us from being served for an hour. It also got our appetizers and drinks comped.

I experienced the rest of my night as patches of consciousness: our waiter assuring us the food was almost ready; me clearing the space in front of me at the table; my head hitting the table; my wife eventually telling me to sit up; my somehow being able to muster the energy to sit up straight; time standing still; briefly glimpsing up to see the waiter place a cup of tonic water and bitters in front of me; my wife urging me to drink; my mother-in-law telling my wife I wouldn’t drink it (I didn’t); everything going black.

I came to before the food came and made a final trip to the restroom. Eric’s wife came to check on me, Eric came to tell me my food was tasty, and my wife finally came into the stall to find me cemented on the toilet as if it were a Lazy-Boy. I heard her apologize to man in the stall next to me. He said he understood.

I insisted I was fine.

My wife told me she was taking me home. I told her I didn’t want to drown in my sleep. She assured me I was empty and promised me I'd live. I vaguely remember everyone in the restaurant having a smile on their face when I was being pushed/dragged out by my group. I was hustled into a cab where I apologized repeatedly for ruining the night (I didn't know then I had been the entertainment). The cab came to a halt, I was pulled from it by my wife and dragged up the stairs of our apartment until I was face first in bed, fully dressed. I was still babbling out an apology.

At some point in the middle of the night my wife returned from the jazz club and flipped me over (I screamed and heard her laugh), stripped me down to my boxers and pulled the covers over me. She also mentioned she had a good time at the jazz club.

I woke up the next morning at 6 a.m., without a hangover, but my stomach was in knots. A couple hours later my wife and I got up without the rest of our group and had breakfast together at an outdoor café. I sat trying to make sense of the night before. I forensically deduced that the Bloody Mary had been the start of my problems, the heat and humidity had probably been a close second. My wife shot me a deadpan look and told me I got drunk --- completely, out-of-control drunk, to the point of alcohol poisoning. But she told me I was due a moment to let go. And that it was okay.

All wasn't lost however. She brought my leftovers home and I held onto them until I was back at my desk in New York. Anxious for the hearty meal I never ate in New Orleans I had to laugh when I found two paltry pieces of beef and a whole lot of pasta. They had eaten my food while I was passed out at the table. I would've done the same.

I wasn't a ghetto hot mess, but I was definitely a drunk, bourgie one, dressed in linen during my dance wtih two Sazeracs, a couple glasses of champagne and who knows what else.

But like a hot ghetto mess, a few days later, I went back to the scene of the crime and got Elizabeth to make me another Sazerac. Even on a full stomach (and without the champagne) it was just as good as they had been the first time I tasted it.

Hardly a control freak, but definitely one who enjoys being in control of my own faculties I had to chalk this one up. It happens to everyone every once in a while.

Has it happened to you?


A New Poll on Church & Family & You

How important is church for you? Was it important as you were growing up and now, not so much? Whatever your experiences of feelings on the subject, please share your thoughts and insights.

And be sure to check out the latest poll that's up in the right-hand column.


Subscriber Love

Over the past few days my hits have plummeted and my subscriber numbers have been fluctuating down instead of up. I hope this recent backsliding is due to the summertime being here in full swing and not because I suck.

In an act of self-promotion (if I don't who will?) on a Sunday morning, I just want to let you know that if like what you've been reading:

  • You can have entries from Makes Me Wanna Holler delivered to your email inbox by clicking here.
  • If you prefer receiving updates through your rss newsreader (google reader, newsgator, bloglines, etc.) click here.
  • You can follow me on Twitter by clicking here.
  • You can hang out with me at Blogcatalog here.
  • You can join the group on Facebook.

That's it for now.



How To Start A Summer Weekend

Still in vacation-mode and eating out more than I probably should, I woke up this morning dead-tired. Although I walk a lot during my work week as mentioned in an previous post, I haven’t worked out for at least a year. This morning I dragged myself out of my apartment with my speed rope, a bottle of water and my keys in search of the nearest park with some shade (I rock a baldie and don't enjoy the sensation of my head frying).

