Six Lessons from My First Six Months as a Parent

Rob Pollak blog on parenting

It’s been almost six months since Owen was born, and in that time, I’ve learned a lot about the world.  Lucky for you, I have a blog, so I can happily share these life lessons with you. To keep things simple, I have decided to leave out the obvious lessons, like “You won’t need an alarm clock anymore” or “Golf is something you used to do, Rob” or “use a wipe, not your hand” or “moms lose baby weight; dads find it.”  You know these things!

Lesson 1:  The minutes are long, but the months and years are short

At every first birthday party, the parents stand up and say, “Wow, this year really flew by.”  I’m sure that I will give that obligatory speech when my son hits one year.  But what does it really mean for time to fly by?  There are times when I look at my son and think, “Holy shit, he’s a little person.  It seems like just yesterday that I was getting weekly email updates from babycenter.com describing his size as about that of a kernel of corn.  So in some ways, yes, the time flies by.  But sometimes I am equally shocked about how long certain moments feel.  Like I bet you didn’t know that when a baby screams in your ear, you can sing the same verse of twinkle twinkle 14,221 times without the minute hand on the clock moving even once.  Then after giving it all you got and check to see if the baby’s asleep, you look down and see this looking up at you:

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I can sometimes hear him saying, “Nice try, dude.”  When the year is done and it feels as if it flew by, don’t forget about how excruciating some of those individual moments were.  There’s practically a life time in there.  Take one of those long moments to reward yourself for a job well done.  You (I) deserve it!

Lesson 2:  Holding a baby is an amazing lower back workout

There is probably some medical reason why it’s bad to arch your back just so in order to support the full weight of a small human being on your chest  But for now, I’m sticking with it.  In fact, there are a number of ways that a small child can be used like a medicine ball or kettle bell.  I’ll leave it up to you to decide which exercises lend themselves to the child as medicine ball approach, but here’s where I come out:

YES:

NO:

YES (Anne wants me to make it explicitly clear that she says this is clearly a no):

NO:

Maybe:

Definitely NO:

Lesson 3:  If you’re going to use Habanero Tabasco Sauce, wash your hands before you put your contact lenses in your eyes.

This one has nothing to do with parenting, but it’s a valuable lesson nonetheless.  You would also think that it’s the kind of lesson I’d only need to learn once.  Not so!  I once read that it takes 21 times to create a habit.  So let’s just say that I’m well on my way to making washing my hands after Tobasco a lifelong habit.  About 1/7th of the way there to be exact.

Lesson 4:  Getting out of changing a diaper is an art.

Getting out of changing a diaper is a subtle skill, and I am lucky to be married to a beautiful, kind, caring, considerate, intelligent, gracious, tolerant woman who has mastered it.

Here is Anne preparing to diaper bomb me.

Here is Anne preparing to diaper bomb me.

Now don’t get me wrong, Anne changes a shitload of diapers.  Literally.  (Get it?) (Because the diapers are sometimes filled with shit) (You get it) (It was bad.  I know).  But, she still manages to be an expert at the diaper bomb, i.e., handing a fully loaded baby over to get out of changing the diaper, but couching it in terms of love, with some sweet saying like, “Ohhhh, do you want to do some daddy hugs??” which makes me feel so great!  Well played, Anne.  Well played.

How to tell if that diaper is dirty from rob pollak, robcomplains.com

[A brief note to my female readers:  Please refrain from your inevitable comments about breast feeding, giving birth, the physical demands of pregnancy, blah blah blah.  I get it.  Anne does not deserve to be the butt of my jokes.  Well, she can get her own blog, damnit.  Because when she hands me our child in the name of love, but actually intended for me to have to touch shit with my bare hands, then I get to blog about that.  Also, this never happened.  Most of you know that, I'm sure.  Anne is a saint.  (But just to be conservative, I just purchased Annecomplains.com and AnneComplainsAboutRob.com.  Suck it, Anne!!]

Lesson 5:  When it comes to parenting, most people are completely insane.

The other day a friend posted an article on facebook about rear facing car seats.  First of all, who cares what other people do?  Second of all, I freaking read the article and all the comments.  Third of all, the comments were the most amazing thing I’ve read in my life.  Here’s a summary of the comments:

Person 1:  A friend of mine recently switched the seat to front facing because her daughter was screaming so much that it caused her to get in 250 accidents.  When we switched to forward facing, she never had an accident again and the kid went on to the Nobel Prize for Car Seat Safety.  Do you think this is okay?

