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Mother’s Day was supposedly created to honor mothers, but its real purpose is for them to scrutinize the severity of their kids’ senses of entitlement.

That’s fine, but the tables are quickly turned on the less lovable dads who are supposed to use their children as surrogates in a non-romanticized love fest that leaves them scratching their heads.

Mother’s Day is even worse for childless men who need to acknowledge it in some meaningful way but can no longer fall back on macaroni art or use their own offspring to blunt the awkwardness.

Mother’s Day is a Rorschach test using long-distance phone calls and brunch buffets instead of ink.

If you look at the date and see an ordinary Sunday, you’ve lost. If instead, you see a need to stand in line for a $35 waffle, you’ve won.

I haven’t celebrated a Mother’s Day since mine passed away six years ago, and if I’m being honest, it wasn’t much of a celebration for her last fifteen years. Each year was taken for granted by my younger self who thought there would be plenty more chances to show how much I cared.

A phone call if I was living out of state. A bouquet of flowers if I was living in-state.

One year a collective of us bought Mom a DVD box set of Lost. That was both the name of the TV show and what happened to our money once we remembered that Mom couldn’t work the DVD player.

Mother’s Day just seems to mean more when children are involved.

I think the most I’ve done lately is awkwardly shout “Happy Mother’s Day” to my mother-in-law while she’s on speakerphone with Jenny.

Pretty much every year Jenny and I ended up at a diner as just a typical childless couple looking for a bite to eat. Including the year I couldn’t find the waitress for a refill of coffee then looked out the window and saw her buying flowers at the church across the street.

But with the arrival of my daughter three months ago, Mother’s Day is back – although I still have no idea what to do and now have to attempt it while caring for a newborn. I’ve spent a week downplaying expectations and just hope to survive unscathed.

A first Mother’s Day is important but to mark it as an entrance into some sort of club excludes the myriad of life experiences that came before it.

While we are celebrating the relationship between my daughter and wife, we are also celebrating so much more.

As much as this Mother’s Day may seem like a new beginning for us, it also seems like an end – to our years of wondering when or if we’d have a child of our own to celebrate with.

Truthfully, it is neither a beginning nor an end, but a celebration of so many parts of Jenny’s personality that have always made her special.

I’ve seen mothering instincts in Jenny since long before our daughter was born. I saw them in the tenderness with which she treated a niece or nephew – the confidence she instilled in the softball players she coached – the warm embraces with a friend’s child – the quality of support she provided for thousands of gifted children when she worked in education technology.

And now that we have a child, I see these same qualities reflected in the countless friends, family members, and acquaintances who have taken an interest in our daughter’s life.

To all the mothers out there – in this world and beyond – however you have expressed it and in whatever form you’ve paid it forward- I thank you and I honor you.

And to my wife, who has been a beautiful, caring, and nurturing person since long before our daughter was born – and who has only magnified those parts of her soul since – I love you and I thank you. Because she can’t fully express it yet, I am honor-bound to help our daughter say the same, though I suspect she’ll find a way.

We might not be there yet, but the macaroni-art years are coming. In the meantime, I hope these waffles will suffice.

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Hey pal, hope you’re doing well.

Sorry that I’ve been avoiding you since you became a parent. It seemed like a lot to handle and I didn’t want to get in the way.

Also, I had very little interest in your kids. No interest at all, to be honest.

But now I have my own kid so that’s changed. Self-interest has made me a better man. We should hang out again sometime!

I’m sorry I haven’t been there throughout your kid’s development. Doing anything social before sundown just seemed like a total drag and you were always talking about “bedtime” as if it were a real thing and not some propaganda invented by Big Business to sell more mattresses.

Remember how I used to run away when your kid started crying? I don’t do that anymore. Now I emphasize and try to learn from your experience.

Oh no, your daughter thinks her room-temperature macaroni and cheese is still too hot? That’s such a relatable problem that’s totally worth discussing. Let’s crack open a case of Capri Suns and talk coping strategies.