Jumping rope has never been my strong suit so I was surprised when I was able to jump for nearly five minutes straight. Then I tried to get fancy like the boxers and started whipping myself. But all in all it was a good morning routine to get the blood pumping and the sweat flowing. I followed this up with a few rounds of elevated pushups, some tricep work and crunches.

My wife returned home from the beauty shop with a mohawk (at my suggestion) and made a hearty breakfast for us both.

A great start to a lazy summer Saturday in New York.


When A Father Attacks: The Fix

The finale of When A Father Attacks.

Several years ago, I learned in church that when there is no communication abnormality and death sets in. This is true of all relationships --- friendships, business partnerships, and so on.

And especially relationships between men and women --- casual, serious or otherwise.

Friends of mine have commended me on my bravery for sharing this madness on the blog; a couple of dedicated readers have become genuinely concerned for the well-being of my marriage; while others are simply waiting to read this final post. My decision to share (or overshare) was to show that there are various sides and factors operating in all situations between people. As the owner and writer of Makes Me Wanna Holler I am in the position to say/rant whatever I want and slant every issue to make me look golden. But I'm not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination --- I have a side as does my wife, but honestly my side or her side really doesn't matter in the face of raising a family and progressing as a couple. I've known so many people who've become so engrossed in their "side", that they can't move beyond it to a resolution. This is where they drown, to this day arguing their place over the place where both parties need to be.

At my "side" is where I'll pick up When A Father Attacks.

A week ago, I went from being fed by my anger to being completely wearied by it. Like the Hatfields & the McCoys, I was quickly beginning to lose sight of what upset me in the first place. All reports from my parents suggested my baby was having a blast in Chicago and my son was ecstactic to get away from his boring parents for a month with his cousins down South.

So why was I still so angry? My answer was to be found in a pizzeria/gelato store on 7th Avenue.

I went to lunch with one of my buddies after finding my own brown bag lunch completely unsatisfying. She's a part-time counselor at my organization and an avid reader of this blog. While munching on a hefty chicken slice she decided to put on her counselor's hat and dig in. It's something she does often --- maybe for practice, maybe for kicks, maybe simply to help.

The pizza was good (I got my own slice), but the talk was better and I discovered that I really needed to talk with my wife.

My daughter being shipped away, although extremely troubling, released an avalanche of resentment that has built up over time. What I processed over lunch was that in my wife's desire to do things for the sake of "us", I've typically been the last to know --- rarely, if ever, consulted during the planning. What she's been doing in the name of surprise, I've been absorbing as, What the hell is this?

Then there's all that in-fighting...

Even when friends aren't getting along, they don't stomp all over each other if they expect to remain friends. Married couples, with all the things we juggle, often grow oblivious to the reality that friendship (hopefully) was the foundation on which their union was based. In my campaign to crush my wife's always-on, type-A personality, I had completely lost sight of who she or I was and the roles we were supposed to be playing in each other's lives.

When my son was a lot younger and smaller than he is now, he frequently referred to me as "The Fixer" due to my ability to repair or build just about anything around the house.

It was time for me to resume this role.

I reopened the lines of communications between my wife and I. The talk wasn't easy (nothing worth achieving ever is), but it didn't end with me wanting to drive over her with my SUV.

Baby steps, one at a time are leading us back to where we need to be --- friends, partners, lovers, parents, and blah, blah, blah. I'm no longer on the attack. Although now I am quick to share my opinion on things, as this is my right as an equal partner in our marriage. In the days that followed this first talk, my wife and I have since barbecued, cleaned and spit-shined our son's room (in his absence of course) and vacationed in her favorite city in the United States: New Orleans.

The End. Better put: The Beginning.

Twelve Steps of Fatherhood

A couple weeks back I held a poll about the challenges to "What Makes a Successful Father."

Coincidentally enough, my 9-5 life revolves around marketing the aims and goals of a non-profit dedicated to helping teen parents become successful adults, effectively breaking cyclical poverty and raising empowered kids. Part of the equation is educating the little ones in an effort to put them on a path to avoid (through their own informed decision-making) unplanned pregnancy. The other part, for those who are already on the other path, is to make sure both they and their children are successful. Created as an organization for women, many of our clients now are fathers because fathers are that piece of the puzzle that goes missing so often.

