My Better Half on Parenthood

As requested, here’s a little bit from Andrew reflecting on parenthood (and some other things)… xo EG

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(minutes after Henry was born and met his Daddy)

To say that this past November was a pivotal month in my life would be a monumental understatement. The world aligned for me as the two things I have been putting my heart and soul into over the past 3 years materialized. My son was born and my company I’ve been building finally received funding.

They have a remarkably similar feel. Before it happens you are confident, calm, and cannot wait for it to finally get here. And then they happen. And in both cases you are like, “Holy shit now what do I do?”. I have to find a way to keep this alive (still talking about both…). I am still trying to find my Chi in this new state of chaos. But through it all I have never been happier.

But I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I have learned over the past few months:

  1. I have been a shitty friend to my friends who have children. I was stunned by how many of our friends came out to see Henry, bring food/gifts, call to ask what they could do, etc. I can honestly say I have never done any of that for any of our friends when they gave birth. Erin has sent gifts, but we never “popped-in” to bring food. And our friends are doing it with a car full of children on their way home from the grocery store. Hello New Year’s Resolution – Stop sucking as a friend (could also be “Stop being so self involved”).
  2. Time is my most important asset. Whether at home or at work, I have become so aware of how and where I am spending my time. I am working hard to cut out the “fluff” from my schedule. This is not because I want to schedule every part of my day with tasks. But I have things I want to accomplish and to do so I have to be very careful where I spend my time. This includes ensuring downtime. Perhaps even more than before. Making sure I have time to workout. Making sure Erin does. Sitting down to relax and not picking up my phone or computer. Avoiding time wasters (at work).
  3. I am capable of so much more than I realized. Erin is capable of even more than that. Women are amazing. More amazing than I realized and I felt like I already knew that. Nope…not even close. Truly amazing what Erin did and is doing. Again, I am referring to both her role as mom and entrepreneur. I continue to be in awe.
  4. Poop isn’t that gross anymore. And when you have a baby, your dogs tend to offer more poop for you to clean up in more places too. So exponential poop in our life has made it as common as coffee in the morning.
  5. Spit-up/Dog barf: See poop.
  6. Being tired is dangerous. This may be the hardest part of being a dad and entrepreneur. Being tired is not a good excuse for slacking on your job. Even for a moment. You have to be “on” whenever engaged. Slacking off for even a moment can mean disaster. Your son, wife, employees and clients depend on you. You cannot let them down because you are tired.
  7. You have to have help and know how to allow people to help. This is critical to avoiding the problems of #6. Let your employees do their job. Allow family and friends to help raise your child. Erin and I take turns with Henry…so the other can turn off for a few minutes. For Type A personalities like Erin and me, this is hard. But we cannot do it all and we are not less of a parent or leader by letting others help or do their job.
  8. Surround yourself with people who know more than you. Soak it up. Our nanny has been around kids far longer than we have. So we listen to her. I hired people smarter than me and better than me. At least at their job, but in many cases I am learning how to do my job better from them. The challenge me to raise my game. So I listen to them. Again, the Type A in me wants to tell the pilot how to fly the plane, but that won’t get me to my destination.
  9. Question everything. This is exactly the opposite of what I just said. The experts can be wrong. So when you don’t understand something, ask. If you feel stupid because people are looking at you like you don’t get a simple concept, push through that. If you don’t understand what is happening and why for your child, company, or job then you are not doing yourself any favors. Ask the questions until you understand the answer. It makes everyone better. Just because it “was always done this way” doesn’t mean it should be. Nor does it mean it is wrong. Find out.

I will leave you with a couple of thoughts about being a dad. I love being a dad. I love changing Henry’s diaper. I love waking up at 2am to do it. I hate when I don’t know what is wrong with him. I love when I figure it out. When he smiles at me I am done. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for him. I am determined not to let work interfere with being a dad. It will be hard, as I love what I do. I love him more. I look forward to all the stages he will go through, but I am doing my best to appreciate the stage he is in. I am stressed that we are not doing something right. I am convinced we will be fine. I am terrified about dropping him. I am jealous of the time and bond he will spend and build with our nanny. When he is asleep in my arms, there is nothing else in the world. When he is nuzzled up on Erin, there is nothing else in the world. I have never been more tired, more hopeful, more stressed or more excited.

Ok. That’s all the time I have. I have to go get Henry so Erin can sleep in a little longer. Until next time, thank you all for everything you’ve done for my family. Whether you know it or not, you are a huge part of our lives and we couldn’t be happier about it.

37 comments

  1. Hang onto your hat, fella. It only gets better. The love and joy you feel now grows exponentially. And, yup, you have to have kids to know the struggle–which is why your friends are so eager to care for you. The best gift my little boys have given me is to remove my self involved self loathing. Your wondrous journey is only just started!! How lucky!!

