Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Letter to Ann Romney

Dear Mrs. Romney,

I watched your speech on Tuesday. You were articulate, compassionate, and it was clear that you do have a deep and abiding love for your husband. So thank you for sharing that with us.

In the first part of your speech, you took some time to address the women in the audience, mothers more specifically. I understand your desire to connect with women, and it sounded as if they really appreciated your ability to empathize with their situation.

As a dad, however, I respectfully take issue with those comments. As a dad, I felt like a second-class citizen in your estimation. Does my wife work hard in our family to make it work? She definitely does. Does she sigh at the end of the day, relieved that everyone has survived another 24 hours. Oh, yes. She is a daughter, a mother, and a big sister, and performs all of those roles with an amazing amount of grace and love that shows me day in and day out why I am blessed to be married to her.

I strongly disagree with the insinuation that men do not work just as hard, do not care just as much, do not worry just as often that our families will be OK. We go to our jobs, blue-collar and white-collar alike, wishing we were respected more than we are. I say often that the most fragile thing in the world is the male ego. I see evidence of that everywhere I go. We fight for respect at work, and many of us then try our hardest to come home and play a significant role in our family, where society many times tells us we are inept.

Biblically, I believe that men are called to lead their households, which means that, ultimately, the buck stops with me. Consequently, it should be the men that hold this country together. Please don't hear me say that, in any way, I am a proponent of the archaic, "Women should be seen and not heard" mantra of decades ago. But I see that men have been given the responsibility to...lead, and I have had so many conversations with fathers, married men, and single men, who have to fight voices and paradigms like what I heard last night in order to even feel capable to accept that responsibility, much less take that challenge on.

I do believe that your intention was not to add the overwhelming undermining of men's roles that is already out there in society today. As you continue to refine that message, I would ask that you find a way to empower women without making light of the struggles that fathers face on a daily basis.

Chris Via

Did you watch her speech on Tuesday night? What were your thoughts on her message to moms and women?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm Ready for My Close-Up

Like a lot of families are doing, we did maternity shots and newborn shots with Caden, to document this transition in our lives. I'm including them for a couple of reasons. First, I love showing off my family. I know what you're thinking, "How did he land a stone cold fox like her???" I ask myself the same question all the time. My wife's genes obviously won out when my children were being knit together, which to me is more proof that there is, in fact, a God.

But I also wanted to give props to our amazing photographer, Tracy Aung. Click here to go to her website so that you can see some more of her phenomenal work. She was so great to work with and we highly recommend her!

Something interesting came up during our maternity shoot, however. During one of the shots that was just of my wife while I was occupying Caylah, Tracy commented to Christina that she was surprised that I wanted to be included in the day. Her experience has been that dads, typically, don't really participate in the photo shoot, if they even come at all.

Admittedly, my theatre background and my inborn "ham" nature definitely plays a role in my desire to be in front of a camera. The bigger piece, though, is that these are family pictures and I am the head of my family. Granted, it's my wife was the one carrying our babies for nine months, but these are our kids, and so it should be us involved in every stage of their lives, even something as seemingly insignificant as posing for a picture against a tree and smiling until every joint in your face begins to ache.

Now, I'm well aware that probably most dads don't look at a camera and instantly want to flash that million-dollar smile. Or maybe you're insecure from too many passed up hours at the gym. Or maybe you just aren't a picture guy. However, photo shoots fall under the same general lesson is taught over and over again in your life as a husband and a parent - it's not about you. It's important to your family. As I was talking to Tracy about all of this after the fact, she reminded me that "pictures bring back happy times, and if dad wasn't present both physically and emotionally, something would be missing!"

So say "cheese," dads, and smile because you're daring to be daddy!

You guys have any great photographer recommendations to share? We'd love to have 'em!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Dare to Dream??

I started dreaming again today.

I was sitting with a buddy of mine at breakfast, an impromptu one at that, and I started to talk about dreams I had. Now these aren't the kind of dreams where I find myself on stage without a clue what my lines are, or even the one where I win the $50 million Powerball jackpot. This was the kind of dream where I get stoked because it "scratches that itch," if you will. Where it connects with something deep down that only God could have planted there. Something that hits at the core of who God has called me to be, and what He could be calling me to do.

