In the end, all of life can get difficult and tedious. There are times when we forget about who we want to be as fathers and get carried away with the day-to-day effort of living life. That’s okay and is even necessary to maintain jobs, the household, and our personal responsibilities. Even in the times where you are just living, you have the opportunity to embrace the mundane everyday elements of life with your children. Beauty is often found in the mundane aspects of living and that is even true with your children. Take the time and opportunity to observe the mundane and find the treasures of being a dad. Share those moments with your children so they can enjoy them too.
Michael Sheehan is @HighTechDad. He is a technology advocate and blogs at HighTechDad.com. Michael talks about the latest gadgets at High Tech dad and about his experiences raising three daughters. Michael can also be found at Cast Of Dads where he does a semi-regular podcast with fellow dads, CC Chapman, DaddyBrad Powell, Jeffry Sass and Max Kalehoff.
Kevin: Tell us about your family.
Michael: I have three beautiful daughters. They are ages six, eight and a half and eleven, one is in kindergarten, one in second grade and one is in fifth grade.
Kevin:What’s one of your biggest successes as a dad?
Michael: Every day is a different day and something different happens that’s so exciting. That’s the amazing thing about having kids is each day is different. Each day could be better than the next. I mean, you’re going to have ups and downs. First of all, I don’t think it would be fair to say, “Well, this day with this kid was the best thing I ever had.” Each one is so special in their own way that it really doesn’t do it justice, you know, trying to pinpoint one particular thing.
When you only have one kid you’re tracking every little move. As soon as they stand up, as soon as they say their first word, I mean, those are momentous occasions for any child. When you have more kids you have to have an even playing field with all your kids especially as they start to understand and listen to you more. So if you start playing favorites or saying, “Oh, so and so is really good at this.” You always have to be sure to balance it so that’s it’s completely unbiased across the board.
I view success with the kids as a longer term type of thing. I mean, I’m very involved in working with them and their homework. It’s something that I take pride in doing. My wife does pitch in on some things, but I’m the math guy for the family. They’ll only come to me for math and that sort of thing or writing for example. My wife is a great writer, but I’m the guy blogging every day and doing that sort of thing. Again, it’s nothing that sticks out as a particularly momentous thing. It’s a success that builds over time. They don’t have official grades at this level in elementary school, but they do get report cards.
I think the success this year has been that each of my kids, whether they’re in kindergarten or fifth grade or second grade, they’re showing improvements and they’re getting really high marks. So, either they’re really smart and working really hard or we as a family are working really hard and smart together to make it better or all of the above. So that’s kind of the success that’s going on. It’s not a specific event. It’s a general sort of accomplishment as a family kind of thing.
John Cave Osborne
John Cave Osborne is an author and blogger. John writes for Babble, has a wonderful book, Tales from the Trips and a blog TalesFromTheTrips.com. You can find John @JohnCaveOsborne. I have to admit that John is one of my favorite writers on the net right now.
Kevin: Tell us a little about the family.
John: I re-met my wife Caroline, or “Lovey” as I call her. I knew her growing up, just a few years back. I always thought she was just fantastic. When I re-met her it was something where I was kind of like, “Man, this is the type of person that’s been missing from my life.” There was only one problem and that was she had a daughter. For better or worse, I never ever, ever considered myself step-dad material. In fact, I dated single moms. I knew that those relationships probably wouldn’t go anywhere because I had a little bit of a mental barrier or hurdle if you will that I just couldn’t clear. Caroline and I dated, and we went real slow. In fact, I call Ally the little governor because she’s like the governor on a go cart. That’s her because we didn’t want anything to be confusing or unnatural. Once I started to get to know Ally and get to know her mom even better, I fell in love with both of them. So once I fell in love with Ally I was like, “Man, I got to make this happen.”
When we got married it was just me and Ally. Then, obviously, just a touch over a year later we go and have triplets. Ally basically was a child of a divorce, was the only child in the world, was even maybe a little bit over-coddled through the divorce because she was so young and people were so worried about her. She went from being a child that received an inordinate amount of attention and the only child on the stage to sharing the stage suddenly with three kids who were getting even more attention than she ever got. So we were very worried about how that would affect her.
I don’t want to Mickey Mouse it and say, “Oh, it’s all been great.” There have definitely been some ups and downs, but the maturity level in Ally as she has fallen into a natural role of big sister has been incredible. Ally is now eight. She’s absolutely beautiful. She’s a phenomenal soccer player. She’s super cool. I love watching “iCarly” with her. We love going camping together. We skimboarded at the beach together, which by the way, is very age inappropriate for a 40 year old man. Yeah, she’s fantastic. She’s like my little athlete girl and I just love her.
The triplets they couldn’t be any more different. It’s incredible. We were worried about them looking the same and sounding the same and us not being able to figure out who was who. From day one they were so different. Sam was our first born and he’s just a wiry little monkey. He’s very, very adventurous. He pushes the boundaries. He’s charming, but he’s just filled with curiosity and maybe a touch of mischief. Jack is his brother and he was the second born. Jack is really laid back. He’s kind of shy and thoughtful and he’s sweet. He is really content to play by himself. I think he kind of prefers just taking it all in. So he’s almost the exact opposite of Sam.
