Dear Holly: Your “Hold Me, Daddy!” Moments

1 year, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

Getting to be a daddy to a little girl is something remarkable. For me, it has been a completely different experience in raising you at your young age, compared to your brother when he was a year and a half.

Not that raising one child is a better situation than the other; I’m not comparing the two of you in that way. But noticeably, you need me on a different level than your brother ever did at this age.

I guess there’s just no way around it- I can’t help but think of John Mayer’s song, “Daughters”, right now.

Especially when it comes to emotional and physical support, those lyrics about the importance of a father’s influence on his daughter are spot on:

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and weight of her world

I see this on a daily basis. I see how you constantly strive for my confirmation, my affection, and my attention… even though I freely give you all those things.

On a selfish level, that makes me feel good. It serves as a reminder that in all the uncertainty I face, as a man whose role it is to convince my family that I can take care of them, that I am definitely needed and doing something right.

A few weekends ago at the farm and pumpkin patch, a chicken stuck its head out through the fence and unintentionally scared you.

Immediately, you grabbed one of my arms with both of yours; holding so tightly until the chicken pulled itself back through the fence.

Perhaps to some, that’s just a simple, forgettable moment.

But not for me. That’s a “Hold me, Daddy!” moment. That is worth gold to me.

Love,

Daddy

I Keep On Waiting For The World To Change

March 6, 2014

3 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

I assume there are certain milestones in life where a man must come to terms with the things he can not control. That’s how I feel right now.

This past week I decided to go back and watch the footage of the September 11th attacks. I was a 20 year-old in college back in 2001 and I haven’t watched footage of those events since then… in over a dozen years. 

After watching a couple of documentaries on Netflix and YouTube this past week about that footage, I just didn’t know how to feel.

I was confused, paranoid, and disillusioned as I saw the events from a now enlightened perspective the second time around.

Finally, I understand the subtle message in John Mayer’s 2006 #1 hit, “Waiting On The World To Change”:

Now if we had the power
To bring our neighbors home from war
They would have never missed a Christmas
No more ribbons on their door
And when you trust your television
What you get is what you got
Cause when they own the information, oh
They can bend it all they want
It’s not that we don’t care,
We just know that the fight ain’t fair
So we keep on waiting
Waiting on the world to change

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBIxScJ5rlY&feature=kp

I am still sorting through all this, but I am coming to terms with it. You too will encounter moments like this in life.

You will realize there are complex problems in the world so much bigger than you are and that you have no control over them. You decide that maybe sometimes, the less you understand, the better.

I guess that’s where I am now.

You can only ask so many questions before you sometimes realize you may not want to know the answers.

As I remove my focus from why there are wars and terrorist attacks and so many innocent people involved in the process, I instead turn my thoughts to you and Mommy… in gratitude.

All I can do is be grateful for our family.

I could easily allow myself to be overwhelmed with life and death and the version of the news that is reported on TV, by both liberal and conservative networks, and all the fear and uncertainty that go with those things; or I can allow myself to live in simplicity… in a small, simple world.

What I can do is try to be the best father to you and the best husband to Mommy…

And as for the rest of the world, all I can do is try to be the best neighbor I know to be to each person I encounter.

Those are the things I will be accountable for at the end of my life when I answer to God; as I firmly believe we all will be someday.

Maybe somehow, that is simply how I do my part to help change the world.

When I read about Jesus, I never read about a man who was trying to be a political leader. Many of his followers wanted him to be, but instead, he was a man with a radical message of peace and hope, calling the people to bring the kingdom of Heaven to earth as opposed to continuing to raise hell on earth.

Of course, as the late comedian George Carlin pointed out, evidently people weren’t ready to hear a message about living in harmony and trying to love each other; because like Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many other respected leaders of peace, Jesus was put to death.

I hope and literally pray that one day, enough of my generation, and yours, will see the other version of history that I’ve now been clued in to. Maybe then, I could stop waiting for the world to change.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Family: The Opposite Of Feeling Alone

This Dad’s Love/Hate Relationship with American Pop Culture

February 3, 2012 at 6:34 am , by 

14 months.

It’s amazing how much I don’t care about celebrities, yet I can tell you that Lady Gaga’s real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, that Russell Brand is 6′ 1″, that John Mayer is half Jewish, and that Beyonce is from Texas.

I don’t want to know how many girls Ashton Kutcher cheated on Demi Moore with or who Jennifer Aniston is currently dating.

Yet by proximity, I sort of do know these things because I am somehow constantly in the Thirty Mile Zone, exposed to the essence of all this useless knowledge about famous people.

Funny enough, the 2nd most popular article last month I wrote was the one talking about how I will not be watchingThe Bachelor with Ben Flajnik.

We all know that school teachers are some of the hardest working people in America, yet their earned income doesn’t support this concept. Meanwhile, the sports stars, actors, and artists we worship get paid by the millions.