In the middle of that dream, however, other thoughts began to creep in. I'm a dad. I have a wife and two young kids that have very real needs, needs that don't get fed by dreams. As much as I wish I could take my dreams to the store and hand them to the kid at the end of the checkout belt, I don't think he'd be too apt to want to give me my groceries in exchange for dreams. The young lady at Gap Kids is really nice, but dreams aren't exactly an acceptable form of currency for her.

So for now I'm living in the tension. God has called me to be a father and a husband, and I believe, at this point in our lives, anyway, a provider for my family. Now, I don't think that this means that I have to put those dreams on the back burner, but this obviously looks differently now than it would have when I was single, or even without kids. To completely leave my wife and kids in the dust while I go out and do something, as cool as I think it is, is irresponsible, and not really honoring to the Lord. So therein lies the tension.

This isn't the end of this, however. I do believe that the Lord will bring this about somehow, in some way, in His own time. My role for now is to be faithful to what He has given me, while continuing to pursue what I believe He wants to give me.

I'd love to hear from some of you that have experienced or are experiencing that tension. How did you navigate it? What should I look out for?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Life of a Stay at Home Dad, Part 2

“So what do you do?” The all too common question concerning one’s profession. “I stay at home with my son.” My answer (and me for that matter) was dismissed with what could be described as a look of pity. Apparently, according to this guy, what I do each day is quite lame and not worth discussing. Exaggeration? Maybe. But his look surely wasn’t one of approval.

The Mr. Mom gig wasn’t planned. And considering my great disdain for emptying the dishwasher and folding laundry, I never really pictured myself in this position. Truth be told, all that kind of stuff isn’t exclusively my responsibility. My wife and I are the sharing type. But being home all day results in doing certain things more often than you’d like. No, I became a stay at home dad out of necessity. After losing my job and going back to school I was already the one at home when my wife gave birth to our son, Eoin (that’s Owen for all you non Irish). So naturally, it made sense. It’s a hard job, harder than I expected. But better as well.

Any mom or dad knows parenting is a battle of wills, requiring much patience and even a child’s perspective. My pride is repeatedly squished as I realize over and over again that I can’t yet reason with my 1 year old Tasmanian angel. You find yourself thinking he should understand all of what you’re saying, especially in those meltdown moments. I know he doesn’t yet get it but still I find the need to tell him to “calm down” countless times a day, foolishly expecting him to comply. Instead he gets crazier…throwing, banging, dancing, running, laughing in a tornado of activity that usually results in a giddy father son wrestling match on the floor. The problem is forgotten and I’m lost in the joy of playing with my boy, even if he continues to think eye-gouging is legal.

If he can’t understand my pleas for him to chill, he certainly knows how to communicate his needs and doing so almost always reminds me of the immediate importance of attention he requires. Not attention for food or those pesky dirty diapers but simply the need to be paid attention to. I’m the king of distracting myself. I’ve probably done it a hundred times while writing this and I do it with my son as well. Sometimes those meltdowns are because he wants me to read him a book, chase him around, or just sit with him and revel in the strangeness and coolness that is Yo Gabba Gabba. He just wants me there. And I don’t want to be anywhere else (most of the time).

I actually pity the guy who asked me that all too common question. I find it sad many have a narrow view of what fatherhood is or can be. Sure, being in this position makes you reevaluate your identity because it’s still not all that common of a place to be. But when I do ultimately return to the professional world I will miss Eoin and probably some of that craziness too. In numerous ways, he and I are the best of buddies. I never thought a little guy of 16 months could be that for me. Being around him so much during his brief life thus far has been a blessing and an experience many fathers and sons don’t get to have. I like to think both he and I will be better off because of it.

So what are your (if any) preconceived notions about stay at home dads or about being a stay at home dad? And what should I give my kid for lunch today? 

Patrick is a SAHD living in DC. You can connect with him at "" or just look for him doing an Irish jig with Eoin in the parks around our nation's capital.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Life of a Stay-at-Home Dad

Editor's note: This week I'm highlighting some dads that have a different kind of crucial role in their families. They're the ones who stay at home while their wives "bring home the bacon." These guys are not only greatly overlooked, but in many ways, as you'll see from these guys' stories, questioned for their choices. But these men have valuable things to share. I'm sure you'll agree...

