#ThanksBaby- Or how my son made me a dad.

15 years ago, I wasn’t dad material.

Oh sure, I was capable of being a father (and had some close calls regarding same) .

I knew lots of great dad jokes (still my reigning champion– “What’s brown and sticky?  A Stick.”)

I was great with kids (Hey, I am a professional clown)

But despite all that, somehow, someway I didn’t feature being a dad.  I didn’t think it would happen for me, and I wasn’t particularly sad about it. And if you talked to my friends and family, they probably would have had a hard time believing that I would be a dad too.

The chairman of the board likes to wear his food.

Part of it was that I hadn’t met the right woman, part of it was that I was focused on the hardscrabble life of being a self-supporting artist.  I was travelling all the time, and honestly, I didn’t see how I could afford to have a kid either timewise of financially.  I was really into living in the now, in the moment, and there never seemed to be a now when saddling myself with extra responsibilities seemed to be something that didn’t seem wise.

About 12 years ago, I met my wife, and we immediately were hooked to one another.  We ended up moving in together after about a year and a half of long distance dating.  We bought a house together. She was on the fence about kids, and I was perfectly okay with that.

About a year or so after we moved in together, her biological clock started ticking.  At first, I was a little resistant, but I loved my wife, and thought, “Well, let’s try and see. If it’s meant to be, it will be.”  (and other rhyming thoughts)

Also, the thought of breaking up with her over the kids issue was pretty scary to me.

Our family at the Mouse House.

She got pregnant almost right away (my boys can swim!) , and I was in the nervous/excited/elated/freaked out stage.

Sadly, that turned out to be a miscarriage, which brought a whole different level of freaked out/nervous feelings.  (And to be completely honest, a little relieved as well)

We started trying again, and about 3 months later– another pregnancy.  Back on the nervous/excited/bandwagon.

About 10 days after we discovered we were pregnant, my mom passed away, which changed my whole perspective on time, kids, and family.  I felt like it couldn’t come soon enough.

That nine months of waiting for the baby to come was excruciating.  For the first few months I was in denial,  (we also planned our wedding and honeymoon,  got featured in the NY Times for the same, and oversaw several home projects at the same time, including moving my office.  You know, the little stuff)

Once I got out of denial I was in the full panic mode.

 I felt woefully unprepared.  I started reading all kinds of books, which is the way I prepare for things, and then I felt even MORE unprepared. Go figure.

I had a lot of fears that I wouldn’t love the baby, that I would resent him for ending my career as a touring clown,  I was afraid I would be grossed out by having to change him all the time.  (As it turns out, it wasn’t so bad.  Because, you know, shit happens.  And also, thanks to products produced by the sponsor of this post Pampers, it wasn’t as terrible or as smelly as my fears made it out to be. Thank you Pampers! Your products work!)

Here’s our world famous song, my contribution to the world of songs about children going to the bathroom!

As soon as my son was born, I’m happy to say that all my fears WERE UNREALIZED.   I loved the little guy to pieces, and have loved watching him grow, and progress, and learn, and become a person. Yes,  I do sometimes miss my former life as a responsible to no one performing artist,  but I wouldn’t trade positions.  I love my life as a dad, in a way that I didn’t know that I would.

My son and I making faces.  I am teaching him how,
and he’s teaching me!

In fact, if you had asked me 10 years ago if I would be happier having a baby, having more responsibility, having less “freedom”, I would have looked at you like you were crazy.  Counter-intuitively, I added responsibility and I have never been happier.

I don’t think that it was as simple as him being born that changed me into being Dad material.  It was the process.   It was changing all those stinky diapers and staying up with him when he was sick and watching him sleep and bringing him to his first playdate and holding him when he has a temperature.  It was that process– that slow laborious process– that has turned me into a dad.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

DISCLOSURE: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion. All the thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories remain truly mine.

When a baby is born, a dad is born. This Father’s Day, Pampers is encouraging dads to give thanks to their kids for making them feel special, and to recognize how babies (and children) help the dad to grow along the journey of fatherhood.

 Please join them by tweeting or instagramming how your baby changed your life with the hashtag #ThanksBaby.

Pampers has also released a new #ThanksBaby video that captures the  relationship between dad and child that starts at birth and when the journey of fatherhood begins.

