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Sniff, Sniff

Sniff, Sniff

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.

Here’s To The Moms

Here’s To The Moms

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.


Bridge of Exhaustion

Written by Chris Loprete

Every summer during my childhood my family would drive 7 hours south to North Carolina from Pennsylvania. On the way we would have to cross over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, a 17 mile long bridge that spans the picturesque Chesapeake Bay, in Virginia. There are 2 places along the span where the bridge goes under water and turns into a tunnel. It always looks so foreboding from the northern side. You can’t see the end of it and the bridge just disappears into water in 2 places. When we were halfway across, I always thought, “If this thing goes, we’re in real trouble.” and, “How do they get traffic through if there’s an accident? We could be here for hours.” Then when we got to terra firma on the other side, I always realized that I had just experienced the most thrilling part of the 7 hour trip and actually looked forward to that part of the drive every summer. Well, lately I’ve been feeling like I’m halfway across another bridge. This bridge is a “transitional” bridge with the young adult starting a family on one side and the middle aged family man on the other. Like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, its long, I can’t see the other side and I may even go under water a couple of times. But I know that I really should relax, enjoy the ride and be confident that a sandy beach waits for me up ahead. To tell you truth though, I’m just plain exhausted.

I quote the late, great Madelaine Khan from Blazing Saddles, ”I’mmm soooo tired.” (cue the chorus of German soldiers). Now if you’re reading this blog, most likely you’re a mommy or daddy which means you’re saying, “Yeah. Cry me a river, dude. We’re all tired.” I KNOW! I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. I’m just telling you my own experiences. That’s why these blogs are so brilliant and relatable. I truly am a magnificent talent. Anywho…

I’m the happiest I’ve been in a year. I don’t want you to mistake my exhaustion for depression. And I’m not even THAT tired currently…although I was literally up all night nursing my wife through the granddaddy of all migraines so I guess I AM exhausted at this exact moment. Generally speaking though, I am not really that worn out. Still last Monday morning I woke up looking at another work week and I almost collapsed in the shower for some reason. I just started to anticipate the coming months and years and how draining it was going to be. We’re 6 weeks from giving birth to our 2nd child…a boy… who has a 3 year old brother…who has boundless energy. I’m truly excited for the arrival of the newest member of our club and am not half as scared I was when we had our first son, BUT I’m also anticipating the work that accompanies another infant and toddler. In addition we just put our house on the market which means it’s very possible that someone could make an offer soon. That would mean we would have about 4 weeks to find another place, pack up and move….and I told you about the baby coming in 6 weeks right? Well, it’s probably more like 4. So while I’m driving my wife to the hospital, I can say to her, “Okay hon, but let me stop and drop a couple of boxes off at the new home first.” To top it all off I have a creative job that I LOVE and while it is far from digging a ditch or working on the freeway, it is constantly busy and mentally draining. And of course I’m hoping that I will keep working my way up the ladder which means more responsibilities and harder deadlines.

Am I really writing a blog about being tired? Geez. Tune in next month for my compelling blog entitled, I’m Hungry!
I guess my point is this. When does it start to get easier? Or does it? Growing up, I never saw my parents sweat. Everything just seemed to be settled and pretty easy. A nice home, vacations, clothes on our back and food on our table. Were they just protecting us kids from their tough times and stressful worries? It’s very likely. I guess that’s one of the many perks of being a kid. So I guess my situation isn’t any different than normal families. It’s just that I want so badly to give my kids everything I had and never make them feel guilty or even let them see me work hard for it. I don’t think there’s a time in the foreseeable future when that will happen. I’m tired of struggling. I’m tired of working at settling down. I want to BE settled. When Braden was first born I had a difficult time crossing the bridge to fatherhood, but now that I’m on the other side, I love it and I’m ready to live that life fully. When can we start saving money instead of living paycheck to paycheck? When can we take a family vacation? When do my wife and I start getting invited to those fun suburban key parties like the ones they had in the 70’s?
(KIDDING!!!! Please don’t hate me for that last one. It was time for a joke.)
When do I join the middle class for real? I can’t blame it on the recession either. My wife and I have always worked in the entertainment industry. We’ve been in a recession since the day after our college graduation. I am so incredibly fortunate that I’m married to my best friend, have the greatest little boy in the world (better than yours. sorry), have a roof over my head and a job (to say nothing of the fact that I’m in the rare situation of having a job that I enjoy!) So don’t get me wrong. I count my blessings every day. I’m just….ready to get to the other side of the bridge. And really tired.