DR. OF NOTHING!
You might ask, and I wouldn’t blame you if you did, “Where do you get off writing a blog about fatherhood?”
It is a valid question, although your tone was a little hostile and I don’t appreciate it. In any event, I do not have a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, I am not a renowned physician, I am not even a famous comedian. I am just a Dad.
I am the guy in the car next to you. I am in the elevator, can you push twelve, please? I sit next to you on the bus. I am the guy in front of you in line at the delicatessen. I am your best friend, your brother, your cousin. It is easy to pick me out. I always look a little tired, tired but happy. (Probably punch-happy from the lack of sleep.) I have a bunch of photos of the boys on my phone, although they are typically six months old. (Two major developmental stages ago for a young child.) When I walk the fingers of my right-hand curl slightly upward like a small child is holding my hand. They’re not, and I know they’re not, it is just habit.
I have seen the inside of a diaper pail, and it is not pretty. I have given countless baths, and usually end up soaked to the bone. I have mastered the four-point fold of a baby T-shirt and a baby blanket. I have juggled a baby in one arm and dinner in another. I have cared for a sick mommy and sick child, on occasion, at the same time. I have laid down the law and witnessed lawlessness.
I have been drooled on, spit on, spit-up on, thrown up on, peed on (gotta change that diaper quickly with boys), laughed at, cried at, yelled at, stepped on, hugged, kissed, comforted, and tickled. Sometimes all within a ten-minute period! Still I come out smiling and, like George Foreman entering the ninth round, go back for more. They say for mothers it is the hardest job you’ll ever love. For fathers it is the same thing, except for most of us, it is the hardest and most rewarding moonlighting available.
When I get home from work, after a particularly tough day (aren’t they all!) and see the smiling faces of my children, I experience a love so profound and awesome it frightens me. The primal instinct of protection, luckily not foraging or combat, kick in big time. Other animal instincts also come to the forefront: comfort, shelter, love, guidance, understanding, banana puree, creamed corn.
The responsibilities that accompany Dadlands can appear overwhelming at times. It just doesn’t seem that one man alone can handle it, but the complications and legal entanglements of polygamy make it our only option.
So that is who I am. How I came to write this blog is a slightly different story. It was seven months before our first child was born and I found myself in a bookstore scanning the parental section (come to think of it, I haven’t been in the adult section of a bookstore since).
I wanted a book that would prepare me for fatherhood. Not a “how to” on changing diapers and holding a baby, my wife had purchased plenty of those books, but a shared experience type of reference. A treatise written by a father in the stenches of parenthood, describing what it was like, how you survive it and what is required. You know how many I found…none! All the books geared towards the dad were written by women describing how we can be supportive. I even saw a book describing one thousand ways to be a great dad and it was penned by a member of the opposite sex.
JUDGING BY ITS COVER
It was after my son was born that I began to start logging entries into an unofficial journal: on the bus, on the back of napkins, scraps of paper, notes in the margin of a magazine, quick thoughts and reflections on the computer. Ideas came to me at the strangest times, while changing a diaper, watching a Teletubbies video (a very strange time indeed), in meetings at work, in elevators, rocking my son at 2am…3am…4am. Eventually I started compiling all these various fragments into one cohesive unit, Dadlands.
I was not sure it would have any appeal beyond my computer screen. Maybe there were no other dads, or pre-dads looking for this type of primer. But, if nothing else, I knew that on the day my sons and their wives informed me they were expecting their first child, I would bestow upon them a bound version of these tales. Besides making them grateful they no longer live under my protectorate; it will offer them insight into their childhood. And, it will show them what they can look forward to.
So that, in a nutshell, is who I am. If the above background has not discouraged you, then read on to learn about one man’s experience in Dadlands. I consider it a privilege to call it my home.