Thursday, June 28, 2012


Camera-dads. You know who I'm talking about. They are the guys that go out and buy a digital camcorder the day they find out that their spouses are pregnant, and upgrade the camera every year from that moment on. These are the guys that are more worried about documenting their first born crowning than comforting their immobile wives who have endured hours of labor.

Well, I never wanted to be this dad. In fact, I was so against this type of dad that I didn't even like taking still photos. If there was a camera involved I left it up to my wife. "We should bring a camera!" she would say. "If you want to bring a camera, you're going to have to deal with it." I would have no part in it. Don't get me wrong, I want to have the pictures and the videos, but not appearing as a camera-dad took priority over actually having these images. I wasn't opposed to pictures being taken either, I just didn't want to be the guy holding the camera - the camera-dad.

Over the years, we have acquired a standard library of photos and videos. Maybe not as much as some but not a small amount either. A week or two ago our family started browsing through old photos and videos that we had taken during our marriage. We stumbled onto this:

Now to most of you this video isn't very interesting. Sure she's cute and all, but the subject matter is fairly mundane and the camera work is, uh, not professional. This video to me is heart breaking. It absolutely kills me every time I watch it. My little girl. That moment is forever gone. It kills me that I will never see her that small or hear her speak in that manner. That little girl does not exist anymore.

I discovered, perhaps too late, that it isn't the extraordinary things that are important. The ordinary moments in life are the ones we long to remember. I would trade mountains of photos and videos of sunsets over Central American beaches or images of stained glass from European cathedrals for one good video of my kids coming home from preschool. And yet, the times we remember to take out our cameras is not when our kids are explaining the thing they just made out of Legos or when they're playing in the backyard. No, we take out our cameras usually to photograph something that has already been immortalized by countless other people who are probably far better photographers and is usually available as a postcard.

They say you should live without regrets. Whether this is true or not, I have regrets. My desire not to look like a camera-dad - my vanity - has robbed me of countless moments. Priceless moments of an ordinary life that I don't even remember. They are simply gone, as if they never happened in the first place. There are no postcards of these moments. My regret is that I have not been, in some small way, a camera-dad. The problem now is, I don't know how. For 12 years I have trained myself not to pull out my phone and take a crappy, untrained, photo to save whatever moment is about to pass by, on its way to being forgotten. I am getting better, and perhaps I can take solace in the fact that at least I have some videos and photos, and that, maybe, someone will learn from my mistakes.

-Brother Brett

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dad's Day

I would like to give praise to all of you awesome fathers out there. Dads who go the extra mile in raising their children are cool people. Guys who spend that extra time helping with homework or making sure their kids are prepared for school in the morning; dads who go the extra mile teaching their child how to play the guitar or how to make that difficult bank shot in pool; fathers that are actively involved with their kids sporting events or artistic endeavors, all cool. Dads who are home with the kids performing tasks such as feeding, diaper changing, and toilet training.... very cool.

I’m not saying that I am an amazing father, but I have had the opportunity to be around many amazing dads. I have had the good fortune to learn lessons from my father and my three other brothers who are all good in the dad department. So, I am thankful for the resources.

As I watch the news at night I am amazed at the stories of violence involving our young people. I see a nine year old bringing a gun to school and shooting another student. Children witnessing domestic violence in the home. Youngsters being sexualy abused. I see stories of children being taken from parents into state custody. And then there is the Steve Powell case. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, just watch the news for five minutes. He was just sentenced to 30 months for child voyeurism and and for the possession of child pornography. Steve’s son is the famous Josh Powell who was being investigated for the disappearance of his wife Susan. That was until Josh killed himself and his two young boys in Washington state in April this year.

I wonder what Josh’s upbringing was like. Did his dad Steve somehow influence him into evil? It’s difficult not to imagine that there is some connection there. For good or bad, parents have tremendous power over their children. This is why I feel so lucky to have the father that I have.

Let's take a moment and thank those awesome fathers out there. Without great dads the world would be in a lot of hurt. So, thank you cool dads! Have a great Father’s day!

-Brother Jared

Friday, June 1, 2012


I've harped on men about their misconceptions and emasculating notions about at-home dads. I have noticed that I seem to side with moms in much of my writing. Apparently, moms are without blemish. Well, I have a bone to pick with some of you. Many of you live under the delusion that not being able gestate a child inside your body precludes men from being competent caretakers. Others just assume that just because their husbands are absent fathers, all husbands tend to be unskilled and uninterested parents. Now I hope that the number of those who that feel that way are few. Unfortunately, I have encountered enough of you with these misconceptions to want to write about it.

I am going to use a recent vacation my family went on to illustrate these points. We were staying at a bungalow by the beach in Costa Rica. This lovely little spot shared a pool with the neighboring bungalows. We often gathered around the pool in the mornings or evenings and would have a generally pleasant time. We were neighbored by two families. Each of these families had a toddler and a baby. We were relieved by this because, even though our kids were older (5 and 8) we didn't want to be the only ones there with kids. The fathers of these two families had come from separate countries to Costa Rica in order to surf. I can't fault them for that, but I did find it somewhat insensitive that they would leave their wives in a foreign country alone all day tending to 2 very young children.

One morning by the pool as the kids were busy splashing about, I could tell that one of the moms was feeling a bit dejected as her husband was already gone. We started talking about our kids, as you tend to do when you have them. At one point in the conversation she loosed a tirade of feelings about the inadequacies of fathers as parents and how they leave all the work for the mothers. She directed these comments at me. I was a little embarrassed and laughed it off, saying (maybe a bit smugly) that all dads probably weren't like that. She assured me that they were.

Later she was talking to my wife while I was napping. She asked for advise regarding some parenting matter. My wife didn't feel comfortable answering the question and coolly said, "I don't know. You should ask Brett." She wondered why and my wife told her what my employment status was. This mom apologized to me later that day.

On this same vacation I encountered another mom. She had a small baby and was pregnant with her second child. My wife and I were sitting next to each other while she was playing in the pool with her baby. Again having older kids, she had some up-bringing questions that were directed at us. Normally when these kinds of questions arise my wife lets me field them, so I started answering her question as best as I could. About halfway through my sentence she started glaring at me. It became obvious that she had directed the question not at us, but at her (my wife). I felt as if I had interrupted some special sacred connection that she felt was shared only between mothers.

Child rearing isn't a club which requires a uterus as a membership card. Me writing this isn't going to keep people from feeling that way. Nor will it prevent people from being sanctimonious, or will it stop people from being insensitive. Nothing will change. There are terrible fathers out there. Some are great. There are husbands out there that, despite loving their kids, have no interest in raising them. Some dads are just okay... not great, just okay. I acknowledge this. For as many different kinds of fathers there are, however, there are as many kinds of mothers. I suppose the reason I write stuff like this is, not only is it cathartic, but its also my backwards way of praising those of you that are making the effort to be great. For those that are breaking molds and making my job, either directly or indirectly easier, I salute you!

-Brother Brett