It’s clear now that I was wrong to pantomime killing myself after you told me the cute nickname that your toddler has for Grandma.

We’re still trying to figure out what my daughter should call my mother-in-law so I promise this time I’ll listen.

You go with MeeMee for one and Nonna for the other? That’s adorable, please continue. Since we’re on the subject, when did your kid say her first word? Mine just chokes on her fingers – should I be concerned?

Because we’re friends, we probably went through something together that you didn’t take way too seriously.

Cracking jokes with you about the overly ambitious co-worker, the oddly eccentric professor, or the clueless customer probably helped me get through some pretty boring times.

It turns out that was all small potatoes compared to how seriously other parents take themselves. They schedule everything including the time to sit down and make schedules.

I can’t do this alone. I need you now more than ever to help me navigate this minefield of all-natural, BPA-free, kid-friendly society.

I need a pair of eyes to roll mine towards the first time an adult asks me to sit “criss-cross applesauce,” and I hope they’re yours.

I’m a stay-at-home Dad now so I literally have nothing else going on. Jenny goes back to work this week and I’m scared to be alone. The baby keeps looking at me like there’s something more I should be doing.

The worst part is – I think she’s right. But I have no idea what that something is – Legos maybe? Could be anything.

Wanna grab a bite to eat? We can go wherever you want, as long as the men’s room has a baby changing station. Restaurants are way less crowded on a Tuesday at 10 AM.

What’s going on this summer? We should walk around a pond together or sit in a shaded part of the parking lot until my baby stops crying. That’s what I’ll be doing, with or without you.

Not to brag, but my local library has a Keurig now if you’re looking for coffee on the cheap. Or we could go to a petting zoo and make fun of the stupid sheep. I’m up for pretty much anything.

I know it’s been a while since we talked, but I promise there won’t be any awkward silences. I could easily talk through a full meal just while comparing butt creams.

Who came up with the color choice for Boudreaux’s butt paste anyways? And why is Target’s butt cream so watery? The last thing our kids need down there is something else that’s runny, right? See, we already have an inside joke!

I’ve seen the error of my ways and promise to be a better friend. At least until your kids become teens. Those things are the worst.

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I’ve ordered the exact same pair of shoes at least four times in a row over the past few years.

I’m not afraid of change, I just don’t believe in forcing the issue when there isn’t a problem.

Each pair performed admirably, accomplishing everything I asked of it before being worn through in the same part – where my big toe touches down on the balls of my feet.

They weren’t perfect shoes, but they felt right – like sole mates that would forever be a part of my life. It was too good to last.

The make and model are now permanently out of stock. They broke my trust.

I never thought I’d be the sort of guy who just orders the same shoe over and over again, but then again, I never imagined a world where I could ask a computer for shoes and get them the next day.

Online convenience is fine for repeat business, but to evaluate new shoes, I need to look them in the eyelet to see what they’re really made of. This meant visiting an actual store.

I settled on a relatively simple pair – sneakers, to be precise. With a brown and grey color scheme and tan laces.

It’s been a few weeks and I’m still not quite comfortable with them. I think I like them better for their soft and pillowy insoles, but I haven’t come around to fully trusting the laces yet and my ankles could use just a little more support.

Apparently, I have very needy ankles.

I bought them at Kohl’s after trying on one other pair. The whole process couldn’t have taken more than five minutes.

Shoe shopping was a much bigger deal for me as a kid. I loved trying on as many different pairs as I could. I put far too much emphasis on the shoe’s category, as if it could help shape my developing personality.

It bothered me that the categories were all athletic in nature. I had little interest in deciphering the different needs between a basketball player, hiker, or cross-trainer.

Tennis shoes? Who are we kidding here? I’d be served more milkshakes than tennis balls while wearing these shoes.

I really wanted a line of shoes geared towards someone with more creative interests.

My decision would’ve been much easier if they had only advertised a shoe line for those inclined towards performing magic tricks or playing the harmonica.

Yet still, I loved shopping for shoes as a kid. Not for the shoes themselves, but for the amount of control I was given over the decision.

