I’ve noticed one new thing about myself that I’m attributing to being a father. I make a lot more noise when I stand up. Okay, wait. Two things. I cry at the drop of a freakin’ hat now! Growing up I was always a sentimental guy (to a fault), but short of excruciating pain or a death in the family it would take a lot to actually start the water works. Three big exceptions: the movies Terms of Endearment and Glory and for some reason the Happy Days episode when Fonzie goes blind. Buckets.
Now it takes very little to get me verklempt. I’m not talking about sobbing or rending of garments or anything. But the least little tug at the heartstrings will get me welling up. Movies, TV shows, even commercials. The wireless provider ad (I’m not protecting anybody’s name. I seriously forget who the ad was for) where the guy is on a business trip and miserable and is sitting at the airport and then his daughter appears next to him smiles and says “Hi Daddy” and he starts asking her how her day was and you find out he’s on his cell phone talking to her with a big smile on his face? I was a mess.
THERE! See? Even now I just felt my tear ducts start to work. Or there’s a scene in the brilliant mini-series Band of Brothers when the American Army liberates a Belgian town from the Nazis. A GI approaches a young Belgian boy and gives him a chocolate bar. The boy’s father says “He’s never had chocolate before.” The boy takes a bite, looks at the soldier and smiles. Forget it. I was done. Even family sitcoms like The Middle or Modern Family will have a sweet moment each week that will get me going.
So add one more thing to the long lists of Things They Don’t Tell You about being a Dad. You are destined to turn into one big wuss. I guess it’s a good thing though. Looking at the examples above, one common denominator is that any situation eliciting an emotional response from me always involves children. So it’s no wonder these reactions have started since I became a father. It just tells me that I’m so in love with my kids and being a Dad that any sentimental situation on TV, film or even books involving children succeeds in triggering such a stirring of emotion in me for my kids that I…excuse me I have something in my eye.
by Chris Loprete
The “turning 40” clouds are darkening on the horizon. By the time you read this the skies will have opened up and I’ll be soaking wet. I was fully prepared to suffer hourly panic attacks and sink into a deep depression once the storm hit. I’m definitely susceptible to a major mid-life crisis, but I think I can stave it off for a few more years. So stay tuned because as readers of this blog, you’ll get to witness my descent into madness. That’ll be fun for you.
I actually feel pretty good about turning 40. I’ve always been one for new beginnings. Every major calendar event is an excuse to start over. January 1st? THIS year’s gonna be different! Birthday? THIS is gonna be my year! Arbor Day? THIS is my chance to be more outdoorsy. But I really mean it this time. They say life begins at 40 and I don’t think you can fully understand that phrase until you’ve reached that milestone. My twenties were fun but they don’t count. I was a kid. I was running all over the country (literally) and working in small theatres for no money, with no idea of what to do with my life or where to do it. Then came my 30s and it took the full ten years to grow up. Married at 31, homeowner at 32, father at 35, father again at 38. And now the start of my 40s. I feel like it’s time to start living the life I’ve worked so hard to build for the last ten years. It creeps me out that I vividly remember my parents turning 40. One should never feel like they’re catching up to their parents, ya know? At the same time though I remember wondering where I’d be when I reached their age. Would I have found the love of my life? Check. I woke up next to her this morning. Would I be a father? Check. I have the two cutest and sweetest boys in the world. Yes, I’m the one. Would I love my job? Check. Would I be an Emmy or Oscar winner? Okay…let’s stick a pin in that one for now. Look, I don’t own my dream home. I don’t sleep on a pile of money at night. And as a friend once said “life is hard and expensive.” But looking back at my past (as I’m notorious for doing) I’ve done okay. And I’m ready to start living. Another expression is that 40 is the new 20. If that’s true that would also be great. Buy that math, 60 would be the new 40 so life would begin then too.
Written by Chris Loprete
It’s a scenario that’s happened countless times in the last 3 years and will no doubt happen countless times more. I get home from a tiring day of work only to have my wife shove my toddler son into my arms with a heavy sigh saying, “Thank God! Here. you take him for awhile.” and suddenly my work day has been extended for a few more hours. This has caused some very intense…uh…discussions between my wife and I. I thought why the heck should I have to pull double duty? I’m exhausted too. Can I sit and enjoy some mindless television entertainment for a few hours before I have to go out into the cold, cruel, working world again? It’s not that we don’t love our little boy or that he’s some kind of problem child. He’s my best friend and very well behaved (most of the time). It’s just that I didn’t get why my wife’s day was sooo much more exhausting than mine. I was the one getting up early, sitting in traffic and dealing with bosses, deadlines and the pressures of providing for my family. What’s so tough about occupation: homemaker?
Before all the ladies up and through this place start hatin’ on me, let me make my point which is this: Ooooooooh. I get it. See I’ve been a stay at home dad, Mr. Mom, “manny”, or whatever you want to call it for the last 2 weeks. My wife just gave birth to our 2nd little boy. Thank you. He’s the most beautiful baby that’s ever been born in the history of time. You heard me. My job has essentially been to cook, clean, chauffer, entertain and otherwise occupy our 3 year old son while my wife takes care of our newborn. So I’ve had a glimpse of what my better half does during the day for very little thanks and essentially no pay. Wow. There’s a reason why society dictates that the men go off to work every day. If it were up to us to raise the kids, they’d all be wearing pajamas, eating cheese sandwiches and watching Sportscenter all day. They should make a movie about a dad staying at home with his kids. Maybe get Michael Keaton to star in it. What? Really? When? Oh, I‘ll have to check it out.
Actually if I do say so myself, I’ve done an excellent job these past two weeks. But by 8:30 at night, I am 10 times more tired than I am after a normal day at the office. For instance I promise never to scoff when my wife tells me about her disastrous shopping trip to Costco with our son. Last week I treated the other shoppers to the wacky physical comedy of trying to maneuver a shopping cart filled with bulk groceries while chasing a 3 year old sprinting towards the hot dog booth. Trying to turn that cart quickly is like steering an ocean liner. No wonder the Titanic hit that iceberg. Yesterday I took my kid to Disneyland. By myself. Some friends from work said, “Geez. Aren’t you having the time of your life while we’re slaving away back here at work?” I say to them, “Think so? Wanna trade places for a day?” I do believe my wife has said the exact same thing to me during those intense discussions I was talking about before.
So raise a glass to the moms, guys. Out of the whole year they get ONE day set aside for them and it’s coming up. Make sure it’s a good one. They’ve earned it. Here’s to your mom, my mom, and the mothers of our children. And the next time your wife says, “I need a break.” believe me…she does.
And just because I can’t leave well enough alone, a note to the dads: Take heart. Our day is coming next month and we’ve earned it too.