Monday, July 13, 2015

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Unfortunate ways kids wake up parents



I have three kids ages 8, 5, and 1. Each one of them has woken me up in a million different ways. But as I reflect on those many long, weary nights, and early, early, mornings, I’ve noticed a few trends. Here is a list.

The Gag

I’ve been a parent for 8 years, and in that time I have devolved the ability to hear my children puking from great distances. It’s not something that I brag about. I’m not even that proud of it. I just post it here, because in the night, even when I’m deep asleep, I can wake in a moment to the sound of my child spilling his beans (or in most cases hot dog). I don’t fully understand what is so hard for a child to make it to the bathroom before puking. But what I can say is that I have cleaned up a lot of puke in the night. Chunky nasty puke that causes me to be up doing laundry at 4 a.m. while listening to a child cry big bucket tears. And all I can think in these moments is: why are you crying? I’m the one scraping puke soaked food chunks off your Frozen nightgown.

The Drink of Water

This wake up call usually starts with a slow, agonizing moan, that seems to say, “I’ve been in the desert and I’m dying of thirst.” I will admit, I think some of this comes to comfort in the night. When I was a kid, I’d ask for a drink of water because I didn’t want to admit that I was scared. But at 3 a.m., I don’t think in compassionate thoughts. I think in grumbles and curses, and wonder why the hell my 8-year-old can’t walk down the hall and get his own cup of stupid water.

The “let’s party at 4 a.m. because I hate you”

This is a toddler problem. My 1-year-old will randomly wake up in the middle of the night and start babbling. Then she will cry, and when I go in to get her, she looks up at me with big blue eyes, and a gapped, two tooth smile, and I know that she is ready to party. She isn’t fussy. But she isn’t going back to sleep, either. She just wants to spend an hour or so touching my face and giggling. And the whole time all I can think about is a drunken college roommate I had while doing a semester in London. He’d come stumbling in at around 4 a.m. (after last call) and wake me up just to chat. So what am I trying to say? Toddlers are like inconsiderate drunken roommates.

The Nightmare

This is when my 8-year-old taps on my shoulder at 2 a.m. and asks if he can sleep in my bed because he had a “really scary dream.” I’m too tired to ask what happened, or to try and talk some sense into him, so I just let him crawl in. And at first, this seems like a fine idea. I go right to sleep snuggling with the little guy. But then he starts to kick me in the crotch, or steal my blanket or pillow, or breathe on me with his nasty morning breath. I feel guilty for kicking him out, but I’m not sleeping, and eventually, after a couple hours, I get up and lug him back into his bed.

The Lost Bun-Bun

Sometimes kids lose a blanket in the night. Sometimes it’s a sock. But with my kids, it’s Bun-Bun. It’s a stuffed bunny, with a stupid hat that reads “Buttercup.” My son loved it. Now my daughter loves it. And I am confident that my youngest daughter will love it, too. Why? I don’t know. But what I do know is that stupid ass bunny is always getting lost in the night, and I end up searching through blankets and behind beds with a flashlight to find it because someone woke up and just can’t sleep without it. And you know what, when I do find it, I have to try real hard not to take the damn thing into the back yard and light it on fire.

The Wet Bed

Kids wet the bed. No shit. It’s been going on since the dawn of humankind. But that doesn’t make it any less irritating to the parent. I will admit, though. I’ve gotten to the point that I simply just change the kid, wipe them down with wet wipes, place a towel over the wet spot, and put the little stinker back to bed. Then I deal with it in the morning.

The “I sleep through the night so you’d think I was dead”

This is the trickiest one. This happens when all of your children sleep through the night and you wake up with a sick feeling. You are so used to them getting you up, that no one crying for water or Bun-Bun scares the hell out of you. So you get up, and go from room to room checking for breath, because the only way this could happen is if there was a tragedy. And while you do this, you reflect on how much you love your children.  

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America,The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Huffington Post,Scary MommyThe Good Men ProjectFast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him onFacebook and Twitter.   



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Mom Bod Is A Beautiful Thing

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I posted a selfie of myself heading to the pool with my kids on my blog Facebook page. The caption read “On our way to the pool! Let's hope this dad bod thing is still popular because I'm going topless.” For those that have missed out on the trend, the term "Dad Bod" became an internet hit when a 19-year-old Clemson sophomore named Mackenzie Pearson penned a story in the Clemson Odyssey titled "Why Girls Love the Dad Bod." She suggested that women are more attracted to men whose physiques reflect "a nice balance between a beer gut and working out" than they are to hunks with washboard abs. Suddenly the idea took off, leaving men feeling like they can finally give up on crunches, and leaving women to wonder why there is no Mom Bod.

Case in point, moments after I posted my selfie, one of my followers commented, “I wish Mom Bod was a thing.”