The irony here is that while our government is ultimately responsible for paying our school teachers so relatively little, we as a society decide that athletes, actors, and musicians are worth the money they earn when we pay to be entertained by them.

I would love to believe I honestly don’t get all caught up in celebrity hype. Yet I think back to a few years ago when I happened to be at Whole Foods while Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman were having lunch there.

Where was I? Along with others who were trying to inconspicuously take a picture of them with their cell phones. But the picture was “for my wife.” She’s a big Country music fan…

That event showed me that I was still willing to contribute to the habit of A) worshipping famous people and B) degrading them to spectacles, rather than just another married couple that  happened to be eating lunch that day in an organic grocery store.

I’m not okay with worshipping rich and famous people.

Instead, I want to sincerely honor, both inwardly and outwardly, the people in the world who are great examples to us all. Not the people who have become millionaires by entertaining the world, but instead, the people who best demonstrate what it means to love your neighbor as yourself.

As a dad, I want my son to see that it’s the non-famous people in our lives who are most important.

It’s the people who don’t simply entertain us, but the ones who also motivate us and challenge us to become better human beings. The ones who give us direction. The ones who love us unconditionally. The ones we can never truly impress or disappoint.

Sounds like right now I’m describing the way I feel about my son. I am, actually.

John Mayer’s Daughters Vs. Greg Wright’s Daddy Dates

July 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm , by 

Eight months.

I love John Mayer’s music.  He shares my same love for the year 1983.  The first date my wife and I went on was to one of his concerts.  I will confidently buy every single album that he ever releases, knowing that John Mayer just can’t produce a dud.  When it comes to making music and writing songs, he’s undeniably a class act.

In 2005, John Mayer won a Grammy for his Top Ten hit song, “Daughters.”  The song contains the lyrics, “On behalf of every man looking out for every girl. You are the guide and the weight of her world. So fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will love like you do.”  He wrote the song completely on his own.  And it is definitely one well crafted and well written song.

However, I know to separate the music from the man.  Technically, John Mayer’s dating life is none of my business.  But after all, one of the most played albums in our house is Jack’s favorite Taylor Swift albumSpeak Now, which contains the song, “Dear John.”

After hearing the song the first 23 times, it became pretty clear to me that the song is most likely about the highly speculated, brief relationship between the then 19 year old Taylor Swift and the 32 year old John Mayer.  One of the most stand out lines in the song is, “Don’t you think nineteen’s too young to be messed with? The girl in the dress cried the whole way home.  I should have known.”

Whether or not it should, it definitely bothers me that the man who wrote “Daughters” does not apply the song’s advice in his personal life.  It’s not just Taylor Swift that he’s messed with. Granted, it’s not a matter of whether Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Aniston, and Taylor Swift should have known better.  It’s a matter of John Mayer knowing better.

In the same way that Bentley is known as the infamous player/villain from the Ashley Hebert season of The Bachelorette, so John Mayer falls into this same category. Just like in his song, “Who Says,” where he nonchalantly states, “Who says I can’t get stoned? Call up a girl that I used to know. Fake love for an hour or so.”  This kind of talk just doesn’t sound like it should be coming from the guy who was intuitive enough to write “Daughters.”

I view John Mayer as a modern day King Solomon, having access to countless beautiful women, unending wealth and glorious fame. Yet as King Solomon admitted later in his life, in the book of Ecclesiastes, it was all meaningless.  Similarly, John Mayer admits in another one of his more well known songs from the same album, “something’s missing and I don’t know how to fix it.”

So while I think John Mayer is flawless when it comes to making music and writing songs, I recognize that there’s a disconnect between what he knows is truth and the way he actually treats the “daughters” he dates.

And that is why I am giving away a free copy of the book Daddy Dates to the first 5 readers who request it by leaving a comment on this post.  I will need your mailing address, whether you leave it in the comment itself or would prefer to email it to me (nickshell1983@hotmail.com) right after you leave the comment.

The nonfiction book  Daddy Dates is written by Greg Wright, who regularly takes his four daughters on “dates.”  In other words, he is making a very conscious effort to spend individual, quality time with his daughters, assuring them that they are beautiful, loved, and worthy of being loved.  Coming from the guy whose mission is to positively re-brand fatherhood (I’m referring to myself,) I admire Greg Wright for what he is doing.

Therefore, I proudly give away his book here on The Dadabase.

*Within an hour or so of this post being published, I got my 5 winners for the book.  Hint: When I give away books here on The Dadabase, it’s always on Thursday nights around 8PM Central Time.  But not every Thursday…

dad from day one: Insert Foot in Mouth

Week 25 (5 months).

