First off, I want to thank you for viewing my blog. I’m new at this…not being a Dad (I’ve been doing that for 20 months now) but blogging. Enough people have told me to start one that I’ve decided it was time. Time to offer my advice, share my struggles, and hopefully entertain you. Please feel free to laugh at or with me 🙂 Whether you are raising kids, raised kids, want kids, or just wonder what life is like with a toddler and newborn triplets, I know you will find something of value in the posts yet to come…
I woke up this morning and realized I was 38. I ran a company for 10 years and then retired overnight to be a full-time Dad the next day.
It is a full time job that pays nothing. I cannot quit or be fired. I get 4 performance reviews almost daily. I have to pay all my own expenses. I’m on call 24/7 and I have no sick days. And it is the absolute best job in the entire world.
I got to get Kai out of bed this morning and get him ready for school picture day. The kid has a million smiles and he and I worked on the one he should use for the picture that Papa will put on his desk at work.
I had the pleasure of seeing Quinn crawl backwards down the stairs, tell me with a sign and his words that he wanted up into his seat and a banana.
One of my favorite things I see every day is the second I walk into the girls rooms. The smiles on their faces, the excitement of the new day, and the word Dada escaping from their lips the second they see me is happiness beyond words.
There are still difficult days. Sometimes I miss working. Sometimes 1 or all 4 have a rough day. Once in awhile, the days seem a bit monotonous because I spend so much time at the house. But there is not greater joy and no greater birthday gift than being a Dad to these four.
Kai, Vivi, Rowan, and Quinn are the four chambers of my heart and pump life and love through my veins. Thank you for these blessings and happy birthday to me 🥰
So…back to school is no joke. I always wondered what the big deal is, but now I get it. Kai only had two weeks off in between his previous school and his new one. However, getting back into a groove definitely took some doing and after the first week, I was seriously questioning my sanity. Now part of that is that week 1 at his new school is “transition week” so they had us stay at school with the kids Tuesday-Friday, 8:30am-12pm. My gym time is normally at 10am, so lack of excessive definitely contributed to my stress. And though Kai is fine with me leaving him at school, it took him a minute to get adjusted to all his new classmates and how to share once more.
Week two gave me hope again, with Kai being his normal, sweet self. His favorite thing now to to tell my how good he did or how nice he was to everyone after he finishes school or one of his extracurricular activities.
In the end, I’m not sure if it’s more difficult having the four of them home all day long or our new schedule. I think now that we are back in the groove, the schedule works but in our house, things are constantly changing and evolving as the triplets (and Kai) get older.
For anyone interested in how it works with a family of four, 20 months apart, here’s my week:
7:00 kids up
8:00 get Kai dressed
8:30 school starts
11:00 triplets nap
12:00 pick Kai up
12:15 Kai lunch
1:00 Kai naps
1:30 triplets wake up
1:45 triplets eat lunch
3:00 Kai wakes up
3:30 Either Music, Gymnastics, Piano, Swimming, or Hip Hop Dance Class
7:00 Triplets bedtime
7:45 Kai’s bedtime
By 8pm, Dad is normally exhausted and ready to just sit in silence for an hour. However, I still wouldn’t change anything for the world.
I will say that I don’t know what people did years ago without today’s technology and I’m hoping that it continues to keep pace with my children so that when I have to start worrying about them having four different activities in four different places, we will have self-driving Uber’s that can safely deliver them to their practice or whatever. That’s a problem for another day though.
So last night, Marcus and I had dinner with two friends from Monaco who have two gorgeous boys of their own, also through surrogacy. The topic came up of the questions they are asked about the boys’ genetics and I learned that not only are they asked the same questions I loathe, but they have been asked IN FRONT OF the boys on multiple occasions. I shared my feelings with them and told them I had written a FB post before Kai was born about that very subject which received a tremendous amount of positive feedback. I promised them that I would try to find that post (not knowing how I was going to do that). Well, I woke up this morning and apparently it was exactly 3 years ago today that I wrote it and FB was kind enough to pop it back up on my feed as a memory. So that being said, I want to share that original post here:
To all my friends and family that continue to ask Marcus or me “whose sperm did you use” or “whose (kid) is it?” I have smiled and continued to give polite, witty banter back for months now hoping that you would digest the situation and realize the insinuations you are making. That somehow…due to genetics, our child is tied more closely to one of us than the other. That our child is not just simply “ours.” Growing up gay has not always been easy, but it’s made me stronger and allowed me to weather your curiosity and questions that seem outside of the love and compassion I expect from all of you. Growing up with an adopted brother; I can already share with all of you, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that blood does not constitute family. I am strong enough to shoulder the burden of your ignorance in asking these questions over and over again. However, our child should never have to endure such comments and curiosity. Like any child, he has this entire, crazy world to face…and that’s scary enough for a new parent. I’m asking all of you from the bottom of my heart to think before you speak around him or anyone that does not necessary fit into a social norm. Being different is never easy, but it’s part of what makes life interesting and beautiful. Our son is coming and he is going to be a LOT of things…and I cannot wait to discover what those things may be…but one thing that I already know in my heart that he is…is OURS.
