dad from day one: Will We Be Moving Jack Back to Nashville? (Part 1)

Week 17 (4 months).

*While this entry is actually the 5th chapter of my series entitled “God-Nudged Leap of Faith”, it is just as relevant to “dad from day one” as well. Therefore, I consider it a cross-over episode.

A few weeks from now, on April 4th, it will be four months since my wife and I took our God-nudged leap of faith.  We carefully planned and prayed over our decision to leave our secured careers behind in Nashville to live in a small blue collar town in Alabama where my family lives.  Having our first child, a son named Jack who was born on November 16, 2010, was a big part of the motivation to move.  It made sense to slow down our pace of life, not only for ourselves, but for him.  We wanted Jack to be surrounded by his grandparents, aunt, and uncle.

My wife and I both were born in 1981.  As children of the 1980’s, we were always told that you can do anything if you really believed in your dreams.  Maybe that’s why we were brave enough to take this leap of faith.  Maybe that’s what got us into this situation: Having almost depleted our savings and unable to land the right jobs back in my small hometown, we are now at a breaking point.

But in this moment, I don’t feel brave. Perhaps there’s a thin line between bravery and foolishness.  The way I see it, that thin line in my case is actually having a steady job.  It’s not a matter of the choice that we may have to move back to Nashville- it’s simply the only option if at least one of us doesn’t get a job within the next 2 and a half weeks.  We need to make the most responsible decision at this point.

That 2 and a half week deadline is both how long our savings will last us as well as how long it should take to know if the most recent job I applied for will be mine or go to someone else.  I can’t say that there were truly no job opportunities for me here.  The first week we were here, I interviewed and was offered a job that was similar to my one in Nashville for the past five years- however, I found out during the interview that it meant working every Saturday and three nights a week.  So I turned them down.  Looking back, it’s easier to say I should have jumped at the chance.  But at the time, I felt that it defeated the purpose of moving here if I couldn’t spend Saturday’s and many evenings with my family.

And the day I published the last chapter of this series, I interviewed and was offered a job as an account representative.  It seemed like the perfect fit at first, but soon I realized I was the wrong guy for the job- like an accountant trying to do a computer administrator’s job or a forklift operator trying to work in a cubicle on the phone.  I was very appreciative, and maybe too honest to not waste their time, but after a week and a half, I had to face the inevitable and re-entered the gloomy world of “much qualified but unemployed”.

My heart was set on raising my son in the same small town I loved while growing up.  But it’s starting to seem like I’m playing Red Rover and I just can’t break through the other side.  And while all of my family’s lives and futures will change if end up moving back to Nashville, I think of how Baby Jack’s life will be the most effected.  Nashville is a wonderful city; after all, it’s where my wife and I met and got married. But his grandparents (my parents) had set their hearts on seeing him nearly every day (the house we live now in is barely a half a mile from them).  And Jack won’t get to grow up with his cousin (my sister is due with her first child in July, who will be in the same school grade as him) as closely.

We chose love over money.  We chose faith over security.  I would love to believe that this story ends the way I intended.  But unless God provides a miracle, because that’s the only saving option, then we have to count our losses (emotional, physical, and financial) and abandon our simple dream.

In Nashville, Jack will have to be raised by babysitters while my wife and I work. As compared to living in Alabama, my sister was going to babysit him since she is going on maternity leave for awhile.  That’s hard for me to grasp.  It makes me think of a divorce in that Jack will only see his family (other than my wife and I, of course) on most weekends.  That’s not what I had my heart set on.

My intentions were good.  My heart was right. My faith was real. My God can still intervene.

One of the main reasons I decided to write this God-nudged leap of faith series was to show how God would provide for my family.  He has always provided for me before.  I just can’t imagine this story ending with this all being for just character building experience.  Not that God’s faithfulness and providence depends on my story.  So to be fair, no matter how this story ends, I will continue writing it- even if we have to pack our lives back up and return to Nashville (where I could go back to my gracious former employer).

I realize that our willingness to move back to Nashville away from family could simply be like Abraham being willing to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  Maybe it’s simply a test of our faith.  But I also fully realize that despite all it took to get here, we may be required to actually make the sacrifice. For the next two and a half weeks, I will be looking for that ram caught in the bushes, like Abraham was given.  I’m counting on a miraculous whirlwind to catch me and carry me either to safety on the ground, or back up to where I leaped from in the first place.

Like Bruce Springsteen said in the first track of my favorite album of his, The Rising: “In God’s hands our fate is complete… I’m countin’ on a miracle to come through.”

It’s in God’s hands, where it’s always been.

dad from day one: Baby Jack the Boy Scout at DeSoto State Park (Nature Vs. Nurture)

Week 15.