If you are a regular reader of my “daddy blog”, then you know my writing style well enough to expect this to be a post about Jack being able to literally put his foot in his mouth- and by the end I will make mention that as he gets older he will metaphorically put his foot in his mouth by not knowing when to stop talking- as often is the case with guys.  So surely I will need to throw in a reference to John Mayer’s song, “My Stupid Mouth.”  But that would be too predictable.  So no metaphors this time around- this entry is simply about my son discovering his toes and sucking on them.  No “big picture” ideas today.

Jack has discovered his feet.  I don’t know if he realizes they are his feet, though. Like the way a dog chases its tail, providing hilarious entertainment for spectators, so is Jack’s love/hate relationship with his feet.  I’m assuming that he thinks his toes are little grub worms, and forgetting that the only “solid food” he is eating right now is crushed up oatmeal and bananas, not grub worms, he decides to attack his toes when they are not looking.  And might I add, he gets ’em every time!

His slobber is noticeably thick this days, so each time he bites his toes with his toothless gums, the end result somehow reminds me of every alien sci-fi movie I’ve never seen, yet still recognize the image for.  But aside from the humor of watching Jack sneak up and attack his toes, and aside from the grossness of it, is the surprising element of it: A baby, with the body proportions of the Michelin Man, is limber enough to easily stick  his foot to his mouth anytime he wants.

I completely admit that in the middle of typing that last sentence, I had to stick my foot to my mouth to see if I could do it too.  I can.  But not as effortless as Jack.

Bonus: Last week I was interviewed and quoted in a Mother’s Day article by Megan Mattes, on Parents.com.  Click here to see it.

dad from day one: Won’t Ever Be Lonely

Week 6.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly, I am a proud Country music fan- though I’m ultimately a Dave Matthews Band/Guster/John Mayer/Bruce Springsteen/Tom Petty kind of guy.  In the past few weeks, in the midst of leaving our lives behind in Nashville and entering uncertainty and a current status of “in between jobs” in Alabama, not having much to do but constantly search for jobs and take care of our baby, the lyrics to a Country song by Andy Griggs from 1999 keep coming to my mind: “I promise you now, you won’t ever be lonely.”  Though the song is obviously written from the perspective of a man in love with a woman, looking forward to spending the rest of his life with her, the lyrics now speak to me in a different way:

“You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms and I’ll never let go.  Baby, here’s where it starts and I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely. Here’s a shoulder you can cry on and a love you can rely on.  For as long as I live
there will always be a place you belong.”

But while the words to this song obviously make perfect sense in the perspective of me speaking to my child, they actually are more relevant to me in this mindset: I won’t ever be lonely.  Not just him.  But I won’t ever be lonely.

I am better able to understand now why there are so many pregnant teenagers and why MTV’s 16 and Pregnant is such a popular show- because so many kids today are lonely. (I am under the crazy notion that a good number of pregnant teens and extremely young parents are not getting pregnant simply because of the careless lack of birth control, but instead because they subconsciously want to be have a baby in a attempt to be loved by someone.) So many daughters have never been told by their fathers that they are beautiful. So many sons have never heard their father tell them “I’m proud of you”.   Having a baby definitely changes the lonely factor in many ways.  Even if the 19 year-old father who works for minimum wage at the oil change place bales on her soon after the baby is born- at least that young mother will always have someone depending on her.

Granted, I haven’t been lonely in a long time.  But I can easily remember it.  It can be painful; literally.  Last week I watched a National Geographic documentary on solitary confinement where I learned that loneliness is processed in the same part of the brain as pain.  I can easily remember being 20 years old, feeling lost, out of place, an unmatched. I wondered for the next five years if I would be like the actor who played Mr. Belvedere, who never married or had children his whole life. But at age 25, my wife and I met each other and those heavy and desperate thoughts of loneliness haven’t entered my mind in over four years.

Now at age 29, I am the opposite of lonely.  I have a wonderful wife and a beautiful and hilarious baby son that I will always matter to.  And I have a feeling that the older our son Jack gets, the more attention and energy of mine that he will require.  At least until he reaches 7th grade and gets too cool for me.

Lyrics to Andy Griggs’ “You Won’t Ever Be Lonely”:

Life may not always go your way
And every once in awhile you might have a bad day
But I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
The sky turns dark and everything goes wrong
Run to me and I’ll leave the light on
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

For as long as I live
There will always be a place you belong
Here beside me
Heart and soul baby — you only
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely

It’s still gonna snow and it’s still gonna rain
The wind’s gonna blow on a cold winter day
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
You’re safe from the world wrapped in my arms
And I’ll never let go
Baby, here’s where it starts
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
Here’s a shoulder you can cry on
And a love you can rely on
For as long as I live
There will always be a place you belong

Here beside me
Heart and soul baby — you only
And I promise you now you won’t ever be lonely
No, no, you won’t ever be lonely