Being a dad to a daughter requires we carry a “particular set of skills” … not unlike Liam Neeson in Taken. From the hair and dresses to especially the dating: it’s all new territory for us dudes. Well, the next father in our DadsLikeUs series, Brian Klems, is certainly on Jedi Master level of this skill set.
A dad to three daughters, he’s got his hands full with braiding hair, wearing pink tutus and learning the words to “Let it Go.” Klems totally understands the day-to-day struggle of the journey to try to be that guiding star that molds a young woman’s perception of the general male.
We met via email after a handful of writers and editors alike all encouraged me to reach out to Brian about the book publishing business.
It was soon after exchanging emails that I realized he’d be perfect for this interview segment so other dads could get grab a few tips and work in a few laughs with his brand of humor.
Klems writes about the trials and tribulations of daddy-daughterdom on his blog, TheLifeOfDad.com. His published book, Oh Boy You’re Having a Girl, takes a humorous look at topics like the “commandments for restroom trips and properly participating in a tea party.”
We talk about his inspiration for the book, his joys and struggles of raising daughters and tips to survive fatherhood in this month’s installment of DadsLikeUs.
DadsLikeUs: Brian Klems
Name: Brian A. Klems
Number of kids: 3 (All girls)
One word that best describes how you parent: Lovingly
How do you balance fatherhood, marriage, work and social life?
Like most other highly involved dads, I stopped sleeping. Sure it makes you a little delirious from time to time, but on the upside, it does allow you to catch that occasional 3 a.m. viewing of The Wonder Years. (Of course, now I relate a bit more with the dad than I do with Kevin.)
But it’s worth it because raising thoughtful, kind, compassionate, well-read kids; having a healthy marriage; being involved in things I’m passionate about; and staying connected with friends are all extremely important to me.
With all that going on, how do you recharge?
Monday night beer-league softball with friends. It’s the one time each week that requires very little brainpower and is based purely on my childhood love of baseball.
Plus, once a decade we win our league and we get a trophy. (I mean, sure, most teams take the prize money and put it toward the following season, but not us. I need something to jazz up my storage room!)
Funniest moment as a dad?
Too many to pick from, but one of my favorite funny moments was one time when we made a quick trip to the grocery store.
I stayed in the car with the kids while my wife went inside. We circled around a few times and then picked her up by the front door when she was finished.
As she opened the passenger door, a terrible sewer stench made its way into the car from outside. As she shut the door, my wife turned to me and said, “My lord, what is that awful smell?”
And without hesitation my middle daughter, who was 4 at the time, said, in a deadpan voice, “Sorry mom, I took off my socks.” We all laughed so hard. I still smile every time I think of that.
Scariest moment as a dad?
When my oldest was a toddler, she lost her balance at the top of our second-floor steps. She tumbled two steps before my wife, with her superhero cat-like reflexes, somehow dove and caught our daughter by the leg, saving her from who knows what kind of injuries.
My heart still skips a beat to this day thinking of that moment. I also swore on my life not to reveal my wife’s superhero name. And no, she doesn’t wear a cape. (I know, I’m bummed too!)
What’s your sleep routine like?
Ha. That’s funny.
What’s your best time-saving trick/life hack?
When it comes to showers for the kids, I give them a two-song limit – I play some of their favorite songs through a wireless speaker in the bathroom. They have two songs to shower and get out before I start turning down the water temperature.
This may sound silly, but after dozens of 20+ minute showers and three kids to get through, it really helped speed up the process. Plus they like the challenge.
What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
Singing the theme songs to Disney shows. What I lack in vocal and musical talent I more than make up for in sheer enthusiasm. It’s like Austin and Ally used to say: “When the crowd wants more I bring on the thunder.”
What was the inspiration behind your book, Oh Boy, You’re Having a Girl: A Dad’s Survival Guide to Raising Daughters, and how did the process help in developing your own brand of fatherhood?
The inspiration was a cross between my new experiences of fatherhood combined with the sudden death of my own dad. I’d been writing for years, generally in ways to make people laugh.
I found a lot of success on my parenting blog, TheLifeOfDad.com, which I started in 2006.
When my dad died of a heart attack at age 55, it got me thinking about my own goals and my life journey. So I pushed forward with my dream of writing and publishing a book that would make people (hopefully) smile.
I was lucky enough to see that dream come true. I wish I could reach out to every person who buys the book or leaves a kind review on Amazon and give them a huge hug.
What are you currently reading?
Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events. I’m doing a book club with my oldest daughter on that series. We’re both loving it.
I’m also reading The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller.
Like I said, I love baseball and love learning new ways of thinking, so this book is right up my alley.
What’s the biggest challenge/surprise that hit you since becoming a father?
Weeks before my first daughter was born, my Grandma Klems pulled me aside and said to me, “You think you love your parents. And you think you love your wife. But when that baby gets here you will experience love like you’ve never experienced before, and it will be the greatest thing that ever happens to you.”
And she was beyond right.
What surprises me is that my love for them continues to grow – each time they laugh, each time they tell me a story about their day, each time they learn something new … each time they are compassionate toward others.
It’s like the weight I gain each year isn’t from eating an excessive amount of Nacho Cheese Doritos, but from my heart growing and growing. I hope it never stops.
How (if at all) has fatherhood changed you?
Fatherhood has taught me not to overreact to things and have patience. To be a parent, I think you need to develop infinite patience if you want to help your kids grow up to be the best them they can be.
For example, my youngest daughter is currently learning to read (which is super important to me). She can’t sit still, she guesses at words and, between each word, she tells a story, generally not related to the word at hand.
It’ll take us 20 minutes to get through a 5-word sentence. But I rarely lose my cool, and I continually try to steer her back to the book because I know deep down she’s just a kid and she doesn’t realize how important this building block is to her life.
Also, Infinite Patience sounds like an awesome Fantasy Football team name. (Dibs!)
What’s the best advice (parenting or just life in general) you’ve ever received?
Be kind and be yourself, always. Also, when someone asks for your advice, you have to have the ability to give it while simultaneously being completely indifferent as to whether they act upon it or not.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A fourth kid, though my wife tells me to “dream on.” Quite honestly, the only other thing I’d like to say is that I LOVE being a dad. It’s my favorite thing in the world.
From dad/daughter nights at the Reds games to playing Clue on the kitchen table to reading books together to creating funny secret handshakes (that they are too embarrassed to show their friends) to just sitting on the couch snuggling – I can’t imagine doing anything else in my life that brings me that much joy.
Where can we find you on the Interwebz (website, twitter, facebook page, etc.)?
Or drop me a note at BrianKlems [at] gmail [dot] com.
And, if you’re looking for writing advice, swing by WritersDigest.com and you’ll see my fingerprints everywhere.
The DadsLikeUs series asks fellow fathers to to share their stories, advice, cautionary tales and much more. If you know a dude-turned-dad that you think should be featured here, or if you have some interesting questions you think I should ask, email us at DaddyMindTricks [at] gmail [dot] com.