Person 2:  @P1 – If your kid is less than 15 and is facing forward, you are a terrible person.  I hope you rot in hell.

Person 1:  @P2 – Oh really?  Well you can’t argue with results and my friend’s Nobel Laureate daughter is so much safer now.

Person 2:  @P1 – She might be safe now, but if you hit a pothole, her head will probably pop off.  #RearCarSeats4Life #YouMurderousBitch

Person 1:  @P2 – You probably realized it by now, but my friend is really me.  I lied to you because I was embarrassed.  Sorry I lied on the Internet.

Person 2:  @P1 – I am calling child protective services.  You’re a whore.

Person 1:  @P2 – I hope your kid can sit forward facing in High School, assface.

Let’s put this in some perspective.  When people argue about child rearing on the Internet, logic goes out the window.  It’s completely acceptable to use the small sample size of 1 child as a valid defense to an argument.  If someone says, “it’s bad to give an infant alcohol,” another person thinks it’s okay to respond with, “yeah, but we gave my son a little vodka in his bottle every day until he was 3 and he became a neurosurgeon.”  Just because it worked for A kid, doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do.  As Wayne Campbell once said upon receiving a gun rack for his birthday, “I don’t even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack.”

Seriously, go read the comments.  I am obsessed:  http://csftl.org/rear-facing-car-seat-myths-busted/

Lesson 6:  Blogging is Hard with a Kid.  When in Doubt, Just Show Pictures.

I’m trying my best!

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The post is over, how does that make us feel?IMG_1630

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Loyal Blog Readers: Please Help Me Get Less Fat.

Happy New Year!!  Like the start of every other new year dating back to 2001, 2014 began with me making irrational commitments that I am unlikely to keep.  This year, I resolved to blog every week, to eat healthy, to be a more positive person, to get back into shape and to once and for all stop asking for things from other people.

What’s that you say?  “But, Rob.  You’ve never asked for anything from us before, and I love your blog so much that I would be willing to do anything to get you to write more or get back into shape.  And I do mean anything.”

Wow, you’re kind of a dirtbag, random internet reader, aren’t you?  It appears that we are on the same page, and because I’ve never asked you for anything before (other than your unfailing loyalty, an occasional facebook share or retweet, parenting advice, and money) now seems like a perfect time to hit you up for even more money!

http://www.crowdrise.com/freshairfundnychalf2014/fundraiser/robpollak (Pretty much click any link on my blog for more info.)

Before I get to the nitty-gritty details of just what I need from you, here’s a quick update on the end of 2013 (none of which should be to surprising if you a) have the internet, b) have a phone, c) know me personally, d) are the NSA, or d) stalk me and my family in some other way :  Anne and I welcomed our son Owen into the world on August 14th:

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Much like Owen, who has been growing steadily since August, my waist line (not pictured above) has been climbing its way up the growth chart.   That’s why I need your help!

Weight v Time

In an effort to reclaim what I once had – a perfect greek statuesque physique – I have committed to the NYC Half Marathon in the name of charity.  (Click here to donate!!)

Now, you may recall that I have made bold commitments like this in the past.  Three times I registered for the NYC marathon, and three times I failed to run further than 3 miles while training.  In each of those failed attempts, something was missing:  Outside forces to make me feel shame and guilt if I fail in my challenge.

If you hadn’t let me down so badly in those past efforts, here’s what I might have looked like crossing the finish line of the famed NYC Marathon:

Inline image 4Instead, I made it through about 1/30th of my training schedule, and most of those efforts looked very very sad.  Like this:

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So in the name of charity, I am inviting you to be the physical embodiment of my shame.  Your heckling and jeering during training should push me to the finish line.  Because I know it will be nothing compared to the heckling you will spew upon me should I fail.

Picture it:  Every morning when I wake up at 6 am to brave the elements and log my miles, I will be thinking of you.  I will be counting my blessings that you were generous enough to give a little bit (a lot) of your hard-earned cash to me.

I mean, what could I possibly doing at 6 am other than going out for a run on a 9 degree day?  Not sleeping, of course.  It’s impossible to sleep with an infant at 6 am.

