Father’s Day Is Always Better Than Mother’s Day

There is a distinct difference between a father and a man and it is something I have thought about more than once.

I sit here at the tail end of another Father’s Day smiling as I think about how lucky I am and feeling a bit crazed because though we have come so far there is still so much farther to go.

So I look for hard proof of the journey up to this point and come across a Father’s Day post I wrote five years ago that gives me a bittersweet feeling but still pushes a big smile across my face.

He Taught Me How To Be A Father

I wrote that letter to my dad in June of 2011 in the midst of the biggest personal storm I had ever been in.

The financial crisis of 2008 had been devastating to us. I lost my job and went balls-to-the-wall to find a new one but couldn’t get anything full time.

I applied to unload trucks, work in warehouses and did everything you could and should do to find a full-time gig but I couldn’t make it happen.

So I was forced to cobble together a series of part-time jobs and a mix of freelance work but it wasn’t enough to prevent things from going from bad to worse.

It didn’t take long for me to go from being a proud homeowner, a father who had been the sole provider for almost a decade to just another guy without a job.

We pulled the kids from private school, repeatedly tightened our belts and begged the bank to modify our loan.

But it didn’t matter because they never said yes or no so I sold the house because it was better to get something for it.

Anyway, things got pretty ugly but then they got better because my father taught me never to quit and to always keep my head up and five years later I sit here knowing he was right.

Same As It Ever Was

As I sit here reading that post I know I am not the man I once was because you can’t go through what I did without being changed by it.

Some of those changes are good things and some, well time will tell.

But before we move on to my comparison I need to share an excerpt from that earlier post.

So here I sit at the computer with my eyes closed, headphones filling my ears with music and a parade of images floating through my mind’s eye.  I see you as you were when I was in grade school. A full head of hair, tall and so very strong. I remember what it was like to wrestle with you. I remember throwing my ten year-old self at you with all I had and how easily you handled me. I remember being frustrated by it. At school I was always one of the strongest boys but it never mattered because you were always stronger.

I remember how my sisters would fight with me and how sometimes they would magically start crying when you showed up. Seconds before they were yelling at me and now they were sobbing and that glare would find me. I remember trying not to wilt under it. I remember protesting my innocence and the lectures. I remember you telling me that it was my job to protect them and I did.

Ask them and they’ll tell you stories about how I chased away the boys. They’ll tell you that I had too much fun running them off and they are right. I am a big brother, it is what we do.

Now your grandson yells about how unfair it is that his little sister doesn’t start crying until I show up and sometimes I fight not to smile. You knew back then what they were doing just as I know now.

Father’s Day Is Always Better Than Mother’s Day

As a kid there was never any difference between the days for me. I have good parents and I always enjoyed having everyone gather at my parent’s house for family celebrations.

But they haven’t been as much fun as a father because Mother’s Day almost always requires a ton of work and all sorts of juggling.

Don’t mistake that to mean I don’t think that moms should be celebrated because they should but in this case it is complicated.

The mothers go crazy trying to make sure that their mothers are properly celebrated and taken care of.

And the grandmothers go nuts trying to make sure their celebrations involve all of their children but the thing is, we are all scattered around the country and the city.

It is virtually impossible to find time that works for everyone, let a place that will hold us all.

So we go through this crazy game each year where one or more say something like “Whatever you decide is fine” and we all know that fine is code for “you are screwed if you do that.”

It is not accurate to say that someone always gets pissed off or feels less than appreciated but it has happened more than once.

And sometimes it hasn’t mattered what I have done to try and head this off. Hasn’t mattered how hard I tried to plan ahead, it just didn’t work.

I find that frustrating.

It is not like that with Father’s Day.

The grandfathers and I just want to hang out with family and enjoy. I am perfectly happy to have simple day and a nice meal.

The funny thing is I mentioned this to my father and he laughed, “what makes you think it was any different for me.”

Guess dad is still a step ahead of me.

The Layers Of Life

Sometimes I listen to this video and I think about the layers of life. Yeah, I know it is just the vocals from Abbey Road but when you strip away the music and leave the vocals I can’t help but think about layers.

I think about my children out on the soccer field and how much they have grown. I stare at them and watch as they run and remember how not so long ago they crawled on the floor unaware that legs could be used to stand upon.