Plumbing the Depths of My Confidence With DIYZ

 Sometimes, it’s not what you know about home improvement, it’s what you don’t know that is important.

Disclosure: I am a compensated DIYZ-sponsored blogger. Opinions are 100% my own.

Check out the hashtag #DIYGuys to find other cool posts about the app.

If you’d like to check out DIYZ, The DIYZ App is free to download and is available in the Apple App Store for iPhone and Google Play for Android. For a limited time, the video chat feature is FREE!
My son and I are a little afraid of the evil toilet fill valve.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a plumber, nor do I play one on TV.  I don’t have any real plumbing skills or experience to speak of.

My experience with plumbing usually entails checking out the issue, despairing a little, freaking out a lot, and finally calling a plumber who then comes over, charges a whole lot of money to do nearly nothing, while the whole time I watch like a hawk, trying to figure out what he’s doing so I won’t have to call him next time.

One time, a guy came and literally just flicked the switch to fix a problem.  It cost me $150 to have him do that.  As he explained as I wrote the check- “It’s not what I did that you are paying for- it’s the knowledge to do what I did.”  Needless to say, I never called that guy again.

Over the years I have gained a little bit of knowledge.  But it’s not just knowledge that you need.  It’s the confidence to use that knowledge.  And that’s not something I have a lot of.

 I’ve recently discovered  the DIYZ app, which is a mobile app that helps Do It Yourselfers with a lack of confidence or knowledge to complete projects around the house.   DIYZ stands for “Do It Yourself.  Do It Wise.”

Here’s what I like about the DIYZ app:

  • They have a vast list of over 50 home improvement projects that can be accomplished.
  • They have easy to understand step-by-step videos that display clearly how to complete each project.
  • They have TRAINED PROFESSIONALS on call who are ready to video chat with you to help solve any problems that might arise. If video chat isn’t your thing, you can send them photos they can annotate, or just talk over the phone.
  • They have a project materials/tools list that you can purchase directly on Amazon or you can take the list straight to your local hardware store, 

It’s perfect for guys like me with a dangerous amount of knowledge (read: just a little) and a lack of confidence.

(As mentioned above, this is a sponsored post, and I’m being compensated for writing it, but my opinions and experiences are my own)

Currently, their video specialists are free to chat with!  (I imagine that will change over time.  After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Or a free plumbing consult!)


The Project I chose to do.

Our downstairs toilet has had problems for a while.  I’ve thought of just having the whole toilet replaced, but financially that doesn’t make sense.  It still works, it just doesn’t work great.  One of the biggest problems has always been that once you flush, the water doesn’t get into it fast enough.  As I mentioned above, I am not a plumber, but it seemed to me that the water valve was to blame.  Occasionally I’d get no water through it, and if I opened the tank and massaged the water valve a little, a tiny stream would come out.  When I was looking for a good DIYZ project to try out the service, this is one of the projects on the DIYZ list! SCORE!

I went to the local hardware store and showed them the picture of what I was trying to replace.  They informed me it was a toilet fill valve.  I purchased it (they only had one generic one, but apparently the fixtures are all the same.)

My 8-year-old son was with me helping me out.  He videotaped and took some photographs, and of course, dressed up like a Pikacsuper hero with a sword and bow and arrow. Because, WHY NOT?

I took home my purchases and opened up the packaging.  I looked at the directions which were amazingly complicated, and started to despair. But then I remembered DIYZ!  I watched their  4-step video on ADJUSTING OR REPLACING A TOILET FILL VALVE.  It looked pretty easy…

An unscheduled stop to … review the intructions.

And it was! I completed the project on my own, with the help of my assistant!

From reviewing the diagrams and the videos and the old valve (with an unscheduled stop to … ummm… use the facilities)  I was able to figure it out.  And when I turned the water back on and flushed the toilet, I was amazed to discover that it all worked properly! I felt like a plumbing hero!

I’m sure that an actual plumber would have been able to fix this in nothing flat without the anxiety or fear, but it would have cost a lot more.  And now I have more confidence to go on and do the next project! (And as my wife never fails to remind me, there are plenty of projects available to do in my house if I would only set my mind to them!)
The plumbing hero battles against the evil Toilet Valve!
And conquers it!  All is right in the world!