“You are going to do what?!”  That is the typical reaction I received two years ago when my wife and I initially decided that she would continue working while I stayed home with our new baby boy.  The difference in our salaries was so large that it really wasn’t even worth discussing.  Within two months there I was alone with a newborn while my wife went off to work…. My friends thought I was crazy.  

People without children thought I had it made… watching TV, napping on the couch, snacking.  That’s what I do all day right?  As any stay-at-home mom can tell you… that is not quite right!  Basically what I have is a 6am-6pm job Monday-Friday.  With an active 2 year old (Brayden), a 7 month old (Noah) who is now creeping about and a massive pile of laundry and dishes… there is no time for any leisure dad-time.  Even during the luxurious 1:00 hour when both boys are sleeping at the same time and the couch is looking ever so comfortable, there is laundry to be finished, dishes to be washed, and a work out that needs to be completed so that I can actually keep up with my adventurous boys!

One interesting part of this set up has been the reactions of complete strangers to our living situation.  Without even asking for any opinions, typically both my wife and I get them.  Apparently I should feel pretty bad about “letting” my wife have the only job… she in turn should feel just awful that (as a mother) she leaves her small children each day.  Luckily for us, what we actually have is this amazing understanding and compassion about the other person’s rough day.  She knows how hard it is to stay at home and take care of two kids all day.  I know how hard it is to leave the house and go to work everyday.  Any venting on either side is always met with empathetic ears.  

Not that I don’t have my days!  Certainly the hardest part for me has been the lure of all of the electronic temptations floating about our house… from laptops, desktops, iPads, smart phones, and of course the TV, I am never at a loss if I would like to disengage and catch up on some scores.  What I have learned though is that when Brayden is given all of my attention, whether it is playing pretend in his tent, pushing cars with him outside, building towers upon towers of blocks, or just sitting next to him while he watches Disney and has a snack, he is the most compliant boy!  After spending all of Noah’s nap giving Brayden my undivided attention, he really has no trouble playing by himself while I attend to Noah’s needs.  He trusts that when I am finished, he will get his fill of dad’s time and love.  

With any 2 year old, we obviously have tantrums.  But for every bad day, we have at least 10 good days to follow.  Approximately 60% of this, I credit to my wife.  While most think of her as a fellow new mom of two, she actually is a Behavior Analyst with 14 years of experience dealing with everything new parents have to deal with on a daily basis!  She trains parents to help their children to decrease tantrums/hitting, learn how to talk, follow instructions the first time they are asked, and basically anything else you can think of!  The other 40% then, is me swallowing my pride and following her advice exactly.  I now have seen it in action with our boys so it is no longer even difficult to listen…. I follow her advice and the problem gets better instead of bigger.  

Although it has been said many times…. You really don’t get these early years back.  At 2 years old and 7 months old, I have to say that those boys are my best friends.  I wouldn’t trade in my job for anything and I feel blessed that we are able to raise our children this way… but we are definitely only having two!!!

Are you a stay-at-home dad (SAHD)? Have you ever thought about trying it?

John Yakich is a phenomenal SAHD who has turned their garage into an amazing playroom for their energetic boys. To connect with him, you can email him at ""

Thursday, August 9, 2012

One of the Best Storylines of All

As I was watching the Olympics last night, it seemed as if the theme of redemption was being weaved through most of events, especially on the track at Olympic Stadium. Allyson Felix finally won gold after only capturing silver in Athens and Beijing, and Brittany Reese jumped the farthest of any of her competitors in London after a heartbreaking fifth place finish in the long jump in Beijing. The U.S. women's soccer team is looking for redemption in their rematch with Japan in today's gold medal match, after a nail-biter of a loss in the World Cup finals last summer, and the examples go on and on.