And then one day they realized that whatever they saw others do could be done by them too and so they stood.

Age Is A One Way Stream

My father calls to tell me about his meeting with the doctors. “My kidneys aren’t bad enough yet for them to consider a transplant.”

It is good news and I am pleased to hear it, but then I realize I forgot to ask what this means for dialysis. My guess is that he is still teetering on the edge, that place between needing help and not quite needing it.

I think back forty years and remember discovering my neighbor’s dogs were wandering the neighborhood. I know these dogs because they belong to Tom. We go to kindergarten together and since we live a few doors away from each other we are in and out of each other’s houses.

Mom hears me yelling at the dogs to go home so she and dad come outside to help round them up.

“Rocky, go home,” I scream.

Rocky isn’t having it, he barks at me and I run for my mother’s arms. I am not up for a stand off between a German Shepherd who suddenly looks huge.

Dad grabs him by the collar and starts dragging him back towards Tom’s house. I relax, safe in mom’s arms and confident that no dog is going to beat my dad.

“Jack, I need you to come by the house and take care of a few things, your mother will kill me if I get on the ladder or move that stuff myself.”

I tell him I’ll be by later today or tomorrow and think about the guy who took out Rocky. Dad isn’t who we was any more. He is older and his health is best described as being similar to a house of cards.

He doesn’t look frail or weak. The muscle is still there, he can still pick up and move the heavy stuff but it is not a smart idea and his balance isn’t good enough for a ladder.

My kids know him like this but they don’t remember the man I still can see. Age is a one way stream.

Aging and Ego

People talk about aging gracefully but I wonder how many of us do it. I can live with the hair loss and some extra cushioning here and there but I hate not being able to do what I once could.

Don’t care about wrinkles or lines in my face that were never there but not being able to play ball every day without feeling the pounding hurts.

The mysterious aches and pains, waking up wondering why my back hurts when I didn’t do anything or trying to be careful about how I sneeze grinds on my nerves.

My kids ask me about the guy that yelled at mom. “Dad, you told him you would kick his ass if he kept talking to her that way. What would you have done?”

They don’t wait for an answer. They tell each other that dad would have killed him and that dad won’t let anyone mess with the family.

I listen and think about Rocky again. Was he really as big as I remember? Maybe he was a little dog and he just seemed big. Forty years is a long time, memory fades and time colors it.

“Dad, if you beat him up would you go to jail?”

I nod my head, “I might have, that is why I made a point not to touch him. I am not proud of responding that way but I won’t let people talk to any of us like that. Still, there are better ways. I could have phrased things differently.”

My son nods his head.

“Remember when we watched you play basketball? You threw people out of the way to get the rebound.”

I nod my head but I don’t tell him that I remember a few years back when I was faster and more agile and could slip in between the players to grab some of those boards.

The kids don’t know that version of me. They will never know that guy. They have seen the pictures, daughter likes to tease me and ask what happened to my hair and point out that I used to have a six pack.

I could get it back. It is of interest and not just because of ego but because it would mean my kids old man was healthier.

Transitions

My son is wrestling with me. I still have the upper hand and will for a while, but I feel his strength. He is slowly filling out, the muscle is coming and I am proud of him but it is not easy realizing that my time in the sun is changing.

I wonder if my father had similar thoughts and feelings.

Mom is on the phone, “I need you to come over tonight. Your dad isn’t supposed to do this stuff. I already told him to stop so he waits until I am in the other room and then does it anyway.”

Something tells me dad understands.

There Is A Difference Between A Father & A Man

The most important part of the castle is who shares it with you.

The most important part of the castle is who shares it with you.

There is a difference between being a father and being a man. It is a conversation my teenage son and I have had many times.

Right now I am doing my best to teach him how to become a man and hoping that if one day he should become a father he picks up a little something along the way.

Hoping that I give him something he can use and don’t fill his head full of crap he doesn’t want or need.

Don’t Measure Yourself Against Me

I am sitting on the floor in the big kid’s room and talking to him about his day. I tell him it is late and suggest he try and grab more than fifty winks and he asks me to stay in there a bit longer.

