Saturday, March 15, 2008
Discovering Dad is a blog and resource site about exploring issues and sharing experiences of fatherhood. It originally started as a personal blog to chronicle my life as a dad. I thought it might be a cool way to connect with my family and other dads online.
In February 2006, my wife Lori and I decided to change our life around. At the time, we were both district managers in the restaurant/retail world working 60 - 70 hours a week. We had been married for six years, and she was pregnant with our son Ty. My daughter Chani from my first marriage stayed with us regularly, but she lived with my ex-wife several states away. It was a hectic life, and we needed to make a decision about how we wanted our kid(s) to be raised.
I had an opportunity to open a business with my cousin. Lori's job was much more flexible than mine - plus she had a great maternity leave program - so we decided that I would be the one to make a career change. Around the same time, a friend also asked me if I was interested in working on an Internet start-up business called Artistic Pursuit when I had the time.
Fast forward to May 7, 2006, and my son Ty was born. He came several weeks early and had a hard time adjusting his body temperature to normal. As a result, he stayed in the NICU for several days, which, unfortunately, brought back some tough memories for me of my first daughter Laney. She would have been 13-years-old at the time Ty was born, but she died of hypoplastic left heart when she was 6-weeks-old (and I was 20-years-old).
I don't usually talk about Laney, for obvious reasons, but the experience was relevant to this situation in my life. When Ty was in the NICU, everything from the past came rushing back to me, and all I could think was, "Please God, don't let this be like before." Thankfully, he 'warmed-up' to things in this world a few days later, and we were able to take him home without any further problems.
During the summer while Lori was on maternity leave, I worked hard at getting the business with my cousin established. I also chipped away at things with Artistic Pursuit. It was nice to have a flexible schedule and be able to spend time with Lori, Ty and Chani, who stayed with us for about 5 weeks in the summer. It was one of the best times of my life.
Like all great things, it had to change and evolve into something new, once Lori went back to work. For the first time since becoming a dad, I became the P.I.C. or Parent In Charge. I wasn't sure how things were going to work, but I felt confident in my own abilities and blessed to have the opportunity to be an involved father.
I have a degree in journalism from the University of Connecticut. I spent several years working in the field as a reporter and critic, and I always loved to write. As such, I decided to chronicle the first 90 days of being the P.I.C., so that Lori, Ty and Chani could have something to laugh about later in life. At the time, I bought into the stereotypical view of dads as the 'idiot' parents who could barely take care of themselves let alone a baby. Dadswere supposed to work, not take care of the kids and definitely not spend time writing about their experiences.
I called the project Daddy's Diary (you can search Discovering Dad for excerpts from it - I posted the first few weeks when I first started the blog).
I made a lot of mistakes in the beginning; however, I was able to figure things out pretty quick. It was a lot of work taking care of a baby, but Lori's parents helped out when needed, so that I could continue with my business a few days per week. I wrote about everthing that I did each day in a journal format, and one of my friends suggested that I start a blog. I wish I would have taken her advice at the time, but I didn't.
I started my first blog Thoughts On Quotes several months later, once I began to get more comfortable with the medium as a feature on Artistic Pursuit. I love history and quotes, so I fumbled around with the blog until it started to build traffic and gain a decent readership. Needless to say, it got the wheels in my head turning, but I still did not start a blog about being a dad.
In September 2007, Lori and I found out that we were going to have another baby. We were both very excited, and Chani was rooting for a baby sister (she had 2 little brothers at the time - Ty from us and Owen from my ex-wife, who had also gotten remarried).
Finally, in November 2007, Lori asked me if I was going to write about the new baby the way I did with Ty and Chani. I thought about it for a few weeks and decided that I wanted to start a more general blog about my experiences as a dad, as opposed to a short-term journal.
In December 2007, Discovering Dad was born. I was able to apply a lot of key learnings from Thoughts On Quotes and Artistic Pursuit to the blog. I got the systems and design in place quickly. I started by posting personal content and a few reviews. I was surprised at how quickly other dads found me. I began looking for resources targeting dads online, and for the most part, I was disappointed. So, I decided to get back to my roots and do some journalistic writing related to dads.
The site is growing quickly. It has evolved into a place where I can share my experiences as a dad, as well as provide useful information to fathers from a dad's point of view. I'd like for Discovering Dad to be a site that builds connections between dads and encourages fathers to get involved in their kids lives. I also would like to help fathers establish their own voice in society as parenting literates, as opposed to parenting idiots.
I plan on expanding the site beyond a blog, as time and money permit. I love the interactive nature of blogs, so it will always be a focal point of the site.
This is the history of Discovering Dad. I'm looking forward to writing the future together with all of you! Thanks for discussing the issues of fatherhood and sharing your experiences.
Update #1: May 2008, baby girl Caitlin born six weeks premature and spent 23 days in NICU before coming home. Chani was excited to get a baby sister, and Ty wasn't quite sure what to think. We were all very happy at the new addition to the family!
Feel free to leave a comment with any suggestions.
Jeremy Neal Biser
aka jnbammer or Discovering Dad