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Love: Pass It On

I'm a big fan of the "Pass It On" ad campaign from the Foundation for a Better Life.  You've probably seen their commercials and billboards.  Below is one that is focused on fatherhood.  Remember - it takes a real man to be a dad.


Someday I'll have my recliner all to myself - unfortunately

I have a recliner at home.  It's mine.  I like to be in it.  But when I am in the recliner and my wife isn't around, it goes like this: first, I make they boys get out of my recliner so I get sit down; then, the dog comes over to get in my lap; seeing the dog causes my youngest to come over and climb up in my lap; seeing the youngest causes the oldest to come over and climb up in my lap.  Four out of the five members of the Maples Family are in my recliner.  And all I was trying to do was watch football or play Angry Birds.

At one point this weekend, the above happened.  Sometimes it can be a lot, especially when no one wants to be still.  So I made all three of them get down.  "Get off of me!"

Then, after failing at my stage of Angry Birds a few times, I remembered just how fast these boys are growing up.  Just yesterday - it seems - I was bringing them home from the hospital.  All of a sudden, one is almost in Kindergarten and the other is, well, like the Tazmanian Devil.  And if they're growing up this fast overnight, it's only a matter of another day or two until they don't even want to be in my lap.  And when that day comes, I'm going to be very sad.  So I put down Angry Birds and made them all come back over so we could watch cartoons and I could tickle their bellies.  Then we all got in the floor to roll around and wrestle.  It was much more gratifying than Angry Birds.


The Fulfillment Factor

A recent essay in Time Magazine asked the question, “does fatherhood make you happy?” The essay, authored by Daniel Gilbert, described how so many men are quick to say that being a father is the thing that makes them the most happy – yet, when this question is scientifically researched, raising kids yields about the same amount of happiness as housework. Mr. Gilbert goes on to cite researchers who have discovered that people cite eating, exercising, shopping and watching television as things that bring them more happiness than interacting with their children. I was a brand new father when I read this essay and I couldn’t believe the blasphemy of someone saying that parenthood may not make you the happiest person on the planet. Then, the novelty of being a new parent wore off.

I’m only four years into this journey of fatherhood, and I have caught myself telling folks that nothing makes me happier than being a dad. Truth be told, the sleepless nights, our two sons' constant calls for attention, the back-breaking and knee-popping that comes along with playtime on the floor, and the complete dissolution of “alone time” don’t register very high on my happiness barometer. There are certainly joyful moments – almost too many to count – but at the end of each day, I find myself more weary than gleeful. So, does fatherhood make you happy? Is the author correct in answering no?

To me, it’s a simple misuse of words. Happiness is a term that conjures up notions of euphoria, and physical and emotional pleasure. Happiness is felt when one’s favorite football team wins a big game. Happiness is the feeling of eating a favorite meal, seeing a great movie, or relaxing by the pool. It’s receiving a birthday present or buying the new car you’ve always wanted. Happiness is short-lived in most cases and still leaves a person craving more. Happiness is a good thing, but it can also be artificial, superficial, and easily lost.

The word Mr. Gilbert should have used is fulfilling. To do something that brings fulfillment usually includes bouts of happiness, but also includes hard work, emotional capital, time, and commitment. Just as Vince Lombardi reflected, the greatest fulfillment a man can find “is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious.” Lombardi knew that to be fulfilled as an athlete, hard work and difficult challenges were going to be necessary. This is why his Green Bay Packers never measured their success by a single touchdown.

Something that is fulfilling is typically something that is also hard. It can also be sad and frustrating. Happiness doesn’t leave much room for the hard things. Happiness can be attained rather easily – but fulfillment is never found without effort.

So many new fathers probably reach a state of burnout when their expectations of pure joy and happiness are battered down by the day-to-day routines and difficulties of being a parent. Perhaps if we all rid ourselves of this happiness expectation and instead sought the enriching and spiritual feelings of true personal fulfillment, more of us would increase our commitment to fatherhood and do a better job at it.

