I Won An Award!

Jerry Mahoney, Mommy ManI’m very excited about winning this award, because I didn’t even know I was up for this award — or, in fact, that the award even existed. So if I hadn’t won, I wouldn’t have been bummed out and felt like a loser.

Isn’t that a wonderful way to give out awards? Maybe the Oscars should look into it. Then they wouldn’t have that awkward five-way split screen of the nominees’ faces, where four of them would have to pretend to be good sports when the winner was announced. There wouldn’t be any campaigning or speeches where people thank people we’ve never heard of until the orchestra drowns them out. In fact, we could just skip that bloated ceremony everyone complains about the next day altogether.

The President of the Academy could just walk around with a duffel bag full of Oscars and walk up to people. “Psst! Eddie Redmayne! Catch!”

What was I talking about? Oh, right. The award I won. It was the Gold Medal in Personal Essays from the Parenting Media Association for a piece I wrote in NY Metro Parents magazine last summer. The best part is that, in bestowing the honor, they said some really nice things about what I wrote:

“The anxieties and uncertainties of parenthood are magnified when a gay dad is raising a young daughter. In a whimsical piece, this writer confronts and processes the various dimensions of being a father in a new kind of environment. Beneath the playfulness lies fierce self-doubt, which he measures against his little girl’s complete acceptance. This is a successful meeting of candor and humility.”

I’m really grateful to the Parenting Media Association and to NY Metro Parents for publishing the essay in the first place. (Don’t worry. This is not an acceptance speech.) The best part is knowing that it’ll get more people to read the article. I swear, that’s why I’m engaging in this blatant self-horn-tooting, to promote a piece I’m really proud of.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can check it out here. And if you want to give me any awards for it, kindly sneak up on me when I’m least expecting it. I love that.

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In other news, we’re only 3 1/2 weeks away from the Press Publish Portland Conference, at which I’ll be a featured speaker. If you’ve been on the fence about going, wait no more! WordPress is offering a 40% discount (!) for readers of this blog. Just enter the code SUPERDAD40 on the registration page. Remember that attendance comes with a 1-year subscription to the WordPress premium upgrade, a $99 value! (With that coupon code, you’ll actually be coming out ahead, but don’t tell WordPress I told you that.)

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Can’t make it to Portland? Then maybe it’s time you pick up a copy of Mommy Man: How I Went From Mild-Mannered Geek to Gay Superdad, from award-winning writer Jerry Mahoney. Do it for me, or do it for the adorable little girl in the picture above who thinks her dad is a big-shot author. Aw, kids are so sweet.

Holy Wow! I’m on the Babble 100!

Babble-100-Logo2There is very little reward that comes with blogging. I’m certainly not earning any money off this site. Yes, it’s a great place to promote my upcoming book, which you can preorder at the sites listed here, but come on. If I were really on the ball, I’d have a big ad for my book on my home page. Gotta get on that.

Are you new here? Why not order a copy of this! It's just as good as anything on this site, but not free!

Are you new here? Why not order a copy of this! It’s all-new content. It’s just as good as anything on this site, but you get to pay to read it!

For the most part, I write these posts for the comments, likes, follows, reposts and whatever other forms of cyber-attention I can get.

And then there are lists.

Lists have never been good to me. I can’t remember any lists of good things that I’ve ever been on, but I sure do remember all the lists I’ve been left off, which is pretty much every list, ever. Lists bring out the worst in me. It’s hard to see a list I didn’t make the cut for and not go, “Really? She made it?!” “Oh, come on, in what world is that blog better than MINE?”

I know. I’m not proud.

Well, I have some good news: for once, I don’t have to be petty and jerkish about other people’s success. I made a list! A really big, influential list. A list that’s surely on the list of the top lists of its kind.

Yes, I’m on this year’s Babble 100.

Hoping my new "in" with the Disney corporation will allow me to get away with using this copyrighted image.

Hoping my new “in” with the Disney corporation will allow me to get away with using this copyrighted image.

100 blogs from all over the internet, and I made the cut. Specifically, I made the humor category. Babble, if you didn’t know, is owned by Disney, which means I’m kind of like the Olaf of this group. (If you haven’t seen Frozen yet, you really have to… and not just because it was made by the wonderful Disney corporation, which owns Babble.)