This was an easy project to do and I would definitely use the DIYZ app again.  The how-to video was very clear, but what I like most about it is the possibility of on-call help when you need it.  (And the fact that it turned out I didn’t need it was even cooler!)  

I am now looking for other projects around the house that might be on the DIYZ list. (Looking around, I see that INSTALL A DOOR SWEEP is also on the list, and that’s something that is on my list as well!) As I mentioned there are over 50 projects, including building a breakfast tray, replacing a light fixture, installing a USB outlet, and much more.

If you’d like to check out DIYZ,  it is free to download and is available in the Apple App Store for iPhone and Google Play for Android. For a limited time, the video chat feature is FREE! (Please note: Video hours are limited currently.  Check the app for details)

Here’s a video of my son helping me.  He says in the video that it is his first time using a sponge.  I don’t know if that’s really true, he’s at the very beginning of his plumbing career from this project I know he’s building confidence to do his own plumbing projects in the future!

Fatherhood is a two way street: #thanksBaby

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion.  All thoughts and stories are my own.

As I did last year, I am happy to celebrate Father’s Day as an ambassador for the Pampers: #thanksbaby campaign.

Pampers wants  to remind dads everywhere that fatherhood is a two-way street.  This is a great message and it tracks strongly with my own experience.

As our babies turn into toddlers and our toddlers turn into children and our children turn into young adults, they are learning and growing from us, and SIMULTANEOUSLY  we are learning and growing from them.

I may have told this story before but it bears repeating.

Me and my newborn son! 

I am a late to life father- I was 44 when my son was born.

I had a whole bunch of fears when my son was born.  I knew that my work as a touring performer and clown was going to have to radically change, that I was going to be the primary caregiver for my child.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that.  I had been making my living as an artist for over 20 years and I didn’t know if I was going to be capable (or want to do something else)  

I was also really scared that I wouldn’t be up to the task of caring for an infant: of feeding it properly, of changing its dirty diapers (#thanksPampers!  You were a total lifesaver on that one!), of stopping him or her from crying or soothing them to sleep.

A caricature done of us at the Hudson River Museum

My biggest fear was that at the end of the day I wouldn’t be happy- that the change in my life that I was going to get as a father/dad wouldn’t make me happier than I was as a relatively successful artist.

I spent my life as an artist avoiding responsibilities in order to be happy.  I didn’t have any plants so that I could tour at a moment’s notice.  I lived in an apartment that I could literally shut up for three months without having to worry about anything going wrong.  (Well not too much)

But it turns out that I was up to all of those challenges and more.  Not only that, but adding responsibilities to my life made me happier– something that was completely counterintuitive to me.

I can confidently say that I have never been happier as a person since I became a dad.  And my happiness continues to grow as he gets older.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

When my son was a baby I learned from him to sleep whenever there was an opportunity, to relish moments of play, to get down on the floor and look up from his perspective.

I definitely didn’t throw away my shot. (and neither did he!)

When my son was a toddler I re-learned how to wonder at the world, to answer the question why multiple times, and to get deliriously happy when there are small gains:  First words, first steps, first poop in the toilet.

My son is 8 now, and the diapering days are long past me (although I am sad to say that occasionally I do need to remind him to wipe better.) Hey it happens to everyone. But at least I don’t have to wipe him anymore!)

I am still learning and growing from him.  He’s introducing me to his favorite books (Ranger’s Apprentice and the Indian In the Cupboard) and we’re discussing the crazy plotting that is Star Wars, and the intricacies of Hamilton rap/rhymes. (with a stern admonition that some words may only be sung!)

 Earlier this year we worked on his first science fair project together, and we have even geeked out over fidget spinners.  I’ve been coaching his basketball team and he’s getting better as a player, even as I get better as a coach.

I can’t wait for the next phase!


When a baby is born, a dad is born. This Father’s Day, Pampers is encouraging dads to give thanks to their kids for making them feel special, and to recognize how babies (and children) help the dad to grow along the journey of fatherhood.

Please join them by tweeting or instagramming how your baby changed your life with the hashtag #ThanksBaby.

Here’s a great video from Pampers to remind us dads to thank our kids for making us dads
Happy Fathers Day from me! (and from Pampers!)