The shoe-shopping experience involved measuring with complicated rulers that hung on the sides of each shelf. Each transaction involved a high-level consultation between me, the salesman, and Mom.

It was the first place where I was given full deference as a decision-making entity in my own right.

I didn’t have free license to buy any pair I wanted, but I had the absolute power to stop any potential purchase in its tracks. And my how I savored that power.

Only I could tell if a shoe fit properly. Sure, Mom pressed down on the tip to feel where my big toe ended, but was it too tight? Too loose?

Did it hurt around the non-existent arch of my entirely flat foot?

Nobody knew but me.

By far the coolest shoes I ever owned were Reebok Pumps, which made my shoes interactive by allowing me to tighten the shoe by pumping air in, or to loosen it by releasing air with a satisfying hiss.

This extended my shoe control to all aspects of my life. I believed that pumping my shoes before engaging in any activity would give me a boosted power of some sort, like Pac Man chomping on a power pellet to turn the tables on his ghost bullies.

I inevitably broke them by overpumping and was cast back into normal shoeciety where I’ve continued to toil to this day as a mere mortal man looking to fill a hole in his sole.

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On Super Bowl Sunday this year, I was live texting my take on the Puppy Bowl to a couple of old college pals, as any red-blooded American man does.

With genuine interest, I surveyed my friends to find out which ones were “Team Ruff” and which were “Team Fluff.” One of my angrier friends replied, “whichever team supports my right to bear arms under the second amendment.”

When politics has reached the Puppy Bowl, nothing is safe. Our culture is suffering from a steady encroachment of politics into every aspect of our lives.

Even the mobility of the poultry I eat is now fodder for political discussion. Relax dude, we’re at Subway, this meat probably doesn’t even come from a chicken.

Politics even made an appearance in my life on the most sacred day of my year: Wrestlemania Sunday. I had the honor of attending Wrestlemania this year but was annoyed when a man nearby shouted (presumably at someone) “we stand for the American flag” during a patriotic opening.

The song was “America the Beautiful,” not the National Anthem. Either way, chill. Aggression has no place at Wrestlemania.

Many people I know (on all sides of the political spectrum) view everything through a political lens and consume political news with the intensity of children playing Hungry Hungry Hippos. They frantically devour a stream of ever-more-urgent news updates looking for tidbits that reinforce their worldview.

They mine Twitter for memes to share instead of treating it as the aggregated collection of bathroom graffiti that it is. At some point, they came to think of being up-to-the-minute on political news as a personal virtue. It isn’t.

We elect (and pay) public officials specifically so that we don’t have to get involved with the day-to-day problems. Congressman, like septic tank cleaners, should only be thought of every few years.

It’s the difference between performing jury duty when you’re called upon to do so and showing up when it’s not your turn just to cheer on the process.

There is a time and place for everything. And for politics, that time is election season, which should have a considerable buffer on either end of it.

The current 24/7 obsession with politics reminds me of the “that’s what she said” joke obsession that was popular during my adolescence.

For the Snapchat generation, “that’s what she said” jokes were poor attempts at sexual innuendo where innocuous comments are made dirty by adding the words “that’s what she said” afterward.

The fictional “she” was always quite bold with her promiscuity. A common example would be someone innocently saying that a teacher “came down hard on a student” who was misbehaving in class.

The second person then adds, “that’s what she said,” providing everyone with a laugh at the imaginary girl’s expense and forcing the teacher to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Saying “that’s what she said” was hilarious at first because everything was in play, which is fair because, at the age of fifteen, everything’s also in play as a potential mate.

But the jokes quickly proved tiring because of their complete lack of creativity and wit. Much like relating everything back to politics has become tiring in 2019.

It is important to stay informed and engaged with what’s happening in the world, but not at the expense of enjoying life.

I worry that the lack of a political offseason is causing us to lose our bearings.

There are two more summers between now and the next federal election. Don’t allow the intensity of interest in politics to cause you to miss them. Politics can be a worthwhile endeavor, but it’s far too grueling when it’s constantly shoved in your face.