Seriously, I love Babble.

Not just now, and not just for this. I love Babble. I trust Babble. I read Babble. Their list is full of wonderful blogs that I really enjoy. And now it turns out that Babble likes me, they really like me! I feel good.

And guilty.

Now, I look at the list and think, “Wait a second. How did he not make the list?!” “They can’t possibly think I’m funnier than her, can they?!”

I am incredibly flattered. I am incredibly grateful to Babble. I am ridiculously excited about all the new people who will discover my blog and hopefully like, follow, comment and repost me as a result.

Lists can never be perfect, but I’ll say this: It’s better to be on one than off it.

If you found this blog through Babble, then welcome. That scroll bar of featured posts at the top of the page is a good place to start, as is my Best O’Blog page, which lists most of the same stuff.

If you’ve been reading this site for a while, then you’re already on my list of awesome people. Maybe you can stop by Babble and thank them for making me feel good about all the time I spend neglecting my children so I can write these blog posts.

And while you’re there, stick around and read some of their other stuff. Have I mentioned how much I love Babble?

Shameless Boasts of a Superdad: My Kids Sleep 15 Hours a Day

Now that I’m confessing my worst sins as a father, it’s only fair that I balance that out by patting myself on the back from time to time.  Thus, I introduce my counterpoint column to Confessions of a Bad Dad, Shameless Boasts of a Superdad (me).

One thing my kids have always been good at is sleeping.  They could sleep through the night at four months old.  No midnight bottle, no crying, just blissful uninterrupted sleep from 9pm until 7am.  Both of them.

These days, it’s more like 8pm until 8am.  A nice 12-hour break for Daddy.  For more than half the day, it’s almost as if I didn’t have kids at all.

That’s not even counting their daily nap.  Until they were 18 months old, they took two naps a day, each about two hours long.  Since then, they’ve dropped the morning nap, but I can count on them sleeping reliably from 1-3pm every day.  Sometimes they’ll sleep for three hours.  A couple of times, they’ve gone for four.

I know the odds of getting even one baby who sleeps that well are pretty long, but somehow Drew and I hit the jackpot.

Go ahead.  Hate me.  You won’t be the first.  My kids’ sleep habits have made parenting astronomically much easier and less exhausting than it has any right to be.

When they’re sleeping, I eat lunch, sneak snacks I don’t want them to know I eat, write blog posts, watch last night’s “Daily Show”, pay bills, straighten up and, most importantly, take my own naps.

How did I get my kids to sleep so well?  I’m not sure.  I probably didn’t even do anything.  I just lucked out with two amazing kids.  Or maybe I’m a supergenius.  You decide.

All I can do is tell you my approach to sleeping and let you figure it out from there.

1. Yes, I’m going to tell you to Ferberize.  Yeah, I know, what a news flash.  Feberizing works.  You want your kid to sleep through the night?  Ferberize.

I’ve heard people tell me that Ferberizing didn’t work for them, but when I’ve pressed them for details, the story is always the same: they didn’t follow through.

Let me be clear: Ferberizing is absolute agony.  It goes against every instinct you have as a parent.  It feels cruel and selfish, like you’re torturing a poor, confused baby so you won’t have to get up five times a night.  But the worst thing you can do is to kinda Ferberize.  If you let your kid cry for an hour and then cave in and pick her up, then you just taught her she needs to cry for an hour to get your attention.  And from now on, that’s what she’ll do.

It’s all or nothing when it comes to Ferberizing.  But if you go all in, the benefits extend far beyond your baby’s sleep habits.

The best part of that awful night of a thousand screams is what happens the following morning.  Your kid is just as happy to see you as ever, just as sweet and loving as they were before that evening of unspeakable torment.

They’ve forgiven you.

They probably weren’t even mad in the first place.  And now they know more than ever that they can rely on you.  Just because you don’t respond to their cries, it doesn’t mean you’ve abandoned them or stopped loving them.  They know they can soothe themselves to sleep, and tomorrow their parents will still be there to love them.

In that respect, I truly believe that Ferberizing has set up a parent/child dynamic that has paid off to this day.