Now that the weather is getting nicer, we the parents are very excited about taking advantage of the dozens of trails near us at DeSoto State Park.  That means Baby Jack gets to go hiking with us.  Fortunately, he actually enjoys hiking, even if he’s asleep for most of the time.

I should point out these aren’t simply 20 minutes walks I’m referring to.  I’m talking 3 and a half mile hikes- not just easy, flat trails.  When he is awake during his hikes, he loves to look up at the blue sky, which matches his eyes. Conveniently, we haven’t had to change his diapers during these journeys.  But of course, we feed and change him right before we embark into the forest, to make things easier for Jack and for us.

I don’t know if it’s normal for a 3 month old to enjoy hiking.  But I guess now it’s normal to him.  I help create his reality like that.  It’s a classic case of “nature vs. nurture”.  I am nurturing him to appreciate nature.  And he’s buying it.

dad from day one: When Jack Smiles

Week 14.

The first thing I do during each of Jack’s playtimes is to carry him into the bathroom and let him see the two of us in the mirror.  He looks down at the counter, then up at himself, then he looks up to my face.  When he sees me, he smiles.  Granted, he must have the memory of a goldfish right now because then he ultimately repeats this process about four or five times before getting bored and wanting me to carry him to a different room for new scenery.

It’s a fun game for me- to try to get my 3 month old son to smile.  Sometimes I get him to smile without even trying to.  Recently he needed a nap really bad.  I knew this, but he did not.  I had him wrapped up in a blanket and was carrying him around, trying to get him to stop crying and fall asleep.

I took a break by sitting him sort of upright in the papasan chair facing me while I sat on the stool for the papasan.  In a thoughtless attempt to ease him to sleep, I began singing the Christmas song “Silver Bells”, but Robert Goulet style.  He stopped crying and started smiling at me.  Then a few minutes later, he was asleep. Needless to say, I’ve sang a lot of songs Robert Goulet style since then.  If it works, it works.

dad from day one: Who Jack Resembles the Most Right Now- Grandpa Tuttle

Week 13.


Something always told me, during the pregnancy, that Jack wouldn’t really look that much like me.  He inherited my gender and my dark hair (though his hair appears to be lightening up a bit), but other than that, my physical traits have yet to truly surface in him.  And it’s not that he doesn’t look like my wife- people have said they see more of her in him, yet still no one says that he absolutely looks just like either of us.  That’s because, for right now, he looks like Grandpa Tuttle- my wife’s dad.


I see the resemblance most in Jack’s eyes.  Even when/if Jack’s eyes darken to brown eventually, he still will have the eye shape of his grandfather.  Bill Tuttle, my father-in-law and Jack’s maternal grandfather, passed away just a few months after my wife and I got married in 2008.  But I am constantly reminded of him when I look at Jack.  This helps me to better understand the concept of how children are truly an extension of their family.


dad from day one: Baby Boys Make Me Think of Middle-aged Men [Home Video Enhanced]

Week 12.

Whenever I see a baby boy, I usually think of a man between the ages of 45 and 65 years old, because while taking a child psychology class in college at Liberty University, I remember seeing side-by-side photographs in my textbook which compared a baby boy and a middle-aged man. The example showed how as a man grows older, he begins to look more like he did as a baby. (Baby girls don’t look like middle-aged women, though.)

Something that has become pretty apparent this week is that Jack (my son) and Jack (my dad) have a special connection. Baby Jack gravitates his attention towards my dad if he is in the room.  Not only is he fascinated by hearing his voice, but he also will get the biggest smile anytime my dad looks his way. And as these YouTube clips below will show, a certain side of Jack’s behavior only opens up for my dad.  Their relationship is unmatched even to my own relationship with my son, therefore convincing me there really is something to this “baby boy/middle-aged man” deal. I think it’s really cool to see the dynamics between Baby Jack and his Pappy.



On a less sentimental note, Jack reminds me of things other than just a middle-aged man.  When my wife is holding him on her shoulder, he often reminds me of a Glow Worm.  And when when gets confused, he looks like Mac the alien from the mostly forgotten movie Mac and Me.  And when he’s passionate about eating, he makes this grunting sound that is so similar to Mr. Peepers from Saturday Night Live: “Bah-bah-bah-bah!”

Eventually, he will make me think more of a little boy.  For right now, what I am seeing in him are his attempts at being human: like his attempts to walk, his attempts to talk, and even his attempts to show affection.  Whatever he reminds me of at any certain point in the day, something I am aware of is how adorable he is. Whether he reminds me of  a pet, an alien, or a stuffed animal from the Eighties, I just know I can’t imagine life without him.