So Doing it Daddy Style is about parenting, but in order to be a great (co)parent, you have to constantly be on the same page. This is no easy task so I’m going to give you five things that I think are most important:
- Make time for you. Give your partner time for them. This one is super important. You both need time to workout and do a few personal things each week. This keeps you healthy both mentally and physically.
- Make time for you (plural). I will not lie, this was super tough the first year we had the triplets because having a babysitter put four kids down for bed or dealing with more than one waking up is almost impossible. We are just now starting to get out again, but we will put the kids down first and then venture out. And we are always home by midnight because it’s back in Dad mode between 6am and 7am the next day. A school administrator once reaffirmed this by telling me they have seen so many couples go through divorce in the first 2-5 years of having children. It makes sense because you are two individuals sharing a life and all of a sudden, one (or four) come along and they because your sole priority and focus. Making time for you as a couple will help to maintain your relationship and, in turn, make you better parents.
- Argue behind closed doors. What I mean is do not contradict each other in front of the children. Even if you think what your partner is saying or doing is wrong, you want to present a united front to your children. Speak to them after and agree on how you want to handle that particular situation moving forward. This will help to prevent the kids from asking Parent 1 and then going to ask Parent 2 if they do not get the response they wanted. It also keeps your kid(s) childhood magical. They do need to see you arguing or fighting with each other.
- Be present with your children when you are playing with them, explaining things to them, or even joking around. The are little blank slates. They do not have your experiences. They do not process information they way you do. Think about what you are doing or saying and how it will affect the young adults they will become. For a lot of adults, this is difficult to be that hyper-aware so this is where your partner comes into play. It is much easier process these things when you are observing it then when you are participating. Always be aware of the interactions your children are having and be ready to step in or make a mental note to discuss later if appropriate if you notice something going on that may have a negative impact on the child’s thought process or behavior.
- Set goals and have discussions on the adults that you want to raise. It is not enough to provide and play and hope for the best. You need to take them time to set goal with and for your kids. They will change over time, but if you do not have goals for milestones or the people you want them to turn out to be, you are flying blind. And talk about them. We usually discuss these at night when all the kids are down and we can finally take a deep breath and allow our brains to wind down a bit. We talk about their days, funny things they did, things they did that were not funny, what new things we have noticed, and what one might need to work on. Sharing these observations again helps us to be more connected, closer to our kids, and gives us the ability to parents in sync and to the best of our ability.
This is nowhere near a complete list, but I hope it helps. I think having four kids in two years amplified all the issues that may arise which might sound like a bad thing, but I think it also maybe made them easier to identify and therefor figure out a way to handle them faster than we would have otherwise. And I am always open to suggestions if you have them 🙂
So traveling with kids. Let’s talk about it for minute.
I used to travel for work ALL the time. I could pack in 10-15 minutes. I could get from my house through the airport and to my gate in 90 minutes max. I never checked luggage. Oh, and I got to relax and read on the plane.
NOT ANYMORE! 🙂 Now I have to start packing weeks in advance to make sure I have everything I need for the upcoming trip and that it fits. We have to schedule a car service if flying and if we do not have enough adults to hold all the babies, then we have to arrange for car seats. When we went to Hawaii over Christmas, we needed an extra car for our 14 (yes 14) bags. Four of those bags are just for the two strollers and extra seats. Two were for my parents. That leaves eight full of diapers, food, bottle, formula, toys, and extra everything. We leave for the airport 2.5 hours before our flight and found a wonderful company that assists us through the airport to the lounge and then our gate. It is a process. Plus, we are their constant source of entertainment for the entire flight. Forget enjoying a meal, reading, or taking a much needed nap.
Now I always said that my choice to have multiple kids would never take away from us being able to give them all the experiences I had growing up, especially traveling. So we brave it. And the kids are actually all really good travelers. Except when it comes to sleeping. At home, they sleep a solid 12 hours a night. On vacation…not so much. They were maybe 7 months old when we went to Hawaii and everyone ended up having to sleep with a baby the entire trip. They refused to sleep in their portable cribs. Fast forward to Easter in Santa Barbara. Nope. Almost 1 year old and Marcus and I have all 4 kids in the bed and did not get much sleep at all. So, I decided that before heading to Cabo in August, we would take a little mini trip down to San Diego and see how they do now that they were almost 14 months.
