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21stcentdadsart.jpgI truly enjoy bringing my two-year old daughter to the library. I also enjoy bringing my almost four-year old son. Bringing them together does not hold the same joy. In fact, it can be quite challenging. It is not just a tad bit more difficult; the difficulty level is exponential. One plus one, in this instance, does not equal two. It equals something, I don’t know what, but it’s much more than that.

Here are two challenges, no, two experiences, from today’s outing:

First, after playing for awhile with the library toys, Luke announced he had to go potty. Emma did not want to come with at first. After being given the thought and choice of leaving for home or coming with, she quickly came around and decided to join us.

In the bathroom, Luke and I were washing our hands when Emma headed for the door. The door was behind a long thick block wall. She was out of my sight, but not to worry: The door is too heavy for her to open. Opening the door was not what she had in mind.

Click. Complete darkness.

Luke is almost immediately upset by this and called for the lights to be turned back on. I slowly made my way to the door.

Click. Emma turned the lights back on just as I reached the door and began looking for the switch.

Later, back at the play area, I started writing this experience in my little notebook. I had only looked down for a moment when I heard Luke’s voice call “Daddy” from a short distance away. I looked up and sure enough, he was nowhere in sight. I got up and walked around the corner from the kids’ play area toward the front desk. Not there. Again, I heard Luke’s voice: “Daddy.” This time with a hint of anxiety in his tone. I called his name as I changed directions and found him walking back towards the play area.

The joys of taking two young children to the library.

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Not Another Dish

21stcentdadsart.jpg On a given day, I almost always have two ambitious goals for managing the household: spend quality time with the children and keep the house clean. The problem with these two goals is, that by 7 P.M., they become mutually exclusive and I suffer burnout and exhaustion.

Like yesterday, I cleaned the kids’ rooms, family room, kitchen, and entry. I also took my son to swimming lessons, played some games with both toddlers, read them stories, prepared their lunches and cooked supper, got their pajamas on and tucked them into bed.

At 9 P.M., the kitchen sink was again full of dishes and the top drawer of the dishwasher needed unloading. By this time, I was so exhausted with cleaning, the very thought of unloading a single dish produced fatigue.

Needless to say, I will be starting on the dishes in the morning when my two goals will be reenergized.

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21stcentdadsart.jpg

From the Acknowledgments in The Long Tail by Chris Anderson:

First, the person other than me who worked the hardest, my wife, Anne. No project like this could be done without a strong partner. Anne was all that and more. Her constant support and understanding made this possible, and the price was significant, from all the Sundays taking care of the kids while I worked at Starbucks to the lost evenings, absent vacations, nights out not taken, and other costs of an all-consuming project.…

From my personal journal:
This guy has four children and spent a year writing the book. It sounds as if it consumed much of his life over that year to the extent that his children did not see him much. He says as much in the acknowledgments. For many reasons, I do not have the type of lifestyle and am unwilling to make the type of choices that would lead to such a creation. I could never miss that much of my children’s lives. I get a mere hour, perhaps two in the summertime, to work on my things. I suffer from a lack of focus on any one thing and have such far and wide and diverse interests that sticking to one project is an almost insurmountable challenge. I envy these writers for the work they create and the rewards they gain in their personal lives and careers. I do not envy the sacrifice they have made. That may be why I may never achieve such a feat. I am not willing to make the same sacrifice. I dream of creating something, a novel, a nonfiction book, a screenplay, a stage play, a performance or presentation, something that changes lives; something that challenges others to think and grow. But how will that happen given the confines of my schedule and my unwillingness to sacrifice family?

The Long Tale and the Birth of 21st Century Dads
I read the Acknowledgments of The Long Tail while watching my two children at the park. I had an immediate reaction that inspired the above journal entry. It also prompted me to get in touch with an old friend who, though he lives within three miles of me, I had not talked to in months. I figured that he too would be grappling with some of the same things: How do we find the time to stay in touch with friends, write, think, stay fit and healthy, etc. when we have kids? How do we balance all the parts of our lives and still contribute to the community?

After reconnecting with my friend, it occurred to me that if we are feeling these things, surely others are too. And that is what has inspired the creation of this blog.

This blog will be a place for exploring our lives as fathers and how our roles are changing everyday. This is a place to share our experiences with kids, vent any frustrations felt, and discuss anything related to the wonderful, enriching, challenging, frustrating, all engrossing endeavor of parenting.

We welcome readers, fellow fathers (mother’s too) and encourage participation and sharing of thoughts and ideas through the submission of comments.

Welcome 21st century parents to 21st Century Dads!

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