This milestone was brought on gradually, and it completely blindsided me, but it changed my family’s operation indefinitely. It was about a year ago when I had the epiphany that this milestone was even occurring to us. But the tables have officially turned: my kids now dictate more of our calendar than we do.
For some context, my oldest daughter’s kindergarten year was cut short in spring 2020 by the pandemic, and her next school year was anything but ordinary. Things picked up in second grade, and so did her activities. Seemingly overnight, we found ourselves going from needing to find things to do between periodic virtual happenings to shuttling her to several dance classes a week, meeting with a reading tutor outside of the house twice a week, committing to a monthly Girl Scouts event, and signing her up for weekly first communion preparation meetings. Beyond that, refreshingly, playdates, school parties, PTA events, and socialization became the norm again.
Now in third grade, the last three months have been a whirlwind since the school year started with only increased commitments for her (i.e., 13 hours a week at the dance studio, cheerleading at football games and camps). This rapid change from no evening and weekend child obligations to now having something on the daily itinerary for my kids has changed the family dynamic quickly - and after a year of this new normal, I’m still getting a handle on it. My wife and I live and die by a shared Google Calendar, our kitchen whiteboard and precious, well-calculated 15-minute increments.
I have no room to bellyache. Several of our neighbors have multiple kids older than ours who are active in sports. I’ve concluded that youth can’t really play organized sports casually anymore. Today, committing to recreational sports mandates tryouts, several weekly practices and weekend-long commitments. I’m in awe of what these families can juggle for their children. They're mastery of this far exceeds my abilities at the moment.
Of course, our squad is only just getting started. My son is in kindergarten and is lacing it up this winter for a sixth different sport he’s trying. He’s already had several birthday parties with classmates this fall. And our youngest, who is only three, is following in her big sister’s footsteps with dance. We also recently hosted her first ever playdate with a classmate who lives in our neighborhood.
To be completely and utterly clear: none of this is a complaint. I feel truly blessed that my kids are invited to be social with their friends and peers, and that they are healthy enough to try various activities.
Yes, happy hours or relaxing weeknights are few and far between. But I’m keenly aware that these obligations build their character, challenge them in new ways, open up their perspectives, and are shaping who they are. We get the highest honor of supporting their growth through these activities from the sidelines. We also get the honor of chauffeuring them around town, making sure water bottles are filled, snacks are prepared, and uniforms are washed.
And someday we will miss all of this hustle. This won’t last forever, and we keep this in mind everyday. As stressful as it can be, I’m doing my best to cherish this time and these moments - and I wouldn’t have life right now any other way.
-Steven Michalovich, Regular Contributor
Rose Grady, FNP-C and Maddie Smith FNP-C, family nurse practitioners and toddler moms in Central Ohio who are behind Two NPs in a Pod (Instagram) joined The Dadass Podcast this week. They gave five ways men can take charge of their life right now. Listen to the episode or read their guest blog post below.
Stay Up To Date on Your Preventive Health Screenings
We recommend you see your primary care provider (PCP) at least annually to address health screenings you may be due for, goals you have for your health and any physical or mental health concerns you may have. At this appointment the following subjects may be discussed with you: blood sugar control, cholesterol, colorectal cancer screening, prostate cancer screening, at-home testicular screening, dental cleanings, eye exam, and lung cancer screening for current or former tobacco users.
Know Your Risk
Not everyone is at an equal risk for developing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, or more serious diagnoses, like an autoimmune disease or cancer. Interview your family members to gather as complete of a family medical history as possible. Knowing this information will provide you and your primary care provider the most complete information to make the best recommendations for the timing and frequency of your health screenings.
If You See/Feel Something, Say Something
This point is emphasized by our nursing backgrounds: Maddie in the ICU and Rose in inpatient oncology. Don't wait until a health concern becomes troublesome to your daily life to then seek medical care. Now, we don't want you rushing to your PCP's office for every cold symptom you experience, but if you notice something starting to impact you physically or mentally, don't hesitate to talk with your PCP. Most health conditions are far easier to treat in the early stages.
Prioritize Bettering Your Mental Health
Mental and physical health are tied together. When one starts to depreciate, the other follows suit. Although increased awareness has shed light on the importance of mental health as of recent, mental health isn't always as prioritized as physical health. Take charge of your mental health by fostering friendships, getting outside, and scheduling activities into your schedule that bring you joy, such as exercise, music or another form of art creation/appreciation.