We drove down to San Diego which is about a 3 hour drive and they all did fantastic in the car. It was about 1pm when we arrived at the San Diego Zoo and they loved all the animals. We got to our hotel, the U.S. Grant, around 6pm to give us time to rinse off, change and go downstairs for dinner. Now they were wonderfully accommodating and set us all up in a private dining room and they kids all sat through an almost 2 hours dinner and ate very well. So I thought, hey, super smooth so far and they have to be exhausted so we’re good! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Now I don’t know whether it’s a new environment or that they are all constantly teething now, but Quinn refuses to sleep in a portable crib but he also will wake up if you have him in the bed (I think he gets too warm) and then he lets loose a blood curdling scream. When we just had Kai, there were two of us and one of him. He always slept between us and if he got up, one of us would rock him back to sleep and that was it. Now when Quinn lets loose, there are 3 other kids in the room. It is instant panic mode. You do not want the other babies to wake and cause a chain reaction. In San Diego, he woke up Rowan (who does NOT like to be woken up…not sure where she gets that…lol) who in turn, lets out a scream of her own. Vivi and Kai were angels and slept through all of it, but Daddy and Papa once again did not get much sleep.
We did SeaWorld on the way home the next day and again, the kids were fantastic and loved all of the sea animals. We did not see the Orcas out of principle, but we pretty much saw everything else. And I will say, not having to deal with formulas or bottles anymore is a game changer. It’s one less suitcase to pack and they can eat packs on the go in between meals.
So…wish us luck for Cabo next month. They are now able to walk so they will want to be up and down the aisles of the plane and don’t understand why they have to stay in their seats for takeoff and landing. Bless my mother for getting them all Fire tablets on Prime Day. It should be enough to distract them temporarily.
One last little tip or piece of advice to all the parents out there who think traveling is just too much. When you (and your children) look back on their life, you are not going to remember your child throwing a fit on the plane. You won’t remember the stress of losing one in the airport for a split second. Lost or delayed bags will be a distant memory. Even the lack of sleep for the entire week of vacation will not matter. The memories you make on those trips though will be remembered forever and they will shape the adults your little humans end up becoming. I know schedules are easier, monotony prevents chaos, but what kind of a life is that? Push yourselves. Teach your kids that sometimes, the most difficult things are the most rewarding. And get out there and travel. Expose them to other cultures, different ways of life, people who grew up drastically different from them. They will be better for it.
I walked into Kai’s school today and he was outside on the playground with two of his friends. Neither one looks like him. One was a boy. One was a girl. Not only does that not matter, it’s not even a thought to any of them.
The pure joy of them just holding hands and playing in a circle stopped me in my tracks. I would normally just stand there and take it in but it was too precious not to capture and share.
As a father, I never want that to end. (I just started to type the word unadulterated. I know the typical usage and definition but is it not interesting that I was about to talk about unadulterated joy and I literally mean joy that has not been tainted by adults). My goal is to keep that unadulterated joy from becoming, well, adulterated. We, as parents, and just adults in general need to be hyperaware of what we do, what we say, and how we act around children. We need to present the best parts of ourselves and let the negativity dissipate with our generation.
Now I cannot control other adults and I definitely cannot control all of the different media that my children will be exposed to during their youth (though I will do my damnedest…and I am pretty savvy when it comes to technology). I can however do my best to keep their original coding intact and try to undo any outside damage with positive reinforcement at home.
I believe everyone, even if they themself had a tough childhood, had those moments of our joy that they still remember to this day. If you’re reading this, try to find those memories. And I challenge you, if you have not made a new one in a long time, go make one. Let it remind you how small most of the things are that we let weigh us down. And, for me, let it make you consciously, fully present when you are around young impressionable minds.
Let the kids believe in magic. Let them think this world is and can be better than it is…and just maybe, they will manifest that reality.
These two 😍
So every morning now, if Quinn sees Kai and I leaving for school, he looks like the saddest kid in the world. So I end up just taking him to drop off and pick up Kai most days.
This morning, I had to put Quinn down for a moment and he walked right up to his big brother and put his arms around him. It lasted for a good 3-4 minutes before I picked him up and we said goodbye to Kai.
Growing up without a sibling close in age, this just warms my heart to see. All my kids are close and spend time playing together, but this relationship between big bro and little bro is pretty special.