I think we all like a good redemption story, don't we? "Rocky," "Braveheart," "Cinderella Man" are all good tales where the main character finds some sort of atonement near the end of the movie. And if your kids rule the DVD player, you can probably relate more to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Toy Story" for a redemptive theme. Regardless, there's something about us as humans where we seem to be rooting for the underdog, the one who has always had the chips stacked against him, and finally has the chance to redeem himself. We like hearing about and watching stories with that kind of happy ending.

Here's the thing about happy endings, though. They always come at the end. And that's the image that sticks with us - Sly Stallone winning at the end, Mel Gibson leading his men to victory, Woody getting back in the good graces of the rest of Andy's toys. The majority of the story focuses on the hardship and conflict that the main character has to endure, but we tend to forget that because it's not pleasant or fun, and we just want to skip to the end to see how it all turns out.

I fall into that same trap as well. I've had some hardships and conflict in my life as a husband and father, and I spend tons of time wishing I could just skip to the end of it, and just get to the redemptive part. I find myself chomping at the bit to get to the time when my daughter is through and done with the terrible twos, or I don't have to deal with such and such hardship anymore, and just get to the redemption at the end.

However, it's the hardship and conflict that ultimately brings my family closer together, not to mention brings me closer in the my relationship with the Lord. God is constantly working His redemptive purposes here on earth, but that means that He's got to work through a lot of shhhhtuff first in order to get there. And if Caylah were the perfect child (dare to dream!), I know we wouldn't be nearly as close as we can be if our family figures out how to navigate through conflict and hardship well together.

So, as uncomfortable as the hardships are, I need to continue to remind myself to press into them and make sure I'm learning everything I can from them. The Lord always has lessons to teach in the midst of those times, and I need to be careful not to look past them so that I can just get to the happy ending. Because as sweet as the redemption is, they aren't nearly as valuable without the hardships that have come before them.

Not to mention all of the great stories Caylah's future boyfriends will get to hear about her temper tantrums...

What are some of your favorite redemptive stories?
What are some things you've learned that help you get through the hardships as a dad?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dads at the Olympics

I love watching the Olympics.

I love the drama, the intrigue, the twists, the turns - and that's just the social media response to NBC's handling of the Games!

And maybe it's because I'm always on the lookout for content for this blog, but I've become highly aware of the role that dads are playing in London during these two weeks.

Here are some of my favorite "dad spots" so far from this year's Games:

Dick Franklin: Missy Franklin is only 17 and swimming at her very first Olympics. However, her medal haul (4 golds, 1 bronze) belies both of those things. Then, when you see the video of her reunited with her parents, you are reminded that she isn't too old to need her mommy and daddy. I love seeing her dad go crazy for her in the stands.

Rick Raisman: We've all probably seen the video of Rick and his wife, Lynn, practically performing their daughter Aly's performance on the uneven bars for the team gymnastics competition...from the stands. While some have questioned whether this is the best example of healthy parenting, I know I do my fair share of "body english" while watching these events, and my only connection to Aly Raisman is that we live in the same country. My favorite part of that clip is Rick's release of stress by letting out a barbaric yawp (every good post has at least one "Dead Poets' Society" reference) at the camera at the end. I can totally see me doing the same thing as a father.

Bert le Clos: This guy is far and away my favorite dad of the Olympics. His son, Chad, stunned the crowd at the Aquatic Center last week when he beat Michael Phelps (his idol, by his own admission) in the 200m butterfly. I didn't come across many South African men, especially one from a rural setting like Bert, that were emotional about anything. But this guy kept gushing about how proud he was of his son. In an interview right after the race, he praised his son's work ethic, and said, "He's the most beautiful boy you could ever meet. Look at him he is crying like me. I love you." Baie lekker, bru!

What have been some of your favorite "dad spots" from London?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Me I Might Have Been...

I came across this comic in my Sunday paper on Father's Day of last year. Every comic that day had some sort of focus on dads, but this one caught my eye because of the last part of Heart's entry. I'll admit, I got a little misty-eyed as the ramifications of that statement hit me - "the me I might have been."

I cut that strip out of the paper, and it now hangs just inside my office door, so that I see it every time I head out of work to go home to my family.

Dads, please don't ever forget the impact that you can have on your family. They are always better with you than without you.

What type of signs or mementos do you have to help you remember the importance of your role?