Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Dear Spike:

Last night, for the first time since you came into our lives, your mother and I left you with your grandparents while we went on an overnight trip to Park City.

It’s not that we couldn’t have done this before. We unreservedly trust them to take care of you. And, perhaps more importantly, we unconditionally trust you to be a good girl for them.

But the truth is that we genuinely like your company. So anytime in the past when people have suggested that we “get away,” we’ve always just sort of shrugged our shoulders and asked “from what?”

But last week your mother and I decided that perhaps we could use just a bit of time to ourselves. So we headed up Parley’s Canyon, went horseback riding in the Uinta foothills, played a round of disc golf at The Canyons, had a wonderful dinner at The Cabin restaurant and took a dip in the swimming pool at The Grand Summit Hotel. We slept in a gloriously comfortable bed and woke up this morning for a lovely breakfast at the No Worries CafĂ© & Grill.

And, with that, it was back to Salt Lake City.

We probably could have stretched it out a bit more. You hardly glanced up from the table when I walked in the door.

“I missed you,” I said.

“I missed you too, daddy,” you answered, although it was a rather rote reply.

Maybe next time we go away, we’ll try for two days. Maybe three.

Really though, I’m not chomping at the bit to “get away” again.

Your mother is amazing. She’s fun. She’s interesting. She’s beautiful. And I love her more and more every day. But everything she is to me is better because of you. And I know that she feels the same way about me.

That’s just the way it is with us.

Other people are different. That doesn’t mean they love their kids any less. They simply have decided that, in order to be the best parents they can be, they need some time to themselves. And indeed, it’s true that your mother and I walked away from our experience feeling like “we needed that.”

Next time we “get away,” though, it will most likely be with you at our side. That’s just the way we prefer it — most of the time, at least.


Thursday, July 15, 2010


Dear Spike:

Our president gets plenty of criticism — and often it’s deserved. But as much as some folks might disagree about whether Barack Obama is a good leader, a good politician or even a good person, it seems that most people respect him in at least one capacity: By all accounts, he appears to be a good father to his daughters, Malia and Sasha.

That’s far more than can be said for Obama’s own father, who abandoned his son when the boy was just three years old and saw him just once again before his death. And insomuch as Obama has been able to succeed in the art of fatherhood despite the bad example set by his own father, I think he deserves an extra helping of respect.

So I was disappointed, recently, as I was spinning the radio dial and landed on Obama’s trademark monotone in a public service announcement for the federal Administration for Children and Families.

“To be a good father is the most important job in a man’s life, but it doesn’t have to be hard,” he said. “Things get busy and sometimes we all fall short. But the smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child’s life.”

Maybe I’m overly critical. Maybe I’m overly analytical. And maybe I’m overly sensitive. But it made me sad to think that one of the most famous and well-respected fathers in our nation would suggest that being a good dad doesn’t have to be hard.

It most certainly is hard. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. And, to the bottom of my being, I believe that any father who doesn’t think that being a dad is hard work just isn’t trying hard enough.

After all, we’ve been parenting for millions of years and, as far as I know, no one has gotten it right yet. If that doesn’t exemplify something that is hard, I don’t know what does.

And with all due respect to the president, I cannot agree that it is the small moments that you and I will spend together that will have the biggest impact on your life. Those moments — in which we tell jokes or play soccer or go out on one of our “fancy dates” — can be wonderful and influential and memorable, but they will not make you what you are to become.

No, it is the long work — the hard work — that your mother and I do together that will have the greatest impact on your life.

It is the way we encourage your questions, the way we help you seek answers, the way we praise your accomplishments and the way we punish your mistakes.

It is enforcing our rules, even when it is not convenient. It is telling you that we love you — more than anything — over and over and over and over and over again.

It is patience and structure. It is affection and discipline. It is consistency.

And yes, we get busy. And yes, we fall short.

But yes, oh yes, it is hard work. The hardest work there is.