And on that note...
Set Boundaries, and Keep Them
This can be harder to do as a younger person starting off in a career or relationship, but setting professional and personal boundaries to protect both your physical and mental health is crucial. If an opportunity presents itself that may compromise your health in some way, say no. Your peace is incredibly valuable. A "no" that may seem like you're letting others down in the present could very well be a "yes" to better physical and/or mental health in the long run.
I still remember the day. I was in a new job and had just moved into my new apartment. My mom was in town helping me move. As I drove home, she called to tell me my brother had died.
Just a few days earlier, I had called him just to say hi and woke him up. He wasn’t feeling well - he had a cold and was taking a nap. I told him that I would call him back in a few days. That was the last time I would ever talk to him.
That’s the day I changed my life. I cleaned up my eating, drank less alcohol and became a spin instructor shortly after. It was also the day I set a new rule for my life:
I WILL SEE A CARDIOLOGIST BEFORE MY 35TH BIRTHDAY.
Before that, I was healthy in my mid-20s, living my best life. I never had to see a doctor. Now I’m “middle-aged.” According to Men’s Health, 37 years old is the median age for men in America. My big middle-aged birthday is at the end of this month.
I’ve since gone through a gauntlet of tests with a cardiologist for a clean bill of health for the next five years. Most recently, I went through another round of tests with a urologist thanks in part to a little rough housing with our little guy. Let’s just say it was a real kick to the pride. But another clean bill of health. I also make sure I get annual physicals where I probably get a little too competitive to lower my resting heart rate and improve a bunch of healthy numbers.
Now that I’m married and a dad, my goal is functional fitness or “Dad strength.” The days of just heavy sets on the bench press and bicep curls are behind me - in part to tendonitis, but so that I focus on what matters most: the endurance and strength to wrestle, go on hikes, carry far too many grocery bags at once, and eventually coach soccer (pray for me). I’ve lined up specialists to help me stay on track, so I don’t have to wait to see someone when something goes wrong. They have my health records.
I see a chiropractor and massage therapist almost regularly. I never thought a torn pec and ruptured bicep at 20 would literally be crippling me now, but being a sherpa for a three-year-old will do that.
The point of all of this is we as men must talk about this, AND WE DON’T. Maybe we do one time a year at a physical or during Movember and you have an excuse to grow facial hair at work. We should talk about it more.
I still teach spin for an area gym. Since the pandemic, I’ve seen an increase of male riders. That is shocking because my earlier classes were predominately female riders. Maybe there’s a shift, but if we’re going to rise up as dads and husbands, WE NEED TO DO MORE.
I can’t call my brother to tell him about my life or check on him. Our son will sadly only know one of his two uncles. But what I can do, is ensure that I continue to take care of myself to be the healthiest man I can be. I owe it to my wife and son.
-Matt Lofy, The Dadass
My youngest is admittedly a mommy’s girl. She also just turned three this summer, and despite her age, still has a raging case of the terrible twos, where opinions are fierce and sensibilities are inconsistent.
I had two tickets to our Columbus Blue Jackets’ last home preseason game. Both of my older two kids have been fortunate enough to visit Nationwide Arena for a few games in the past. Given this was an exhibition, I figured this was a low risk, tremendous opportunity to indoctrinate my youngest to the game of professional hockey and a perfect time for some daddy/daughter time. Because she has two siblings around, I don’t always get many opportunities to hang with just her solo.
With a 7 pm puck drop, my plan was to get downtown early, settle into our seats for warm-ups, stay for the first period, and get back to the cozy confines of our home in time for a reasonable weeknight bedtime and avoid unleashing any toddler tantrums.
The first sign the night might go eskew occurred when I received an email at the close of business that the game was delayed a half hour due to issues with the St. Louis Blues’ (the Jackets’ opponent) airplane. This gave us some surplus flexibility, which is always appreciated when doing anything with children.
All was well until we hit unforeseen highway traffic navigating to the arena. What should’ve been a 20 minute drive, doubled in duration, and my leisurely pregame plans were tightened significantly.
