New Dad Blog: How Chick Flicks Taught Me to Be a DaddyRyan, Tidewater Parent Blogger
Ryan, Tidewater Parent Blogger
My wife loves chick flicks. Since I met her 13 years ago, she has dragged me to hours of estrogen-injected entertainment. I think it’s fair to say I have become a bit of chick flick connoisseur, probably the same way most parents of young ones are connoisseurs of Disney Channel shows.
In spending more hours than I care to count watching these movies, I figure there has to be something I should take away. So after putting a little thought into it, here’s my list of Thirteen things Chick Flicks have taught me about being a father.
But first a note – how to define a “chick flick.” Well, I’ve thought about that too and have come up with this formula. First I look at a couple qualifiers: is the main character a woman and is the movie about love, whether love gained or love lost? Also looking at the lead male character, how much do we know about him, other than how he is or isn’t a suitable match to the lead female character? But the most important factor – the absolute, fail-proof determining factor – would any two heterosexual men be caught dead talking about this movie? Women might argue with me on this one, and I’ve debated it more than once, but my gender never lets me down here. Guys don’t discuss chick flicks with other guys. Period. If you don’t agree, feel free to comment below. (Or find a heterosexual man and ask him.)
Now to the list.
1) Movie: The Notebook
Quote: “I wrote you 365 letters. I wrote you every day for a year.”
The Lesson: This quote is so awkward in the movie, even to my teary-eyed wife. It’s bad enough that Ryan Gosling’s character has to deliver such cornball clarification, (we get it, 365 letters would equal one a day for a year.) But to watch Rachel McAdams have to act confused by it is just ridiculous. But after thinking it through, I realize the lesson is that sometimes there’s a need to over-clarify. That’s a good lesson with kids. Tell them something, and then tell them again to make sure they got it. And who am I kidding; I need that lesson too. If my wife says, “Don’t talk about food right now,” asking “Do you want a banana?” qualifies as talking about food.
2) Movie: Pretty Woman
Quote: “Big mistake. Big. Huge.”
The Lesson: This Julia Roberts quote is all about wasted opportunities, and that’s important in parenthood too. There’s a lot of business in life, but you have to take the opportunities when you get them – they rarely return, and if they do, they’re less sweet the second time around.
3) Movie: Bridget Jones’s Diary
Quote: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”
The Lesson: Boy is this true with pregnancy! One minute everything is fine, the next there’s an abdomen pain. From feeling good and energetic to lethargic and light-headed. And of course the vomiting. Oh, the vomiting! I’m not naïve either; I know a newborn is going to kick my butt on this one. Clean, happy baby morphs into an erupting, screaming, spew-covered little creature from the swamplands.
4) Movie: Jerry Maquire
Quote: “You complete me.'”
Note: I know it’s a stretch to put Jerry Maquire on this list because it’s not really a chick flick, but the corniness of some of the lines makes this an acceptable addition in my book.
The Lesson: While I could talk about romance or how kids fill up our lives and make us whole, I’m not going there on this one. Nope, this one is all about the amount of crap that needs to be assembled, collected, counted, purchased, planned or otherwise prepared for. No need for me to list them here, there are plenty of other places to find them, like here and here. And when it comes to assembly, I’m sorry kids but I learned it in the Army. That means it’s going to be done with force and it’s not going to be easily taken back apart. So sleep comfortably children knowing that your bed would withstand the impact of a hurricane that was brought on by an atom bomb that was launched in the middle of the Battle of Armageddon.
5) Movie: 13 Going on 30
Quote: “-Beverly Rink: Well, Jenna, I know I made a lot of mistakes, but I don’t regret making any of them.
Jenna: How come?”
Beverly Rink: Because if I hadn’t have made them, I wouldn’t have learned how to make things right.”
The Lesson: Mistakes are a part of parenting. Our baby hasn’t even arrived yet, and I feel like this is going to be my motto to live by. That’s because it’s been my experience with the kids growing up in my family – I once got cousins lost in the dark just trying to take a walk around the block. Another time I misjudged my own strength while wrestling with my cousin and trying to throw him onto the bed – I ended up throwing him over the top of it and onto to the floor. (Nice work Frankenstein!) But you have to give yourself some latitude to make mistakes, and besides, that’s what they make Scooby Doo Band-Aids for.
6) Movie: Sweet Home Alabama
Quote: “You can’t have roots and wings.”
The Lesson: This one is tough because life calls for most of us adults, at least here in America, to be a mix between family man/woman and career man/woman. That can be a tough balance. And as much as I’d like to say more about it, the truth is I don’t know squat yet because I’m still a dad-to-be, so moving on.