Disembodied voices carry through dark as we share some more words about the rhythm of life and I surprise myself by telling him, “don’t measure yourself against me.”

“Dad, what does that mean?”

“It means I don’t want you to use me as a way to measure your own success. I don’t want you to feel you need to match me in any way or put more pressure on yourself by trying to do better. Be whomever it is you are going to be.”

“Why are you saying that? You are a good dad.”

I had to smile when he said that, but I had to tell him that for years I made myself crazy by trying to measure up to my father. It wasn’t because of anything he said or anyone else.

It was something I did on my own. Don’t know what made me start but for there was a long stretch of time where I felt like I had come up short because I didn’t do some of the things he did.

“Don’t misunderstand me, I am proud of much of what I have done. I have my list of accomplishments and a variety of goals that I am striving for but I spent too much time comparing myself to him.”

What Do You Want?

He asks me to tell him what I want and I talk about a castle, various cars and places I want to see. I tell him about some of the books I want to write but I stress there is a critical takeaway.

“The most important part of all this is that you share it with someone you care for. Not everyone needs a companion but most of us do. The hard part is figuring out who that person should be. The trick is trying to find the balance between not settling and not establishing unreal expectations.

There Is A Difference Between Being A Father & A Man

There is a difference between being a father and a man. Give yourself some time to be a man first and you’ll find that if you decide to become a father your life will be much easier.

“Dad, how do I avoid making mistakes.I don’t want to screw it up.”

I laugh and tell him to accept that he is going to make some mistakes along the way because it is how we learn. “But how do I avoid making the really big ones?”

“I can’t tell you that. There is no silver bullet or magic that I can give you. All I can tell you is to try and use your head and when things go south just roll with it. You’ll figure it out.”

Soft snores drift through the darkness and for a moment I close my eyes and remember the baby this teenager of mine used to be. The kid is so damn big now, all I can do is hope that some of what I have said sinks in and trust that he will figure it out.

I am pretty confident about it all but sometimes I think about the stupid things I did and be grateful that things turned out as well as they did.

Now all I can do is hope his common sense prevails and that when it doesn’t luck is on his side. Sometimes the hardest part of being a father is the uncertainty, but it has been worth it. I’d do it all again.

Dad Bloggers Get Paid To Blog

Dad bloggers get paid to blog.

Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in 2012. If you go through the files you’ll find other posts like  How A Dad Blogger Uses Amazon To Make Money From Writing that flow in a similar or related vein. Some of them are tongue-in-cheek but there is useful information in there and proof that some things never change.

Playing in the Background Subterranean Homesick Blues– Bob Dylan

I don’t want to make you feel badly but I get paid to write. In fact I earn so much money from my writing that I have begun using single dollar bills for kindling. Yep, that is right I burn money in my fireplace like it is going out of style.

Don’t want make you feel insecure but I get invitations to speak at every major blogging conference including the secret ones that only the A-listers attend. Heck at the last one George Clooney and I hung out together for at least 6 minutes and it is not because he gave me a drink order. Hell, if he had done that I would have given George the patented Jack Steiner steely eyed glare and the last six dark hairs on his head would have gone white.

Don’t fuck with me George, I am a dad blogger- hear me roar. They say that behind every good man is a good woman but behind every good mom blog there is a great dad blog.

But enough of that crap, let’s cut to the chase: Dad Bloggers get paid to blog. We don”t work for free.

Know Your Worth

Ok, I’ll drop the sarcasm but continue with the message because it is important and applicable to all bloggers. Know your own worth. Your time is valuable and if someone asks you to work for them you deserve to be compensated for your time.

Unfortunately some of you haven’t figured this out yet because you continue to work for free or even worse for peanuts.

What that means is that when someone asks you to write about their business/product/service you spend hour working on the post(s) but get little to nothing in return.

Examples:

1) Brand XYZ has you spend four or five hours working on several posts reviewing/promoting their product. They provide you with a $10 gift card to use as part of a giveaway that you all hope will draw readers. In return you also receive a $10 gift card.

The problem is that you just spent four or five hours working for a $10 gift card. Let’s pretend that the gift card is the same as cash. All that time you spent working was for less than the minimum wage.