Then Kirby is our little girl. She was born third. Kirby has got her mom’s charm. She’s really, really talkative. It’s so neat because she’s a cute little girl who is tiny and seems softer than the other guys until you hear that big, booming voice. It doesn’t take too long for people to realize that she’s the glue that holds the three of them together.
Kevin: That’s pretty neat. I imagine it’s got to be really cool to observe the dynamic of the three of them growing up together.
John: Yeah. Do you know what else is cool? It’s really cool – Do you know how much you love your children? You pick your first child, your second child, your third child and it doesn’t matter. They are like three months old and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, she’s the greatest three month old in the world.” That’s such a great feeling. Imagine if you felt like that three different times for three distinctly different reasons. That’s the coolest thing about being a dad to triplets.
Kevin: What’s a favorite experience you’ve had with your kids so far?
John: For us, it’s always the mundane stuff. We’re big on not doing much quite frankly. We run a tight ship here. Well, at least to the kids. Caroline and I certainly have our moments. We’re really strict about bedtime and waking up and naps. You almost have to over compensate in that regard if you want your quality of life to be good with trips. But you also do set that strict schedule for one reason. You set it to improve the caliber of your life, to improve the quality of your life. So when it starts to infringe on some of the little things that you do, you tweak your schedule.
So we’re not the type to get all freaked out if they’re going to miss 30 minutes of their nap. We definitely roll with it because we feel that we set that strict schedule so we can enjoy our life and kind of pick up the beat as we go along every now and then. Some of our very best experiences truly are just the six of us driving around in the car on the weekends. We’re big on going to the beach. We just love going to the beach. We go to Hilton Head a couple times a year. So really the experiences that we have that are our favorites just involve all of us kind of hanging out. It’s nothing real special.
Kevin: Yeah. You know I’m finding more and more the family time, hanging out time is the thing that turns into special time.
John: Exactly. It’s just mundane and there is magic in the mundane if you look hard enough. I’ll tell you the other thing though that made that question a hard one for me is that they are only two and a half. I mean, the first nine months had to do with vomit. Do you know what I mean? So there weren’t a ton of favorite experiences going around. I do have a couple that really come to mind with my daughter Ally. One is I’m really proud to tell you that I’m the one who taught her how to ride a bike. That was one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me in my life.
I was running down the street behind her and I was wearing flip flops. They were just going smack, smack, smack, smack. She was just cruising because Ally is fearless. That was awesome. That was awesome when she finally caught it and just sped ahead of me and I could hear my flip flops smacking the ground and then trying to catch up with her. The other cool thing that I’ve done with Ally is I taught her how to skim board. That was awesome. We love skim boarding at the beach. It’s gotten to the point now where I just don’t even do it that much because, again, I’m old and she’s young and fearless.
Kevin: What you would say are your biggest successes?
John: I’d say the biggest success I’ve had as a parent, I’ll say three things. Number one, I think it’s a great question because I think any question that requires a parent to think about what they’ve done well is a good question. Number two, I would say sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about my favorite play of the game when I’m just in the first or second quarter. Do you know what I mean? It’s tough for me to point out my biggest successes. But, number three, I do have an answer for you. I think my biggest success, my friend, is that no matter what Caroline knows that she can leave this house. It may not go as perfectly as when mommy does it, but taking care of those three babies, well toddlers, and an eight year old is not a problem for me. I’m very, very proud of how involved I am.
There are certain times, at least in this age range that we’re in right now, when only a mommy will do. They’ll be certain times getting a little older when only a daddy will do. No matter which time it is I can step right in there and get the job done. I feel that my years down the road with all four of them are going to be very, very rich because of the time that I’ve invested. I’ve been willing to roll up my sleeves and be a really active dad. I’d say just the activity and the involvement level that I’ve chosen to do and that works for us and our family has been my biggest success.
Kevin: I love that. I’m feel very strongly from a lot of the data that I’ve gathered and from what I’ve been seeing in the DADvocate Project that a lot of us dads are taking that approach of trying to be very involved and really being part of the family and not taking definitely what two generations ago and partially even a generation ago of the traditional father step back, step away. This is the mom’s territory raising the children. We’re involved, we’re helping, we’re changing diapers. We’re telling mom to go off for the day, for the weekend, whatever it is and taking the responsibilities of being with the kids. It’s not just taking the responsibility. It’s also the opportunity and I think we’ve got it. I see it and I’m excited to hear it in dads. I love hearing that.
John: You just hit something really cool the responsibility and then the opportunity. I mean, boom, you nailed it with that. You know some people get frustrated in the dad blog community, for example, that we’re not getting more respect as parents and stuff like that. I never worry about that for a few reasons. I mean, number one, you touched on it. Dads have willingly taken a parenting back seat since the beginning of time. So, paradigms don’t change with a provocative post on the internet. They don’t change in a year. They change after generations.
So, do you know what? We’re one of the first, and probably not the first, but certainly one of the first age ranges of dads that are really, really rolling up our sleeves and getting in there and realizing that it’s a responsibility, but also an opportunity. That’s the coolest thing for me. I’m not so worried about dads being portrayed as competent in the media and that kind of stuff. I’m more concerned about saying, “Hey man, this is what we’ve got going on. It is really, really cool.” That’s what works for us. It’s that opportunity that you were talking about.