As a married man, a relatively new father and guy who is knee deep in parenting issues at work, the following is my take on the steps needed to engage in and practice successful fathering. Are there more than twelve steps? Of course there are. And I'm no expert. But I am a guy that believes my children and my wife need my best. Despite much of mainstream media being fascinated by what many black men don't do, I take no pride in my role as a responsible father. Everyday I see too many dads doing what they're supposed to do to think of myself as something special.

Being a successful father means:

  1. Setting goals for yourself as a man.
  2. Setting goals for yourself as a father.
  3. Being flexible, but never compromising 1 & 2.
  4. Allowing love to be the driving force behind everything you do with your kid(s).
  5. Always telling your kid(s) you love them (even on the rare occurrences when you think you might not and especially when they're not loving you).
  6. Loving your kid(s) even when you know they hate you.
  7. Being protective, but giving your kids room to grow and discover themselves and their strengths and encouraging them through their weaknesses.
  8. CLEARLY understanding that your most precious child is just that --- a child --- and will be until they are grown.
  9. Working with Mom, no matter what your situation with her might be.
  10. Giving kids the presence and confidence to speak to you.
  11. Making yourself available to sit with, laugh with, play with, read with, talk with, eat with, run with, skip with, sing with, count with, build with and be tough with your kid(s).
  12. Doing more than being there --- participating --- no matter how many mistakes you make along the way.
In life there are no guarantees. Challenges will come, temptations will visit, and fear of the unknown may never leave. But I don't believe these are challenges to fatherhood. I believe they make the experience richer.


When A Father Attacks: Now What?

Part 4 of When A Father Attacks.

I went home...but I took my time getting there.

After working off site until eight-thirty that evening and being nowhere near any of the public transportation I normally take to go home, I hopped on the subway and took it to the end of the line. Before the call from my wife, the plan had been for her to pick me up from the last stop in our car. After her call I wasn't calling her or anyone else.

Far from home, but not far from a home where I had family, I dropped in on my mother-in-law who welcomed me in, fully aware of the strife between my wife and I. I snacked, drank a needed glass of Bacardi Dark on the rocks and watched Ocean's Thirteen (I've never seen this movie all the way from start to finish. As with every other time I've tried to watch it, I came in at the exact same point and as with all my previous attempts, I fell asleep before the end.).

Before dozing off I contemplated where my life is versus where it was before my wife and I met. I wondered if this quiet place of reflection was where so many men have been before considering divorce. Then I began to wonder why I had taken my wife's actions so hard and so personally. We were getting nowhere. I wondered if I was mad for the sake of being mad. Outside of her presence, I could clearly see her point of view, but in her presence she outraged me. And that's the best way for me to put it.

As the evening chugged on into night, I became more aware of the fact that although my daughter was gone, my son was finishing off his last week of school before his trip down South to visit family.

He didn't deserve our BS. I owed it to him to be home, or at the very least least to be there when he woke up the next day.

I began to look at the Metro North train schedules and considered calling a cab when my stand-in mom offered to take me home.

The lights were still on as I expected them to be when I got there.

"I called you," said my wife, in a low and reserved tone.

I ignored her comment and told her I worked later than expected (which I did).

"I thought the plan was for me to pick you up."

I handed her the mail I had picked up on my way in. "It was..." I offered with no further explanation.

I went to check on my son in his room. I found him fast asleep under a pile of sheets, a blanket and his clothes. The sight made me laugh and I went to the back to get out of my work clothes. I did my part to clean the house and went straight to bed, passing on my usual routine of checking emails and tinkering with this blog.

The next morning my wife and I agreed to ride in to work together without actually acknowledging one another. On the train she asked me where I had really been the night before and when I told her she got loud. She told me in several words that I was mean, unforgiving and discourteous for not calling to let her know where I was.

She also added that she didn't care if I stayed out all night. But I knew she did.

I continued on my ride with her, listening to her words --- all of them were angry, defensive, fierce and unconstructive. There was no life in any of them as there was none in any of mine.

