March 3, 2015
In 2002, when musician Warren Zevon was dying of cancer, he went on The David Letterman Show. Dave was a huge fan of Zevon’s (as was I) and asked him if dying this way offered any insight in to life. Warren simply said, “Enjoy every sandwich.” Warren Zevon passed away the following year, but his wit and wisdom and amazing songs live on without him.
Sometimes we need reminders of how fast life goes by. How did I live half a century in the blink of an eye? It seems like just yesterday that Cozy was just a little idea we had, now she’s a 6-month-old with her own sense of self. Where did the time go?
One of the most popular Dad Bloggers, Oren Miller, 41, lost his own battle with cancer this past weekend. His wonderful blog, A Blogger and A Father, chronicled the care he took with his three children and his wife. His family was the source of energy. After his diagnosis, he wrote, “Even if I die of this, I’ve lived heaven on earth.”
I’m just learning how big the Dad Blogger community is. Dad’s can often feel a bit marginalized in a mom-centric culture. But bloggers provided emotional support for Miller and his family through his sickness, and, after his passing on Saturday had #Dads4Oren trending on Twitter. It gave us a newbies a chance to get to know Oren and his dedication to fatherhood.
We are inherently tribal people. We look for wisdom from our elders. People who have been down the path before. This is never more true than in parenting. When Andrea was pregnant, people would say, “You probably don’t need any more advice, but…”
And I’d say, “No, bring it! I have no idea what works best. Please share your nuggets.” It’s like a secret parent club. I suppose it says something that I’ve had to find my dad tribe online in the blogosphere. When you realize how much our culture relegates fathers to the background, you think media is way behind the trend. (How many commercials feature dads making dinner or doing laundry?) According to Pew Research, the amount of stay-at-home dads climbed to 2 million in 2012.
Dad Bloggers currently have a campaign to get Amazon to change it’s Amazon Mom service to Amazon Family, with the hashtag #DadsAreParentsToo. Feminist Dorothy Smith argued that because of their social position, women have a valuable standpoint to view imbalances in the larger dynamic. Being a stay-at-home dad also gives you a standpoint and you can see the marginalization everywhere.
But back to Oren and the message I want to share. After Cozy was born and Andrea was in a hospital bed, recovering from her 3 day labor and marathon birthing, we were sequestered away in a small room at St. Vincent’s. I was both in love with my new daughter and overwhelmed how much this new kid could crap. And it was that meconium poop that is stickier than Napalm. I posted on Facebook, “I’ve just changed a shitload of diapers!”
Since then, I’ve seen a million dirty diapers and I have rocked them all. Some were explosions of diarrhea. Some she would pee in the middle of the change. I have put my nose to her butt and dipped fingers in, knowing full well what I would find. I’ve lost numerous Rochambeau games over whose turn it is. (As a writer, I always go with “paper.”) And I know I have many more to go.
Every one of those diaper changes is a moment with my daughter, just the two of us. We get to check in with each other. I can let her know that I’m still there to take care of her and she gets to show me how quickly she can now roll over. Why would I complain about that?
I guess this is a moment, in memory of Oren, while we are all still here, to take a moment and enjoy every sandwich and diaper (just not at the same time).
Here’s a good article about Oren: Facing cancer, and finding heaven on earth