2) Brand XYX contacts you and asks you to write a post about their product or service. They don’t offer a gift card or any sort of giveaway, but they don’t expect you to work for very long either.

This is still a problem. They came to you because they think you reach their target audience and you just provided them with free advertising. They are paying someone, somewhere for the chance to promote their product/service/company. But you just gave it away and your time for free.

Several years ago I had a lengthy disagreement with some mom bloggers about this and why their working for free was bad for all bloggers. It is bad because when you work for free you devalue your work and mine.

Two of them disagreed with me and said that I was preventing them from monetizing their blogs. My response was that what they were doing was no different from putting out for free. I am sure that they wouldn’t sleep with any man that asked. I received a very strongly worded reply from one of them and the silence from the other.

All sarcasm aside, I really do get paid to write and I really am paid for my time. That is not me being snooty, obnoxious or sarcastic either.

In most cases the people that contact bloggers about these reviews are getting paid. I strongly doubt that they would work for free, so why should you.

The Definitive Guide To Being a Dad Blogger- 2014 Edition

Scotch Night

Technically this ran in December 2011 but it didn’t have the fancy-shmancy picture in it which means no one pinned it. I probably didn’t promote it on Google Plus nor did I stumble it which means that I didn’t do many of the things that social media experts say you should do to be successful.

Fortunately we live during a time when you can revisit old posts and pretend they are new. Hell, you don’t even have to be a real blogger to write a book about blogging and to pretend you are an expert in or at it.

Of course I don’t play in the same pond as lots of the big fancy-shmancy bloggers who write for big corporations and hang out at all the blog conferences together so I am just the old goat that sits on the periphery taking the occasional pot shots at them.

Some of the comments are tongue-in-cheek and shouldn’t be viewed as serious but others are things I really do believe in. We’ll save that for a different post. In the interim if you haven’t read the words below I encourage you to do so.

They say that if you ask you shall receive and I have certainly seen that happen to me. An unnamed publisher is paying me a very handsome sum to write The Definitive Guide To Being A Dad Blogger.  If you ask me what I am happiest about I would tell you that it is a handsome sum of money and not something ugly and meaningless.

Or maybe the thing that makes me happiest is that I get to write the Definitive guide and not some cheap unauthorized knock off.  Hell yeah, Jack doesn’t roll with imitation Kate Spade bags or fake Rolex watches. I am so damn cool and suave that the Three card Monty scam artists won’t let me play because I always take their money. Not only that, but the valets pay me to park my car.

How do you like them apples.

Damn if I haven’t gone off on a tear again. I am taking the blogosphere by storm punching out high quality posts that are stamped Grade A. If these were steaks you would call them Kobe and pay exorbitant sums to eat my meat. But I am all helping the common man and woman which is why I provide these words free of charge.

How exciting. How novel. How different.

Some of you are probably wondering how I was discovered and what kind of mojo must reside in my pants pocket. Well I have to tell you that you can’t buy the sort of mojo I have and it is not because I swing to the right, left or center. It is because I am a proud American who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps and created an empire out of a mound of cyber dirt.

My kids walk tall at school and tell all their friends that I am a blogger and then they just smile. Fortunately their old enough to pronounce the word because there was a time when they said that I was a booger and that creates an entirely different sort of image than blogger.

I have so much street cred at that school that the mean mom mafia hides from me. No teacher, parent or student dare cross me because I am armed with a laptop, internet connection and fingers of fury. From my post at the coffee shop I can heap copious amounts of scorn down upon their deserving hides.

Sadly the fine folks at Maybach haven’t figured out how important I am. They don’t take my calls or return my letters and consequently you folks won’t get to read the review of my week driving a Maybach. But I see that as a good opportunity for the other automotive companies to step in.

Drop me a line and we can talk about how this mighty keyword stuffing, SEO hating, semi anonymous dad blogger can take your car for a spin and then write an amazing review that will make people want to buy your vehicle for their own magical mystery tour.  Come correct and do the right thing so that I can do the write thing. Together we can create a Revolution that won’t go Helter Skelter.

Stay tuned to this bat channel my friends and watch as I work my magic. Witness and wonder the majesty of my blogging might which I of course take ever so seriously.

Linkbait, it is whats for dinner.