  2. No. 7 is the most important and Im so happy to see it on your list. I made a big mistake not letting accepting help early on! One thing we must keep in mind is that our babies bring joy to our families and by not letting them help is like not allowing them to feel joy!

  3. Oh geez. Tears at work. You guys… I echo all your other fans when I say ‘thank you for bringing us along on your journey.’ xo

  4. so many new beginnings for you – what an exciting time in your life. I give you a lot of credit for already recognizing that you have a great support around you who can help you be better at being a friend, and dad, a boss you are going to great! You have so much to look forward to this year, enjoy it all! You and Erin are a great inspirational team! #goteamgates

  5. Even though it was missing the usual confidence and cockiness of your past posts, this was so beautifully written and right on!

    It can be so frightening to be a new parent as, along with the overwhelming love and responsibility you are feeling, it changes the person you are for the rest of your life and that is a scary concept. But you hit it all on the nose. I especially liked #1 because only parents get what it is like and what it means and what you need and all your well-meaning childless friends smile and coo and wallow in their own self-involvement. I am seeing the same thing now as a grandparent with my friends who have not reached that milestone yet being pretty rude when you want to talk about grandkids. I just sit back and smirk as their day will come.

    You have already learned what I feel is the most important advice I received (from my now deceased mother) and that I pass on to new mothers and that is to enjoy every single second and do not worry about what you will do when he walks, when he goes to school etc. Those moments will come regardless of whether you are worrying about it or not so be in the moment so they are impressed onto your memory forever.

    He is beautiful, as if your new little family, and lucky to have such devoted parents as you and Erin appear to be and thanks so much for sharing a tiny piece of him with us.

  6. Beautifully written and it is so nice to hear a man’s perspective. You, once again, have my vote for wonderful husband and now Daddy. It sounds to me like you have your priorities straight. You will be so glad you wrote this in your future. You will be able to look back and read this and remember all these new and amazing feelings. You and Erin are a wonderful team. Henry is a blessed little boy to have you both as his Mommy and Daddy.
    Kathysue

  7. Reading this was exactly what I needed this morning. I am young, not married and definitely in no position to have children, but simply reading about someone else’s hopes and dreams coming to fruition and the incredible impact it has had on their lives is just what I needed to hear about today. It lights a fire in me to drive myself harder to really go after what I want and need. I’ve been seriously lacking motivation recently (even though I have a million reasons not to), but seeing how much happiness can come from making your dreams come true is just what I needed to go after my own. Much luck to you and your precious family and best wishes for many more successes in the future.

    1. Thanks Sabrina! Your comment makes me want to write a post about the ups and downs of trying to get a business off the ground. But that would be a long post! I will see what I can do. Either way, I can tell you that my motivation ebbs and flows too. Sometimes within a day, sometimes for months. It is normal. The key, in my mind, is to recognize it, don’t beat yourself up too much about it, but don’t let the down times own you. Good luck!

  8. Congratulations on both accomplishments and thank you for such a sweet post. I tell all young women the single most important decision you will ever make is who you marry. Your spouse can either be a propeller or an anchor. Before kids you have no idea how vulnerable you are and how important your other half is in the equation. After reading your posts it is evident you are propeller and Erin is one lucky lady. You two are destined to go far and enjoy parenthood as a strong unified team. I wish you all the best.

  9. This: “I have never been more tired, more hopeful, more stressed or more excited.” PERFECT description of parenthood.

  10. #1 – isn’t that amazing? My daughter is 9 months old, and I was struck by the same thing. And also struck by how many of my friends who don’t have kids don’t quite get it, especially the early weeks.

    Best wishes on both of your new babies!
    Jeannie

  11. Thank you for sharing Andrew. Erin and Henry are lucky to have you! I hope your company has a very successful year and future. Cherish every minute you have with Henry as they grow up so quickly (I know it’s a cliche but so true). Parenthood is awesome – welcome to the club!

  12. I have already quoted a line from this post and it is barely noon. Love hearing the Dad’s perspective on these early months with a new baby. Amazing how change comes in waves.

  13. I had just had my second baby when I first saw this woman on Oprah talking about the secret language of babies. I found it so fascinating because I always felt there was a pattern to some of the baby cries but I felt like I was just guessing at trying to understand what they needed….hungry, tired etc. When I watched the video of the cries and could detect – especially the “neh” for hungry – I felt so much more relaxed and confident in trying to decipher what my baby needed. I highly recommend watching the video of her on Oprah in the lower corner of her website. My kids are now 8 and 9 – but I remember watching this like it was yesterday and how much it helped us. Hope it helps you too! http://www.dunstanbaby.com/

  14. Great post! I am so glad you guys are parents! On the sucky friend comment, I always like to say that you are now part of a new club and so you are ” in the know” on the good, the bad and the ugly (see poop, barf above). There was no way you could understand the club before you were a member. Everyone in the club knows that and is just happy to have you! So welcome to the club. We are all in it together.