We parked, and instead of moseying to the game, I threw my daughter on my shoulders for the two-block walk to save time (and her stubby little legs). No friction entering the arena, buying her a treat (Sour Patch Kids which she insisted she’d like, but didn’t at all) and getting to our seats - all with minutes to spare before the new alleged puck drop.
Both teams came onto the ice to warm up at 7:30, but after ten minutes or so, went back into their respective locker rooms. To my confusion, the scoreboard then displayed another 15-minute countdown. Then I realized - this game wasn’t going to start until 8 pm.
This obviously threw off our intended itinerary, and any three-year-old can prove to be a ticking time bomb, ignited by any number of unforeseen circumstances. To my daughter’s credit, she was as happy as I’ve ever seen her. And most importantly, we were having a blast just hanging out together, which was exactly what I needed.
Finally the game started, and we stayed for only half of the first period. Satisfying for me was watching an incredible first shift by our new top line which resulted in a goal a minute into the game.
We took the customary photo in front of the cannon, and scooted out the door for the car (again, her perched on my shoulders). It goes without saying, but I highly recommend taking your kids to a Columbus Blue Jackets game. Plenty of activities to take advantage of and a true family-friendly environment. This was over two weeks ago now, and she is still constantly talking about the Blue Jackets.
On the drive home, another familiar parenting curveball occurred: we hit traffic again. Absolutely uncanny to deal with traffic at off hours on both legs of our travel in Columbus. Both situations were car accidents, and in both, it appeared everyone was ok, which is clearly most important. Again, my daughter took the delay in stride, even insisting that we listen to the game on the radio in the car.
Serendipitously (and maybe intentionally on her part), she dug out Night Night Daddy to read at bedtime - a book no one in my household has chosen for this ritual in a long time.
Life as a parent is a frenzy, and this night was no different. But none of these minor parenting curveballs detracted from what was outstanding time well spent bonding with my youngest child, who just may end up being the biggest hockey fan within my crew.
There is a new favorite story in our household. Much like the “feather wand” episode of Bluey, this story is on repeat almost every hour. It’s not the personal triumph of wearing pull ups or graduating into pre-school. No sir. It’s that time I ate bear poop.
Let me give you a little context on this fecal spectacular. I was hiking with our son and some friends who had their four-year-old with them. While on the trail in the White Mountains, I stayed back and found the exciting excrement from a black bear on the side of the trail. By that I mean I chewed up a Tootsie Roll and placed it over the wrapper, placed it on the trail and yelled in excitement.
The two ran towards me with excitement. The crouched down to examine it with me. I proceeded to show them the texture, how it is still wet which means its fresh. When one of the little explores asked how I knew it was of a black bear, I showed them features followed by taking a bite out of it. While chewing curiously, I explained how typically these bear eat berries and it tends to be sweeter in taste. They were equal parts stoked and sick to their stomachs. To where I lost my composure and began telling them what it really was.
For the remainder of the trip, I was called out for eating poop and for telling lies. Ever since, I’ve almost had daily tellings of the story. Grandma knows now, the high schooler with super-fast bagging skills at Giant Eagle knows and now you do too. I ate bear poop, and I liked it.
In my past life I was a tripping guide in Maine and New Hampshire. For months, I led age-appropriate hikes through trails and on mountains for kids ages 8-15. I learned some fun games and pranks to pull on kids along the way. This particular prank I waited years to pull on my own son, and I seized that opportunity.
This was something I’ve always wanted to do and had the opportunity to make a memory with more than just my own son. We’ll cherish this for years to come. I’m willing to bet the other half of the Tootsie Roll that it will be brought up on our next hike, and I totally welcome it.
While recently a presenter at the HomeDadCon in Phoenix, put on by the National At Home Dad Network, I had the opportunity to learn from men who care for their families full time. I heard countless stories of memories these men have made with their children during even the most simple of daily tasks. One man shared a story that struck me hard. Because of physical challenges he’s unable to help his child overcome challenges with sports, especially when he sees how awful his son is at it. After hearing his story and wiping countless tears from my face, all I could think about were all the times I put off or denied an opportunity with my son that I’m completely capable of doing. There’s no reason not to jump all in!
As I am retold the story of how I ate bear poop on our vacation, I think of it as the building block of how moving forward as a dad and husband I will not put off making another memory because “I’m not able to right now” or because “it’s too hot to go outside and play baseball.” If I’m capable, I’m going to make our own fun and do what Robin Williams suggested “Carpe Diem,” seize the bear crap.
