CARTER GADDIS Calling all angels.

AGE   43

HOMETOWN   Tampa, Florida

@TWITTER   @dadscribe

ON THE WEB   www.dadscribe.com

NUMBER OF CHILDREN   Two

DAY JOB   Search engine optimization (SEO) writer for a local Internet marketing agency. Basically, I write stuff for clients’ websites.

RELATIONSHIP STATUS   Married

FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK   Green Eggs and Ham. It’s the first book we read on a regular basis at night to our older son when he moved into his big-boy bed. He would recite parts of it along with us as we read. I loved to watch his face light up when I’d get close to his favorite line. I’d say, “I do not like them … .” And he’d say, “… ANYwhere!” Which came out, “INTY-where!” Now, as he enters the homestretch in kindergarten, he sits on his bed and reads the book to us and his little brother. Then he asks us reading comprehension questions. We usually get them right.

HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY? 

I used to be a sportswriter. It was all I wanted to do from age 17, and I did it from 1986 until I was laid off in 2008. This was actually a good thing for our family, although it obviously was alarming at the time. My primary beat was baseball, and even though many, many baseball writers manage to juggle family and the relentless demands of the 162-game season and busy off-season, there’s a reason so many others remain unmarried or get divorced. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a dream job in a lot of ways. But it would have been a nightmare for me to miss so many moments of my sons’ early years. And it would have been unfair to my wife. Which was why I asked off the full-time baseball beat the year my first son was born, and why it turned out to be no great tragedy when my general assignment sports reporting position was eliminated by the paper three years later. So, yeah. Dodged THAT bullet. Thanks for the layoff, Giant Corporate Newspaper Chain!

Now, my wife and I are living the middle-class dream – paying thousands of dollars for daycare and after-school care each year so we can go to work every day and make money to … pay thousands of dollars for daycare and after-school care each year. We are extraordinarily fortunate to be able to do so, and that our employers are accommodating enough for us to be able to spend a lot of time with the boys. She puts the older boy on the school bus and drops the younger boy off at daycare in the morning. I pick them up in the afternoon. Once home, we work together to keep them occupied, entertained, fed, bathed, read to, and tucked into bed at night. Weekends are a free-for-all, but we do it all together.

HOW HAS PARENTING CHANGED YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL?

I’ve always been pretty careful when driving, or walking down a dark alley, or anything remotely dangerous. Not like cowering-in-a-corner, oh-my-god-please-don’t-let-me-get-hurt careful, but smart about it, you know? Parenthood has put me in touch with my inner schizophrenic. Now, instead of protecting myself from dismemberment or death, I’m protecting my sons’ dad from dismemberment or death. If I let that guy lose a limb or worse, the boys just wouldn’t forgive me. Nor would their mother, I’m sure.

HOW HAS PARENTING IMPACTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP? How often do you have sex?  Is it enough?  How do you communicate differently (if at all)?

I’ll answer the three italicized sub-questions as succinctly as possible:

How often do you have sex? 

Not often enough.

Is it enough? 

No. It is not enough. I thought I had made that clear.

How do you communicate differently (if at all)?

Text messages and Facebook comments are the new  pillow talk.

 WHO ELSE PROVIDES CHILDCARE FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

We send one boy to daycare, while the kindergartener goes to the same center for after-school care and summer camp. We’ve been with our center since the kindergartener was a year old, so we’re pretty comfortable there. It’s expensive – we pay more for that than for our mortgage. But we trust them, the boys are thriving, and the money really doesn’t mean as much to us as does peace of mind.

We’ve also had the same babysitter for as long as I can remember, which gives the boys another layer of stability. The grandparents live in a different state, but they come down every now and then to generously take care of the boys for a weekend so we can have a quick getaway to breathe and pay attention only to ourselves as a couple. I do wish the grandparents lived a bit closer so those getaway weekends weren’t so rare, but we take what we can get and appreciate it immensely.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?

I’m not sure how to answer this, actually. I’ve done my share of irrational yelling and hopeless pleading, but I’m pretty sure I’ve managed to keep that kind of thing at or near the national average. I hope I haven’t made any major missteps. If so, I’m sure I’ll pay for it later. So, instead of writing about a run-of-the-mill Daddy tantrum triggered by a routine crying jag at bedtime, I’ll share the time I consider my worst moment as a parent, which actually occurred several months before our older son was born.

My wife’s prenatal blood work revealed the potential for Trisomy 18, and we were given the option of knowing for sure through amniocentesis. The day after we found out about the possible genetic disorder, I was scheduled to leave for a 10-day road trip covering the baseball team. I wanted to stay, but the amnio wasn’t going to take place until after I got back anyway, so my wife sent me on. That was the toughest road trip of my life. I covered the games like a Mountain Dew-swilling zombie, then came home to be with my wife when they pushed that impossibly long needle into her abdomen. And that leads me to …

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?

… my best moment as a parent. There’s a song I used to hear a lot when the ball club I covered played at Angels Stadium in Anaheim. When the home team ran out of the dugout onto the field at the start of a game, Train’s “Calling All Angels” boomed over the PA system. I thought that was clever, and I liked the song, so it was in my head when I came back from that long, mind-numbing road trip for my wife’s amnio. We went to the OB-GYN office for the procedure, which went flawlessly. When we came back to learn the results, we were wrecks. Sitting in the lobby, waiting to find out if our first child would be stricken with a potentially fatal disorder, I couldn’t get “Calling All Angels” out of my head. Over and over, my ear-worm sang, “I need a sign … to let me know you’re here.” And so on. Then, the song wasn’t only in my head. I hadn’t even noticed the soft music playing in the waiting room, but I just about broke down when I heard, “I need a sign …”

My wife and I locked eyes, smiled through the tears, squeezed each other’s hands, and went in to get the good news about our healthy son.

Lisa Duggan

Lisa Duggan is the Founder and CEO of The Modern Village, and publisher of TheParentduJour.com and TheMotherHoodBlog.com.

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