A Glass Of Sugar Milk With John Cave Osborne

One of the goals I established at the beginning of the year for the Lunchbox, was to promote community. There are a number of other bloggers out there who do a great job of this, one of whom is Matt at DC Urban Dad, and, with his permission, I'm stealing a page out his book by running my version of his Five Questions series (check it out). So, a big thank you to one of the blogging world's most savvy dads.

On this inagural edition of what I am calling, "A Glass of Sugar Milk With ...", I was very lucky to interview John Cave Osborne, author of Tales From the Trips: How Three Babies Turned Our World Upside-Down. John used to be a regional marketing director for a large investment firm before deciding to give it up in order to follow his passion for writing. Not long after, he got married and became a stepfather to a little girl. Then came the triplets--two boys and a girl. In just a year, John went from wild-and-crazy bachelor to instant father, which also made for very funny book. (I was privileged enough to read an advance copy--review forthcoming, but I'll say now, it's a hoot.)

In addition to chasing kids around and writing for his blog (And Triplets Make Six), John also runs his own business. How he does all this, I have no idea, but I'm glad he had the time for this two-part interview. Let's have a Glass of Sugar Milk with John Cave Osborne.

1.You had been a single guy out on his own for a while, then you've got a stepdaughter and triplets pretty quickly. What was the biggest change for you personally and some of the things you had to give up from those single days?

The biggest change was the lack of “me” time. In the “good ol’ days,” I lived with a brown dog in a house that featured a refrigerator that never once contained milk. I could pretty much do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

Watching three straight football games? No problem.

Late night of carousing? Probably better sleep in.

Spur-of-the-moment, two-night backpacking trip? Sure. Love to.

In the span of thirteen months, I transformed from a carefree bachelor to the patriarch of a family of six. Most people gradually mature into domesticity, but I was hastily grandfathered in out of necessity. So when I found myself on the “other side,” the hardest thing for me to get used to was the five other agendas I had to consider before considering my own.

As far as the things I’ve had to give up? Space constraints and, in some cases, common decency prohibit me from listing them.

2.When did it hit you that you had triplets? Do multiples run in your wife's family?

Multiples don’t run in either of our families.

Expecting triplets is surreal. Intellectually understanding the potential inside your wife’s belly doesn’t mean that you’ve successfully wrapped your brain around the concept. So to answer your question, it took days for it to sink in, but much longer for me to even begin to fathom what it might be like.

That happened around the thirtieth week of Caroline’s pregnancy. My stepdaughter was at her dads and Caroline was on bedrest. I alternated between tending to her and putting together the first (of many) triplet strollers -- the one I like to call The Triple Decker. I rolled it into the bedroom where Caroline and I sat side-by-side in awed silence, staring at the three car seats that were securely locked onto the lengthy, awkward metal frame, finally able to imagine, even if only remotely, what it would be like to be the parents of triplets. Talk about codifying imagery.

Just thinking about that afternoon still gives me chills.

3. Like me you're a stepfather, what's the best thing about being in that role?

For me the answer is simple--getting to be the father of a little girl whom I love to pieces.

From my late twenties through my mid thirties, I was king of little country called Dysfunctional Six Month Relationship. When I turned thirty-five, I began to realize that unless my dating habits changed, there was a significant chance that I would never get married and have children. That realization saddened me because I’ve always wanted to be a great husband and a great dad. Thank God I finally found Caroline. It didn’t take me long to realize that I had broken out of my dating rut and found the girl of my dreams.

During our engagement, I couldn’t wait to be her husband. And I also couldn’t wait to be Alli’s dad.

The greatest thing about my role of stepdad is getting to be the father of a little girl whom I love to pieces. Period.

4. How do you manage to balance running your own business, spending time with your family and writing?

When you talk to people with multiples, most of them will tell you that “balance” is a word that doesn’t fully apply to them. There’s a reason why human beings typically carry just one child at a time. Carrying more than one, simply put, is unnatural. As such, the demands are unnatural, too – especially for the first four years. Balance? Currently I don’t feel like I have much.

My life is all about God, family, writing, work, and friends. Whatever balance I attain is spread among those five things, and probably has more to do with luck than anything else.

I will say that balancing writing with work has become a lot easier since my business partner and I decided to take turns running our company in alternating two-month stints. When I’m “off,” I focus on my blog and matters that pertain to the book. When I’m on? Well, it’s like I have two jobs. I work at our company during the day and I write at night.

5. What's the best and worst parenting advice you've ever received?

I’m not even sure how to answer that b/c I’m not one that runs around swapping parenting tid-bits. I’ve noticed that folks who read my blog as well as many who follow me on twitter naturally assume that I’m this incredible dad. I’ve never once claimed to be such, and don’t necessarily think that I am. Many have falsely assumed that my book is a how-to book on parenting. I would never proclaim to be qualified to dispense such advice. I leave that to folks with the letters PhD beside their name.

But, I can tell you this. My absolute pet peeve is when I run into obsessive, self-consumed, coddling, and overbearing parents. You know, the ones who act as if they’re the first couple to ever have a baby? The ones who treat their infant as if the very survival of planet Earth is directly proportional to their kid’s well-being? Friendly reminder to such folks: you’re like the umpteenth BILLION couple to have a baby. This month. Back in the stone ages, babies were raised in caves, for crying out loud. If your kid misses a nap, eats some dirt, or skins his knee, he’ll be okay. He’s not gonna break. Quit treating him like he might or God will see to it that next time around you have triplets. Try being over-protective then. It’s all we can do to keep our shit together over here. Hell, we’re just happy that we’ve never found one of our little guys juggling steak knives or drinking out of the toilet.

6.Got any pointers for parents of multiples?

It’s baptism-by-fire deal, so anything I could say is pointless. You won’t get it til you feel the burn. That said, there are a few things I feel strongly about.

If you can afford it, get help. If you can’t, seek volunteers. It’s not cheating, and there’s no way you can do it alone.

Get as organized as you possibly can. Organization is key.

That perfection you always strive for? It never existed before, and it sure as hell doesn’t exist now. Let it go and get on with it.

Chaos can be, and often is beautiful.

Hang on for dear life. I hear it relents a bit when they’re four. Caroline and I are halfway home and would be happy to help in any way we can.

Next Wednesday, Part 2: Watch John's cinematic debut and hear about his brush with Ashton Kutcher.

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