  15. what a sweet and insanely honest post – especially jealously on Henry loving the nanny – i always saw the total love between my kids and their care-takers and was afraid it was sometimes more then what i had or that i was missing out on so much – after time, i realized they are just learning how to love more. you and erin are his sun, moon and stars and that will never change.

  16. The old tired mom has to chime in here…I love this post. It hits all the things that a dad should feel! Welcome to the exhausted club. I now fell asleep anywhere, often in my puffer jacket on the couch. My kids call me Grandpa. When you are not asleep you are often silly because you need sleep so bad. I loved your comment about being a shitty friend. I could not agree more about this! I feel like parenthood forces you to stop being so self involved. It is a real good thing. It is the reason why I think we are supposed to have children. My own completely self-absorbed children have taught me to sacrifice and not be such an ass. And hopefully someday their spoiled brats will teach them “It isn’t always about me”.

    You are a Dad now. Isn’t that the best thing you have heard in a long time?! This little boy will worship the ground you walk on. He will practically pee himself when you walk in the door. You are his hero. And all you have to do is love him back.

  17. Congrats, Andrew! You will appreciate this post in a year, two years, and twenty years from now. So few dads take the time to do something similar. Wonderful!

  18. I love love LOVE reading you Andrew! So glad this blog features you on occasion. I’ve been reading Erin for six years, but when you started being featured every now and then it really made this blog seem like I was reading the thoughts of two friends and made me cheer you both on and feel a part of your hopes and successes. Happy to have also met both of you on Erin’s book tour when you were in DC! It was very special and I am so so so happy for you and where you’ve come from. Congrats especially on your company getting funding. I know that was one of Erin’s 2016 wishes for you as her book tour came to a close. Three cheers all around. It’s your (and Henry’s!) time now.

    1. And I don’t think I stressed this enough — you are SUCH a good writer!! I love reading Erin as well, her wit and personality come out so much when she writes and it’s a joy to read her, but your writing is the kind that inspires, and drives whatever you are saying home, being pedantic and thorough, at the same time as being funny and inviting as you lead the reader through what reads like a very good essay. Your company, Henry, and Erin are your main focus now, but whatever ideas you have, jot them down. Maybe writing a book, or publishing essays should be in your future too! But one thing at a time, or three in this case :), or four if you include being a better friend (always tough if you’re not aware, I know too), or five, six, seven if you include Spit-up/Dog barf/Poop :D.

  19. Andrew, thank you for sharing your perspective on parenthood — your moving and graceful post is a perfect complement to Erin’s. I’ll bet Henry will be fascinated to read his mom’s and dad’s reflections someday. What a gift to him (and to your readers, as well).

    Wishing you and Erin much joy with your precious little son, and continued success in your respective careers. (A huge congrats on launching your company, by the way!) May 2016 be a banner year for all three of you.

  20. Such a sweet post! Congrats on your new baby and your business. Juggling both is quite an adventure. Good luck to you and your family — I hope 2016 is a wonderful year for you all.

  21. Awwwww! Wonderful post. These are the kinds of posts that make me love this blog, book, couple, baby, doggies……I tell people about this blog weekly. I call it “my blog” even though I subscribe to about 15. I think you two are so lucky (in addition to working your butts off), and I think that you know it, which is so nice. And don’t beat yourself up for being self involved….for whatever reason, I think that your generation is taking longer to come out of that phase than previous generations….(said the old lady) ENJOY EVERY MINUTE of this wonderful journey!!!

    1. I was thinking about your post just now and I hope my comment was not taken badly. I just meant that I hear that a lot from couples with firstborns and it is all happening later in life than it used to.

  22. Beautiful words! Please consider writing a birth letter to your son. It’s not too late to write about that day, your feelings etc. , and include how you are feeling now, two months later, in this moment. I did one for each of my boys, as did my husband. My boys are now 18 and 16 and they love seeing and reading them in their baby books. I know you have documented your thoughts here, but it’s special to have something private, just for little Henry. Keep up the good work Dad!

  23. you know…I’ve followed Erin for years now, followed her/your life and have taken her suggestions in so many aspects of my life. I look forward to every post and now since you have shared, my husband is hooked too. =) You two are a blessing to so many and as a mom of boys, I’m telling you, you are in for the best ride of your life…even when they are grown and gone like mine. Keep sharing and we will keep following!!!

  24. So beautifully said. Have followed your wife for a year now and find her so charming and lovely. Happy to hear from you as well. Way to go, Pops. You’re a great dad.

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