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So thanks so much!  (you dick…)

As always, each donation will earn you a valuable gift that I may or may not follow through on.  (Probably not if we’re being honest with each other).  In the spirit of the Olympics, you can achieve three levels:

Bronze Donor

- All donors who contribute any amount above $0 will receive a Rob Complains autographed drawing.  It will look something like this (autographed not pictured to maintain claims of authenticity):

Rob FAF

(That’s a door not a penis on the building, you sicko)

Silver Donor ($50 or more)

You will receive the entire bronze package PLUS:

- A phone call (or email if you’re scared to give me your digits) from me directly thanking you for your efforts.  I will not be offended if you send me straight to voicemail, but I won’t try to call back.  So, if you don’t answer, that’s really a win-win for everyone.

Platinum Donor (Contribute $100 or more)

You will receive the entire silver and bronze package PLUS:

- You may select the topic for one blog post that will appear on robcomplains.com within 4 weeks of your donation.

Holy S**t Donor Level (Contribute $500 or more)

- Wow.  Just tell me what you want from me.  It’s yours.

Welp, that’s all I’ve got to say.  I guess I should mention that I’m running on behalf of the Fresh Air Fund, an organization that does good things for people.

And in case you missed the 17,000 links posted about, here’s one more link to where you can donate:

http://www.crowdrise.com/freshairfundnychalf2014/fundraiser/robpollak

An interview with a dad: Me!

On August 14 at 6:07 a.m., my golf career officially came to an end. That’s when Anne and I welcomed our son, Owen Michael, into the world.

For the nine months leading up to that momentous occasion, I ended every night by whispering into Anne’s belly. “I can’t wait to meet you,” I’d say. “But please, oh please, pretty please, don’t come on August 14th. That’s the day when daddy gets to play a really nice golf course.”

Kids. You know? They never listen. 1 week ago, I didn’t think anything in the world could be better than playing a beautiful exclusive country club for free on a cool summer morning. (sorry Anne). But then I saw this for the first time:

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And in that one moment, when I looked into my son’s eyes for the first time, I could feel my life changing forever. I felt a sense of purpose, of pride, of protection, of parenthood. And then, I had the most amazing realization: If I hurried, I could still make my tee time.

EXCLUSIVE: My First Interview

To commemorate the birth of my first child, a masculine child, I’m bringing back my “Interview with a Dad” series to answer all your pressing questions. My first subject, Ryan, is back. But this time, he’s the one asking the questions. Here’s what Ryan had to say for himself.

Ryan: Congratulations, Rob! I’m so happy for you.

Rob: I wrote that part.

Ryan: I know, but the rest will be the things that I really asked you. So let’s get to the questions.

Rob: Fine.

Ryan: Biggest surprise so far?

Rob: I never thought anything in the world could prevent me from responding to emails at the precise moment I received them. Even if someone were to chop off my hands, I could just get one of those straw microphones to dictate my responses. So I was quite surprised that having a new baby somehow prevented me from responding.

I was also surprised by how much my kid sucks, and even moreso by the power of his sucking. One of the books we have suggested that the dad put his finger in the kid’s mouth to soothe him when he cries. I tried that, and the next thing I knew, I was pulling my shoulder out of his throat.

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Actually, there was one other thing that was the quite surprising. After the onset of labor, when I was blitzing through the house grabbing every last thing we could ever need, Anne decided that she should take a quick shower and blow dry her hair. I was in full on panic mode, and Anne decided to clean herself up and make herself beautiful for the hospital. At least it worked – her hair looked fucking amazing until a little but of her vomit got caught in it.

Ryan: One thing that happened from the water breaking to the birth that you wish you could take back?

Rob: Nothing. But I imagine that I’ll say something in this blog post that I’ll need to take back. Maybe the vomit comment. Or the sucking thing. She’ll probably think I mean that he sucks, like “Man, what a jerk. That guy totally sucks.” When what I really meant was :

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Ryan: What’s the meanest thing Anne said to you during that same period?

Rob: I’ve spent the last three hours thinking of a good response to this question. And believe me, I love taking shots at Anne. But she was amazing throughout the whole process. I mean, I guess if I had to pick something that was kind of mean, it would be the moment when she said, “Rob, I wish I never married you. I hate you and I hate your face and I hope that you burn in the pits of hell for ever and ever. Oh, and I hope that when you arrive in hell, you find this waiting for you:”

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Ryan: Did you cry at any point during that?