Being a father means that we get to experience moments of unique happiness, but it also means that we get to embrace the challenges, hard times, and exhaustion. The weariness felt at the end of the day is coated with a sense of purpose and accomplishment. We don’t become fathers solely to be happy – we become fathers to share love and to feel the fulfillment of having unquestionably affected another human life for the better.

So, for aspiring fathers, fathers-to-be, and those like me who are new to this adventure – let’s stop believing that fatherhood should bring the most happiness we could ever imagine – for while we may find those moments occasionally – it’s the feeling of fulfillment that perseveres. So many people spend their whole lives searching for fulfillment, and we should appreciate that it found us, and calls us “dad.”


5 things that have changed since I had kids

This post is from our guest blogger, Mr. Eric "The Ike" Eicher, from here in Indianapolis.  You can check him out on or his blog, The Ike.

Sometimes it is hard for me to believe how much your life changes after you have children. Honestly there are too many to count, but here are some that stick out to me.

Abercrombie now makes me feel dirty…and old
Ok, I used to DJ a little. I love music and sometimes I still like cranking something up in my car, sans kids of course. But I can’t even hear myself think because how loud the music is in the store, not that I actually go into the store. Hell, all Abercrombie is to me any more is an annoyance on my way down to Gymboree. This is proof to me that teens can hear high pitch noises that adults can’t. How else do they communicate? Also, I’m over the 682-foot nudie dude photos pasted throughout the store. Pull up your pants, I mean your underwear, homie.

I wish I could remember what I did with my memory
OK, I’m guilty. I don’t know how many times I get to work and wonder how I got there. This was funny in college when I was drinking and couldn’t figure out why I had someone’s shoes on in the morning or how I was now the owner of a 1991 Second Place Water Polo trophy, but now, sober, at 34? I’m sure this has nothing to do with having two kids under three and random sleeping and eating patterns. Ok, sorry, I lost my train of thought, what are we talking about?

I can’t listen to rap any more
I have a daughter. I have a 2 Live Crew CD. I have a daughter. I USED to have a 2 Live Crew CD.

Friday Night Lights…are out by 10:30
I used to think it was funny to watch my parents fall asleep watching TV as I was headed out for the evening. Wow, I joined the club a lot sooner than I thought I would.

I know the BRAT diet
Diarrhea used to be a great excuse to miss class, work, or any other event that outweighed the embarrassment for falsely telling someone you had the quick-step, Big D, or whatever you call it. Now the D word is something more serious, so serious the world created an acronym to alleviate the condition. And to think, the first time I heard it I thought it stood for Be Right At The-toliet.

So how has your life changed?


Did The Muppet Show & The Dukes of Hazzard Ruin a Generation?

"Just good ole' boys, never meaning no harm.  Beats all you ever saw.  Been in trouble with the law since the day they was born." 

If you were a child of the early 1980s, you instantly recognized that opening line to The Dukes of Hazzard's theme song, sung by the legendary Waylon Jennings.  Chances are that that show was a staple of your weekly television viewing when you were a kid.  Growing up in the South, like I did, it was pretty much mandatory The Dukes was your favorite TV show.  It taught us right from wrong, and that the good guy doesn't always wear the white hat (ie, Boss Hogg).

Another favorite from that same era is The Muppet Show.  Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the whole gang created by Jim Henson were the essence of childhood, right?  They're just like baseball, mom & apple pie - part of what makes America so great.

But they also taught us about drinking, shooting at people, fighting, blowing people up and loose women.  This point was brought up to me the other day by someone when I mentioned that I think my boys were at the age to really like watching The Dukes.  The show was on from 1979-1985 - my prime formative years, and I watched religiously every week.  Then as I was watching The Muppet Show on dvd with them the other day, I realized that it was no better than The Dukes.  Don't believe me?  Watch this clip from Season 1 of The Muppet Show:

See!  Drinking, blowing people up and loose women.  How many shots did Sandy Duncan do?!?  Like 8!  And let's remember that Bo & Luke were on probation for running shine.  How many fights did they get into and how many arrows did they shoot with TNT on the end of it?

So did these two pillars of childhood corrupt our generation?  Should I be too concerned about them not to show them to my boys?  I know my answer.  Share yours.