That’s what she said.

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Our newborn’s pediatrician puts on a big show about entertaining any and all questions we may have.

She ends every appointment by turning her attention to us, the rookie parents, and asking what questions we “really” have, as if everything up to that point had just been for show and now we’re going to see behind the curtain.

But she doesn’t really want to hear our questions. At least not mine.

I know this because she was very dismissive when I asked her if it was possible that feeding my baby opens a portal to a ghost dimension. She didn’t even entertain the thought for a second despite the overwhelming evidence supporting my theory.  

After I described the astounding number of signs indicating that my baby communicates with ghosts, the doctor shrugged it off as my daughter “going to her happy place.”

I rarely disagree with a doctor on matters of medicine, but edible happy places aren’t legal in this state – and if they were, two months is far too young to try.

Yet I’m stuck with a medical diagnosis that my daughter’s happiness is displayed by intensely staring into a void of space. If true, what kind of father am I to raise a daughter who celebrates happiness this way?

The only other people who recreationally stare into voids are opioid addicts and serial killers. All I can think of is thank God she’s cute because I doubt she’ll get many matches on her online dating profile when she lists her interests as staring at walls and occasionally forgetting to breathe.

My daughter’s hairstyle also suggests a timeless influence. Only someone who views ghosts as contemporaries would choose to wear their hair like Benjamin Franklin, the man who famously put a raccoon butt on his head and was told, “it’s a good look for you, keep it.”

My daughter has a haunting familiarity with that plane from whence she came – the place where life exists before birth and (dare we hope) after death.

I feel that she walks in lightness, not darkness. They’ll never make a movie about her but could make a miniseries starring Michael Landon. And if you’re thinking, “but Michael Landon’s dead,” pay attention – it’s not a problem, she can still reach him.

I am willing to entertain the possibility that my daughter is actually just a happy person. In those moments I wonder: what if she’s just existing? Perfectly content without any anxiety, fears, or stress.

Sometimes I stare at her amazed by the total lack of bags under her eyes. It’s as if she doesn’t even know yet that life is terrifying.

My daughter, the zen master, mastering consciousness in a pool of feces and butt cream.

She’s tapped into different planes of my own reality awakening parts of my soul I didn’t know I had, like the ability to create songs about a diaper’s wetness indicator changing from yellow to blue.

If she can be this much of a transformational force in my life, it doesn’t seem far-fetched for her to play a similar role in the universe. Watching her form from the tiniest cells of my wife and I feels like a direct communication with, if not God, at least some spiritual or elemental force of nature.

Whether or not she sees ghosts, it feels true and that’s all the justification I need to keep playing “what if”.

What if that blank stare is more than just seeing ghosts? What if she is glimpsing the most essential truths of life, time, and meaning?

What if she’s being visited from beyond by ancestors stretching back from early man to my own mother, who would have absolutely adored her?

Or what if it’s just the look of someone with active bowels? In which case I understand why our pediatrician doesn’t actually care to answer any question we may have.

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I’ve sporadically attended the same Congregational Church for almost all of my life. I was baptized there and went through years of Sunday School as a child. In the pews, I’d see my friends, next door neighbors, and several teachers.

I went to preschool in the building (where my mother was President of the PTA), raced pinewood derby cars as a cub scout in their rec room, participated in the Christmas play, and went there every year for Christmas Eve and Easter.

In the summer we’d go on family retreats through the church to Cape Cod.

On my church’s hallowed grounds I learned special Christian songs, ran wild throughout the playground, and searched for Easter Eggs on people’s graves (weird, I know).

It’s where I learned to play and pray.

When I was in my twenties, the congregation rallied around my family after Mom got pancreatic cancer. Every week they prayed for her. They brought her food and gave her a special shawl – handmade with love and faith.

A specialist in care ministry held Mom’s hand through chemo, our hands in the hospital waiting room during Mom’s thirteen-hour surgery, then Mom’s again as she recovered.