I had to ask myself...was this the way friends speak to or deal with each other?

The answer was easy: no.

Now what?

The end of When A Father Attacks is coming soon.


Traveling Without The Kids

Now that I'm full swing into this Dad thing, I've become increasingly paranoid when I travel. Besides the obvious drama that goes with traveling (delays, security, more delays), the whole process just makes me anxious.

While traveling to and from New Orleans (minus the kids) with my wife for our July 4th trip (my Father's Day present), I was a complete, but quiet, basket case. The following thoughts raced non-stop through my mind while in the friendly skies...

  • What if we crash?
  • Who's going to take care of them until they're grown?
  • Who would I want to take care of them?
  • How are they going to grow up right without me?
  • How would my parents survive the news?
I have life insurance and other financial products to make sure they're taken care of as far as money goes. I've even contemplated drawing up a will, but this consoles me little in the face of the fear of orphaning my kids. Of course the unthinkable can happen at any time, but being in a long metal tube with wings, thousands of feet in the sky just brings it all home a little bit more than my daily commute on the train.

Thankfully, I landed safely last night. Thankfully, I don't have to worry about this until I travel again.

As a parent (new or old) has this fear ever gripped you?


When A Father Attacks: Man At War

Part 3 of When A Father Attacks.

Anger can be a positive thing when it is used for good. It can motivate one to pursue excellence. It can also take a person to a place where they decide enough is enough.

It can also consume you.

As the date of my parents arrival continued to approach, the more agitated I became. My wife's attempts to appease me were in vain. My mother did her best to assure me my daughter would be fine. But this fell on deaf ears. Besides, she didn't need to convince me of what I already knew. My issue wasn't with her or my father. In the midst of it all I managed to maintain enough clarity to determine that I felt betrayed and alone. My mood worsened. Making matters worse, after about a week of me, my wife decided she was done catering to my bad attitude.

"If you don't want to spend time with me and we don't get to do anything together then fine! You stay here and be miserable on your own. I'll go where I'm going with or without you!"

My response can't be repeated here.

These exchanges went on for days --- through Father's Day and practically through my son's birthday. My parents' arrival brought about a temporary and brief ceasefire that lasted until they departed with my daughter.

Needless to say it wasn't an easy day for any of us, except for my father, who was filled with glee to have his grandbaby come home with him. My daughter, who my wife was certain would be oblivious to leaving us, was exactly the opposite. I was sad in a way I never thought possible. My wife was overcome with emotion and fled the scene.

I was alone. Again.

I walked away from the scene white hot with anger that formed a cuff around my neck and practically took my breath away. In a move completely contrary to how I felt I hugged my wife when I found her. She cried into my chest and told her all would be fine. I did this with the hope that tending to her would help me feel better.

It didn't.

Two days before all this transpired, I posted an entry on this blog about sending children away for the summer. It was my therapy and I was looking forward to sorting it all out online. A discussion began, but went awry when people who know me personally began to address me directly and not the question I was asking. I felt exposed in a way I never expected in the arena of anonymity that is the web. News of my post spread quickly and reached the ears of my wife (a subscriber to the blog). But because we weren't speaking, she saw my therapy online a smack in the face to her --- complete and total disrespect.

The day after my daughter went to Chicago, my wife called me on my job and demanded that I take the post and the poll that went along with it. Never one to not share her thoughts, she told me she wanted nothing to do with me and she didn't even want to look at me.

I was completely numb. So much so, I was slightly surprised she would believe I actually cared what she thought. I hung up without saying goodbye.

If I took down my post, the creative outlet that has become a very personally positive force in my life would be under her control. But in the name of diplomacy and doing unto others as I would have them do to me, I took down my post and my poll.

I stared at the white space on this blog that had once been filled with the poll: "How Young Is Too Young To Ship Your Kids Off For the Summer?"

Right then and there I had a moment of clarity. One that brought me peace.

...I decided I wasn't going home that night.

Part 4 of When A Father Attacks will post after the July 4th weekend. Have a safe and happy one!

