This year is going to be a little different. That’s an understatement.
For the first time since 2012, I’m breaking tradition on my annual year-in-review blog post. Instead, as I sit without internet through an overnight flight on a plane headed for Hong Kong, I’m documenting my day. With a kiddo at home, the days are long, but the years are short…
Wrapped snug under the covers, my brain is at rest. With my wife by my side, I’m fast asleep.
Eyes pop open for a minute and I’m reminded that I forgot to send an important email. Someone will be unhappy when the sun comes up. Oh well, the urge to sleep is too powerful. There’s always tomorrow. Roll over, clear throat, close eyes, rest brain.
There’s an echo of cries and whimpers coming over the monitor on the nightstand and through the wall that separates our bedrooms. What time is it??? I peek at the clock on top of the dresser. No… Baby… It’s too early, please don’t wake up… We’ve tried it all. Later bedtimes, earlier bedtimes, more and less milk before bed, higher and lower thermostat settings. For whatever reason, when the body wants to wake up, there’s no holding it back.
Praise Jesus, thank you Allah, hallelujah Tom Cruise, Zeus, Captain Planet, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I’ll take whatever miracle that comes my way, for his crying has stopped and he’s fallen back asleep! At least for now, my eyes can rest a little longer.
Already? How can that be? It felt like just a moment ago. There’s no fire drill this time. The beast has awoken and he’s out for blood, err…… milk. The folklore of waking up to gentle babbling are only a fairytale it seems. Fortunately, my wife is amazing. With a smile on her face and in her heart, she gracefully climbs out of bed and walks into the other room. The crying stops abruptly and I know he’s feeding. Yawn, stretch, rub eyes, sigh, reach for iPhone. There’s a laundry list of notifications on the lock screen. Although I’ve been asleep, my colleagues in China have been hard at work. They’re about to call it a night but before they do, we message back and forth on WeChat, the popular Chinese Facebook-like messaging app. There is some important information they need to shared before they rest their heads and I have only this short window of time where my morning overlaps with their evening.
I hear a soft, pleasant voice as she greats him. Relaxed for the moment, she reads him a book. I can just about hear them through the wall. Back to my phone, I’m halfway through the messages.
“It’s going to be bright” she says as they walk into the hallway and then turn on the bathroom light. She’s reading him another book, while he sits (or attempts to break free from sitting) on a little plastic training potty. I swipe over to another app to check the news headlines. Moments later, “You made a poopy” she exclaims and I can imagine the pride beaming from his face. “It’s time to wash our hands now.” And then, “OK, let’s go see Daddy.”
I quickly put my phone back on the nightstand as the bedroom light flicks on. Learning again about his morning’s bowel movement, I’m greeted with big smiles from my two loves. He and I snuggle in bed for a minute while she prepares his clean diaper and clothes. The snuggles never last long. Now that he’s mobile, snuggling seems to have fallen out of favor. Keeping him entertained, I stand him up on my chest and let him Hop On Pop. Giggles and smiles. Giggles and smiles… It’s fun for all of us, but he throws his head back and promptly reminds us about what he’s really looking for. That liquid gold.
We’ve transitioned away from bottles, except for the first land last feedings of the day. By now, he’s capable of slurping from a sippy cup. But it’s early. Mom and dad need a few minutes to wake up too. So he lounges quietly on the living room floor, chugging on a giant bottle of milk that’s been fitted with a nipple designed for premature newborns. The flow rate from its tiny hole gives us those previous few moments we need to make our own bowls of cereal, download emails, empty our bladders, and let the brains get fully warmed up.
Triaging my emails, I flag the urgent ones and squeeze in a few last minute WeChat messages with my China team.
BURP! Wow, that must have been a good bottle! Now with a full stomach, he has a happy heart, and he’s ready to explore the living room full of toys that Mom rearranged last night. I hop off the computer and we play together while Mom does her morning pumping. Pushing cars around the room, trying to open all the dresser drawers, carrying shoes around the house (sometimes by hand and other times by mouth), picking up lint from the floor, toppling over a stack of books and reading each of them for 3 seconds, and waddling in and out of kitchen while pulling pans out of the cupboards. I pick him up to fly him around the room as if he were an airplane, and finally coming in for an upside-down landing on the soft play mat. “He just ate!” I’m reminded by my lovely wife. I know, and maybe he’ll spit up, but it’s just too much fun flipping him head over heals. He loves it.
Work mode. I’m pumping through my emails and sending updates to my customers with the information they need to start their day a little later this morning. I’m in the zone, but can’t help glance over to see him showing off his newly acquired dancing skills. That happy feet shuffle is just so cute.
The urgent work is done and the sun is peeking through the morning fog. We head out for a stroller cruise through the neighborhood and give Mom a moment of peace so she can get in her daily workout. When he was young, we stuck to the quiet streets so he could nap. These days he’s awake when we walk and quickly bores of the side streets. So we head to the main road. With all the commuters buzzing by in their cars, he watches Silicon Valley come to life. Meanwhile, I take in a podcast in between answering text messages from my customers who are eager to start their day. We swing by the local grocery store and pickup a few items. There’s always at least one person who smiles at the sight of him. They’ll stop for a moment to admire the cuteness and ask how old she is. “11 months,” I say without correcting the gender. I can’t blame them. The hand-me-down pink stroller doesn’t help much.
We arrive at the house and I stop Strava. My “workouts” these days are a bit more relaxed… He likes clicking the garage door opener and shuffling his plastic moto-tricycle around the driveway. His attention changes often. This morning he loved walking around the garage, driveway, yard, sidewalk, and even into the street with a full size broom. I tried to take it from him but he protested. Ok ok ok… You do you, little man.
