Our 578th Dad in the Limelight is Eric Miller. I want to thank Eric for being a part of this series. It has been great getting connected with him and now sharing him with all of you.
I’m a 51 year old married dad who’s reinventing himself, the result of a lousy economy that intersects a midlife crisis. I’d learn golf or belly dancing but don’t have the aptitude. Since I can’t afford a Porsche I started a blog (Etc. Guy, www.etcguy.com). Etc. Guy is about a married dad trapped in a house full of estrogen who lives to tell the story. But I also write about aging, sports, parenting, and life events. The blog best serves as a platform to sell articles or secure writing contracts. Last year I self-published my first book “Let Me Tell You a Story,” a collage of stories that appeared in newspapers and magazines. My writing interests continue to evolve, ranging from humor to environmental pieces to history.
I’ve trained in the martial arts over 30 years, ski, raft, kayak and play in-line hockey. I’m a terrible handyman, lousy mechanic, and (according to my wife) improperly fold towels. I graduated from Colorado State University and the University of California-Davis and have worked in the environmental industry the past 25 years. I recently contracted to write a book for a California water agency. Time will tell if I can develop a living as a writer. Carpe diem.
I’m an Air Force brat and have lived throughout the USA but my formative years were in Colorado. My parents and siblings still live there. Though I moved to California nearly 30 years ago Colorado is home to me. I love the Rockies.
- Tell me about your family.
I’ll use their “pen-names.” Hun and I have been married 20 years. She’s a consulting civil engineer, college lecturer, and an incredible cook. She’s mechanically inclined and artistic. We have two high school daughters, Kate, a senior, and Maggie, a freshman. They both enjoy outdoor activities (rafting, skiing, snowboarding) and music. Kate played field hockey and lacrosse but now focuses on choir and band. Maggie plays violin and just started track season. Like their mother, both girls are artistic and creative.
We also have two female dogs, six hens, two tomcats and a rabbit. The males (cats and rabbit) are either neutered or live in cages. So far I still roam free. Unfortunately, two pets (cat and parakeet) died over the holidays which dampened our moods. Our pets are family members.
- What has been the largest challenge you have had in being a father?
Time management and over committing is one of my weaknesses. I’ve said yes to too many extracurricular activities but I’ve improved at saying no. The Etc. Guy blog, a start-up venture, requires a lot of time. There just never seems to be enough time to do what I want to do or do what I think I need to do. I’ve trimmed back to spend more family time. I’m self-employed and it’s easy to fall out of balance. College tuition looms ahead and adds financial pressure to earn as much as possible. Then there’s retirement planning. There’s no shortage of worries.
- What advice would you give to other fathers?
Love your wives even if you don’t feel loving or friendly. Marriage is a commitment. It’s a marathon. Some periods are better than others but hang in there. Show your kids that their mom is a priority. One of my favorite activities is Friday night movie night. We hang out together. The weeks fly by and it’s easy to take each other for granted. Plan and schedule down-time. I need to improve at that.
- How have you come to balance parenthood with outside life?
Ah, related to previous questions. I’m getting better at saying no to invitations and opportunities. Fortunately, my kids share common interests with me (like the outdoors). We all enjoy road-trips, camping, and hiking so we try to calendar those activities.
- What have you learned from the fathers that you have interacted with?
Keep a sense of humor. Life’s too short. It’s certainly important to earn a living and lead the household, but don’t get caught up with arguments at work or home. The guys I enjoy spending time with are fun people. Their families play and laugh together. They enjoy their wives and kids and prioritize family time. These fathers allow(ed) their kids freedom to be themselves. They advise but aren’t over-bearing. They have open communication with their kids. There’s mutual trust. They’re certainly involved with their kids.
- What else would you share regarding your experiences as a father thus far?
There’s no need to rush into parenthood. I didn’t get married until I was 31. I became a parent at age 34. For me, the 20’s was the decade to attend college, travel, try new hobbies, and start a career. I likely would have had regrets had I married sooner or became a parent earlier. Parenthood is wonderful but there’s plenty of time for it. Single people should take advantage of their freedom to because once you start a family the focus changes. Single people: take your time. Race yaks. Make weird friends. Get to know yourself. Couples: get to know each other.
- What have been the most memorable experiences you have had thus far as a parent?
First steps, first acting performance, first soccer game, first words…when those events happened I wanted to freeze time. I thought parenthood couldn’t get any better. Then something fascinating would happen the following day. I considered that. If time froze I wouldn’t have this other experience to enjoy. It’s difficult singling out one particular event. I’m sure that Kate’s move to college will be memorable, not only for me but for her mom and sister. I’ll miss her but it’s a natural progression. I’m comforted knowing that I gave this phase of fatherhood my best shot. It sounds cliché, but the past 18 years have zoomed by. I don’t know where the time went. A friend told me that “dad” is a verb, not a title. No matter how old I get, or how old my kids get, I’ll always be their dad. And being a dad is great.
If you have any questions for Eric, please leave a comment here and I will make sure that he gets them so that he may be able to respond!