Rob: No. You did a great job of preparing me for what to expect during labor. I’m basically a pro at this parenting thing:

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Ryan: On a scale of Jodie saying yes to going to the junior prom to getting your socks wet on a log flume, how excited were you to see balls?

Rob: Good idea to reference two things that no one who reads my blog will understand. For the uninformed, I went to the junior prom with Ryan’s now wife. She loved me at the time. I also once got my socks wet at Great Adventure. I was pissed because my moron friends thought it would be a good idea to ride the log flume at the end of the day. I told them, right off the bat, that it would be stupid to ride the log flume because then we would be wet for the whole ride home. No one likes being wet and cold, including my son, who cries every time he has a cold wet diaper. That’s my boy!

So to answer your question, I was very excited to see the balls. I was especially happy when the doctor said, “it’s definitely a boy.” One of my biggest fears about not finding out was that the data would be inconclusive at the time of birth.

Ryan: What’s the first thing you said to Owen?

Rob: Wow, I wish I remembered this. I think I said, “Hi Owen! You have daddy’s hair!”

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Ryan: have you been mad at him yet?

Rob: I mean, he did make me miss that tee time. Also, every day when I get home, we go through the same routine. I hold him for a few minutes and we have a blissful moment of love. Then he pees on my shirt. Then I change him. Then he immediately pees again. Then I change him. Then he starts crying. I sway and make idiotic noises to soothe him, but nothing works. Then he shits on me. Then I change him. Then I finally sit down and he gets this big smile on his face. I’m pretty sure it’s his way of saying, “that was fun, right pop?” Then he shits on me again. Then I change him. Then I hand him to Anne and he doesn’t go to the bathroom again until she hands him back to me. It’s not that I’m mad at him, but I know he’s doing it just to fuck with me.

Ryan: Has he been mad at you?

Rob: I think I crushed one of his balls once when I was changing his diaper. He didn’t like that very much.

Ryan: What’s the best thing about him so far?

Rob: When he falls asleep on my chest and snuggles in extra close while we watch golf together.

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Ryan: what’s the worst?

Rob: That he can’t talk yet. The hardest thing so far is that I know he’s trying to communicate with me, but I don’t understand. Just try to imagine how mad Anne would get if we had this conversation:

Anne: Rob, I’m cold. Can you please turn the AC off.

Rob: Um…. Do you want to take your sweater off?

Anne: No, I’m cold. Please turn the AC off.

Rob: Milk? Do you want some milk? If so, I’ll go get your mom and have her bring it to you.

Anne: Is it fucking cold in here, or is it just me?

Rob: [sticks finger in her mouth] Is that what you want?

Anne: The AC. Off. Turn it off now.

Rob: [smells Anne's ass] Did you poop?

Anne: This is really pissing me off.

Rob: [pulls Anne's underwear aside and peeks] Any pee in there?

Anne: if you don’t turn the AC off right now, I will murder you.

Rob: Let me get your mom. I think it’s her turn.

Anne: I don’t want my mom! I’m just cold, you asshole.

[Anne takes the baby, Rob walks out of the room decides its cold, turns the AC off because he's cold]

Anne: Thank you.

Rob: See, I knew you just wanted your mom.

That’s what it’s like when Owen cries. I have no clue what he wants, but I know he’s trying to tell me. It’s so stressful to not be able to give him exactly what he wants at that exact moment to make the crying stop.

Ryan: What’s the nicest thing someone said to you after the birth?

Rob: “He looks just like Anne.”

Ryan: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten since the birth?

Rob: “Whatever you do, don’t blog about your child. Respect his privacy and let him decide on his own whether his images or stories should enter into the public domain.”

Ryan: Did you stay in the north end zone?

Rob: Nope. I saw everything. The hospital didn’t do much in the way of delineating the end zones. I didn’t have much choice in the matter. And, frankly, I’m glad I got to witness everything. It’s unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I have a whole new love and respect for Anne, and think I’m not forbidden from ever getting mad at her again. When the delivery was finished, Anne said to the doctor, “things really seemed to get easier when you started sawing me open.” As a witness to everything, I can assure you there was no saw.

I feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be married to such an amazing woman. One who can endure 16 hours of pain, stress, and sawing, deliver the most amazing baby of all time, and remain so god damn beautiful throughout. I think all women can learn a valuable lesson from this: Even when you’re in the throes of labor, there’s always time for a quick blowout.