After several years away and with ample time spent pursuing young tomfoolery, I came back into the fold. If there was ever a place I felt like I belonged, it was at my church – until I learned I didn’t.

There was some paperwork that never got filled out and magic words I never said.

When I introduced my girlfriend Jenny to the church, we learned that though I had been baptized to the church, I’d never been confirmed – a step I didn’t know was necessary to fully “belong.”

It would be a lie to say it didn’t hurt. It didn’t help that the pastor who told me had only been there for a few years while I’d been there for almost thirty.

I learned that many of the things I’d associated with the building throughout my life weren’t actually involved with the church. The pre-school wasn’t affiliated, just a non-profit paying rent. The cub scouts simply needed meeting space. Our summer retreats were through an umbrella group, not through the congregation.

These revelations made me question if I actually did belong and if belonging was more than a feeling.

If, indeed, I wasn’t a member, was I just a guy who occasionally showed up?

Group association is powerful, ask anyone with a Costco card.

There is social belonging and there is tangible belonging, which at times can be hard to tell apart. Tell any blushing bride that she now belongs to her husband and you’ll likely get slapped in the face. But tell her instead that “you two belong together” and you’ll probably make her day.

I don’t know why the paperwork never got filled out. My Mom was raised Jewish and probably didn’t know the process. It could’ve been because I lost interest when my two best friends left the Congregation and my secret crush moved away.

That’s why I never went to the last year of Sunday School, which turned out to be the one that really mattered since it ended with a confirmation of your faith.

But there’s more than one way to belong.

Luckily, for me, I bridged the gap with a class or two from the pastor and by standing before the Congregation to say the magic words. Jenny said them too and went on to serve as the church’s Outreach Director until we moved away.

After years of simply showing up, I became a member of the church because the pathway was made clear and I was treated with dignity and respect.

I’ve been thinking about this situation a lot during our country’s immigration debate. And about what it’s like to feel that you belong when technically you don’t, even though you may have been raised there, educated there, supported there, and contributed to its growth.

I was fortunate to be part of a congregation that was so supportive and caring. I probably took from them a lot more than I’ve given back, but we’re working on it.

Being told I was less than an equal, especially by someone new, could easily have soured me on the whole place, but it made me love them more.

Membership was never a factor in how I was treated. When I was young they let me play, when I was scared they gave me comfort, when I was alone they held my hand – even in a hospital waiting room.

Three years ago, Jenny and I stood in that church and joined as husband and wife. Later this year we will baptize our first child in the same spot.

It seems to me that everyone should be treated this well. But maybe I’m just a dreamer.

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April Fool’s Day celebrates humor that’s devoid of wit; it brings out all of the schmucks, especially the marketers who try to “win” the day with a viral campaign. Pranks just don’t translate well online.

I miss the analog age of April Fool’s Day – back when you could shove a friend into a pool without first asking if he had his phone on him.

The first practical joke I ever played was with the microphone attachment of my Skeletor’s castle, which gave me a deep and powerful voice. When Mom was doing laundry in the basement, I would stand at the top of the stairs trying to convince her I was the voice of God.

God’s commandments were simple in 1985: namely to put my brother Dan up for adoption and give all of his toys to me. It would’ve worked too if Mom hadn’t seen my feet standing on the top step. Flawless execution could have changed my life.

I desperately wanted to be a master prankster as a child. I had every gag gift I could find. This was long before the Internet when fart spray was just a mouse click away.

Back before emojis digitized our fake poop, tourist shops were the only place to get things like a plastic ice cube with a fly stuck inside of it. I had to wait all year to go back on vacation and then pray to find a Whoopie cushion crammed onto the shelf between the slingshots and Silly String.

Sure, I saw the advertisements on the backs of my comic books, but there was no chance of getting that expense approved from a single Mom on a regular Saturday afternoon.

In my house, those were vacation purchases only. Indulgences that could only be gotten when sponged off the whimsy of shopping in a beachfront town. Three dollars for glasses with mirrors that let me see what’s happening behind me doesn’t seem so absurd next to a three-hundred dollar crystal octopus.