Ironically, I was in a Target parking lot, all three kids ready to swim in the backseat, waiting for my wife to pick out a new bathing suit because her old one didn’t fit the way it used to. We argued for quite a while before leaving the house. I told her that she looked sexy in her bathing suit, and she kept coming back at me with retorts as to how having children had ruined her waistline and the way her butt filled out her suit bottoms.

She eventually arrived back into the van with two swimming suits rather than one, telling me that she couldn’t decide which one looked better and we were short on time.

“You will look amazing in both,” I said.

Mel smiled and said, “I hope so.”

Mel stepped from the pool changing room in a black one-piece suit, looking stoic and beautiful, her hair pulled back into a braid, our toddler, Aspen, on her hip. She looked like the mother of my children, the woman that I’d been married to for 10 years, the person that I dedicated my life to, the one that supported me through college, and cares for our children with dignity and grace, and yet, as Mel approached me as I was putting sunblock on our older two children, she looked a little unsure of herself, and I assumed it was because of her new bathing suit.

“You look amazing,” I said.

She gave me a half smile, like she often does when I say that, and I can never tell if she doesn’t believe me anymore, or if it’s because she doesn’t honestly feel that way.

It was then that I took my shirt off. This was the first time I’d felt confident enough to take my shirt off at the pool in years, and it had something to do with the Dad Bod, I will admit, but mostly to do with the fact that I’d recently lost 25 pounds by counting calories. According to the BMI I was still about 10 pounds overweight, but for a father of three, I felt like maybe, just maybe, I could swim without a shirt. However, about an hour into our swim, Mel took a photo of me playing with Aspen. I looked at it moments later, and thought I looked fat and out of shape, and ended up deleting it. But I must say, that I do have a Dad Bod. I look like the kind of guy who used to work out, but has let himself go. And when Mel asked why I deleted the photo, I said, “I looked fat.”

I shrugged, and she said, “You looked sexy.”

I rolled my eyes, and suddenly we had switched roles. She was the one trying to make me feel confident about my Dad Bod, when moments earlier I was trying to make her feel confident. But honestly, what is the Dad Bod? It’s a construction of the media. It’s something that was created by some girl on the Internet.

The crazy thing about all of this is that neither Mel nor I fully accept each other’s complements because we don’t feel 100%, confident in the way we look. The sad fact is, the media has shown us what sex appeal is, and it is paper-thin. It redefines itself every few years, but whatever the trend, Dad Bod, Mom Bod, or otherwise, I never feel like I hit the mark. I assume Mel feels the same.

But here is the honest truth. I find my wife amazing on so many levels. She takes my breath away.

This is the Mom Bod.

If Photoshop could capture how much Mel loves her children, how dedicated she is to her family, the fact that she is a full-time mom, and a part-time student, and kicking ass at both, all the sacrifices she’s made for our family, she would be on the cover of every magazine, because this is the really sexy stuff. A flat stomach and large breasts just look good on paper. I am not going to try and speak for all men, but what I can say is that I am not alone. I know a lot of men that feel the same way I do about their wives. We are blown away by how amazing they are, and very little of it has to do with looks alone. It has to do with the whole package that makes a wife and mother someone worth spending a lifetime with.

After being married for 10 years, very little of my passion for her has to do with her body alone, but everything to do with how wonderfully dedicated she is to our family, to me, and to her personal drive to excel in everything she does.

We left the pool. Once the kids and bags were in the van, I wrapped Mel in my arms next to the passenger side and said, “You were, hands down, the sexiest woman at the pool today.”

Mel smiled and said, “To you.”

“That’s all I’ve got,” I said.

She smiled and gave me a kiss.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America,The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Huffington Post,Scary MommyThe Good Men ProjectFast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.   


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

An appeal to my readers




I received an email the other day from a representative of Penguin/Random House. I’m self-publishing a book that was made possible through generous donations to a crowd funding campaign. Someone from Lulu (the publisher I am paying to format my book) passed the manuscript on to them, and he just wanted to let me know that I’m close, and that if I had more substantial online following he’d be interested in publishing my book. When I asked him what that meant he said, “North of 50,000 in your kind of genre.”

My heart sank.

But I wasn’t surprised.

In the past two years I have contacted 226 literary agents, and 30 small presses. Most of them have told me something similar. They think I’m talented. They are impressed with my publications in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post… But until I gain a stronger social media following, they are not interested. I suppose this is what it means to be an author in the age of the Internet. So little of it has to do with talent. Everything has to do with Facebook and Twitter likes.

I studied creative writing for almost 10 years. My life goal has always been to publish a book with a major publisher because I feel that I have a good message. I honestly want to help families be stronger. I want to help couples realize that parenting is a challenge and that the frustrations you are feeling are normal. The best way to get my message out is by publishing a book through a major publisher, and every time I get a message like the one above I realize I need your help.

But I’ve always struggled with just how to ask.

But here it goes.