7) Movie: Dirty Dancing
Quote: “Sorry for the disruption, folks, but I always do the last dance of the season. This year somebody told me not to. So I’m gonna do my kind of dancin’ with a great partner, who’s not only a terrific dancer, but somebody… who’s taught me… that there are people willing to stand up for other people no matter what it costs them. Somebody who’s taught me about the kind of person I wanna be.”
The Lesson: When we were announcing our pregnancy, some of the first advice I received from a friend was this: “You are the child’s parents. You’re going to get a lot of advice, and take it for what it’s worth. But you know best for the child.” I’m not ashamed to say that my wife and I tried for awhile to have this baby, and we learned a lot on the way – and we’re learning more each and every day. Through that process, we learned wholeheartedly that God makes life and gives it as a gift. And I don’t believe He’d give a gift without equipping us with the ability to care for it.
8) Movie: Titanic
Quote: “I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up.”
The Lesson: As I alluded to in #4, there’s a lot of stuff with having a kid; stuff we’re in the process of collecting right now. Somewhere in there is the must-haves vs. the think-you-needs. I’m too new at this to know anything about determining one from the other – but Scooby Doo Band-Aids will probably be an essential. But I feel strongly about this lesson: discover what the essentials are and enjoy each step of the journey because you’re blessed to be here.
9) Movie: Enchanted
Quote: “-Giselle: How?
Robert: What do you mean, “how?”
Giselle: [singing] How does she know…”
The Lesson: Sometimes life just randomly breaks into song. Don’t fight it – go with it! There are songs for all sorts of occasions – for bedtime and for waking, for doing the dishes, for preparing meals, for walking from room to room, for trying to convince your wife that you don’t need to overhaul the master bathroom, and especially for singing to the baby in the womb. And if you feel like it, dancing is good too. Having kids is about enjoying the fun of youth – just go with it.
10) Movie: Bridesmaids
Quote: “-Megan: This is some classy sh-…
Megan: I want to apologize. I’m not even confident on which end that came out of. ”
The Lesson: While we’re on the subject of “just going with it,” sometimes having kids means accidents in the bodily fluid arena. It happens, just go with it.
11) Movie: Mamma Mia!
Quote: “We danced on the beach, kissed on the beach and dot, dot, dot.”
The Lesson: Inevitably when it comes to getting pregnant, the details always lead back to the deed. And it can get awkward. I remember a friend telling me in church about him and his wife getting pregnant, and he’s like, “It happened over Spring Break. Is that TMI?” We all know how babies are made, but sometimes you just don’t want to go there with friends, family or casual acquaintances. So I propose we put in place a universal code word to refer to the deed and save us all a little embarrassment. “Dot, dot, dot,” seems a good one to me.
12) Movie: Sex and the City
Quote: “-Miranda Hobbes: The only two choices for women; witch and sexy kitten.
Carrie Bradshaw: Oh you just said a mouthful there sister.”
The Lesson: It’s probably the effect of too many hours watching chick flicks, but at the risk of sounding cheesy and having my man-card revoked, I have to say that now that my wife is pregnant I see her in a whole different light. Though she feels like a witch for having to ask my help so often, I love helping her and being there for her. She may not feel at all sexy – more each day she feels like Ms. Pac-Man. But to me, she’s a new kind of sexy – she’s that I’m with my family, kind of sexy. It’s that place of belonging. It’s that feeling of having scaled the castle tower to find the one you love waiting for you there and knowing “Yes, this is where I am supposed to be!” For anyone that’s ever returned from a long time away, like on a deployment, you know what I mean – this is why it’s all worth it. And that’s a joyful, sexy, wonderful place to be!
13) Movie: Love Actually
Quote: “But for now, let me say – Without hope or agenda – Just because it’s Christmas – And at Christmas you tell the truth – To me, you are perfect – And my wasted heart will love you – Until you look like this.”
The Lesson: Family is about love, selflessness and self-sacrifice. Doing things because they’re the right things to do, not because there’s something to gain. And in the end, no matter how messy or ugly or crazy things get, it’s just the right fit. We are the dirt that stains each other’s hands – but it’s there so we know how to find home again. Home – and every day a little bit of Christmas.
So that’s my list, and maybe there was some meaningful in it for you. I sure hope so because they’re making a lot of these movies I’ll end up sitting through. It seems only fitting to end a blog about chick flicks with something sappy, so here’s this.
“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” –Love Actually