How To Keep It Together

I'm with my wife sitting at Newark Liberty Airport on my way to New Orleans. I'm on standby since we missed our original flight. It never fails. I hate the first flight of the day because it's too easy to underestimate the need to arrive on time.

Anyway. It gives me the chance to play with this iPod Touch I'm typing on right now.

My parents celebrated their 43rd anniversary last Thursday. Growing
up I thought they had been married forever. But now, they truly have. They're partners and friends most days of the week.

I know so many divorcées and people who are on their way. The number of awful tuxes I've worn --- only for the whole thing to end in tears.

If you've been married more than 3 years and intend to stay married, what's your recipe for success?


When A Father Attacks: The Catch-22

Part 2 of When A Father Attacks

My wife is a beautiful, gregarious, headstrong, outspoken woman. When I first met her, her energy was electrifying. She was a nice balance to my mellow and sometimes passive ways. My wife is goal-oriented. The workplace is her domain where she thrives, fearlessly speaking her mind, pushing forward to get results, even as recently as yesterday when her comments to a vice-president contributed to the yanking of a potentially offensive ad campaign. My wife is a planner, at work and with our kids she plans things out from top to bottom, making sure no stone is left unturned.

My wife is a control freak. Her picture is next to the definition of Type-A personality. Family has told me she’s been this way for a long time.

In seeking out goals and outcomes before process and expense, my wife, on several occasions has broken the bank and physically exhausted me in her efforts to “get the job done.” My son has gotten nearly everything he’s ever asked for. And now that we’ve been married for a little more than six months I’ve watched her focus heavily on the premise that “we” aren’t having fun because “we” are bogged down with being parents, and being New Yorkers. But this sentiment is based on her assumptions, not ascertained by actually asking me.

So my wife makes plans, whether feasible or not, in the name of doing what she things we should be or are not doing. I don’t subscribe to playing dead, but I do know that the first three years of marriage are the hardest and this writer would argue the first might possibly be the worst of the three. We paid for our wedding, out of pocket. So things are skimpy, but never sparse.

In the name of having a month to ourselves and in the name of rekindling love anew, my wife began to plan. She got my parents on-board with the idea of taking my daughter for July. She told her friends and her parents. I was the last to know. I can hear the thought process in my head:

Tada!!! Baby, are you surprised?

In actuality, I was pissed. My parents don’t see my daughter often and they’re aged, so why wouldn’t I want them to spend time with her? My wife and I don’t spend much time alone, so why wouldn’t I want to dedicate quality time to my new bride? We live in an apartment and my parents own a home with a large front and backyard with a beautiful lawn and tall maple trees. Why wouldn’t I want my daughter to experience that versus running around the sitter’s house?

Why would I want to stand in the way of all of the above?

Because I’m her father. When I met my son he was five so I missed out on his early development. Last month when I began to have a meltdown, my wife, my parents, my in-laws and our collective friends had no idea the position they put me in (the idea of missing a day of my daughter’s life, the way it was handled, the thought that I would stand in the way of her having a nice time with my parents).

All this in the name of enjoying a month off, even though I never asked for month off and never thought I couldn’t enjoy my new bride with my baby being a part of the picture. After all, we’re the ones who brought her into our picture.

I was stuck…between a rock and a hard place.

For what happens next, check in tomorrow for When A Father Attacks: Man At War...part three of this four-part series running through July 3.

Happy Tuesday

Today is one of those days. There must be something in the air almost everyone on the street looks good today, including my wife. She's feeling really good about herself these days and expressing that through clothing that accentuates. I'm not knockin' her. As many a confident man has told me, who wants a woman no one wants to look at? So after enjoying a wonderful walk to work, I get to the front of my building and see doggy-doo smeared on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.


I got a new story published today. It's the continuation of the story I first posted on Spindle Magazine (shout out to my man, Guy). Basically a man meets woman story set in NYC, but definitely not my story (which seems to be playing out here).

My new header looked a lot better last night than it does today, no fault of my designer. I think I may have rushed to get it up. I'm new to this blog design stuff, so back to the drawing board until I get it right.