I had a spring-loaded stick of bubble gum that snapped like a mouse trap across your fingernail when you grabbed it. Nobody ever got fooled by it, but they’d pull out the stick anyways wanting to see what happens. It was hilarious because it actually hurt like hell.

I would hide an electric buzzer in my palm to shock people when I shook their hands. It never lived up to my expectations; it merely made a noise to “shock” them, as in surprise them.

The packaging implied it would deliver an electric shock, and I bought many different versions expecting to gain a supernatural-like power over electricity.

It now seems odd that one of my life goals was not only to cause someone else’s electrocution, but to actually hold their hand as they convulsed their way towards death. Let’s just chalk it up to “boys will be boys.”

I still own my pair of funny nose and glasses and my wife Jenny put a few rubber chickens in my stocking last Christmas, but only one of my childhood prank props has survived this late into my life.

It is a jar of “mixed nuts” that I keep in my pantry and put out at every family party. It used to have a fake snake jump out. But after nearly forty years of use, it’s now just a jagged spring flaccidly inching towards the opener’s eyeball. The joke is that it is so obvious everyone knows what is inside, but every nephew has fallen for it at least once.

I’m never more proud of my nephews than when they see someone new at a family gathering and ask for help opening that can. It’s so important for kids today to have an education rooted in the classics.

I hope each of them will grow up to appreciate these sort of pranks. Well, most of them at least. It would be great if at least one asked to get the crystal octopus instead.

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Thursday night I woke up from a dead sleep to hear a voice in the darkness softly singing The Ants Go Marching In. It was terrifying.

My brain took a few seconds to process that this was actually a tender moment of my wife, Jenny, rocking our newborn baby to sleep. A very thin line separates the sounds of a soothing lullaby and the likely signature of a deranged serial killer.

This could be because I watched all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies at least a dozen times before I turned ten.

When locking the doors at night, I still compulsively sing “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you. Three, four, better lock the door,” which irritates Jenny to no end.

Music has taken a significant role in my life lately. Participating in school musicals is the most on-point preparation I’ve had for parenting. They prepared me for the clunky emotional transitions that have me spontaneously bursting into song whenever it seems like the baby might cry.

I always found it peculiar when townspeople in musicals started bouncing up and down to ramp up a song from the leading man, but then I had a baby and started immediately bouncing her on my knee at the slightest sign of a furrowed brow. Oh, we’ve got trouble my friend, right here in infant city.

Music eases the transition points in my daughter’s day. And since talking with a six-week-old gets me nowhere, I’ve taken to singing to her on a fairly constant basis. I call it Daddy Karaoke.

The songs come from a playlist scraped together from my fondest childhood memories and from Amazon’s Rockabye Baby and Toddler Time stations.

It pains me not to have the soothing sounds of Rosenshontz or the bona fide street cred of Rockapella on the list, but not enough to pay the monthly upcharge for Amazon Unlimited.

The list skews modern with KIDZ BOP versions of Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars as well as the latest in Disney and Pixar songs.

I used to listen mostly to podcasts, but the baby doesn’t react as positively to the rhythms and beats of the NPR Politics podcast, Ron Elving’s sexy baritone notwithstanding.

Most of the songs on her playlist stand on their own, while others prompt discussions about the singers’ historical significance.

For example, every playing of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s song from Moana is followed by an in-depth discussion of his legendary I Quit Match against Mick Foley from the 1999 Royal Rumble.

Greatest hits range span a long arc of time from classics like the Hokey Pokey to Baby Shark, which has the distinction of being the first YouTube video to jump itself.

I’ve also got some Beatles songs mixed in. With lyrics like ob-la-di ob-la-da, and we all live in a yellow submarine they’ve really always been a children’s band.

Daddy Karaoke has awakened the songwriter-poet inside of me.