Five days a week I post on my blog, and I am honestly blown away that I have readers. I love your comments. I love your perspectives. I love that you enjoy reading my work. I don’t want to ask anything more of you. But I’m frustrated. I truly feel that I have a worthwhile message that should be seen by more people, and if you are reading this, I assume you feel the same. Please help me increase my following. If you read something that strikes you, share it. If you read my blog each night with your partner (I know that many of you do) tell your friends about me. If I’ve made you laugh about some frustrating part of parenting, share it with your friends. When you visit my Facebook page, click on “invite friends to like this page” and let others know how I’ve touched your life, your marriage, your understanding of family, and how I might be able to touch their lives, too.

If you can’t tell, I’m struggling a bit writing this because I don’t like asking for help. Particularly from people who've been so generous with their time. You sitting down and reading my words means the world to me.

But I don’t know how I am going to get my work to more readers without asking for your help.

Best,

Clint Edwards
No Idea What I’m Doing: a daddy blog.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America,The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Huffington Post,Scary MommyThe Good Men ProjectFast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him onFacebook and Twitter.  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Explaining my bad example to my 8-year-old



I was drinking a Coke Zero at the kitchen table when my 8-year-old son asked if he could have a soda. I reminded him that he only gets one soda a week, and that he had that soda yesterday.

“But you get like a million sodas a day, Dad,” he said. “That’s not fair.

A million is a high estimate, but it is true. I drink a lot of soda.

I’ve been hearing things like this a lot from him recently. Everything seems to be an example of injustice. I ask him to make is his bed, and he reminds me that my bed was not made this morning. I ask him to take a shower, and he asks if I took a shower. He’s at this age where everything should be about equality, and if I don’t live up to my own standards, then I am seen being unfair.

“Tristan,” I said. “Someday you will be able to decide how many sodas you can have in a week. But right now, that is not the case.”

Tristan was in a t-shirt that read, “Awesome Oregon Dude,” and a pair of blue cargo shorts. He placed his hands on his hips and narrowed his blues eyes, like he always does when I say something like that. His face, his eyes, reminded me a lot of myself when my mother used to tell me things like that.

 “If you get a soda, then I get a soda,” he said.

We argued for a bit. We went back and forth. I reminded him about the rules. I told him that he has rules, and I have rules, and they are different depending on age and position in life. But regardless of what I said, he didn’t like my answer because nothing was leading to him getting to drink more soda.

This is one of my biggest problems with being a parent… being the example. Because the fact is, I’m a bad example. I wouldn’t say that I am a horrible example. I don’t drink or do drugs. I’ve never been in jail, and I do my best to treat my family right. It’s really just the petty stuff. The small things. The things that seem like a big deal to an 8-year-old, but in the grand scheme of life don’t really mean crap. Things like eating chips before dinner, or leaving my clothes on the bedroom floor, or not putting away my cereal bowl after breakfast. The sad thing is, I should have learned all of these things years ago. I should have them down. But I don’t. And I know that I need to teach my son how to do them, so I tell him to do it, but I don’t really want to make those changes myself. Which, at the age of 8, is seen as unfair, and as a teen, he will see me as a hypocrite.

I was the same way with my parents. They enforced rules that they didn’t always follow, and I hated it. Only now, as a parent myself, do I see how little things can lead to big things. I see how I need to give my son structure and rules. However, I am really crappy at following them. This is one of those horrible, vicious, cycles of parenting that proves that I am flawed, and yet, my position as a father has placed me in a position to be seen as superior.

After a few moments of arguing with Tristan, I finally opened up.

“Here’s the thing,” I said. “I have a problem. I drink way too much soda, and I know it. I need to stop, but I’m not doing a very good job. Part of it is your baby sister. She keeps me up in the night. And I work too many hours. I have a hard time staying awake in the day, so I drink soda. I don’t expect you to understand any of this, but I hope that you do. But here is what I want from you. I want you to be better than me. I want you to be stronger and healthier. I want you to not have my bad habits. So that's why Mom and I set this rule. That’s why we set a lot of rules. Because we wish someone would have helped us learn how to not do certain things as kids, so that we wouldn’t do them as adults. Does this make sense?”

Tristan thought about what I said for a moment. His eyes shifted back and forth. I couldn’t tell if he understood, or if he was still trying to find a way to use my bad example as a way to get more soda.

After a few moments of silence I said,” Tristan. I’m not always going to be a great example. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to follow the rules. It means that I gave you the rules so that you will become a better adult than I am.”

Tristan looked at my soda can on the table. Then he let out a breath, curled his lips, and said, “I just don’t think its fair.”

“It’s not, Tristan. I’m sorry. But please realize that I want the best for you. Do you understand that?”

He put his head down and nodded.

“Let’s go to the park,” I said. “And stop worrying about soda.”

“Okay,” he said. “I will get my soccer ball.”

It is in moments like our argument over soda that I worry I am ruining my son. I feel like a contradiction. I feel under qualified. I want to be the example he needs, but I know that I never will be. All I can be is honest.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America,The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Huffington Post,Scary MommyThe Good Men ProjectFast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him onFacebook and Twitter.