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My irrational fears about imminent parenthood

I haven’t written in a while because I am consumed with irrational fears about parenthood.  For instance, every day for the last 18 days, I have started the day by asking Anne if she’s in labor.  She never is.

Anne promises that she’ll tell me as soon as she knows, but I’m worried that she’ll keep it to herself for a few minutes because she’s not sure if it’s really happening.  Then, during those minutes, the baby will come out, and grow up, learn the violin, go off to college, get an amazing job, win the masters, become disgustingly rich, and not give me any of the money because I missed it all.  If Anne just had the decency to tell me that she was in labor, then I’d be driving a Benz right now.

See what I mean?  Totally irrational (but kind of legitimate, right?).  Also, as I played out that scenario in my head, I totally pictured the kid as a girl.  Does that mean it’s a girl?  That’s not a super scientific way of figuring out gender, but is it accurate?  60% of the baby pool responses say no.

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While I’m at it, here’s a summary of the responses:

Birthdate:  Responses ranged from 8/3/13 (gasp!) to 9/1/13 (Insert Anne gasp here).  The most popular response was 8/20/13, two days late.

Baby weight:  Responses ranged from 6 lbs 7 oz to 9 lbs 8oz., submitted by Kerry.  Kerry, you obviously studied my baby pictures, but Anne thinks you’re a god damn motherfucking bitch right now.  Ryan’s response of >19 lbs is disqualified for public health and safety reasons.

Will Rob pass out?  More than 50% of responses say “no.”  Love you guys.

You all think that I will maintain a healthy weight at the time of birth.  Except for a few readers, who shall remain nameless.  Like Robert Harms, the prick who said I would weight 201.4 lbs at birth and that dickhead, Ryan, who thinks I’ll balloon up to 265.

To no one’s surprise, way more of you like Anne better than you like me.  Why don’t you follow her blog then?  Exactly.  Because she doesn’t have one.  If she did, I’d like it more than this one too.  Anne’s the best.

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And finally, here are some of the best responses to the “Please use this space to provide any well wishes or parenting advice.”

“I hope your kid has massive balls, but only if it’s a boy.”  – Guess who.

“You’ll be a great, overbearing and lovably obsessive father. Your child will grow up with numerous complexes created by you.”

“Don’t read a newspaper or write your blog whilst Anne is actually in labour.”  I’m just including this one because of whilst.  What a stupid word.

“Rob: Reminders: Good tempo, slow take away, head down, stay on plane and finish your swing. Wait, what was this about again? Good luck Anne!”  – Someone who gets me.

“I don’t have kids, but my cat is ‘kind of’ a kid. I guess my advice is, keep it off the back of the sofa and teach it where to poop as early as possible.”  – Weird cat lady.

“Your humor makes the work day bearable.” – Probably my “test” submission.

“Rob – Don’t be a jackass! Anne – You are awesome! ” – Anne’s dad.

“And just so you know, I like Anne better because something tells me she is tougher about this whole situation than you.”  – Typical reader of my blog.

” Rob, don’t be a douche.”

“This poor, poor (Lucky!) child.”

“if you do the exact opposite of my parents, I may be able to guar.an.tee your kid will be at least 14 before smoking pot”

Those were actually real responses, not like the edited responses I gave in all of the interview with a parent blogs.  It’s nothing compared to your pictures of how you think the baby will look:

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Anyway, here are the things that are really freaking me out right now:

1 – I haven’t figured out how to install the car seat, nor do I believe that it’s something that’s possible to figure out.
2 – I haven’t assembled the crib or any other furniture in the nursery.
3 – I don’t know how to change a diaper.
4 – I am a little behind on sleep and keep thinking I’ll catch up on the weekend, but then I remember 100 things I forgot to do last weekend.
5 – I want to play a few more rounds of golf, which I do every weekend when I”m supposed to be doing all that other stuff.
6 – I’m scared of the animalistic sounds anne might make in the hospital.  Special thanks to the reader that shared this terrifying video of what it’s going to be like:
7 – I’m scared of hospitals
8 – I dislike spit up tremendously
9 – I think the kid might look like me
10 – I think the kid might not look like me
11 – I think I might fuck up the spelling of the name, like the parents of baseball player jhonny peralta
12 – Anne and I moved into a new home and now I am obsessed with HGTV and I’m worried that Pinterest will be next.  What do you think of these drapes, by the way?
Modern interior. 3D render. Living-room. Exclusive design.