My original creations include a big-band number, ‘Swaddle-you-do When It’s Time for Bed,’ an 80’s-style rap song titled ‘I’ll Be Your Butt Paste Hookup (oh yeah),” and, of course, the Burp Cloth Polka.

Baby’s cries are my muse as I’ll often start singing about anything in front of me to try and quickly cheer her up.

The diaper changing table is my most inspired location, probably because it is the first stop between sleepy town and wakesville, which is how I now annoying differentiate between sleep and consciousness.

Some songs are worked into my routine tasks. Readers who have had the pleasure of checking a baby’s diaper know that many popular brands come with a wetness indicator which changes from yellow to blue, making looking under a baby’s pants the worst imaginable game of Let’s Make a Deal.

My wet diaper song is based on Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World and goes:

“I see blue. Blue, blue, blue. Blue, blue, blue. Blue, blue, blue. And I think to myself – that’s a whole lot of blue.”

This may not be the sort of songwriting that leads to a Grammy, but it certainly gets to the point, which if you missed it, is that I see blue.

I readily admit that I may be delusional in thinking that parenting has greatly increased my singing talent.

I’m pretty quick to concede points of delusion lately, which inspired the latest song in my growing catalog. I wrote it last Tuesday – or Thursday – or maybe it was earlier today, I’m not sure.

The song is titled: I Love You Every Single Day, But They All Blur Together.

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If you had asked me six weeks ago who the saddest people in the world are (aside from those who are actually suffering), there is a good chance I would have answered: “empty nesters trying to fill their void by pretending their pets are children.”

But now that I have a child, I recognize that I was mistaken meaning that the true saddest people in the world are, by default, people scratching lotto tickets just off to the side of a gas station cash register.

I’m all for people using pets for affection; anything that brings happiness without spreading pain is a good thing. But I’ve long drawn a line at comparing animals to children. I nearly strained an eye muscle by rolling them so hard the first time I heard the word “grandpups.”

It turns out I’ve given human children far too much of the benefit of the doubt. I’m not even six weeks into raising my own child and I already can’t stop comparing my newborn daughter to a cat.

I have a limited number of past caregiving experiences to draw upon, but the parallels are overwhelming. For starters, cats and babies each sleep all day, demand constant attention until they suddenly want to be left alone, and have a freakish attraction to dangling toys.

I first saw the connection when I found myself sitting for longer than necessary because I didn’t want to disturb my sleeping newborn daughter.

She had finally fallen asleep after rolling around for an hour making strange guttural noises and as I looked at her cutely balled up in my lap, I realized I’d been down this road before.

The connection was reinforced by my daughter’s strange habit of letting me know that she wants more food by trying to climb inside my mouth. That is not human behavior, but was again oddly familiar.

It makes me nervous that multiple animals have now assumed there is an ample supply of either milk or Friskies in my mouth. I’ve never once baby-bird-fed a single living being, yet somehow this rumor is getting around.

My daughter also has a cat-like aversion to water. We encouraged this at first because we feared getting her umbilical stump wet. Now that it’s gone, I’m ready to play with some rubber duckies but instead, our bath time is spent wrestling a wiggling infant while trying to avoid being scratched.

And that’s only an issue because I’m scared to clip my daughter’s fingernails. Partially because putting a cutting instrument to a tiny moving digit is terrifying, but also because I worry about how she’ll defend herself if someone ever leaves the door open and she gets out.

There are lots of wild animals in this neighborhood and I want her to have a chance to defend herself.

The comparisons are mostly unfavorable to my daughter. For instance, each cat I’ve owned knew the minute they saw a pet carrier that they were going to the vet and would adjust their behavior accordingly by either lashing out, hiding, or urinating on my brother’s backpack.

Yet when I bring my human child’s car seat into the room, she has no idea what is going on. She just sits there trying to figure out what the wiggly things are connected to her hand. Spoiler alert: they’re fingers.

The car seat comparison is particularly troubling because, for her first month, my daughter was raised in nearly identical conditions to an indoor cat. The first five times she left the house were exclusively to go to medical appointments. Connect some dots here sweetheart, you’re making us look bad.