2. Have a routine.  I called a potential babysitter recently for a phone interview.  It was 9pm, and I could hear her 2-year-old in the background.  He was helping her bake cookies.  I didn’t hire her.

Don’t people want their kids to sleep?  Why are you engaging your child in stimulating activities at an hour when you could be sipping wine and watching Revenge?  (Full disclosure: in my case, it’s Pepsi and The Good Wife.)

We start winding our kids down at 7pm, when Daddy gets home from work.  A bath, some bedtime stories, a couple of YouTube videos, then finally, they get into their cribs…

… where the routine continues.  We recap our day, share our favorite memories, then read Goodnight Moon, turn off the turtle that projects stars onto the ceiling, give hugs and kisses, then we say good night.

By then, they’re so worn out from the bedtime ritual, they rarely make a peep.

3. Babies belong in prison.  We resisted tenting the kids’ cribs.  It seemed like we’d be imprisoning them.  Then we realized cribs are already prisons.  And don’t most prisons have a roof?

We caved on the crib tents after one agonizing night when Sutton realized she could climb out and run around in her room.  We must’ve gone back into the room and put her back in the crib 25 times before she finally fell asleep.  After that, the baby jail seemed like a great idea.

Not our kid, but they really do get this happy in their cribs.

To our amazement, the kids actually loved the crib tents.  They were excited to get in and try them out.  It felt like a bounce house inside.  It was also a step forward, a sign they were growing up.  They felt like they’d graduated to something for bigger kids.

The zipper recently broke on Sutton’s crib tent, and she’s inconsolable.  She doesn’t feel safe unless she’s zipped securely in her crib tent at night.

4. Kids go in kids’ beds; parents in parents’ beds.

I’m always shocked when people tell me their kids sleep in their bed with them because that’s the only way they’ll go to sleep.  Sure, they’re that way… because you let them get away with it.

Call me crazy, but if you’re letting a two-year-old establish a policy that affects your entire household, something’s wrong.  Don’t you want a break from your kids every night?  Don’t you want privacy when you go to bed?  You have to be hard-core with your kids.  Don’t let them sleep in your bed – ever – or you’ll never get them out.

It’s no different than if you fed them a bowl of M&Ms and whipped cream for every meal, then said, “Well, it’s the only way he’ll eat.”  Oh, God.  People probably do that, don’t they?

Lay down the law and be firm: “We paid a lot of money for those Thomas the Tank Engine sheets, kid.  Use ’em!”

If it helps, make their bed somewhere special for them, somewhere they want to go.  Let them pick out a blanket with their favorite Disney character on it.  Let them take their favorite stuffed animal to sleep.  (No toys, though.  Beds need to be a place of rest.  Not a place to play.)

And when your kid cries and screams and begs to come to bed with you, say no.  No, no, no, no, no.  If you have toddlers, you undoubtedly hear that word a lot from them.  Well, it’s good to throw it back at them once in a while.  “You want to come to bed with me?  No!”

If your kid is used to sleeping with you, you’re going to have a tough time breaking them of that habit.  I’m sure you’re in for a few hellish nights, but I can guarantee this – once you get them to sleep regularly in their own bed, it’ll be worth it.  They’ll sleep better, and so will you.

Now that I’ve been at this a while, I feel like sleep is probably the most important thing babies and toddlers need.  If my kids miss their nap, they’re cranky and wild.  They cry, scream and have meltdowns.  Yet so many people I’ve talked to let their kids sleep “on demand”.  They don’t take naps, and they go to bed whenever they feel like it.

Then those parents tell me how funny “Go the F*** to Sleep” is.  Really?  Well, shut the f*** up, because your kid’s lousy sleep habits just might be your fault.

We’ve promised to get our kids toddler beds for their third birthday in a few months.  I’m a little nervous how the transition will go, but we’ll deal with it.  Kids’ sleep habits are constantly changing, and I think that’s why so many parents throw in the towel and let their kids dictate what they want to do.

Again, maybe my kids are just awesome sleepers and I’m the luckiest dad in the world.  If so, then I apologize for boasting, and I wish that kind of good fortune on all fellow parents, because everyone deserves a little rest now and then.

OK, I have to go.  Nap time’s over.

UPDATE: Please note that the crib tents I shamelessly rave about in this post have been recalled due to safety concerns.