Well, it’s a whole new year according to the fairly arbitrary human construct that is a complete circle around the sun, and you know what that means–it’s the season of empty promises!
Yes, now that we’ve imagined a clean slate for ourselves, let’s renew that annual gym membership so we can visit two (maybe three!) times this calendar year, all the while feeling guilty about the money we’ve commoded… Let’s also vow we will stick to a diet consisting only of only kale and almonds, until that fateful night we have to stay late at work and don’t really feel like cooking and, oh look! There’s a McDonald’s on the way home. Surely just one Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese won’t derail our progress. Not a chance!… And yes, let’s buy several books that we fully intend to dutifully page through every night instead of gaping at the tv screen—except all of the shows we’ve been following are returning from their holiday hiatus, and we can’t be the ones in the dark on the latest plot twists at work tomorrow…
Sure, it’s a dangerous time to make promises—to resolve to break the rhythm of the past year, or even many prior years. And that’s why I’m here to tell you what you can expect from Twinfamy in 2016.
You may have noticed I have not regularly been attending my own party here at this fine publication, especially in 2015. I’m sorry, but I’m not going to apologize. (See what I did there?)
The truth is that for the most part, 2015 felt like an entire year of recovery, reshaping, and even occasionally (*GASP!*) relaxing—and in the middle of all that, while I occasionally peeked my head out of my cave, for parts of it I wasn’t all that sure what this blog actually ought to even be anymore.
You see, O Loyal Reader, for four years I battled Cave Trolls, Sith Lords, and baby sharts on the long, winding, potholed road to completing my PhD and then, for the final year leading up to my defense (2014), I even held a full time job, coming home every day only to spend another three hours a night pummeling my dissertation into submission. When you’re a doctoral student, it’s all about creating, analyzing, and producing day in and day out…
Prove your worth. Become more hirable. Justify your massive student loan debt. Justify the funding your school is investing in you. Make sure multiple years of your life are not all just a massive waste of time. Write more. Get published. Rinse. Repeat.
As I’m sure you can imagine, doing all of this while working full time slowly chiseled away at my soul. I was in constant overdrive, and then piled raising twins and writing this blog on top of that. And then, as soon as I finally finished my degree, the baby was born. In fact, she literally came the day (in December 2014) that I was supposed to don my cap and gown at commencement. Unfortunately, I had to skip the ceremony and rush to the hospital, resulting in little fanfare for my graduation—it was immediately time for The Next Thing. Of course, I was completely okay with this particular Next Thing (who doesn’t fall instantly in love with their new child?), especially because in her first year she’s shown herself to be such a ridiculously happy, fairly low-maintenance kid. I’m not sure if that’s something we lucked out with genetically, or if it’s because my wife and I got twice the reps on our first litter–giving us babycare know-how that did not require frantically paging through the instruction manual or having to call customer support this time around. Probably a little of both nature and nurture.
As my wife and I made the shift from man-to-man to zone defense, and as a family of five with a baby in tow, we were now slower-moving as a group (bottles! naps! diapers! and where are her f*cking socks?). This mandatory, everything-at-a-crawl pace was actually a surprisingly welcome one. In many ways, life got simpler. For the first few months, it was all about survival: clean all the things, feed all the mouths, work all the hours, sleep all of five minutes. But this simplicity also made me realize how quickly time was passing as I’d been sprinting through it. I never counted on having a third child, but now that I had one, I was reminded how quickly kids grow from those cute, roly-poly infants to the little con artists who won’t put their shoes on. So as I entered 2015, I made a resolution (HA-HA, no, really. I did.) to soak in the baby’s first year of life, as well as time with the rest of the family.
Soon, once the initial sleep deprivation faded away (somewhat) and my paternity leave ended, I found myself feeling a little “lazy”—settling into my job, relaxing at home and not doing all that much once the day was over, and realizing—with my degree in the bag—I now had time to do things real live humans do. Like binge watch the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (yes, both film AND tv), and catch up on podcasts (any Serial fans in the house?) and devour all the other movies/shows/books/podcasts I never had time to for during the four years I was in grad school beast mode. After being driven (and even forced at times) for so long to constantly create and produce, it was refreshing to sit back and enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor. Plus, my big-boy job is pretty writing-heavy. I flex that part of my brain all day on efforts that are actually quite fulfilling and rewarding. I’m still producing all day, but at a much more manageable pace. Of course, it IS still producing, so like most people, once the work day ends, I’m usually tired and ready to relax with a tasty beverage and consume the medium of my choice, rather than hammer out another thousand words of a thesis or blog post.
Which brings me to this state-of-the-blog address.
While slowing down my life and becoming a real live human again, everything has suddenly begun to feel very… “normal.” I’m not a stay-at-home dad raising twin babies while also pursuing a PhD. I’m a working dad who has essentially self-sufficient twin five-year-olds. The “hook” I felt the blog had when I started it has changed quite a bit. That and the title isn’t even really all that accurate anymore since my wife and I have produced an additional household dependent outside of the twins. Now that I’m settled down with a degree, a good job, some grown kids, and am a homeowner, everything feels a lot less desperate than being a poor, unemployed grad student, knee deep in twin babies’ sh!tty diapers, and renting a long string of crappy houses. Nowadays I have a lot less to prove, less reasons to vent and be heard. Essentially, the proverbial struggle is not so real anymore.
That all being said, for a while, my “new” life felt less worthy of chronicling. I’m a married father of three who works full time and jokes about farts and Star Wars. So what? So does like, every other dad on the Internets.
And by the way, I’m not sad about this situation. I’ve clawed my way here and I always make an effort to admire the view. However, there’s one particular itch that keeps needing to be scratched: writing.
So where am I going with this? What’s the big friggin’ reveal? What will I claim to do with Twinfamy in 2016 and probably not follow through?
All right, internal monologue, I’ll tell you.
I’m about to get academic all up in here.
I’ve dodged the question when people have asked what I was studying all those years, but since Loyal Readers know I’m a former teacher, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that my doctorate is in Educational Technology. No, that doesn’t JUST mean using computers in a classroom. It’s much more than that. It looks at the science of how people learn, and technology’s role in supporting that. Appropriately, I work at a company that aims to use research on learning to design various forms of educational technology, so of course, I have this stuff on my mind all day, every day.
It’s only natural that I would start seeing links between this science and my everyday life as I raise three tiny humans who are constantly learning. And as it turns out, I’ve been finding lately that keeping what I know about learning science in mind while I interact with my kids has made me a better parent.
The more I’ve thought about it, the more this approach feels like “Twinfamy: Season 2.” Sure, I’m a married, working dad with three kids, but I also happen to know a thing or two about learning and child development and think about it all the time. After all, I am a doctor (do you concur?). And before I Awaken two very different Forces against me, Star Wars and fart enthusiasts need not worry—there’s still plenty more where that came from. I’m just hoping to explore my nerdy science-y side a little more.
Of course, I think it’s so f*cking obnoxious when I see people claiming to be “parenting experts” because my own experience in both science and as an actual parent tells me that every kid is different and there’s never a “magic bullet” when it comes to parenting. So don’t worry—I’m never going to claim to be “right.” I’m just another dad using the tools I have to convince my kids into putting their f*cking shoes on.
Maybe, if I’m not too busy enjoying sitting on my ass, I’ll tell you about it.