-Matt Lofy, regular contributor
The start of the new school year is rapidly approaching. Fears of new classrooms and classmates are building, while we adults are trying to navigate these rocky conversations with our children.
The Dadass Podcast recently had on Ariana Hoet, PhD, clinical director for On Our Sleeves at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, who provided a lot of meaningful ways we as parents can begin making a difference now. Hoet works in Pediatric Primary Care where she serves primarily Latino and Somali immigrant children. She is also a clinical assistant professor of Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatric Psychology and Neuropsychology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and The Ohio State University.
She recommends starting these conversations 2-3 weeks before school. Whether your kids are going into preschool or high school, begin asking open ended questions to truly see how your kids are feeling. These questions open it up for true feelings and thoughtfulness in responses.
One of the most downloaded resources on the On Our Sleeves website is their conversation starter. We’ve linked two resources for overall conversation starters and for back-to-school conversations to help lead conversations at home.
To hear the full conversation with Dr. Hoet and all her tips related to going back to school, building empathy within your kids and more click here.
On the 84th episode of The Dadass Podcast we chat with professional brewer and operations manager for Wolf’s Ridge Brewing Adam Hickernell. This craft beer artisan and girl dad talks all things beer, grilling and starting a hot sauce company, Burrito Belly Hot Sauce, with his wife.
On the episode we taste and learn all about Daybreak, a nationally recognized coffee vanilla cream ale; AJ's Umbrella Ride, their first foeder-aged golden lager; and Chocolate Dire Gorgon. We also learn of Adam’s longtime dream to brew a cold IPA set to be served in the coming weeks at Wolf’s Ridge.
Between discussions of his family, being married for 10 years (together for 18) with his wife, we learn about what it’s like to work with his wife on a passion project. Our taste buds are lit up with flavors and heat as we try three different hot sauces.
Recently I’ve felt like a fraud as a father. Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe it’s just me.
As work picks up, and the sleep at night never seems to be enough, I honestly feel I’ve been going through the motions as a parent and as a husband. I’ve felt at time numb to what’s really going on. While the stress builds, and we avoid stepping on little army men and race cars throughout our home, I’ve found that I’ve lacked a true sense of what it means to be fully present.
At work, I feel I go a thousand miles a minute up to the point that I am forced to come home to go even faster to work in dinner, play time and a bath, just to get the little guy to bed with only two renditions of “Peace on Earth” being sung. It’s a lot and these moments go by and right unto the next. I don’t know how those of you with two or three kids do it.
At the same time, we’ve gotten hooked on (myself included!) rewatching Sing 2 on Netflix. If you haven’t experienced this animated film, it’s brilliantly done with a rockin’ soundtrack, knockout cast and surprisingly awesome storyline. I’ll just drop this little gem right here for you.
There’s a scene where Johnny the gorilla is singing an epic version of Coldplay’s “Sky Full of Stars” while battling a villain. He gets beaten down unexpectedly only to be encouraged by a friend to get back up and finish. He gets up, gathers himself and finishes the number acapella, while beating his challenger. Our son loves this version of the song, and the soundtrack includes the full rendition of this number. At this point in time, I can definitively tell you how many times you can play the song on a trip to Papa's house or the nearby mall, if that paints a picture how many times we've heard it.
There is a part in the scene where the friend begins to bang on a trash can, which sounds much like a drum. Perfectly on cue when this happens, our little guy asks from his car seat, “What’s that noise?” Like clockwork, even on the fifth playing of the song, we get asked. It’s as super cute as it’s super annoying.
But it’s moments like that where we can now share in a moment, we can sing a song and live in the same moment that I realize the need in my life: the need to just be.
Who cares if we have an earworm of a song stuck in our head. It’s a moment we’ll one day think back and cherish. When we watch the movie years down the road, we’ll relive a moment. A particular moment that outweighs the baggage I’m unfortunately carrying and bringing home at this moment and that’s only worth a sky full of…wait, what’s that sound?!
-Matt Lofy, The Dadass and CBUS Dads contributor
If you recall years ago hearing a heroic tale of a wealthy antagonist stealing from the poor throughout his kingdom only to wind up losing in the end, I’m sure you can relive the uplifting spirit you were left with.
