One day, I’ll be able to get a full night’s sleep without feeling like I’m leaving hours on the table because I haven’t written.
“Don’t be Afraid of the Doula” marks the last of the interviews I did in the summer before life got all wonky and I took an unexpected hiatus. After getting my groove back in October, I’ve spent a lot of time working to make sure it doesn’t happen again, scheduling multiple interviews where I can to get ahead so I’m just not scrambling anymore.
If you’d asked me a decade ago whether getting married and having a kid were anywhere on my life’s horizon, I’d have laughed in your face and called you crazy. Even over the 10 years that followed, parenthood was a topic that barely registered in my mind—I was too busy wining, dining and having a good time to even consider settling down, fully responsible for someone else’s well-being. There were blogs to write, people to see and things to do.
This was future Casey’s problem!
But the future never stays that way forever. For expecting fathers, until they hold their baby for the first time, a child is little more than a concept. Logically they know that the mother’s carrying a child for the better part of a year, but logic has nothing to do with this. All you know is that the clock’s ticking, and your freedom’s melting away with every passing day, inching closer to this vague territory called “the rest of your life”. You live each day as if it were your last, because you might never get another chance.
I recently had lunch with a friend who pointed out that I’ve been a bit of a recluse lately, vanishing from the Toronto Twitter social scene. As we enter the final month of Sarah’s pregnancy (I know, right?!), I’m tying up loose ends on all fronts. Assembling furniture and installing car seats. Completing projects and checking ideas off of the to-do lists. I put my blogging life on hold as I prepared for a far greater role.
Blogging’s been fun, but it’s time to get real.
The City of Legends
It’s already started—my journey down the path of becoming an urban legend in Toronto Twitter’s lore is well underway with my time spent less on parties and product, and more on pre-natal living and planning.
The Casey you knew is dead and gone, grown-up forevermore.
Once upon a time, we used to party relentlessly in this city. A week wouldn’t go by without a bevvy of events flooding the calendar, having social medialites explore the city in search of some fun. It wasn’t business or about exposure—many of us entered the social media scene looking for new friends and experiences, getting a feel for this uncharted world before us.
You’d think that things could only get better forever, the way it was going. The parties grew, the exposure broadened—brands poured resources into the community with bloggers standing tall as the mouthpiece to audiences they couldn’t previously approach nearly as intimately.
That was then, and this is 2013. It’s not news—I’ve discussed it before—everything changed. Fewer parties, more structure, and a whole bunch of urban legends where the pillars of Toronto Twitter used to stand—everyone was all grown up with everywhere to go, except the places we’d already been.
Why We Can’t Blog Like We Used To
Everyone’s been asking how I’m doing. Becoming a father is no easy task—I’m about to undergo what’s possibly the ultimate transformation in life; the one that sees you change from your parents’ child to a parent seemingly overnight. It can be devastating. Overwhelming. Everything you were once sure of can come into question, and there’s no instruction manual for what comes next! But amidst the chaos and lessons that are sure to come, surprisingly there’s one thing I’m feeling right now above all else:
When you’re expecting a child, everyone wants to know whether you’re ready. Some will offer their stories to reassure you and show that they’ve been in your shoes, letting you know you’ll be fine. Some ask out of curiosity—not having kids themselves—wanting to know how you know you’ll be ready to have kids. All too many parents want to make you company for their misery, using scare tactics for what? To make them feel better? The awesome ones will offer a helping hand for anything you might need while making the change.
But what comes next? Where’s everything when your attention’s demanded elsewhere, but you still feel drawn to all you’ve created, fully aware that you won’t do it justice the way it is right now.
Here’re a few beliefs I have that’ll shape that decision:
1. Blogging’s Gone the Way of the Dinosaur
Not going—gone. I have a blog post half-written on the why (and I have a great many friends who’d happily disagree with me on the point), but in Toronto at least, the last hurrah of blogging was somewhere around 2011. Since then, messaging got shorter with Twitter, prettier with Tumblr and relatable with YouTube. With more people using high-speed Internet at home and high-cap data plans on their phones (which, by the way, make for horrible reading devices over extended periods of time), the demand for high-quality content in bite-sized pieces is higher than ever. Though in many ways, YouTube’s already saturated and matured so much that getting rich from it is far harder than before; video is the name of the game right now, whether bloggers want to admit it or not.
2. Swag Don’t Pay the Bills
Here are two things that are at a premium in Toronto—space and disposable income. With about 1,200 square feet to play with, you only have room for so much stuff. In fact, for the most part, I’m only working with about 6 square feet (15 cubic)! I recently converted my home office into a nursery, so stuff only goes so far unless I can put it in a desk drawer or dispose of it after a while.
What people need to remember is that time is money—or at the very least, an investment. Ultimately, the time you spend in life should always go toward improving your life and those of the people you care about. (So you know, you accomplish part of this through improving the world around you, but I’ll cover this another time.) I dialled down on the events I’m willing to attend and products I’m willing to promote some time back. There’s only so much time available to me and got to a point where the value of what I got needed to match the time invested, whether valued through time with family and friends, goods and services, or the stuff that will put food on the table.
3. Bored City is Bored
Toronto—or “Fauxronto” as I’ve been wont to call it lately—is only growing colder and more apathetic. We keep to ourselves and prefer to drag each other down like crabs in a bucket rather than rally together so we all might win. We mistakenly believe that there isn’t enough wealth to go around and act accordingly, thinking we need to defend what little we have to the death and not share it around to see it grow.