Things that Baby Jack reminds me of right now:
 

Middle-aged men, like the magnificent Phil Collins

Mac the alien

Mr. Peepers (sounds like while eating, but doesn't look like)

a Glow Worm (when Jack is sleepy)

 



dad from day one: The Role of Control in Life (and What That Has to Do with “Guest Towels”)

Week 11.

You are looking at a picture of our “guest towels”.  If you are one of the 7 (maybe less?) males to actually be reading this, you will be just as confused as I once was to learn that despite their name, guest towels, these are not actually towels intended for guests to use.  Granted, we do have extra towels for when guests do actually stay at our home- but those are in our “guest bathroom” on the other end of the house.  As a guy, who is unable to see any logic in having guest towels in the bathroom attached to our bedroom that are actually only there to look nice and for decoration, not actually for guests to use,  I found comfort in watching many male stand up comics who made a routine out of the same topic.

I am becoming more and more aware of how little control I actually have over my own life; much less my own house.  Because another common topic that married male stand up comics talk about is the fact that they don’t know where anything in their own house belongs: like the mixing bowl, the stapler, and of course, the real guest towels that are actually intended for guests for use.  And now it makes so much more sense why it is so common for the man of the house to spend time in his “man cave”, whether it is his garage, his shop, or even the yard.  Why? Because while in his solitude, he has a sense of control over something on the land he owns or rents.

Jack's first taste of a pineapple.

I’m at a point in my life where I am constantly reminded of what little I actually do control right now.  With tomorrow reaching the 2 month mark of unemployment, the dignity of providing for my family has been surrendered. And without that, I also feel like I can’t control my time (because I feel guilty if I’m not constantly doing something constructive to find a job).  Starting on Christmas Day and ending yesterday (Groundhog Day), after my wife and son went to sleep each night, I would spend an hour or so revisiting my video game past.  I took take the time to go through all 3 Super Mario Bros. games on regular Nintendo, Super Mario World for Super NES, and New Super Mario Bros. for WII,  and beat them without using any Game Genies or Warp Zones (which again may only interest the 7 or less men reading this).  And while there is something seemingly pathetic about a jobless, 29 year-old guy cheering out loud because he beat Super Mario Bros. 3 for the first time in his life; for me, it was a major sense of accomplishment.

I controled those old-school, 8-bit Nintendo games.  And in some slightly true sense, I had control over my time as well.

I think it’s easy to overlook the importance of control in life.  Why is it that if you drive into certain “bad neighborhoods” that the residents stand in the road or take their sweet time crossing the street, knowing that you need to get by?  It’s gives them a sense of control.  Why are there rapists in the world?  Well, the easy answer is “the depravity of man” or “lust” or “an unfulfilled sex drive”.  But to me it’s pretty obvious that their hideous crime is also largely fueled by a lack of control in their own lives.  For more times than I can remember, it seems any time I watch a story on NBC Dateline about a rapist, he was emotionally, physically, or sexually abused growing up.  Some people will do anything for the sense of control in their own life.

So what can I do right now?  What can I actually control in my life at this moment? I can help with the basic needs of my son.  I can control whether or not he gets fed, held, played with, and nurtured.  And perhaps the best part, I can make him do funny, weird stunts to be featured on YouTube.  Because hey, what else am I going to do until I get a real job?

dad from day one: Jack is Now 13.3 Pounds and 25 Inches Long

Week 10.

Ten weeks ago Jack was born a big healthy baby (8 lbs. 6 oz. and 20.5 inches); and now, ten weeks later, he continues to grow as a big healthy baby.  I don’t mean “big” as in the sumo wrestler sense, but knowing that our friend Paula Zehnder’s 5 month old son weighs 13.5 pounds, it puts things into perspective since Jack is half that age.  I still envision Jack being slightly small for his size as he gets older, since it appears that’s what’s in his genes (the tallest males on both sides of our family are around 5′ 11″, for the most part).  But I wonder in the back of my mind if Jack is a baby version of Will Ferrell.

I just realized today that I haven’t been referring to him as “Baby Jack” as much these days.  As he grows in size, he also obviously grows in maturity.  He knows when someone is smiling at him, because he smiles back.  And though his voice sounds like a cat, Jack has begun exploring his vocal range- especially at 9 AM and 9 PM everyday.  He spoke his first sentence last week: “I want a robot.”  I like to believe he actually meant to say that and that he knew what it meant.

Jack’s eyes are still blue.  My wife looked it up online, and because of her dad having blue eyes, there’s a 12% chance of Jack having blue eyes.  We won’t know for sure until he is around six months old.  Until then, I’ll assume he’s a brown eyed boy.

Jack peed on my foot this morning.