Fitted with a fresh diaper, I lay him down in the crib. Actually, he’s great at falling asleep and he’s long since settled back into a nap routine after returning home from our vacation in Turkey where the jet lag took a toll on us all. A few tosses and turns, a little playing with his wubanub, but within a few minutes he’s peacefully asleep. With my hands free, I have time for a quick email check-in before hopping in the shower.
Back from her workout, I give my wife a kiss and head to the office.
Today starts with an in-person interview. Business is going well and with that comes more work. Recruiting to build the right team takes a surprising amount of time and energy. But a little extra effort now will pay dividends later.
Multitask. Meeting prep. Reports. Mentor. Email follow-ups. Troubleshoot. Lunch. Watch a few short video clips that my wife sent. She fed him some leftover borscht. Now he’s grinning ear to ear with his pearly white four-tooth smile surrounded by a face that is stained purplish-red. So cute.
Back to back to back customer meetings.
In the office again, hurrying to send a clear and concise update to my team in China and follow up on a few more emails that came in while I was in meetings.
On the phone with another interview candidate.
The once sleeping dragon is now awake! With my collages in China arriving at the office, I’m inundated with communication. Cogs are spinning in this business machine and there is plenty of oiling that needs to happen to keep it running smooth.
A moment to smile as a few more video clips come in. She did arts and crafts with him and then visited a playground in the park this afternoon. He walked around, waving at everyone he met. He climbed up the play structure, then turned around backwards to go down the slide with his feet first, without being prompted! So cute. Time for me to head home. My head is tired.
Whenever I walk in the door after a day at the office, I’m greeted with this crazy loud squeal of excitement that he somehow learned to do while breathing in. It’s so strange. And it’s the cutest thing in the world. I drop my backpack and get Daddy hugs. Then we chase each other around the living room. Now that he can walk, he never crawls, expect when I chase him on my hands and knees. It’s so much fun for the both of us. When I catch him, we roll around on the floor and he giggles from deep inside his belly. So cute. He’s a ball of energy and it’s amazing, but exhausting. I feel so fortunate to have an amazing wife who has seemingly endless love and patience in putting up with her son and her husband!
Mom reminds us to calm down while she prepares a few bowls of leftover creamy ham and potato soup that I made over the weekend. He sits in my lap and we read a book. He helps me flip the thick cardboard pages. We all enjoy a quick dinner at the table. “Brush teeth” she says, and he walks into the bathroom and climbs up the step-stool by the sink. First it’s Dad’s turn to brush for him, then we sing the ABCs while he brushes by himself (or chews on the toothbrush). “OK, 5 more seconds…. 1… 2…” he hands me the brush early and I pick him up.
The bath is drawn, his night time clothes are laid out and a bottle is made. Meanwhile, iMessages are zapping to and from China as we try to finalize a new contract. Mom is with him in the tub and I come in to hold the toy bag while we prompt him to help put away the foam letters and rubber duckies. I grab his towel and Mom places him on the edge of the tub. For weeks now, every time we take him out of the bath, he stands on one leg and lifts the other in the air. My baby flamingo. So strange. So cute.
A kiss goodnight and Mom takes him into his room for a story, a bottle, and a bedtime song. It’s the routine. Back in the living room, it looks like a hurricane came through. We put the room back together and wash the dishes. Mom is on the couch pumping out some more milk and I’m at the desk, working through the never-ending incoming emails.
With my China team on their lunch break, I have a moment to get caught up on serving my other customers – our app, SnapType, continues to grow. I still love being able to service this community and build this side-hustle. Though I wish I had more time to dedicate to the ambitious future plans we have for it.
Normally I would take this time to chill out for a few minutes, watch a couple of my favorite YouTube creators, scroll through social media, and unwind before bed. However, tonight the doorbell rings to signal that my ride to the airport is here. I kiss my wife goodbye and hop in the minivan. Double checking to make sure I have my passport, I then pull out my laptop and get back to drafting the day’s final emails.
The airport is pretty quiet this time of night so I quickly check in and head through security. “Excuse me sir, is this your bag?” Uh oh, I left a few bottles of liquid baby soap in my bag and they are larger than the TSA limit. It’s a gift for a colleague so I head back to the United counter and check a tiny box cardboard box. Back through security for a second time. Lucky there’s no one in the pre-check line.
A glass of water and a snack are consumed after a brief chit-chat with a customer who I bumped into at the Polaris lounge.
I take my seat on the plan and answer a final few WeChat messages before the doors close. There were so many things I didn’t have time to get to today. I meant to help my mom with her online banking, have a call with my Dad to learn how his doctor’s appointment went, give my sister feedback on her 401k questions, setup an appointment to upgrade to the new “REAL” driver’s licenses, review and pay the bill from the recent emergency room visit (why do babies always get sick in the night?), send a birthday card to a good friend, and start to tackle my annual Year-In-Review blog post. There never seems to be enough time in the day.
The plane takes off 20 minutes late. Rumbles of the engines and the gentle rocking of the plane make my eyelids heavy. I’ll be here for the next 13ish hours. Might as well catch a little shuteye while I can… The days are long, but the years are short.
There’s a good chance we didn’t catch up much this year. I’m sorry for that. But if you’ve made it this far, hit reply to the email, or post a comment on the blog. I’d love to hear from you! Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year as we head down the trail of life for a few more miles.