And as the world demands more of our time and efforts than ever before, we’ll quickly discover that this isn’t sustainable.
I don’t know about the world (it probably has bigger problems, anyway), but Toronto needs a wake-up call. It needs something amazing to get its people caring again (and no, it’s not Drake). I know bloggers are trying to stand out and get their message across to as many people as possible, but to be effective at it, they need to stop striving for mediocrity.
At any given time, there are 7 billion people on the planet trying to do what you do. This isn’t your parents’ world, where you strove to be top of your class or being a local celebrity gave you a free pass for life. You’re now being compared to everyone in the world, and it’s time for us all to step our game up or fade into obscurity.
There’s more to life than events and free food. There is more… than this.
To Parenthood… and Beyond!
Nothing will make you feel as helpless as being an expecting father with a wife suddenly on bed rest, not knowing what you can do to help, trying anything and everything possible to make things better.
When half of your tag team is out of commission, you get an entirely new appreciation for everything they do, whether it’s running errands across town, household chores, or simply being able to get up and walk down the block to put something in the mail. It’s like she’s a captive in her own home, so in her place, I add her role to my balancing act of work, family and digital pursuits. Perusing the aisles at the grocery store means less time editing photos. Getting supplies at Babies “R” Us means less time sorting out thoughts for the blog. Bit by bit, the social media shuffle feels less the priority and more something I’m leaving behind to become what I must be next.
Bye Bye, Man About Town — Hello, Daddy Blogger!
I’ve spent three years letting social media know who I am. I’m the guy who’s unafraid to engage a crowd in a real discussion, even if someone’s clearly an idiot. Who’s willing to forgo sleep and personal gain to help my friends succeed, believing that we only truly help ourselves when we help the whole improve. And I’m the guy who’s been straight with everyone since Day 1—the married guy who wants everyone to get along, wishing that we could all just work together to change things for the better.
But egos get in the way. My ego tells me that I’ve worked hard at writing, relationship management and photography to create the blog you see today. I always expect to perform at a certain standard and want to make sure that anyone working with me shares my vision. The egos of other bloggers scream that there’s not enough product, opportunities or exposure out there for everybody, so we all fight our hardest to be better than the next blogger to prove that we deserve everything we get. I’ve suggested things like group blogging or a blogger consortium before, but it’s been shot down by questions of who gets what and how to make sure everyone contributes their fair share.
Though my current blog’s only been around a couple of years, everything that’s gone into it took years to develop. I’ve built websites since I was 15. I picked up my first camera at 13. My Mom jokes that I started drawing as soon as I came out of the womb!
So what’s next? I’ve written up a storm. I recently managed to carry out one of my goals in The 2013 100 and end up on the first page of Google results for “Casey” (at least when you’re browsing in Canada). I’m so much further along than I was when I’d started this trek, but I’m not like everyone else. There aren’t many Twitter friends I have who’re married, even fewer with kids, and in the tiny slice of the group that remains, the ones who blog I could count on one hand—two at most.
I’m sailing into largely uncharted territory, trying to play like the other kids do with a completely different set of rules.
But a game I’m still willing to play.
I’m still writing. I’m still striving to make better content every time I put something out, challenging how things currently are and battling for a better breed of human being. A baby isn’t an obstacle—it’s an opportunity. I want to wake up seeing the possibilities for the world around me—not fixate on its problems and accept them for what they are.
The journey doesn’t just suddenly stop.
The Dawn of the Daddy Blogger
So, in the end, you can fool yourself all you want, but real life wins. Bills need paying, mouths need feeding, and no one’s gonna hold your hand and do it for you. It’s a real world out there with real issues, and while social media’s good respite from it all, it’s not sustainable living. You need to come out and face the world eventually.
And that’s been my 2013—maturing from “look at all these things I’ll miss” to “look at all these things waiting for me in my new life!” Social media tools come and go—we went from MySpace to Facebook to Twitter to Google+ to New MySpace (obviously, not all of these did as well as they’d hoped)—but the big, bad world ain’t going nowhere.
So goodbye to 2011 Casey. Goodbye to doing ten Twitter chats a week; saying “yes” to every invite that comes my way; to toiling over reviews for products that I could easily buy myself; or to getting along with people who poison my environment in the name of keeping the peace in the community.
The dad is the unsung hero of parenting, and it’s easy to see why. They don’t grow babies inside of them for 40 weeks. They don’t breastfeed or have the same degree of parental instinct as mothers do. In many parenting situations I’ve seen, the role of the dad is ambiguous. Secondary to the mother. Perhaps a pale shadow of motherhood, expected to do her same function, but perhaps with a slightly masculine twist to it.
What is a dad’s role? What Can We Learn from the Dads Who Came Before Us?
Our memories are shorter now than they’ve ever been (thanks, technology!)—there’s a lot about my Dad I remember from my later years, but much of my childhood is a blur. And in a family with both parents working to make ends meet, what I do remember is lots of time in my Grandma’s basement, watching TV or horsing around with my brother until my parents come home to resume the parental segment of their lives, tired or not.
I have a wealth of social cues on what it means to be a Dad—so then, why do I feel woefully unqualified to carry it out?