3 Lessons from being a “single” dad for the week

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Some time ago I had arranged for some great interviews for Flashpoint . The guests are in Boston. With my wife starting her new job and drinking from a firehose since the outset of the year, I suggested I bring my two -year-old daughter with me. I was staying at my sister’s so my daughter was going to be able to have some good family time with her favorite aunt and her two oIder cousins. That’s exactly what happened until she took a bad fall and we ended up in the ER for most of Super Bowl Sunday. X-rays showed that nothing was broken, but in fact, once back to Virginia it turns out her left elbow was fractured. My wife had to work and spared extra time when she could, but I basically lived the single dad life this week. Here’s 3 things I learned.

1. There’s no substitute for Mommy

The crying, the sadness, the fun, the comfort, the cuddling, the feeding, the affection, the teaching, the PATIENCE - no one can do it like Mom can. Period. I used up all my routine distraction techniques, my silly behaviors, my white lies (“Mommy will be right back”), and the best tricks I had up my sleeve on DAY ONE of being alone. Granted I’ve been with her alone for entire days, but not when she was in a lot of discomfort and reminded of the fall anytime I tried to pick her up. Feeling like I couldn’t do anything right, I sent dramatic texts to my wife. That doesn’t solve problems, it only creates them. This is why grandparents always lie and say “(insert name here) was fantastic! She had a great time!” They never want to seem incapable or reveal to the parent(s) that their child hit DEFCON4 while you were away.

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Mommy is the glue to everything and I have a sincerely new level of respect for moms, especially single moms. I could hardly get anything done, unless it was between 10pm-3am which I did twice this week. I was forgetful. I didn’t really work out. I couldn’t keep the place clean. The list goes on. It seemed like I couldn’t wait to hand off the baby to my wife when she would get home after 8pm so that I could start something productive; something she NEVER did to me when I was working ridiculous hours at my last company. I now truly understand the pressure that accompanies trying to be a solid parent while trying to manage your normal adult life and responsibilities. It is incredibly admirable knowing so many people who diligently are able to balance it all.

There was a woman in front of me holding her toddler son as we boarded the plane back to VA. She was shifting her multiple bags between her hands, She was doing the whole “dip and boost” with her son trying to relieve her left arm for a split second. Dip and Boost: That thing you do where you do 1/10 of a squat and lunge your child up a couple of inches in your arm. She was looking around planning on how she would successfully navigate herself to her seat. I had already checked my daughter’s baby bag and stuffed my own backpack with some of her things. I had one arm free and offered to take one of the woman’s carry-ons for her. Her response “Why do I look awkward?” Our little boarding group laughed and she took me up on my offer. I get it now. 100%.

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2. I HATE missing out on work

I’m 7 months into being an entrepreneur and 5 months into executing my business idea. I have clients now. I have opportunities. My connections have doubled since September. I have 3 business partners in a separate venture. I always have something to do. ALWAYS. This weekI had to cancel calls, push back publishing content for people, etc. Worst of all, I had cancel on a CEO from Florida that hired me to film him for 3 days at a local event as we ramp up his personal brand and content. Luckily, I had hired my first freelance assistant not long ago and he came down from NY to support! The client was beyond thrilled that I divulged the issue and presented a legitimate solution in the same phone call.

Nick “Crispy” Crispino saved me! He came from NY to DC and got a day’s worth of footage for the client!

Nick “Crispy” Crispino saved me! He came from NY to DC and got a day’s worth of footage for the client!

But I have been restless. Restless like never before.  Itching to edit, post, render, create, inspire, etc.  So while I hate missing on work, I now know more than ever that I truly love what I do. This feeling explains why I don’t anticipate or try to reward myself with days off.  It explains why you may see me putting out tons of content.  Had this been some sort of a job I would’ve happily missed a ton of work, but inevitably felt the pressure to demonstrate that I was still committed.  Yeah, I was the asshole with my work computer in the hospital room while my wife was in labor for 36+ hours.  I was so misguided.  Fortunately, that is no longer the case and “chasing my dream” has been beyond worthwhile and it’s only the beginning.  THESE are the types of obstacles that present themselves in an untimely manner and make you feel like you will never be able to avoid drowning in your already never ending To-Do List.  It also makes you stronger. Much stronger. These are also the types of obstacles that make you realize that “family first” cannot be a phrase you simply like to say.  It has to be the truth or you will quickly have feelings of resentment towards your family and then yourself. 

I was able to rebrand my podcast and publish it, livestream on FB and IG, and plan out an event for June. All while burning the midnight oil. 


3.  Patience is like a Cell Phone

Ever since I left my former job, my patience has grown to levels I’ve never experienced. I happily ask my wife “Did you notice I didn’t lose my temper there? Did you see how I held it together?  Did you hear me complain?”  She acknowledges I’m in a much better place, but we also know I have still have my work cut out for me.  A two-year-old has endless needs; at least they try to make you think that. 

I know the basics:

  • Feed them

  • Clean them

  • Make sure they sleep

While we know those are the necessities, she can certainly try and let me know by repeating something she wants (and that is wildly inconsequential) about 492 times in a row.  Children have the most uncanny willpower and it can deplete my patience faster than it takes me get the bowl of cereal she wanted.  Keyword: wanted.  She is no longer interested.  She wants pancakes. Lucky for me I don’t have any.  Unfortunately for me, she doesn’t care.  Next is apple juice.  Next she isn’t hungry or thirsty; she wants to watch Moana.  As I find Moana, she sees Frozen.  I start Frozen and she asks for Mommy.  Then she asks for her and cries for her for about 37 minutes straight before some random event (like someone knocking on the door) distracts her. 

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I’m not ashamed that I don’t always know what to do and that I can’t be perfectly patient.  I’ve learned that patience is finite. It needs to be restored and recharged.  Joining her for a nap, walking the dog with her, or planning the next day while she’s asleep at night can replenish the patience well more than I ever imagined. 

My daughter has shed light on not only the challenge of parenthood, but more importantly the beauty of it.  My best friend used to say “When they look at you a certain way, tell you they love you, snuggle with you - it makes all the other things go away.”  He’s right.