I hope she’ll someday be smarter than a cat, but for now, the jury’s still out. In fact, I’ve softened my position that humans are naturally meant to rule the animal kingdom.

Could you imagine a world where our leaders were emotionally volatile and constantly displayed radical changes in temperament? There isn’t enough catnip in the world to get us through an ordeal like that.

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St. Patrick’s Day is one of the few remaining holidays that isn’t protested like the way human rights activists protest Columbus Day, antislavery crusaders protest President’s Day, or light sleepers protest Martin Luther King Jr.’s having a dream.

St. Patrick’s Day is the rare holiday that tries to unify everyone around an ethnicity whether they actually have it or not.

I’m thankful that the rule where “everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” doesn’t apply to many other celebrations. It would totally suck if none of us were allowed to eat on Yom Kippur or shower on Bastille Day.

Because of my Irish surname, I always feel like I should do something for St. Patrick’s Day, but I mostly end up just feeling bad for knowing so little about my heritage.

My father’s side was Irish-Catholic and my mother’s side was Russian-Jew, so naturally, I was raised Protestant because my mother liked their Christmas services best.

I definitely don’t wear my Irish-American background on my sleeve, but I do own multiple copies of Angela’s Ashes and have a handed-down recipe for Irish soda bread that my wife Jenny kindly makes for me every year.

One year she also made a Barefoot Contessa recipe with the extra buttermilk. People liked it a lot better, but I banned it from the house because it was sweet. Real Irish soda bread should taste like poverty and be difficult to eat.

Music is my favorite part of Irish culture, although I came to it through a rather circuitous route.

While most people who came of age in the 1990s associated Irish music with Bono (the U2 singer of U2, not the cooler one who married Cher), I associated it with beloved cowboy crooner, Garth Brooks.

In particular, his song Ireland, from the album Fresh Horses. Ireland is beautifully written from the perspective of an Irish soldier who expects to die as a pawn in one of England’s misguided imperial wars. He sings of the conditions that caused him to be facing certain death as one of forty against hundreds, and longs only for the peace of seeing Ireland’s beauty once more in heaven.

The song came out the same year as Braveheart and was as deep of a message on masculinity as my fifteen-year-old soul could process. Because I believed myself to be fifty percent Irish at the time (apparently there’s some Welsh mixed in), I developed a personal connection to the song that carries through to this day with my healthy skepticism of Englishmen.

Connecting to Irish roots through Garth Brooks is like learning about cross-dressing by watching Bugs Bunny cartoons; you might not be getting the full experience. It wasn’t until college that I finally learned about real Irish music.

I spent my twenty-first birthday hiding from anthrax at an authentic Irish bar in Washington, DC, and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the semester. Yes, it was morbid to drink Irish car bombs just as our country began the war on terror, but it didn’t seem like a big deal once the fiddler started up with Finnegan’s Wake.

I learned a lot at that bar, like how to patronizingly dismiss anyone advancing the “luck of the Irish” catchphrase as if it were a real thing and not gallows humor commenting on how the typical Irish family spent hundreds of years dealing with setback after setback until dying impoverished and alone.

I’ve given up that fight since I no longer have the undergraduate urge to contradict people for saying perfectly normal things. Equating luck with the Irish does reveal historical ignorance, but it all washes out because leprechauns look adorable on scratch lotto tickets.

Perhaps my favorite thing about St. Patrick’s Day is that it started as an American obsession that Irish tourism officials have since claimed as their own for incredible economic gains.

The Irish are known for being pretty shrewd. Especially the genius who somehow segued the tradition of kissing the blarney stone into the phrase “kiss me, I’m Irish.”

For his own sake, I hope that guy’s moved on to the great emerald isle in the sky because I suspect he wouldn’t fare too well in the #metoo movement. Although it’s possible he’d get away with it. St. Patrick’s Day is the Las Vegas of holidays – day drinking is generally accepted and nobody ever talks about what happened after it’s done.

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