In this particular tale, I’m referring to four years ago when a former Columbus Crew SC owner, whose name shall remain out of this post, attempted to steal our hometown soccer club from us. As a result, many, including myself, passionately supported the Save the Crew movement. After a grueling grassroots effort, the fans won and kicked his sorry tail out of here.
In many of my personal and professional circles, I made my feelings known of this man, resulting in me becoming a go to source for updates with those I came into contact. Although, not actively involved like those who led the movement, I did my part in the ways that I could. During one conversation in a professional setting someone asked me, “why are you so invested in saving the team?”
It was an easy answer: "because one day I want to share the experience of going to a match and the joys it’s brought me with a future little Loafer.”
That day that I had dreamt about came on Sunday, July 3 when I got to take my son to his first match. Completely last minute and prompted during a living room soccer match when he said he wanted to “go watch soccer.” I messaged our Crews Crew Facebook chat, confirmed all my friends who are still season ticket holders were going and bought tickets two hours before kick-off.
With a solid three-hour long nap for the little guy and a makeshift diaper bag packed with the bare necessities we set off. Singing the entire ride down to the LDC, we were both amped up. Of course, this didn’t happen smoothly thanks in part to a minor injury in the parking lot. After quickly triaging a skinned knee the two of us met friends for a happy hour beer and soda. With drinks in hand, we met Crew Cat, got scared of Crew Cat, got free ice cream, and greeted everyone with a “go Crew!”
In attempts to not lose his attention, we broke from the group so he could walk around and see the pitch for the first time in person. The moment his little eyes locked in on that thick, bright sea of green accompanied by the magnitude of his first soccer stadium made me realize how massive of a moment this was. All the passionate and sometime colorfully articulated reasons why the Crew should be saved became more than just saving a soccer club - it was for this very moment in time.
Kickoff was at his bedtime, so we didn’t last long. For a kid who has no attention span and doesn’t stay seated long, he slowly chewed his pretzel and took in the first half. Between the occasional “go Crew” and “I want to go down there to play soccer” requests he was locked in. This first match experience was everything I had hoped, as I experienced an immense amount of love for those hours of July 3. It may have been a 0-0 draw, but I went home the winner that evening.
-Matt Lofy, Regular Contributor
I remember saying when our son was only months old, “I can’t wait until he’s more fun.” Then he started to walk , which quickly escalated into a hurried, unbalanced shuffle.
Not long after, I remember saying, “I can’t wait for him to talk.” He’s two and a half now, and that boy doesn’t stop. There’s no off switch or mute button on the kid. I’d like to think he gets it from his mother, but I’m the one with the podcast!
There’s a couple of memorable phrases he now often says. For instance, if you ask him if he had a good day at daycare, he’ll have a reflective look on his face and reply as if he’s a philosopher “I did…and I didn’t.” It’s also the same answer when we ask him if he gave his cheese stick to the dog.
The one that really hit home recently, is his improper use of “that’s impossible.” It can be one of the most mundane stories from work or when we ask if it was he who tooted. He responds with an exacerbated tone, “what…that’s impossible.” Son, I assure you I sat through that meeting at work, and I also got a fresh whiff of the smell when you ran by me.
For me personally, his “what…that’s impossible,” quite possibly can be the most thought-provoking phrase I’ve heard in recent memory. I’ve found myself reflecting in regard to his progress through the past months. It’s impossible at two and a half, that he’s carrying the garbage bag on trash night showing me how it’s done. While I mow the lawn, he now tells me to straighten my lines. It’s impossible that he is aware enough to notice that.
There is so much joy in hearing that phrase come out of his mouth. Although used improperly, his response is genuine excitement in the things we as adults lack the same sentiment. It has provided a reason to stop and take stock in the possibilities this little chatter box has currently before him and in the months ahead.
It’s a reminder that in the words of Walt Disney, "it's kind of fun to do the impossible.” If the little guy can’t believe it happened, then as his dad I can keep surprising him and finding ways to blow his mind. I have the opportunity as a father to put aside what I believe are simple joys and just cherish the moments that I can provide him the memories of the impossible.
My question for you Dads who read this is simple, “What are you doing for your little one(s) to make the impossible, possible?”
-Matt Lofy, Regular Contributor
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.